I have been saying now for a few years that 'self-defense' is a relatively new idea. The basis of moral self-defense is a consequence of lower status people claiming parity against a majority. Chinese actors (a degraded caste) must have found it very difficult to claim justifiable homicide or self-defense in the courts against a commoner--because actors were required to step into the gutter when a commoner passed them in the street.
The same is certainly true of Jews in both Europe and the Middle East.
For women, the possibility of independence from the protection and authority of a man was closely related to a woman's ability to earn independent income. Along with income, and the right to vote, the notion of self-defense began to take shape.
I'm very excited to see other people are taking an interest in the history of the idea of self-defense. Here is a must read article:
One of the western world's first female martial arts instructors, Garrud, who died in 1971 aged 99, is thought to have learned jujutsu in the late 19th century. She began working with suffragettes between 1908 and 1911, eventually at her own women-only training hall, a room at the Palladium Academy dance school in Argyll Street
....."Woman is exposed to many perils nowadays, because so many who call themselves men are not worthy of that exalted title, and it is her duty to learn how to defend herself," [Edith Garrud].