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Old April 7, 2013, 02:07 PM   #1
Jammer Six
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Instructor Ethics 201: Women's Classes

I posted this to Pax's thread "Instructor Ethics 101", and she asked for it to be a separate thread.

To me, it is very definitely an ethics question; there are a couple subtle points involved: whether an instructor perpetuates some rather ugly stereotypes about women and guns, and whether an instructor treats women differently in class.

Here is the post I made to the other thread:

As it happens, I was recently asked to teach a class in another sport (sailing) for women. Then, less than a week later, I was asked to teach a defensive handgun class for women.

I said no to both.

Asking relatives of mine, long time, professional teachers, there is no reason to teach women separately, from a teaching perspective.

The final judge in both cases, a bad guy on the street and Mother Nature at sea, will not draw a distinction between male and female, and the criteria that will dictate survival in both cases is not dependent on sex.

I'm aware that avoiding conflict is different for women. When I walk down a dark street, if I stare straight into an oncoming man's eyes, if I stop walking and start to glare at him, the outcome is completely different than if a small, beautiful woman dressed in a hot black cocktail dress does exactly the same thing. Large and ugly does have its perks. So I don't try to teach women how to avoid conflict, for the simple reason that I have no idea how it's done by them.

But once a shot is fired or the fight begins, the responses, skills and actions are dead even. They are the same, and must be taught to the same standard, just as are the skills necessary to bring a sloop home safely.

I've been a minority for more than half a century. Equality is not a center in the WNBA being paid the same as a center in the NBA, equality is a female center in the NBA. With no one noticing. And therefore, finally, I believe that teaching women separately from men perpetuates a rather ugly stereotype: that women, somehow, need instruction to master handguns or sail that men do not. Individuals may require more or less instruction than other individuals, but I have a vested interest in the belief that groups of normal adults are equal to other groups of normal adults.

So I don't teach Men's Sailing, Women's Shooting or Women's Sailing. I teach sailing and shooting.

That all said, there are women (and, much to my surprise, men) who are more comfortable learning without being under the scrutiny of the opposite sex. For them, I teach private lessons, at a much higher cost. (That's tongue-in-cheek. I couldn't resist.)

What I've learned from my students (and I think that an instructor who doesn't learn from his/her students is a fool) over time is that it is possible to insist on standards quietly, without either making a point of it or hurting people. Not everyone learns from drill sergeants, and, in fact, if you're not producing infantry from teenagers in battalion size batches, drill sergeant style teaching is one of the worst ways to go about about teaching defensive handgun skills. Teaching women may not need to be different from teaching men, but teaching teenagers is different from either-- it's almost like teaching another species. But I digress.

So while it is not necessary to be friends, it is my opinion that it is also not necessary to offend without cause, and splitting that hair accurately and consistently is a matter of experience as an instructor-- the more I teach, the less it is necessary to offend. The object is to transfer knowledge and skills, nothing else. Offending almost never accomplishes that, unless you're teaching someone with a world view that is way out of level, and then you're back to turning teenagers into infantry.

My conclusions, then, are simple, and largely in agreement with what I understand Pax to be saying.
The standards must not change, for anyone, unless I learn a bona-fide, genuine reason to improve both the standards and my teaching.
I do not teach separate men or women's classes anymore than I would teach separate classes for black and white.
I teach children and teenagers separately, their needs are different from adults, and the methods I use to teach them are different. But the standards are not different. For children, "maybe next year" is a viable, legitimate solution.

I'm pleased this came up. Particularly in sailing, where almost all instruction is for-profit, there is a large taboo in discussing divisions of classes, and what sells can have more momentum than ethics; I've never heard shooting instructors discuss ethics.

I am quite interested to hear what others have to say about it, whether they are instructors or students.
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Old April 7, 2013, 02:17 PM   #2
Jammer Six
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The easy, the popular, the sales-oriented answer is simple. Women everywhere probably love a women-only class.

I'm interested in ethics, as opposed to any of those things.

The standards must be the same for all. I admit that's easier said than done, the more physically beautiful a woman is, the harder it is to bear down. Surprisingly, the opposite is also true. I once read a line in a novel "If she hadn't been so damn beautiful, I would have been nicer to her."

On the other hand, it is possible to bear down on all students while treating them all the same.

Racism, sexism and other bigotry thrives on subtlety. The most dangerous racists, the most dangerous sexists are not the boys in the white sheets or the patrons of "gentlemen's" clubs. The most dangerous are the ones who honestly believe they are not racist or sexist.

I think that sexism is the reason for Pax's observed behavior, that women are not well served by the gun industry. I think that it's up to individual instructors, salesmen and businessmen to change that.

And I think that women's classes promote that stereotype, and do not change it. In doing so, they become ethically repugnant.

I look forward to other opinions.
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Old April 7, 2013, 03:37 PM   #3
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I teach a women's only Firearm Safety & Self Defense class.

Why "women's only"? Because that's the way the ladies wont it. I don't allow husbands, boyfriends, fathers, or brothers in the range. Why, because that's the way the ladies want it.

My wife works with me, she talks to the girls, sometimes they tell her things or bring up problems they wont even tell me. She rats them out, and I cover the problem in the next class with out addressing the lady who had the problem or asked the question.

It's not a shooting class per se, but a ladies self defense class, meaning I draw from my 20 years in LE on the problems women deal with.

I've taught both, men and women over the years, by far ladies are more responsive and make better students. They don't have the pre-conceptions or egos that men have.

It's nice having my wife working with me, helps a lot with communications with things I may not consider. It helps planning the next day's class. I don't do a one or two day session, I work do one night a week for 2 hours and keep the class small.

I'm going to have to go two nights a week do to the interest in the class.
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Old April 7, 2013, 04:29 PM   #4
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I dont know - Im split on this one

I go back to my original post on the original post that you originaly posted on


If the women are being treated differently its not the womans fault 99.9999% of the time (statistics are made up on the spot 87.23% of the time)

I dont see women doing anything differently when on the firing line - maybe because im not looking - but I dont.

Given clear instruction women are no different then men and they are certainly no less capable.

what I do see are the guys being idiots around women all the time. I have trained some ladies that are deadly deadly gunfighters. I do a lot of LE / Mil / Protective service / comp prep training so I get those who are actually past the novelty stage of ladies on the firing line . That might be the difference here.

again if i see any problem between guys and gals its the guy.

I would have NO problem having a well trained lady covering my back NONE

This post comes at a pretty cool time because I am bringing kurdish women into my training here in kurdistan soon - it took some doing but I have a bunch of zaravani (military) ladies inbound soon.

women are crucial in the field for a whooooole bunch of reasons - they make the best assets for intel, They diffuse tense situations better then men, they can be used for screening other women at checkpoints especially here in a muslim country, They are the number one choice for a security element in a family setting with kids etc etc

I dont understand why this is an issue especially in the states - shooting is gender neutral - girls can be girls and guys can be guys - the bullet doesnt care who shot it - But then again I will never pack a pink lady smith :-)
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Old April 7, 2013, 04:31 PM   #5
Brian Pfleuger
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The trouble, as I see it, is that you seem to assume that "equality" equals sameness.

Men and woman may be "equal" but they are not "same".

They have different needs, wants, attitudes, fears, strengths.... not that men don't differ from other men and woman from other woman, but there are psychological and physical generalities that separate the genders.

Refusing to offer a woman's only class is failing those woman, IMO. They are different and should be treated as such under appropriate circumstances.

"Separate but equal" may have a historical bad rap, but it has it's place.
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Old April 7, 2013, 05:25 PM   #6
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I spent about twenty years in a female dominated field, nursing.This has forced on me a certain amount of insight into the female nature. I currently work, and have almost a decade worth of experience, in a male dominated field, car sales.

As a result of this combination of experience I have serious doubts about men and women even being the same species, let alone being the same in any meaningful way.

From a scientific view point as well as from my experience men and women handle stress in two very, very, different ways.
This is proven, scientific, fact. Here is an easy to read article talking about one such study.

http://www.livescience.com/10140-str...le-brains.html

Interestingly, there is this sentence in the article that backs up what kraigwy has to say," Psychologists have long noted that stress affects men and women differently. Women tend to seek out social support, while men are more likely to withdraw. ".

For years I taught a "self-defense for healthcare providers" class. This was a class on how to survive an attack by a vastly stronger aggressive patient and was something they knew that they would end up using, and that their health,and maybe their lives, depended on their learning it.
Back in the day, with the drugs we had then, this was no joke, those patients sometimes tossed us around like rag dolls.
The reactions between the men and the women in the class were just different. This wasn't just my opinion, The head Psychologist and I always taught it together he felt the same way too, and adjusted the class sometimes because of it.

If you, (as a male) have some talent teaching Women (from your post it sounds like you might) this is an uncommon and valuable thing Jammer.
If you're the one teaching the class, and the Women being taught trust and respect you, they might end up asking questions when isolated from Men that could be the difference between living through the conflict and not.
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Old April 7, 2013, 06:03 PM   #7
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Please forgive the off site links. It's weekend & I shouldn't be on here all. But I do have two pre-written articles I'd like to throw this into the mix as a counterpoint.

The first article is titled, The Parade of the Dancing Bears. Here's an excerpt:

Quote:
Originally Posted by The Parade of the Dancing Bears

We do need more women in this field… lots of them. The industry has suffered, and suffered badly, from the lack of female participation in years past. That lack has too often shortchanged female students, and, in the past, it scared away or crushed the excitement out of a certain number of women who should have become today’s leaders but who went off and did other things instead. To avoid repeating the firearms training industry’s past mistakes, we need more women in this field.

But more than that, we need more competent people in this field. People who are willing to take themselves and their training seriously. People who feel the full weight of an instructor’s responsibility to her students, and who willingly shoulder that burden because it needs to be borne. Honest people who never pretend to be more than they are or to know more than they do. People who will do the hard work that it takes to get where they want to go. People who will not cheat new shooters who happen to be female, by being too afraid of their wimpy female nature to teach them what they need to know. People who take the job, and their students, seriously.

The tragedy is, I think the temptation to become a Dancing Bear can be pretty strong. When people look up to you just for being, it takes some strong character to do the work that needs to be done. It’s easier to just shuffle your feet a little, and let the crowd call it a dance.
The second article I have on this topic: Why Women's Classes? Here's an excerpt:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Why Women's Classes?

Because there are important differences in the ways men and women are approached by criminals, female students should hear a mindset lecture designed to address their unique defensive needs. Because there are practical wardrobe and holster challenges that are common among women but rare among men, women often need additional, accurate information about carry methods best suited to their practical needs. And in view of the physical differences between individual students, including personal style issues, gun-handling techniques should be tailored to match the students’ physical needs on a realistic level. All of these factors mean that there is a place for serious, practical firearms training intended to specifically address the unique needs of female students.
So that's where I'm at. I think there are practical reasons to specifically address the needs women bring to class with them, and I think those needs have been unaddressed or poorly addressed in the past. I have yet to meet a male firearms instructor who can effectively teach a woman how to use a holster designed to hide inside a woman's cleavage, or who can reliably teach how to dress around the gun using typical women's clothing in daily life, or who can effectively teach a woman how to safely use alternative carry methods designed specifically for female clothing types and body shapes. There are many who do awesome work overcoming their natural handicaps, but there's really no substitute for living the life -- just as I cannot effectively teach a guy how to carry and conceal in a 3 piece suit because even if I do my homework, I've never lived that life. I can give you the broad outlines, but I can't give you the detail work that you develop only from personal experience.

Also, I'm not big on the whole nature/nurture controversy. I couldn't give a rat's hindquarters about the bigger implications of -isms in our society. I just want to help people become better prepared to protect themselves and their loved ones, in ways that fit naturally into the lives they actually want to live.

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Old April 7, 2013, 06:27 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by scrubcedar

If you're the one teaching the class, and the Women being taught trust and respect you, they might end up asking questions when isolated from Men that could be the difference between living through the conflict and not.
Quoted & repeated for truth. It really, really squares with my observations of the dynamic differences in self defense classes limited to women-only versus coed classes. The quantity of the questions does not change, but the quality and the depth of the questions sometimes changes dramatically. A lot of times, women don't even realize they have those questions until you get them into a group of like minded others -- and then all at once, all these amazing, thoughtful and thought provoking questions and ideas start flying all over the room.

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Old April 7, 2013, 07:36 PM   #9
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I don't buy into the initial premise. I'll be brief:

1. There is more than just tactics. There is mindset. Women may come to the class with a different starting point than men. Establishing mindset from two different points of view may take different specifics.

2. Men tend to posture in class. One might say that a good instructor can control that but I don't think you can control subtle pressures and behaviors. Not worth fighting about for beginners. Some feminist gun books are full of male idiots spoiling range time for women.

3. Women, as mentioned above, come to game with issues of victimization. They may not want to share with men.

That's the reason for separate beginner classes.

As far as racism being more dangerous on a subtle level - not to divert - but horsepoop. Tell that to the dead, tortured or those who were denied jobs,etc. Yes, there is implicit and explicit racism. Explicit makes you dead or live in a ghetto.
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Old April 7, 2013, 08:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
The easy, the popular, the sales-oriented answer is simple. Women everywhere probably love a women-only class.

I'm interested in ethics, as opposed to any of those things.
I suspect that there are women who would rather get NO training, rather than go into a coed class. Accordingly, I would rather see women's classes offered than not.

Why might some women avoid coed classes? Because, as someone posted earlier, men posture. I think that posturing will have a chilling effect on many of the questions that women in coed classes would like to ask. They do not ask for fear of sounding silly.

I also think that men learn differently from women. I think men tend to learn on a competitive basis to a greater degree than men do. We learn by taking someone to task at the range. "I can put all 5 in the X ring from here. You watch. Here, let me show you how that's done." I think women tend to learn on a cooperative basis better than men do. (I won't try to put a quote in on this one, because I'd just sound silly.) I have no scientific studies to back this up, no PhD in psychology, no links to share.

So one key difference has far less to do with what needs to be taught, than how the students learn.
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Old April 7, 2013, 09:29 PM   #11
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No problem Spats I can cover the research/proof area.

http://advan.physiology.org/content/31/2/153.full

One of the original VARK studies noting that women and men separate themselves sharply by these standards. You've probably heard of this research without knowing it, the explanation from the study is"Students have individual learning style preferences including visual (V; learning from graphs, charts, and flow diagrams), auditory (A; learning from speech), read-write (R; learning from reading and writing), and kinesthetic (K; learning from touch, hearing, smell, taste, and sight). These preferences can be assessed using the VARK questionnaire. ".

The summation of the study that applies here,"Females prefer unimodal learning, whereas males prefer multimodal learning. Left: 54.2% of females preferred a single mode of information presentation. Of the females who preferred multiple modes of information presentation, some preferred two modes (bimodal, 12.5%), three modes (trimodal, 12.5%), or four modes (quadmodal, 20.8%). Right: 12.5% of males preferred a single mode of information presentation. Of the males who preferred multiple modes of information presentation, some preferred two modes (bimodal, 16.7%), three modes (trimodal, 12.5%), or four modes (quadmodal, 58.3%).".

http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal...46&_nfls=false

Swedish study, highly technical dive in if you want, trust me it agrees with the point.

http://isites.harvard.edu/fs/html/ic.../krupnick.html

Mostly focused on communication differences. It agrees with the points Pax and kraigwy made.
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Old April 7, 2013, 10:23 PM   #12
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I wish I had the student numbers to justify a separate women's class. The majority of women I see come onto the range for a CCW class with their husband. About a third are relatively reluctant participants. Some are there because their husbands asked them to be, some are there because they think if their husbands are going to carry guns, then they should know something about them, too.

Most are using their husband's guns, and shoot next to him on the range.

This drives me nuts.

Because then they spend half the time being either coached (usually badly) or criticized by the husband, and their shooting suffers. Then they don't enjoy it or learn from the experience.

I usually try to separate first-time female shooters from their husbands or boyfriends on the firing line and coach them individually. Most women take to a different style of instruction than their husbands do.

As other instructors have noted, if I can get them away from their husbands, many novice female shooters will outshoot their 'experienced' spouses because they actually listen and don't start from the mistaken belief that they know everything already.

I see a lot of female students with ridiculously outsized nervousness about the class because they are there with their husbands and do not want to disappoint or look bad.

I also did have a case where a fellow instructor not known for his professional conduct in any field of work took a special shine to an attractive, younger female student and basically made a fool of himself in front of the rest of the class. That really made us look bad as an instructor group, I think.
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Old April 7, 2013, 10:44 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
The easy, the popular, the sales-oriented answer is simple. Women everywhere probably love a women-only class....
Which, in and of itself, is a good reason to offer women-only classes. Our goal is to educate and train. If a woman would enroll in a class with only other women, but not in a co-ed class, making a women-only class furthers that goal. Refusing to do so frustrates that goal.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
...The standards must be the same for all....
Yes, they need to be. But there is really no reason why a competent instructor should be assumed to modify standards in a women-only class compared with a co-ed or male-only class. The applicable standards should be, and can be, independent of the gender, racial and age (within a reasonable range) mix of the class.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
...And I think that women's classes promote that stereotype, and do not change it. In doing so, they become ethically repugnant...
The point of offering classes is to educate and train people. We've seen a number of posters describe why some women may well learn better in a women-only class.

It's not a matter of stereotypes or ethics. It's a matter of providing the most accessible quality training. If for some women that is most likely to be found in a class limited to only women, such classes are worthwhile.
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Old April 8, 2013, 12:56 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
The easy, the popular, the sales-oriented answer is simple. Women everywhere probably love a women-only class....
Yup. They probably do. In fact, I know they do -- because I have managed to fill every available weekend between now & the end of the year with 2-day, $400 intermediate handgun classes designed for women and held in multiple states around the country. Most of those scheduled classes are already filled to capacity (16 people) with waiting lists. Obviously, I've managed to strike a chord here.

Nor am I the only one. Two weekends ago, I was down in Texas for the 1st Annual A Girl & A Gun Training Conference. This was 150 women on 9 bays, plus classrooms, for two very full days of training in 90-minute blocks of instruction... very similar in layout to the Rangemaster Tactical Conference that's been going on at Tom Givens' place for so many years. Those women were eager to learn, but nearly everyone I talked to was openly skeptical about the non-usefulness, non-applicability of classes available from the "tactical" side of the training market. Most of them agreed they needed training (or they would not have invested as much money as they did in this large event), which is why they were there.

So we can find ways to appeal to these groups of people, and get them the defensive handgun training that could save their lives one dark night. Or we can ignore their preferences, and keep going with the standard marketing of handgun classes we've always done in the gun world (which has long been proven ineffective at reaching large numbers of women).

If there's an ethical aspect to women only classes, there it is: we can work hard to get people the training they need in a format they want, or we can ignore what they want and they will never get the training they need... hm.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Spats McGee
I suspect that there are women who would rather get NO training, rather than go into a coed class.
Spats, you really nailed that one. That's my point.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Madcap Magician
I wish I had the student numbers to justify a separate women's class. The majority of women I see come onto the range for a CCW class with their husband. About a third are relatively reluctant participants. Some are there because their husbands asked them to be, some are there because they think if their husbands are going to carry guns, then they should know something about them, too.
And this is the flip side of that same thing. The traditional ways of reaching the women's side of this market have been proven not to work. We can either keep beating our heads against that wall, or we can find new ways of reaching new people.

As Frank said,

Quote:
Originally Posted by Frank Ettin
Our goal is to educate and train. If a woman would enroll in a class with only other women, but not in a co-ed class, making a women-only class furthers that goal. Refusing to do so frustrates that goal. ... It's not a matter of stereotypes or ethics. It's a matter of providing the most accessible quality training. If for some women that is most likely to be found in a class limited to only women, such classes are worthwhile.
Meaningful, applicable training saves lives. Appealing to potential students in a way that helps them make the decision to get that training also saves lives. That's the bottom line for me.

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Old April 8, 2013, 01:13 AM   #15
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I would also point out that it is necessary to educate ethically. I had assumed that all instructors participating here were interested in ethical education practices. I wanted this discussion to be about that facet: whether separate classes are ethical.

Consider this: women do not have trouble finding a class that can teach them to drive. Yet in the first decades of last century, it was taken for granted that women could not drive.

Without considering the ethics separately from the subject, without facing, dealing with and discussing all those "isms" that seem to make everyone so uncomfortable, we never would have arrived here in the matter of teaching women to drive.

McGee's point, women who would rather get no training than go to a coed class is a result of this pitiful situation, and is a reason to continue fighting for change. It is not a reason to allow the status quo to continue. It's an effect, not a cause.

The reason that I believe changing the "isms" is more important than current teaching practice is because everyone here agrees on one thing: there are women who do not attend coed classes because they are not comfortable learning to shoot in the presence of men.

And that fact, by itself, doesn't bother you?
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Old April 8, 2013, 01:47 AM   #16
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Actually, I don't agree that there are very many women who aren't comfortable learning to shoot in the presence of men.

Rather, I think the traditional firearms training industry has done a poor job of meeting women's needs, and an equally poor job of convincing women that their products will meet women's needs. The reluctance to take co-ed classes is not so much a reflection of unwillingness to shoot or to learn in the presence of men; it instead reflects a very deep, core belief that the traditional classes do not meet the needs women bring to class.

The fact that bothers me is that you seem more concerned with the down-the-road changes to society than you are with saving the lives of the people we can reach today. I'm not sure that we have any ethical common ground here at all.

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Old April 8, 2013, 02:33 AM   #17
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Well, we're even, pax. The fact that astounds me is that you don't seem concerned with changing the industry, in spite of the fact that you, personally, are exactly the right person, in exactly the right place, with exactly the right skills to do so.

I understand that it may inconvenience you to change an industry.

If you don't agree that such women exist, or that there are a significant number of them, then there is no ethical reason for separate classes.

It sounds to me like you've switched from agreeing with McGee when he said there were such women to saying that you don't agree that such women exist.
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Old April 8, 2013, 02:43 AM   #18
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Oh, I'm changing the industry, all right. Ten years from now there won't be many instructors who haven't changed their classes as a result of the things I'm learning and doing today (edited to add, I'm hardly the only one learning those things and helping drive those changes! ).

But those changes will be part of a natural evolution, not something jammed down people's throats from the outside. And in the meanwhile, I'm reaching people where they are right now, which means I am not part of the culture that has written women off as unwilling to learn and unable to develop a good self defense mindset. Perhaps some of those people will make the decision to save their own lives as a result.

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Old April 8, 2013, 09:59 AM   #19
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I think that we should also bear in mind that there's a big difference between:
1) Voluntary segregation; and
2) Forced segregation.

I have no problem with the former. If women who do not care to participate in coed classes will go get training in a women's only class, I'm OK with that. If such women are more comfortable in that environment, then it's no skin off of my nose. I'd rather they got some training without men present than no training at all.

As to the latter, that's a problem. If it were "here's the women's class, and that's the only option for women," that's a proble. I will grant that from the other side of the coin, the men's perspective, if there's a women's only class, and men are not allowed to join, that's not so voluntary for the men. However, I don't think men have traditionally had a problem finding classes geared towards them.
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Old April 8, 2013, 10:47 AM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
Well, we're even, pax. The fact that astounds me is that you don't seem concerned with changing the industry,...
And you're not changing anything when women aren't enrolling in your class because they'd prefer a class with only other women.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
...in spite of the fact that you, personally, are exactly the right person, in exactly the right place, with exactly the right skills to do so....
Yes, Kathy is indeed that. And her choices and judgment in this matter reflect a particular good understanding of the subject.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jammer Six
I would also point out that it is necessary to educate ethically. I had assumed that all instructors participating here were interested in ethical education practices. I wanted this discussion to be about that facet: whether separate classes are ethical....
Of course separate classes are ethical. They are ethical insofar as they encourage and promote training for some who might not pursue training under other circumstances and insofar as they can have to potential to offer more effective training to such persons for sound pedagogical reasons.

As mentioned in this thread by several posters, including our resident professor of psychological there are sound pedagogical reasons to conclude that a women-only class has the potential to offer better education and training to some women under some circumstances.

The offering of a women-only class could be ethically questionable when the gender specific format is used as an excuse for offering substandard training. But it's unethical, IMO, for any instructor to provide substandard training no matter what the make up of the class might be.

Quote:
Originally Posted by pax
...in the meanwhile, I'm reaching people where they are right now, which means I am not part of the culture that has written women off as unwilling to learn and unable to develop a good self defense mindset. Perhaps some of those people will make the decision to save their own lives as a result...
And that describes the first order of business: to provide good education and training for women -- however that can best be done.
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Old April 8, 2013, 10:55 AM   #21
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Spats ~

Good point. I've long thought there should be men-only classes available too. Of course, many classes end up being composed solely of male students, but that's not the same thing as setting up the class itself to allow students to choose the environment where they will best learn. On the class-content and pedagogy side, men generally do benefit from classes tailored for their specific needs, but right now almost every class out there is optimized for male students anyway (gear selection and mindset lectures are the two areas where this optimization shows most clearly).

In any case, from my perspective there's an advantage to offering classes geared for specific demographics: senior citizens & retired people; teachers and others who work in educational settings; retail sales workers; young parents... A narrower mix of student demographics helps the instructor more tightly focus on the students' shared, specific needs and then to cover those needs in greater detail. IMO, both wide-mix and narrow-mix classes have a place.

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Old April 8, 2013, 11:20 AM   #22
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It might be useful to define what kinds of ethics we're dealing with in this thread.

Jammer, if I'm understanding you correctly, you're talking about a very broad ethical stance: that people should be treated equally, and that on the scale of society as a whole, it's unethical not to do that.

But I think Kathy is more concerned with professional ethics, which should follow from one's general beliefs, but which deal specifically with one's responsibilities as member of a much smaller society.

I think it's important not to conflate the two.

But even on the level of ethics writ large, it's worth analyzing what counts as equal treatment. I'd argue that for most purposes, a concept of fairness is actually more useful than rigid ideas about equality.

Here's an example: as a society, we're committed to the principle that people should be treated equally under the law. Among other things, the right to a fair trial is central to that. The legal system has historically conducted its business in English, but what constitutes equal treatment within that system for someone who doesn't speak English well? Do we want to say that equal, or fair, treatment consists of assuming that everyone should speak English, and carrying on regardless of whether a defendant understands what's being said? I don't think many people would be comfortable with that notion of "justice."

The rational alternative is to provide a translator. On the surface, that might look like "special treatment," but on another level, it's treating the individual in a way that's intended to make sure his (or her) right to a fair trial is protected.

We also see nothing unethical in treating people with disabilities differently from others, to the extent that's necessary to ensure that they have equal access to things able-bodied people take for granted, from entry to buildings to education. All of this is about recognizing individual needs, in order to ensure that people are treated fairly.

It's also a matter of fairness to recognize that women have different needs from men when it comes to self-defense. It's fine to want to change society, but in the meantime, women deserve access to training that actually works for them -- and they get to decide what that is.
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Old April 8, 2013, 01:58 PM   #23
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Perhaps put another way, we might say that the goals and standards of education in this or any other field should stay the same, but the means of reaching those goals may differ. If the motive of a teacher is to put people into environments in which their learning ability is maximized, their ethics are above reproach; if the motive is to limit learning, lower standards, or patronize a student or group of students, decidedly not.

I spent 15 years as a volunteer in public schools, 9 at the high school level, teaching music. To fail to recognize that different people learn differently, at different rates, and may have different goals, is to fail as a teacher; to adapt to the needs of students is to excel. I had students who had the goal and innate ability to become soloists, but I had others whose abilities and/or motivation limited them to being chorus members. Some may say that my teaching abilities limited those whose goal was to become a soloist but fell short, and although they may be right, the fact that my effort was unflagging makes it a matter of my ability rather than my ethics. I did not claim to be the perfect music teacher who could make any child a star; I did not claim to have credentials that I lacked; I claimed to be an accomplished amateur musician and I offered to teach what I know and help the students progress.

Since there is a recognizable trend towards differences between the sexes, both physical traits and learned sociological and behavioral traits, it would seem reasonable to commend a teacher who addresses those differences as one who maximizes the learning potential of his or her students. Individualizing methods and goals, although out of fashion in some circles, is good teaching.

Last edited by TailGator; April 8, 2013 at 02:08 PM.
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Old April 8, 2013, 03:10 PM   #24
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Vanya, that's closer-- I'm also interested in establishing a set of ethics under which separate classes simply aren't necessary.

In your last sentence, I'd like to identify exactly, point-by-point, what those different needs are.
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Old April 8, 2013, 03:49 PM   #25
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I like the fact that a lot of the staff are involved in this discussion, mainly because many of them are professional trainers and have experience in training. My hat is off to them, and I respect the fact that they are participating in this thread which, under normal circumstances, could be like bothering a hornets' nest.

As far as training women separately, I am of two opinions. Yes, women have their own needs and interests when being introduced to something largely perceived as a "men's sport". They will need to be coaxed and reassured initially, and encouraged and praised as they progress, but that is not unusual in any training environment. Men, on the other hand, are often muy macho and full of bravado, and will not listen to basic instructions until they get hurt or embarassed. I saw this training Marines on the firing line, I have seen it teaching martial arts, and I would expect the same in basic defensive firearms training. In this respect, women are better students, and I would agree that they could have their own classes (notice I did not say "should").

Once past the initial introductory training period, women need to be handled differently because of their different approach to threats and violence in general. Women are seldom the assailants, they are often the victims. This fact alone makes their training needs much different from men's needs. And this is not an instance of the man staring down a bad guy or a woman in an evening gown staring at the bad guy (for some reason, I found that example rather offensive, although I understand the concept being expressed). This is more of a case of a woman dressed in blue jeans walking down a street being approached by a bad guy who smiles at her and then knocks her cold, as compared to a man in blue jeans walking down the street being approached by a bad guy who sneers and postures before knocking him cold. Both instances are similar here, but due to a woman being perceived as a sexual victim as well as a robbery victim, the actions of the bad guys are different, as are the actions of friendly passers-by. So no, I don't feel that a woman will not be equal until there are female centers in the NBA (NBA or any professional athletes are anything but equal to the standard citizen), this is about training people with different societal perceptions and attitudes to defend themselves. If women want a separate class, let them have the separate class. You do that for LEOs, don't you? And they are just citizens, regardless of how they view themselves. You teach to the students' area of needs, not to the students' gender or social position. I have seen "1911-only" classes and "Glock-only" classes, what is wrong with women-only classes? Don't judge them, you are just the instructor. If you are good at it, you may become a teacher.
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