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Mulberry4000's picture
What if your attacker is a woman?

What if your attacker is a woman. Increasly some women want to take on men thinking they are equal to the man in strength  etc. Also some think they can hit harder than men and have a good chance, others think a man will not defend himself if the attacker is a woman or rely on the white knights to defender her if the man defends himself. 

Ok what then how can a man who being attacked by a woman  for no reason, than a man attacking a man, how would he deal with her and the white knights?

best wishes 

Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture

Hi Mulberry4000,

I apologise if I havent understood your question correctly, but my answer would be that "I would deal with the situation, like I deal any other situation where I am being attacked". Firstly, I go through the non-physical self-protection process of awareness, avoidance and escape.  However, If I end up being physically attacked then I will use as much force that I believe is necessary and proportionate in the circumstances in order to aid escape. Whether I am being attacked by man, woman, child, a group of people or a weapon-weidling mainiac, my plan is always the same. 

Your question does bring up the question of morality -is it right to defend yourself against a woman, even if they pose a threat? As above, my answer would yes; but only as far as the actions you take to defend yourself are proportionate to attack you believe to be under. 

To me, it is not necessarly the gender of the attacker that is casue for my concern, rather it is whether the attacker is going to be a threat to my safety. If, due to the comibation of the enemy's mental or phsyical traits they are incapble of causing me harm, then I would never use physical violence against them, simply because: 

1) It would likely to be against the law; and

2) I don't feel its morally right to inflict harm to do so.

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Leigh Simms wrote:
To me, it is not necessarily the gender of the attacker that is cause for my concern, rather it is whether the attacker is going to be a threat to my safety. If, due to the combination of the enemy's mental or physical traits they are incapable of causing me harm, then I would never use physical violence against them, simply because:

1) It would likely to be against the law; and

2) I don't feel its morally right to inflict harm to do so.

Good post and that’s definitely the way to see things objectively. Taking that as a given, there’s two other elements to this discussion:

A) How your inbuilt morality / social conditioning could prevent necessary action.

B) How such action, even when fully justified and necessary, will be perceived by third parties and the legal system.

I know I would be more hesitant to act against women, youngsters and the elderly. I have been raised to care for women, protect children and resect the elderly. That stuff runs pretty deep. I know it is possible for people in all those groups to pose a threat, and if that threat is there then it needs addressed, but I know my upbringing and conditioning I will raise its head in a way it would not with 20- to 50-year-old males. I'm sure I'm not alone and we should discuss these issues as part of this thread.

As regards the legal system, it should in theory be blind to gender (the laws are certainly written that way), but the law is implemented and judged by people and those prejudices exist within society. Witnesses also have their social conditioning and what they see and report will be influenced by that.

There’s no doubt that men who experience domestic violence from female partners have a different set of issues to face too. The Crime Survey for England and Wales tells us around 4% of men aged 16-59 experienced domestic abuse in 2014/15. That’s around 1.25 million men. So it’s common, but men fear they won’t be believed or will be mocked.

Indeed, the NHS website advises men who are suffering domestic abuse not to physically protect themselves because “There's also the risk that [the female abuser] will call the police, and you will be seen as the abuser.

I would suggest that a male perpetrator of domestic violence would not be able to use the same tactic if their female victim fought back. The female victim would, quite rightly, in all probability find they would have a very sympathetic ear. The assumption is that this would not be the case for male victims.

These are complex and important issues. I hope they make for a good thread where the issue will be discussed thoughtfully and sensitively.

All the best,


Ryan M.
Ryan M.'s picture


I felt the urge to comment on this question because it hit a deep personal button of mine. As this is my first post, I apologize for any formatting errors, or for any offense given. I agree with what Leigh has said regarding handling the situation, and I believe that that approach should be the aim of effective self-protection training. However, my instinctive reaction indicates I wouldn't be so objective. As Iain pointed out, there are other factors involved, including an individual's own social conditioning and how one's actions are perceived by others.

Personally, while I'm aware of the dangers of any committed attacker regardless of gender, I was raised and live in a culture that frowns on men physically harming women, and that value runs pretty deep. I think that this has a few consequences if I were to find myself on the receiving end of any kind of violence where a woman is the aggressor (as opposed to a man). The first is that it might take a higher level of force directed my way to trigger any kind of physical response on my part. The second is that I may very well react with a lower level of force than may be legally justified, even if it risked my safety, because of my social conditioning. Also, in the aftermath, I might have a harder time justifying it to myself, even if my actions were technically legally sound, because any type of violent physical response constitutes some sort of compromise of that value. I think that were a male to pose the same threat or threats in similar circumstances, those reservations would be less obvious, and maybe even absent all together.

I have absolutely no direct experience with how such a situation would be perceived by third parties and the legal system (and minimal experience with physical conflict in general), however, I would guess that the majority of observers would take issue with my actions however justified they are legally. I think this would be compounded if I were obviously larger, stronger, and had martial arts training. Of course, with no specific example in mind, this is all pretty general.

Is this a cultural thing or a biological thing or both?

Warm regards,


P.S. I found a video example of a scenario similar to what I had in mind here, but I think a moderator has to post the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QOiRQld9j34

I think the video does a good job of demonstrating the relevance of being observed, how that affects the resolution of the incident, and how third parties may interpret it.

Tau's picture

Iain Abernethy wrote:

As regards the legal system, it should in theory be blind to gender (the laws are certainly written that way), but the law is implemented and judged by people and those prejudices exist within society. Witnesses also have their social conditioning and what they see and report will be influenced by that.

I am very glad you stated this because my first thought was the contradiction of appropriate response to the specific threat vs third party perception.

Iain Abernethy wrote:

There’s no doubt that men who experience domestic violence from female partners have a different set of issues to face too. The Crime Survey for England and Wales tells us around 4% of men aged 16-59 experienced domestic abuse in 2014/15. That’s around 1.25 million men. So it’s common, but men fear they won’t be believed or will be mocked.

Indeed, the NHS website advises men who are suffering domestic abuse not to physically protect themselves because “There's also the risk that [the female abuser] will call the police, and you will be seen as the abuser.

And I'm glad you raised this too. Domestic abuse carried out against men is estimated to be on the increase and presents unique challenges.

Anecdotally I know doormen who are much less likely to intervene in fights between women as the perception is that they're often much more violent. They also fear the use of weapons such as high heels.

manusg34's picture

Is always a tough question when it comes up in the Dojo and I will tell you the way I learned this lesson the HARD way. I am Irish Catholic and I was raised by all women a Mom, 2 sisters and a grandmother and was told never raise a hand against a woman.

So working the door at a bar I was 20 and a fight broke out between a boyfriend and girlfriend both of who I was friends with. The girl ran into the bathroom and he punched trough the door and was was choking her. I took him out the hard way and kept the girl inside (which if it was two guys I would of thrown both out of the place) for her protection. After I got him out I went to check on the girl thinking the fight was over the girl walked over to me , I was expecting a thank you or something. I got something alright a Coorslight bottle upside the leftside of my head for hurting her boyfriend. Went to the Dojo the next day with sun glasses on to try to hide the lump and shiner til I got on the mats. My Sensei not only made me take them off and proceed to lagh at me for making a rookie mistake as he put it,made me take my belt off and where a pink belt so I would never underestimate a woman again.I will tell you this after 20 years working doors men get mad it is far easier to talk them down because of there EGO, when a woman gets mad enough to fight there is no stopping them and they are far dirtery fighters than men they have no EGO when they get to that point. Needless to say I never made the same mistake again and let me guard down against annoy man or woman. So my advice is dont see gender see an attacker, but only use the force needed to control the situtiation.


Andi Kidd
Andi Kidd's picture

I would advise anyone thinking on this subject to read 'Meditations on Violence' by Rory Miller. He talks about your 'glitchs' and how these can affect your ability to fight and how you think about situations.I can't remember what page it is but there is a mind exercise that addresses this very thought, so to go on from your initial thought

What if you are attacked by a preganat woman....... 

Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Patricia Bolton has written an article realted to this topic which you may find interesting: http://www.imokkarate.com/and-another-thing/

All the best,


JWT's picture

It's a good question and I would certainly echo the views at the top of the thread posted by iain and Leigh.  

In so far as my personal actions, I deal with the threat(s) in front of me and act accordingly (if necessary). The gender or age of the threat is only relevant in so far as it effects any decision making on target choice or likelihood of other people to become involved, and I have designed my training responses to ensure that they are (and can be explained as) reasonable. I'm not going to go 'lighter' on a person because they are older/younger/drunk/sober/male/female/sane/mentally instable - rather I act according to my perception of the threat(s) (and the environment, aggressive intent, speed and entry angle(s)) and the force required to meet my aim, whether that aim is to escape, extricate another person, prevent a person from doing themself further harm, or restrain a person until such time as restraint by me is no longer necessary.    

This kind of question is one of the reasons why I really like having female participants (and older children/young teenagers) at my scenario training events. Having a group of people who regard themselves as alpha males gives fewer challenging scenarios. I like to be able to throw in elements such as dealing with domestic abuse/arguments in public places, women making false claims and egging on men to fight, women attacking men, women or children fighting each other in public as well as men, dealing with provocation while accompanied by a male or female partner or a child, 'weaker' persons carrying hidden weapons etc. These are only simulations but they force people to make judgement calls and analyse how they responded and question (in the safety of training) whether they made the right calls.  

All the best  

John Titchen  

Jeremy McLean
Jeremy McLean's picture

Context is key. What is your position in relation to the aggressor? Being a bouncer vs walking home with groceries has different implications regardless of gender. What is the mindset of the aggressor? Are they drunk and incoherent or are they armed with the intent of causing specific personal harm? These issues should supersede gender and dictate your response.

Ian H
Ian H's picture

I wrote a long response, and then through clumsy fingers hit the wrong keys and somehow managed to delete it.  


Oh well ... deep breath, and ... life is good again.  I'll try to hit the main points in a quick point-form-ish respose and keep things going.

1.  The general assumption most are making in answering is that the recipient of the attack is male.  Probably a good way to initially limit the conversation, but of course the related question for a female self-defender is no doubt a good topic for a new thread.

2.  We probably also assume an "unarmed attacker" situation.  A female attacking with non-lethal-but-fight-evening force would probably shift the discussion far more toward "the same as if a guy attacks you" and if it's lethal force, then the attacker's sex becomes "gun".

3.  An attack from a woman is not going to be "expected" the way an attack from a man would be.  (If you walk in the woods and see a bear, you immediately think "it might attack me ... watch out!" but if you see a deer, you think "aww ... cute and harmless herbivore" and do not expect an attack.)  You may allow yourself to drift into unusally vunerable positions before the attack, and your response time may be slower than usual.

4.  Tactically, you may want to do more to confirm for any witnesses and/or security cameras that you are NOT the attacker.  Initial attempts to retreat from the conflict may become more important, and yelling something like "help!  this woman is attacking me!" may seem "unmanly" but could be crucial in swaying passersby as witnesses.

5.  Context of the number and nature of the attackers, and local geography are very important.  Societal expectations (at play in the minds of police and Crown prosecutors, as well as the general public) make these very important. If she's "100 lbs soaking wet and five-foot-nothing" and you are six foot four and 240 lbs of muscle, it's far different than if you are both about the same height and weight.  In the former example, you have a far bigger job convincing the relevant authorities to abandon the preconceived notion of "that tiny woman would never pick a fight with Brock Lesnar here".  IF they attack you in numbers, societal expectations are probably lessened, and if you are in a place with no easy escape, again, expectations lessened.

Some of those points you could say "the same goes for a male attacker", but I'd say "yeah, but moreso if the attacker is female."

Anyhow, hope that helps with the discussion.  

Mulberry4000's picture

Hi thanks for the replies. I have four sons and a daughter (17, 16, 14, 12, 9 girl is 14), all young. i teach my sons not to hit  girls espeically their sister, beause  as they grow up, the boys get more stronger than my daughter and they could do some considerable damage to her and other women. Also in general it is not good to rely on violence. I hate it if they fight or make threats, i put a stop to it very quickly and remind them they are family.

That a side, i  do not expect any one of my boys to back down when being attacked by a woman, they would think careful about it, conditoning is key here even my own. People have rights to be left alone and that includes men and women. I think women who attack men do it because they rely on the social conditioning for a man not hit back, which makes them over confidient and continues the abuse.

I witness my mother  attacking my step father with a steel poker or punches or any other object as a child, the police came and kicked him out not my mother. My mother was in the wrong, though i understand why she may feel she could do it, i.e my step father did not hit back. Also my mother was beaten up by  my father when he was alive. I have no proof of this, as he was never arrested or convicted of any crime, though it does explain or may  explain her aggressive behaviour. Also i have seen my mother defend herself being attacked by two women and coming on top, i was 15 at the time.

However i have seen women increasily becoming bold in attacking men and this is very dangerous for woman and men. Also in karate and judo the men are very cautious about being too rough with the girls. In karate we are reapeatedly told to hit the women  full force on the pads, allot of the girls cannot stand this, and the males are very reluctant including myself to do this and feel really bad when a girl gets hit. Some lads have hit girls and the girls cry  but that is  part of the class, still the boy who does this feels bad. However there is one exception, a girl who is 12 years old can hold the pads and stand there  and let males punch it full force, not sure about the kicks though.  She gets alot respect as she is very petite but tough at the same time.

I would rather my daughter get hit in a control enviroment so she can toughen up more slowly than in the street, where it is a shock. I know  brown belt in karate, who was 17 at the time, she saw violence in the street for what it was, short brutal and it shocked her to the core, enough so she felt so bad she should of done someithing because she was a 1st kyu in karate, she felt it was selfish to do nothing.  The intructor said and all the older  males, me included said, no, your belt does not give you any moral reason to defend some one else, simply because you could get hurt, you should walk away if you can or run, only defend yourself if you are at risk.  Still it was instresting, the group she was in, it was the males who was attacked and not the females. 

Back to the women attacker theme, i would hit a woman if attacked, but i would try to get away first or talk her out of it, but also i would have to be preperated to deal with other males who may see the wrong side of it and come to aid and attack me.

I think  is given that boys are taught to be tough, girls are more graceful and soft even though that can be reversed.  I said to one parent males hit further and harder,  and girls do not, he did not like it and reported it to the instructor, who said do not say that, but i think he was worried about loosing students, privately he agrees with me and can see it in the club. 

Sorry for spelling no spell check here

Paul_D's picture

Mulberry4000 wrote:
i teach my sons not to hit  girls espeically their sister
Given what you witnessed with your mother, do you teach your daughter not to hit her brothers?

Mulberry4000's picture

yes totally 

Mulberry4000's picture

I have read her article  it is intresting but she also goes wth the myth men have more muscle only in upper body, so by implication women have stronger legs becasue they are bigger etc. 

Men are  more muscular all over the body compared to women, it is not just the upper body but the legs, back and  etc. Women have more fat on their legs and have different muscle type. Bone density is way different in  a man  than a woman, i often hear that woman have bigger legs than men. not true most men legs are long, more muscular and more powerful . Women's bodies have more fat, it is from feminst websites i often read this allot.  It is wrong and give women the wrong impression.


Paul_L's picture

On some of these Police fly-on-the-wall TV documentries I have watched closing time in the city centres seem to be a popular reoccuring theme and often I see footage of women attacking male police officiers. Its just outright agression and some of it is in-close fighting with Hockey Punches, screaming, kicking and pulling. Often the attack is from behind when the officer is dealing with the attackers drunken and voilent friend / boyfriend. There can't be any doubt that it is nothing than unreasonable, unjustified behavoir. You would therefore hope that both the Police and the CPS are familiar with the issue and not so biased in favour of female agressors.

I do think that there is some very uneven viewpoints in our society when it come to men and woman and these can swing both ways. I remeber that there was a series of car adverts a few years back that showed a man sporting an injury that was delivered by his wife because he had borrowed the car without asking. These adverts run for a while until it was pointed out that if the advert showed the wife with the injury because she had borrowed the car the advert wold have never made past the Advertisment Standards Agency.

At this point I would like to point out that I am not putting forward an argument for one side of the other, just sharing a couple of examples.

At my club two of the three instructors are young woman in their 20s, so much younger than me. For me this does not matter, you follow their lead and accept their help and criticism. When sparring it is supposed to be case that they can both defend themselves and it is expected that I go for it, but as a 6'2" man who is physically stronger than them I just cant do it, I would be quite upset, even if I hurt them accidentally. The thing is am I showing them respect and courtesy or is it a disservice.

Tau's picture

I spent last weekend training with Rory Miller and I'm still processing all of the information. One exercise he had us do was on ethics (you need to consider he's American):

You're backed against the wall with no escape. There's no-one around to help you. Your attacker is is armed with a large knife and has every intention of burying it in you. They're well beyond reason and just want you dead. Do you shoot them?

Of course we all said "yes."

Now the nasty bit.

Does your answer change if the attacker has been the victim of abuse?


Learning disabled?


A teenager?

A twelve year old?

An eight year old?

sarflondonboydonewell's picture

In a situation like you describe one dosen't have thinking time; only reaction time. Fight; flight; freeze or submit kicks in. One life perceptions of the above will more than likely evoke freeze rather than fight but the human survival instinct might kick in stronger overcome the perception.  The ingridences of the case of R v Hegarty ( geniune belief of imminent danger) comes to mind. In short in the mid 80s during rioting in Belfast an RUC police officer shot a baton gun at very close range killing a rioter who he perceived was about to attack other officers. The officer was prosecuted but was not convicted. The judge ruled that he (Hagarty) ‘had most probably acted instinctively to defend his colleagues without having time to assess the situation in the light of police regulations relating to the use of baton guns( not to be fired at very close range), and without having time to balance the nature of the injury to the person who was killed  as against the nature of the injury which might be caused to the police officers.