Introduction to Exhibit

This exhibit’s purpose is to highlight how self-defense has been invoked by The Ohio State University and affiliated institutions, students, and activists in the context of gender-based violence and sexual violence. I was curious about how self-defense advice shifted over the years and how connections with the anti-rape movements may have influenced different strategies and attitudes. Moreover, I was particularly interested in how everyday objects themselves were being utilized as weapons of protection and defense. I utilized archived material from The Lantern’s digital archive and The Ohio State University Library archives and created metadata for each item to be displayed in this exhibit. I examined 136 artifacts that I found by utilizing key search words such as “self-defense" and "self-protection." The earliest artifacts I examined were from 1926 and the most recent was in 2022.

Within this exhibit you will find four sections: Know Your Surroundings: Early History of Self Defense at OSU,  Martial Arts: For Everyman! (and Everywoman!), "Play It Safe”: Safety Pamphlets, and A Self Defense Arsenal. These four thematic sections summarize key patterns and findings from my research.

I completed this research as an independent study in the Spring Semester of 2022 under the mentorship of Dr. Leigh Bonds.