Tuesday, June 28, 2011

On The Bravest Woman in Seattle

On Jul 19, 2009, two women were attacked in their home in Seattle's South Park. Both were repeatedly raped. One of the two, Teresa Butz, died. Isaiah Kalebu is now on trial for these crimes.

Eli Sanders of The Stranger wrote a touching and compelling article about the survivor's court testimony. The title is The Bravest Woman in Seattle. He describes the grace and tears with which this woman testified about her life with Teresa, and their hopes and plans for the future. And then about the events of that night, which took all that away. At times Sanders ventures into details nobody would want to read, and spares us graphic depiction of the worst. The survivor relates how they understood what was happening, and why they made the safety choices they did.

This is important. Over the past 2 years I've been approached by students (and others who know I teach self-defense classes). Usually this isn't during class time, but afterwards. In quiet tones, they ask about what they, if ever in that situation, could do. They don't want to appear to be victim-blaming, but they wonder why the two women didn't "succeed" in fighting back against only one assailant.


These people should read Sanders' article.

Each person, when faced with assault, has to make their best choice. Sometimes the choice is between bad and worse. It's simple to look in from outside, after the facts and feelings, and decide what somebody else should have done. Personally, after reading this account from the survivor, I can't say that I would have done differently. After reading this account, I doubt you could say otherwise.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Slutwalk Seattle (Part 1)

"You can't miss the crowd, it's MASSIVE!"

I overheard this man giving driving directions while marching in today's Slutwalk Seattle. To get a sense of the crowd, take a look at this YouTube video (from SeattleRex):



If this doesn't display correctly, you can watch on YouTube at http://youtu.be/u5_psd0YZHc.

TV news reports the past couple of days had been mentioning the upcoming Slutwalk, describing it as women protesting against rape by dressing provocatively. While I'm glad this rally was publicized, I have to scold the media for their description. Yes it's a protest against rape, and a protest to end victim-blaming and slut-shaming. Participants were welcome to dress as they pleased. You can see from this video that some (women and men) wore their fishnet stockings and pasties, most wore the usual PNW attire, like jeans and North Face jackets.

I'll post more later, but one final note for now. The rally was held at Westlake Center. Towards the end of the rally, some participants who had entered the shopping mall were asked to leave because of "indecent exposure." The Center received a loud mass "f*** you!" from the crowd.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Class Act

Last March I blogged about University of Washington basketball "star" Venoy Overton's near-miss with felony charges. Earlier this year he was slapped on the wrist for providing alcohol to two 16 year old girls and pressuring them into sexual acts. No rape charges were brought against Overton because the girl who reported apparently did not clearly communicate a lack of consent at the time, as she had bowed to the situational pressure. He pled to providing alcohol, and was let free providing he stay out of trouble.

Overton did not stay out of trouble. He is now charged with pimping a girlfriend. According to the article:
Prosecutors said Overton admitted to the charge during a police interview after his arrest.
"I'm not gonna turn down money from a girl," he said, according to the police affidavit.
He told detectives that when he first met the woman, he told her she had to pay to be in a relationship with him.
A real class act.

UW basketball coach Lorenzo Romar, in a press statement, expressed extreme disappointment. "My staff and I spent an extraordinary amount of time and energy attempting to mentor Venoy prior to his recent graduation, so this news is especially troubling." I'm not clear if Romar is disappointed in Overton, or in his own misjudgment of Overton's character. I'd guess both. Must be tough realizing he helped empower a sex criminal.

On The Grill, Part 1

It can be easy to forget first things first. In self-defense there's so much emphasis on the "bad guys," like recognizing them, avoiding them, confronting them, defending against them, etc., that we put aside why it's important.

Which is to enjoy daily life with more confidence and less anxiety. For me, this time of the year, that means the backyard barbecue.

Sitting outside on my deck, dinner fresh off the grill, glass of wine . . . what's not to like? This time of year it's all about the salmon and the asparagus. I do very little with them: some olive oil, salt & pepper. That's all we need. The salmon should be able to stand on its own, without additional dressing. Sometimes  toss the grilled asparagus with balsamic vinegar and grated manchego cheese.

I've also tossed whole potatoes on the grill, again first tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper. The starchy ones come out light and tasty. Purple Vikings are nice, small russets would also be good.

Two weeks ago we grilled tri-tip steaks. I like them rubbed with spices and grilled quickly over direct high heat. The spice rub this time was ground cumin, dried oregano, smoked paprika, crushed Sichuan peppercorns, and salt. You don't need a lot of the Sichuan peppercorns, and the unusual flavor adds an intriguing and playful dimension to the cumin and oregano combo.

So get out there and enjoy.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Slutwalk By Any Other Name (Part 2)

Much has been made about this movement's chosen name. While the choice of Slutwalk has offended some, it's also created a LOT of debate and discussion and controversy and buzz. That's publicity.

Patrick Williams of YOU ROCK! Communications puts it this way:
About 15 years ago, Taco Bell got a lot of attention by claiming they had bought the Liberty Bell and renamed it the Taco Liberty Bell.

A few years later, Burger King advertised a left-handed hamburger that generated a lot of curiosity and interest.

Both of those 'news' items turned out to be promotional stunts and they both generated lots of publicity.

Any time you can do something outrageous, you have a chance to attract the kind of media coverage that money just can't buy.
I think there's been too much discussion on the name and less on the focus, but hey that seems to be what it takes to get attention and to spread the word to people who wouldn't give "Rally 'Round Against Rape" a second yawn.

And the focus of Slutwalk, from my reading, is that women are not asking to be raped, regardless of what they are wearing. Some criticize the movement as encouraging women to dress "like sluts," and yes there will be some who advocate that look. Every mass movement is made up of lots of people with their own agendas and foci. You can go through all the blogs and Facebook pages and postings and find plenty of examples of "public sluttiness." If that's what you're going to zoom in on, you've missed the point.

As a self-defense instructor, I don't tell people how to dress. Besides my lack of fashion sense, I feel that can too readily be construed as victim-blaming. I do suggest how my students may be seen by others, and how some attire (or other aspects of appearance) can be used as a handy excuse for somebody else's bad behavior. Or how it could attract someone looking for a target. And then recommend safety strategies they can use to compensate for possible increased risk.

Women do not ask to be raped. Ever. Period.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

That Weiner Dog! - Ooopsie!

I've been told that my original .m4a file was not playable by several people.  Ooops!  Hate it when that happens.

The original post was revised, and here is the new link:

http://www.StrategicLiving.org/That_Weiner_Dog.mp3

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

A Slutwalk By Any Other Name

“You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here,” the officer said, according to one attendee. “I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.”

That was the unfortunate comment, made by Toronto police constable Michael Sanguinetti on January 24th to a small group of students. Blogged and tweeted around the world, this comment spawned a global movement. Slutwalk was born.

Sanguinetti has since apologized, and is reported to have been disciplined and will receive additional training. Presumably he had received training before this event. The Toronto police asserts that their officers are taught that nothing a woman does contributes to sexual assault. Yet this slip of the tongue did happen. Despite the fact that the vast majority of women who were assaulted were not dressed like "sluts," whatever that means (see yesterday's blog post for what it really does mean). Despite the fact that dress does not cause sexual assault. And despite the fact that the person committing the rape needs to be accountable for his own actions. Period.

Despite all the good cops out there, it's those thoughtless and arrogant ones who are featured in the nightly news. Still another reason why few women report rape to law enforcement. Why I'll be at Slutwalk Seattle this coming Sunday. And why I still continue to teach self-defense classes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Slut by Any Other Name

First, let me make it clear what I mean by "slut." Slut is a noun with excess baggage. Slut is used as a negative judgmental label applied by Person A onto Person B. Generally Person B is female, and Person A is often but certainly not always male. Person A disapproves of Person B's general appearance, style of dress, or some other behavior. Person A then labels Person B as a "slut," frequently to justify their own bad, if not abusive, behavior to Person B.

The label "slut" actually tells more about the mental framework (prejudices and stereotypes) of Person A, and little about the woman at whom this epithet is hurled.

Much has been made about Slutwalks reclaiming the word "slut." I can't say that I'll be going to Seattle's Slutwalk to "reclaim" anything. I do not care to reclaim, reframe, or rehabilitate the word "slut." I want to quash this word as a weapon. I want to nullify its negative energy, neutralize its power, negate its impact on women.

And any weapon can be overcome. With a little preparation, we all can learn to minimize its impact. Because nobody deserves to be targeted for rape.

That Weiner Dog!

Are you tired of bad Weiner's weiner jokes yet? Alas, I'm not quite done. This very short ditty is a contender for the William Hung Perfect Pitch Award.


That Weiner Dog

If you were amused, feel free to share. If not, please direct your ire at Apple for making the technology readily available to anyone, regardless of ability or good sense.

Friday, June 10, 2011

But is Weiner a SLUT?

Perhaps I'm not paying attention, but here's what I'm NOT hearing:

"Anthony Weiner is such a slut!"

"He's just asking for it!"

"He looks like he wants to be raped."

For those of you truly isolated from mass media, Anthony Weiner is the Congressman from New York who tweeted pictures of his crotch. To a whole lotta followers. By accident, he said. Bad judgment at best.

But who is getting called a slut? Why, the new "slutrepeneurs," those women who are coming out of the woodwork to sell the text messages and photos and tweets. At least according to Susannah Breslin, blogging on Forbes.

So men who distribute risqué photos are entrepreneurs while women are slutrepeneurs?

And the moral of this story is that (once again) men have interesting, even endearing, character slubs, while women are, well, just sluts.

And that's only one reason why I'm going on Slutwalk Seattle on June 19th. Hope to see you there.