Not All Women Are Damsels in Distress

Hero Joseph Lozito says he was glad to protect defenseless women from the NYC stabber. But we’re not so helpless, Joe

This week, Philly native Joseph Lozito garnered fame and praise for stopping the knife-wielding killer who went on a stabbing spree in the Big Apple last weekend. From his hospital bed, Lozito told the media, “I’m glad he picked me. There were a lot of women and children on the train who couldn’t defend themselves.”

Gee, thanks for saving all the lives of the helpless women, Joe. I bet nobody else on that train could have survived without you.

Oh, please. OK, I’ll give him that children on the train—and maybe some of the women—couldn’t have defended themselves quite the way this 6-foot-2, tattooed bruiser of a man did, but surely there were other men who couldn’t have defended themselves, either. It’s not that I think what Lozito did wasn’t heroic, or even that I feel like he meant anything when he said the women and children couldn’t defend themselves, but, the idea that women are all defenseless and need constant protection bugs me. And it should bug you, too.

As women, we have options—certainly many of us have taken advantage of self-defense classes. In college, I took a self-defense class for women. I’m not saying it made me Superwoman, or even that it made me brave enough to intercede in a killing spree the way Lozito (sort of, by way of chance) did, but it did make me more aware of my surroundings and confident in my own abilities. In a city like Philadelphia where violence is a common byproduct of urban life, women especially can’t afford to be without self-defense knowledge.

“Self-defense is an absolute necessity,” says Phil Migliarese, co-owner of Balance Studios, which teaches various versions of the Brazilian martial art Gracie Jiu-Jitsu in its studios in Center City and the Northeast. “[Gracie Jiu-Jitsu] is a martial art that focuses on smaller people, and a perfect martial art [for women].”

Migliarese, who got involved in women’s self-defense training 20 years ago as a “dummy” for classes, says he’s found a big want—and a bigger need—for self-defense classes in Philly.

“I have known three people from my course [in Philadelphia] that have had to use it and have survived attacks and abductions because of the mindset,” he says. “There was a woman abducted, taken to a secondary location, and she lived.”

Sharon Bonewicz, who holds seminars for women’s self-defense using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and via the “Fight Like a Girl” program, says she sees a similar need among Philly women.

“Women’s self-defense seminars bring about awareness and consciousness of sexual assault that happens every day in a city like Philadelphia,” Bonewicz says. “I grew up here in Philly and have lived everywhere, so I know. People think that just because you live or work in a nice area that crime does not exist or feel a false sense of security. Crimes against women happen in broad daylight in the middle of a parking lot these days in the suburbs.”

What Balance Studios and Bonewicz’s seminars do is a good thing. The busy urban working woman who is also a mom or a board member or an avid yogi with an active social life (or all of the above) can’t be under the watchful eye of a knight in shining armor 24/7. It’s unrealistic and, frankly, naïve to assume our male counterparts will be the ones to keep us safe. You can’t ever be too safe, nor can you be safe enough.

“Taking a women’s self-defense course like mine will open your eyes to crime against women and teach you some life-saving skills,” Bonewicz explains. “Crime against women is different than a crime against a man, usually, because for a woman, her body is involved.”

So, to all the Joseph Lozitos of the world: we’re thankful that you’re taking on the valiant task of strong-arming away violence. But we can do just as well on our own—really, what other choice do we have?

  • http://michaelpetitti.com Mike P

    You’ve got to be kidding me. The only possible point of writing this asinine piece had to be to stir up anger and annoyance. Congratulations, I’m angered and annoyed. Men, should a psychopath come after Ms. Zalot, clear the path.

  • Sean

    Really? Are you actually paid to write this?

    /sigh

  • andy

    i wish that there were more Joe’s in the world. you have to be kidding – your piece almost sounds like you’re pissed off that joe was a ‘he’ and not a ‘she’. it’s a wonderful thing for everyone to know self defense; but, guess what, most women do not. end of story. whether you like to hear it or not.

  • Dean M

    Are you serious? Agree with Sean – out to spark reaction? Accomplished. I don’t think too many other people out there have an issue with Joe’s comment, especially the other people on the train who may have been the next target. You should be ashamed of yourself for printing this – Mag and writer, esp’lly about a local guy who did something decent.

  • Rick

    Well, I just wasted 2 minutes of my life reading your dribble. Seriously, find something important to do.

  • Livi in Philly

    Ya know, I consider myself a feminist. My father (a former boxer) taught me a few moves AND I took karate. But when it comes down to me having to fight off a lunatic murderer wielding a huge knife, um… I think I would be grateful – not offended – if a “6-foot-2, tattooed bruiser of a man” was brave enough to step in and spare me the confrontation. I mean seriously…has it come down to this? Lazito took a KNIFE TO THE HEAD from a guy who had KILLED PEOPLE. Cut him some damn slack.

  • Rico

    Really? This is actually your opinion? Just pray to God that if you were ever in that situation, that someone would be so chivlarous.

    Whether or not you are trained to defend yourself, you have to have the courage and fortitude to put yourself in that situation.

    Wake up!

    I agree with all the other posters, as well.

  • Andrea

    I can’t believe that you are paid! If you did your research you would note that when interviewed on GMA he stated “not that a women couldn’t defend herself” which he probably had to do in order not to get sued by someone like you! I guarantee if someone came after you with a 6 inch blade you would have been standing in a puddle! You really need a new job. Wish there were more Joe’s out there. Thanks JOE!!!

  • Dean

    How dare Joe diminish your heroism by being stabbed multiple times in stopping a murderer.

  • Sterling Archer

    This writer obviously never had a brother. The best trained, most physically fit woman still doesn’t have a chance against the average male with no training.

    Men are wired to be combative. Women are not.

    Feminists are hilarious when they deny the natural differences between the sexes.

  • Marie

    I too consider myself a feminist and applaud what this gentlemen did! Wishing to protect women and children AND putting your life on the line to do so is the height of chivalry, bravery and heroism. I know most of my highly educated and fit women friends thankfully feel the same way. What Joe did in no way demeans what women are capable of doing. Kudos to Joe!

  • Mark

    “Gee, thanks for saving all the lives of the helpless women, Joe. I bet nobody else on that train could have survived without you.” The tone and attitude of this article is abrasive and bizarre. Apparently the Philly Post can’t afford editors or they too are delusional and misguided.

  • jim

    Morgan Zalot=INGRATE. The guy almost lost his eye and had multiple cuts to his head.
    And to think you got paid for writing this piece of drivel. What a disgrace……