Do You Know How to Protect Yourself as a Hoop Dancer?

As smart, self-sufficient, strong, independent women, it is our responsibility to think with protect yourselour minds and our hearts, and to protect ourselves from harm.

That means opening discussion about before something bad happens, but also allowing honest communication and discussion after a horrific event.

The problem is, this isn’t happening. Women regularly put themselves in harm’s way, and then when something terrible happens, no one talks about it.

In the aftermath, any attempt at conversation around the event ends up in a fight about how you’re not supposed to “victim blame” and whether or not the offender had a right to do what they did.

No one wants to offend anyone, so no one says anything and the cycle repeats itself.

Last week I was lurking on a thread in a private hoop forum. The poster had commented warning other female hoopers about some disturbing behavior she had experienced with a male hooper online.

It only took a few minutes before the thread broke down and became a breeding ground of comments about whether or not the original poster had a right to say anything at all, whether or not she was being truthful, and whether or not the supposed offender had a right to try to protect or stick up for himself.

Everyone spent so much time arguing, they missed the entire point.

This kind of behavior is how women end up uninformed and in trouble.

Can Sexual Assault and Rape Be Avoided?

According to RAINN, in the United States, there are 237, 868 victims of rape and sexual assault every year. More than 50% of these offenses are reported to occur within 1 mile of the victim’s home.  And a full two-thirds of all rapes are committed by someone the victim knows.

These statistics are alarming. If more women understood how to protect themselves, these numbers could be dramatically reduced.

Am I blaming the victims?

Certainly not.

But, if more women spent time learning how to recognize and avoid potentially dangerous situations, their would be less opportunity for them to be hurt.

I knew a girl once who visited Chicago with a group of friends. On her return trip she was telling me all about her adventures. She had a great time visiting tourist spots, eating out, going to bars.

At the end of the night a man she just met, suggested they go back to his house. My friend, being an “enlightened” woman, went. Her cell phone was dead and she didn’t have any cash. She also didn’t give an address to any of her friends. Did I mention she was wasted?

As she told the story, I couldn’t help but admonish the behavior.

Her response?

“As a woman, I should be able to behave sexually however I want. Just like men.”

Rapists Don't CareBut just because you should be able to do something, doesn’t mean you can. And being sexually enlightened and being a complete idiot are not mutually exclusive.

My friend, was also missing the point.

This is what I told her:

I’m not here to judge you for the clothes you wear or whether or not you sleep around.

You didn’t have a working phone. You had no cash, and no way to get home. You didn’t even know where you were. And your friends had no way of getting a hold of you. 

Luckily this guy turned out all right…but he just as easily could have been a rapist who left you alone in a strange city with no money and no means of communication.

A true feminist doesn’t put herself in a position to be so easily harmed.

She looked at me stunned and said, “I never thought about it like that.”

7 Ways to Protect Yourself as a Hoop Dancer

Before I was a hoop dancer, I was a Martial Artist. As a 2nd Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor in the American Advanced Combat System, the biggest lesson I learned as a wasn’t about fighting, or weapons, or how to do the best take down. It was how to protect myself before I had to use my physical Martial Arts skills.

It is your responsibility as an “enlightened woman” to be prepared and aware no matter your political or personal beliefs.

Protect yourself as a hoop dancer. Follow these basic safety protocols.

1. Know Your Company

Consider how well you know someone before you agree to be alone with them.

Do you know anyone they know? Who are their friends? Who is their family? Where do they live? What do they do for fun?

It’s easy to meet someone and be fooled by their charm, good looks, or complimentary behavior. But, if you can’t answer basic questions about a person’s life, you’re taking a risk by being alone with them.

It’s not because you need all that information in order to be friends. But, learning that stuff often uncovers personality traits that make you change your mind about spending time with someone.

2. Look Up

At least 5 times a week I see women walking to and from their cars with their heads in their cell phones. They’re staring at it as they park, they’re still looking at it when they lock their doors, and they continue staring as they walk across the parking lot.

Other women don’t have phones in their hands, but their rifling through their purses looking for keys or something else. They are distracted and completely unaware of anything going on around them.

This reminds me of something that happened in college…

I was walking on a side street, cooling down after a run. Out of no where a van pulled up and parked next to the sidewalk where I was walking. I didn’t think anything of it until simultaneously four men, all college age, got out of the van and started walking toward me.

My Martial Arts training immediately kicked in and I stopped and said loudly, “What are you doing?!” This caught all of them off guard and one of them mumbled, “Ahh we’re not going to hurt you.”

I responded, “I know that. That’s because you are going to get back in that van and leave. Right now.”

Luckily, they did.

Later, as I recounted the story to my mom, she told me she had just heard of a rape victim who reported the vehicle matched the description of the van.

I don’t know what those men were planning. I don’t know if it was the same people who raped that girl.  All I know is that I was able to stop and ask them to leave because my head was up and I was aware of what was going on before it happened.

3. Practice Foresight

Hoop dancers get offers all the time. That doesn’t mean you should follow through on all of them. In the case of the thread I mentioned above, a male hooper offered to fly a girl all the way across the country just to hang out because he “thought they would get along”.

It wouldn’t have necessarily ended badly, but foresight told this girl it wasn’t worth the risk.

Would you be okay with a friend or loved one making the decision you’re contemplating? It’s unreasonable to expect superhuman strength and resistance of yourself, but think your friends or family are too fragile to handle a situation. If it’s not safe for them, it’s not safe for you.

4. Prepare YourselfProtect Yourself

Do a basic hoop search on Instagram and you will be bombarded with videos and pics of girls dancing around in their underwear and see-through clothing.

You might not think it’s fair, but everything you do has a consequence.

Yes, men should keep their hands to themselves unless you ask. But, they don’t always do that.

It’s irresponsible to put yourself in a position where you are lusted after and adored for your body, and then not take steps to protect yourself.

Does that mean women who do this are asking for it? Of course not.

I don’t know who first came up with that line of horse shit. No woman would ever ask to be raped and insinuating that she wants to be raped because she dresses provocatively is as asinine as it is misinformed.

But you do owe it to yourself to know basic self-defense.

If you’re in Mid-Michigan, I recommend you take a class here. If you’re somewhere else in the world, search for local Martial Arts studios, police departments, or women’s shelters who are teaching self-defense classes.

You may never need to use those skills. But in the event that you find yourself in a confrontation, wouldn’t you like to know how to escape?

5. Be Willing to Stand Alone

Guest what ladies?

If you’re not comfortable with something you don’t have to do it. Not everyone will agree with your decision.

Don’t waste time trying to convince them of your position. Let them do what they’re going to do and stay true to what you believe.

In the words of Albert Einstein,

“What is right is not always popular and what is popular is not always right.”

6.Listen to Your Intuition

You know that feeling in your gut that tells you something isn’t quite right? Listen to it!

That’s your intuition talking. If another hooper, club owner, or anyone else who crosses your path gives you the creepy crawlies, get out of there fast!

Do you really want to risk finding out whether or not you’re right?

7. Do Your Research

Before you head to a new city or venue, do a little research. Find the easiest, cheapest, and quickest ways to get around. Connect with other hoopers in the area prior to arriving and ask them how to stay safe in the city.

Talk to your friends and see if they’be been to the festival or venue where you’ll be performing. Find out what suggestions and experiences they have had. Learn from their mistakes!

It’s not hard to protect yourself as a hoop dancer, but it does take effort. In the end, putting safety first is worth it because you can hoop dance freely, without worrying that someone will try to harm or take advantage of you.