Jennifer Garner: Why I Wanted My Girls to Take Karate

11/20/2014 at 12:15 PM ET

Ben Affleck Jennifer Garner Save the Children gala

Sydney Bristow would be proud: Jennifer Garner‘s girls are learning to master martial arts.

The actress, 42, wants her daughters to embrace their “femininity” by playing with baby dolls and knowing how to bake.

However, she also wants Violet, 9 next month, and Seraphina, 5½, “to be able to kick a guy’s ass,” she told reporters on the red carpet at the 2nd annual Save the Children Illumination Gala.

“That’s why they’ve been taking karate since they were little!”

But book smarts are equally important to Garner. “I want my girls to love math and I want them to think that being a scientist is the coolest job on the planet,” she said at the event, which honored her husband, Ben Affleck.

According to the actor, Garner, who is on the board of trustees of Save the Children and who hosted the gala, is a great role model for their daughters.

“I think they understand what my wife understands full well, which is that it’s important to be strong and present and powerful and accept nothing less than a man would and in fact, ask for more,” Affleck, 42, says.

“That’s part of what I admire about my wife and I know through her example that my children will absorb that.”

While her children — including son Samuel, 2½ — wish she could stay home with them all the time, Garner says, “I want my kids to know that if working is important to me, and working for Save the Children is important to me, then that’s valid and that as much as I love them, I’m my own person too.”

— K.C. Baker

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Showing 33 comments

portia on

Nice story!!! I was wondering why People hasn’t been covering Jennifer Garner — haven’t read anything about her on this site in ages.

Sarah on

Jen is awesome

Nica on

What a true example of a confident woman and what a great testament from her hubby. My favorite Hollywood family, hands down!

ELC on

I have always felt that she and Ben were an odd pairing, maybe because of his hook up with Jennifer Lopez-he must love women with the same name. What I wonder about this article is why does she want to have her daughter’s kick a man’s butt for protection or to get even?. Doesn’t sound like she respects men and she’s transferring that to her girls. She doesn’t impress me any.

mommytoane on

Good for them. My daughter takes self defense so she can kick arse as well. Best part of Karate and many self defense things is that they teach that fighting isn’t cool and that using your techniques on people isn’t cool. I love Jen and Ben. They are such a cute couple and make the cutest kids.

Noneya on

Great story! Get off their backs people! Part of the martial arts training is about WHEN & WHY to use it – she’s wanting her girls to be strong – not bullies………..

guest3 on

Why would she think her girls will want to be with a man, who’s butt they might have to kick?
I can see her wanting her girls to be able to defend themselves. BUT she sound like she is hostile to men. What is the butt kicking for? For show, or for defense.

Marcia on

Hey, Guest. This has nothing to do with respecting men. This is self-protection, which every female needs to know. Maybe “kick a mans ass” gives the wrong impression, but there may be a frightening time in their lives when they are threatened and they really need to protect themselves.

guest on

If she had said their karate is for self-defense, then I understand her. But to say it is to kick mens butts sounds hostile.

sam on

Did she really say that? It’s not a funny little expression, it’s an irresponsible thing to say. Does she also feel it’s ok that her boy is able to ‘kick a girl’s ass’?
Equality for women…and men, you know.

guest3 on

Marsha, I understand self-defense, but the way she put it sounds like she wants her girls to be aggressive towards men. Why would she say it that way, kick MENS butts?! What about women, who threaten them?! Or is this hostility only against men?!

cj on

Wow people, how would you like your every word dissected ? I believe her husband said it best that his wife wants their daughters to be strong and confident. They are in more jeopardy than the average kid for a kidnapping or attack so getting her girls, who no matter what we may think are still more likely to be the victim of violence. IMO

sam on

guest3, I agree completely! 🙂

LOL on

LOL Can you imagine if someone said, “I want my boys to be able to kick a gal’s ass! That’s why they’ve been taking karate since they were little!”

stacey on

Lost all respect for them as a couple with Ben’s nude and sex scenes in Gone Girl.

thstle on

kick a guy’s ass? Only a guy? They won’t kick other women? She sounds sexist and scary. Self-defense is self-defense, and science is good, but I would be dumbstruck if ANY of her children went into science careers. Please!

Rosemary on

Why do women hate men? This is the question I asked myself after reading this. I felt like Mrs. Affleck wants her girls to be tough, like a MAN and that science and engineering are for MEN only. There seems to be a lot of hidden resentment toward men. And if Violet and Seraphina want to be “girly girls,” then so be it. Will she teach Sam how to clean, cook and do crafts?

Hilly on

They need to defend themselves from the Bill Cosbys of the world.

Srishti on

Chill people. The teaching young girls’ to kick ass is in the context of personal safety since women tend to, usually be physically smaller than men. Also men regularly use the term ‘kick ass’ before a game and after a sports win. Also @ Barbara You might want to be careful posting under a female name/pseudonym.

Gas on

Lovely family. Good for her!

beckilynne on

Get a sense of humor, people. Sheesh. Have you ever seen Jennifer Garner in an interview?! She’s smart, charming and incredibly funny! Some of you are reading way more into this. Instead of getting the message in this article … you’re focussing on ONE silly sentence. I’m sure she meant no real harm to men in the universe. You can all stop worrying, now. She’s harmless.

Anonymous on

Wow! Some people splitting hair here, huh? Any intelligent, normal person know what Jennifer Garner meant, SELF DEFENSE people, SELF DEFENSE!! Doesn’t have anything to do with being a bully, not respecting men or any other stupidity Jeez!

Marie on

What’s with People’s obsession with her all of sudden?

Mandy on

Taking Karate? Not for girls!

Anonymous on

Marie- You expect a primarily celebrity website to not post news about celebrities? And Ben has been in the spotlight lately because of Gone Girl, so naturally we’re going to be hearing a lot about him and Jen!

Anyway, I love Jen’s comments. I think she just meant that she wants her daughters to be strong, independent women.

really? on

Really y’all? She was making a joke. You all should know by now when they write these articles they take bits and pieces of what people say just to get comments like these. There could have been an I’m kidding, joking laughter, an I’m kidding smile. Both of my children take karate for various reasons, discipline, self-defense, exercise, etc. They know they are not to use it on other people unless they feel very threatened. The title alone sets people up to make these comments. The article mentioned one comment about karate. One!

M on

Has anyone noticed how distant she is from her husband in this picture? Not even holding him, showing no affection? I wonder what’s going on?:)

Hilarious on

How utterly absurd. No wonder our society is in the toilet. This is what we think is appropriate and celebrated? Pathetic.

Rachel on

I love half of the comments made but HATE that Ms Garner called baking etc feminine. It follows on comments she’s made about parenting and how things fall along gender lines in their household. That’s their choice but I think it’s sad that she wants to perpetuate gender stereotypes.. I think their marriage is their marriage and that’s fine, but it’s sad to me that when she talks about these issues publicly, she on one hand seems to be supporting women’s rights but then in the next breath, says that women need to be all things whereas men, just get to be ‘men’. That’s not gender equality. It’s great if a girl wants to bake, but it’s also great if a boy wants to bake or sew. It’s also perfectly OK for a girl not to be at all interested in what she’s calling femininity… I think I embrace my femininity but I don’t like cooking… I know how to bake… did it a lot as a girl and young woman, but I know a lot of men who enjoy it, and only learned it as adults.. It’s great if she wants to be the primary caregiver who lays down the rules at home and Ben gets to be the fun parent, but it doesn’t have to be that way because she’s the ‘mom’ and he’s the dad. Plus, what does that say about same-sex parents.

justT on

She DID NOT say she wants them TO kick a guys ass,she said be ABLE to! When they said this they said her CHARACTER from Alias would be proud,you know the one who could kick EVERYONE’S ass !

Nick on

I think Garner is lovely and mostly grounded but her comments actually struck me as a little odd for a woman who almost always sounds smart. Since when has cooking been about being feminine – and dolls, boys play with them too even if they are JI Joe or Spiderman dolls. I mean, isn’t that the same stereotype she is trying to get her daughters away from in the first place? In addition, I appreciate that Garner was sort of saying she wants her daughters to be able to ‘kick butt’ in jest but the truth is (and this isn’t a stereotype but a reality) that the average woman, even someone as smart and strong as Garner with martial arts and all, will find it challenging to take down a man who is an aggressor or attacking her unless she is like MMA Gina and than she better not be coming up against a guy with the same skills. Martial Arts is a great skill but it might be better to be disciplined in it without delusions of being superheroes. I think it is great she is ensuring her daughters are well rounded and don’t settle for anything less, but although men and women are equal, they will never be the same.

lulu on

stacey – You lost all respect for them as a couple because of Ben’s nude sex scenes in Gone Girl? Why? He was acting. In a movie. That is make-believe, not real life.

jenny on

Why does he never refer to Jennifer by her name? He always says “my wife.” Odd.