Greg Bartley/Camera Press, via Redux

Many years ago, while I was living in Beacon Hill Friends House, a Quaker community in Boston, a young member tentatively proposed that we host a Model Mugging self-defense course for women. Her hesitation could well have come from religious principles; traditionally, Quakers eschew physical violence even to save their own lives. But this woman was worried about something else altogether: “I don’t like people telling women that they should be afraid.” On that principle, she wondered whether she needed to snub this well-regarded course, as obviously it recruits and runs on fear. No matter that its goal is the management of fear and the lessening of actual danger. Certainly the instructors can’t help but authorize the feeling...

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