Depatriachalizing fighting techniques: Self-defence without imitating the motions of your oppressors.

a. j. morgan-kelly
2 min readMay 31, 2021
In a world plagued with dangerous far-right white supremacists like these, the rest of us are unfairly forced to assume habits and behaviours that reflect the very toxicity of our attackers. Cover image courtesy of the New York Times.

Self defence is crucial in a male-dominated world like this one, where aggressive males will often prey on those they see as being weaker or different as them for the sake of reinforcing their own sense of toxic masculinity. But how to fight back in a way that does not reflect violence and toxic masculinity in itself? Calling the police obviously is not an option if we face violence, especially if our attacker is Black, because we cannot measure the threat of violence from anybody against the murder that will surely happen if the police are called.

If you are ever in need of fighting off an oppressor who means to harm you, but are afraid of assuming the body language of the oppressor in doing so, here are some techniques you can use to resist becoming more like them.

  1. Be the bigger person and don’t fight back. This might be physically painful for you, but the only way to truly avoid adapting the traits of toxic masculinity is by remaining completely inactive. The moral high ground remains yours if you refuse to engage in their behaviour on any level.
  2. Apologize for what you are about to do or for what you have done. Denounce the traits of toxic masculinity you were forced to temporarily acquire to fend off attacks fuelled by toxic masculinity itself. Apologizing signifies that you have recognized the error in your ways, while toxic masculinity itself is never apologetic for it sees itself as inherently and eternally correct. You can therefore distance yourself from toxicity just by acknowledging your own toxicity.
  3. Seek help from non-police community defenders. If you are fortunate enough to inhabit a city with police-free autonomous zones, try to spend your time there as much as possible. The leaders of these communities are well trained in both self-defence and de-escalation techniques, and seek to protect their citizens in the ways the police never can and will.
  4. If you are able-bodied enough to do so, run like hell. Escaping conflict is always superior to engaging in conflict (although running, being an action, is decidedly more patriarchal than the inaction referred to in #1).
  5. Talk to your attacker. Maybe he’s hurting. Now is the time like never before to train yourself in de-escalation techniques. Talk to your attacker and try to understand what he’s feeling and experiencing. Try to understand their violence from their point of view. It is not your duty, nor is it your responsibility, to educate the violent about why violence is wrong when Google is free. But if you have the spoons to try this, you might just be able to make things better for both of you.

-a. j. morgan-kelly//decolonize. liberate. resist.



a. j. morgan-kelly

whxte settler on unseded xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam) Territory//grsj major + soci minor//decolonize + resist//BLM//ze/zir and fae/faeself//queer enby