Have You Ever Taken a Self-Defense Class?

Badass is beautiful. Thanks for the reminder, Gigi Hadid.
Publish date:
September 23, 2016
models, exercise, sexism, Gigi Hadid, Self-defense

If a self-defense class is a form of exercise, and exercise is an aspect of wellness, and wellness is a facet of beauty, then I have found my excuse to use xoVain to talk about Gigi Hadid being an absolute, utter, total, categorical badass. Like, I knew she's considered one of the most beautiful women in the world, but even though I can look at her and comprehend that, it wasn't until she very publicly had to physically defend herself (just yesterday) that I became an admirer — especially when she then verbally defended her actions.

I was browsing my Facebook "Trending" sidebar and clicked on Gigi Hadid's name. The article highlighted at the top of the feed showed a thumbnail of Gigi looking angry and mid-arm-swing, with the headline "Furious Gigi Hadid LASHES OUT leaving Milan fashion show." I clicked, admittedly wondering — based on that headline — if there was some kind of inter-model drama.

Turns out I fell for Daily Mail's sexist, rape-culture-y trap.

Gigi had been exiting a fashion show, participating in some fan selfies as she made her way to her car, when a man came up behind her, wrapped his arms around her waist, and lifted her into the air, not letting her go until an understandably surprised Gigi elbowed him in the face.

Why was that extremely important context and totally unacceptable behavior on the part of the man omitted from the headline?

Incredibly impressed by Gigi's quick self-defense (that's what it was — self-defense, not "lashing out") and seven kinds of enraged over that headline, I tweeted:


A friend then brought to my attention that Gigi herself had responded gratefully to a British journalist who'd taken similar issue with The Sun's headline for this story, which might be even worse than Daily Mail's social-media version:


Not model behavior? More like role model behavior. This man's action is not that of a fan, as Gigi pointed out on Twitter. In fact, the media has increasingly identified him as a "prankster" — some dipshit named Vitalii Sediuk. The New York Times referred to him in their headline as a "nuissance." And he apparently considers himself a protester, claiming on his Instagram account that he did what he did because, "While I consider Gigi Hadid beautiful, she and her friend Kendall Jenner, have nothing to do with high fashion. By doing this I encourage fashion industry to put true talents on the runway and Vogue covers instead of well-connected cute girls from Instagram."[sic]

Seriously? SERIOUSLY?! This asshole forcibly grabbed a woman from behind and lifted her off of her feet because he wants different kinds of models to do high-fashion work?

I can't.

This man is not a fan. This man is not a prankster. This man is not a protester. This man is an assailant.

Or, as Gigi so fittingly put it as she tried to run after him: "Who the fuck are you, you piece of shit!"

It's time that the media refers to men who feel entitled to touch women — yes, even celebrities (because people seem to feel especially entitled to them) — as the piece-of-shit assailants that they are, and not euphemisms that attempt to turn valid self-defense into an unladylike overreaction to a silly prank.

Which brings me back to the topic self-defense, because Gigi's complete lack of shit-taking has got me thinking that I'd like to take a class. I took a Krav Maga class years ago —well, half of one, because it totally kicked my ass, which is what I'm trying to prevent. But I'm definitely thinking about trying again so, should I ever find myself in a similar situation, I can be a similar badass.

So I asked xoVainers:

Have you ever taken a self-defense class?

Sable: "No, but I saw Miss Congeniality."

Caitlin: "Yes! One of the things they taught us was to trust your instincts. And if you feel threatened, face them, and put your hand out to visually signal to passersby that something weird is up. Also, hot coffee is an effective weapon."

Wendy: "Yes, I did in college! It wasn't the best self-defense class, but there were a couple takeaways. My favorite was the instructor's suggestion to take off your heels (if wearing them) and hook the heel part behind the attacker's member and then yank the shoe forward."

Beth: "I did aikido in high school. That's more about escaping. My dad taught me how to fight, and if attacked, how to fight dirty."

Lisa: "I took a Krav Maga class, and it was the best thing I have ever done. Yeah, maybe I took it because of J.Lo in the movie Enough, but I had no idea what I was in for. I take boxing regularly, but until you take an actual self-defense class, you aren't really thinking about the practicality of boxing (like, in real life you're not hitting a bag with equipment on; you're hitting a PERSON and your hands aren't protected). It's hard to summarize the Krav Maga class in a few sentences, but basically it taught me how to seriously injure someone bigger and stronger than me if I need to. But you need to practice! I have to go back, because learning it once is not enough. You need it to be built into your muscle memory in case you get scared and freeze up. Your body takes over when your mind can't think. (Now that we are having this convo, I need to sign up for another class.)"

Maricar: "No, but that is high on my to-do list."

Allison: "I took tae kwon do when I was 10. Does that count?"

Tamara: "I want to as an adult now since my go-to move when I feel threatened is usually to throw whatever is in my hands at the person I feel threatened by and run away. (Once it was frozen pizza rolls.) Probably not a great game plan. I took kung fu a looooooong time ago, but I only remember half of the first combo I learned. By the way, pizza rolls guy ended up just being my neighbor at the time, but still, you never know."

Rachel: "One time I asked my dad how to throw a punch and he said 'Ask your mother.' So then my mom taught me how to throw a punch."

How about you guys? Have you ever taken a self-defense class? If you've ever had the opportunity to use what you learned and you're comfortable talking about, please share! Also, Sable wants to put "Who the fuck are you, you piece of shit" on a T-shirt, and surely I'm not the only one who would be totally into that, right?