Monday, December 30, 2013

See Ellen Strike! Strike, Ellen, Strike!

I don't care if this is over 3 years old, it's still funny.  Ellen DeGeneres learns some basic self-defense moves, just in case she finds herself in another dancing situation.  Good for her being proactive about her personal safety in front of all those cameras and audiences!




If you can't see the above video on your device, watch it directly on YouTube.

Hey -- you want to practice those moves?  You can here! (Chris Matthews dummy not included.)

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Happy New Year!

Best wishes to all for a happy, healthy, and fulfilling 2014!

Another little ditty to herald in the new year.  Again, written, performed and recorded by Kinny "Special" K.  Post-production by moi.

Remember, to be your most fulfilled and awesome self, you will need to occasionally set some boundaries.  Most of the time, the other person will not have realized they crossed the line and will apologize.  They mean well, they like and value you, and did not mean to offend you.

However, on rare occasion you will encounter someone who does mean harm.  And for those special occasions, you will be ready to enforce your boundaries.

Happy New Year!

PS - is one of your resolutions to finally take that self-defense class you've always wanted to sign up for?  Now is a good year. 

Monday, December 23, 2013

When Fighting Back Worked: Self-Defense Success Stories

Once again, ripped from the headlines (actually, more often inside pages) from the web.  These are all stories of women and girls successfully using safety skills.

This first one is from West Seattle, where a high school girl fights back against a dude who grabs her.  She breaks free, runs to safety, and calls 911.  Way to go!  From King 5 News: http://www.king5.com/news/cities/seattle/Teenage-girl-grabbed-by-man-near-West-Seattle-High-School-235301801.html

How about this one, from our neighbor to the south (that's Portland, OR).  A guy demands a Portland State University student's backpack and punches her.  She turns and punches him back, and he goes running!  From KXL FM News Radio:  http://kxl.com/2013/12/12/female-student-hit-in-the-face-fights-off-attacker/

Now from South Carolina, where this guy picked the wrong target.  What he did not know was she's trained in martial arts.  Whoopsie!  She fights back, and again he goes running (do you see the pattern here?).  http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/animal-rights/man-attacks-woman-walking-small-dog-myrtle-beach-she-has-black-belt-fight  (Pssssst -- you don't need a black belt to fight back like she did -- you can learn the same techniques in Week 3 of Strategic Living's 6 week self-defense course.)

Let's jump across the Atlantic for this story out of the United Kingdom.  Woman kicks guy in crotch, and he runs away.  http://www.newmarketjournal.co.uk/news/latest-news/woman-38-fights-off-mobile-phone-thief-1-5757252.  Almost surprised he was able to still run.

And, finally, we return to the greater Seattle area.  Woman fights off attacker on a popular trail in the middle of the afternoon.  She was attacked from behind, and she escaped by fighting back.  http://q13fox.com/2013/12/19/woman-reports-assault-on-north-creek-regional-trail-in-bothell/#axzz2o2Fx8aC6.

Did you see a story in the news, or want to share one of your own?  Contact me!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Blast from the (Recent) Past

This afternoon I taught a class for tween girls (and a mom or two), and afterwards one mom and I were talking about this "blaming the victim" of rape nonsense.  She mentioned that one of her friends, many years ago, was raped right after her high school graduation.  The girls was at home in bed, and a robber with a gun broke into the house. He raped her.  The police later asked her what she was wearing.

I remembered a speaker from the 2011 Seattle SlutWalk with the same story.  I asked if the women spoke at SlutWalk and the mom said yes.  Got the speaker's name, found her on YouTube, and here she is, just as I remembered.




If you do not see a video here, or it is not playable on your device, you can view it directly on YouTube.

And the most important takeaway is that she was raped because a rapist made a choice to commit rape. True then, true now.  True always.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

A Self-Defense Christmas Carol

Christmas is almost upon us, and what can be more cheery and bright than a rousing, empowering self-defense Christmas carol?

Wanna hear it?  Play now.

Feel free to share, and please give credit where it is due.  Written, performed, and recorded by Kinny at Strategic Living, LLC.

Now is also a good time to plan for the coming year -- the first of this winter's six-week courses will begin Tuesday, January 7, at Phinney Neighborhood Center.  There's room for about 4 more students.  Find out more at Strategic Living's Self-Defense 101 page.  Today.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

See You In The Funnies?

One of the first things I do Sunday morning is sit down with the Sunday comics and a mug of coffee.  Most of the time it is pure leisure.  This week I found two timely toons.  One, unsurprisingly, is Doonesbury on the reporting of sexual assault in the military through the chain of command -- and why it remains a bad idea.

(http://doonesbury.slate.com/strip/archive/2013/12/8)

The next was a surprise.  It's a strip called Baby Blues, and it's about a family with small children.  The dad was teaching his son about field goals, and recollects an older, very popular cartoon.  Peanuts, as you probably know, would often feature Lucy holding a football for Charlie Brown, and yanking it away at the last minute.  The dad in Baby Blues finds that hilarious.  The son slumps inside, and tells his older sister that Dad finds bullying funny.

(http://www.babyblues.com/index.php, from Dec 8, 2013)

Considering the popularity and longevity of Peanuts, this felt like a jolt.  But a "right on" kind of jolt, when some behavior you'd taken for granted even if uncomfortably gets a label and suddenly is more clear (even if it is cartoon characters).

I'm certainly not saying we should toss Peanuts in the trash, far from it!  Everyone, at some point, feels like a Charlie Brown.  And you may know a Lucy Van Pelt (I worked for one once, and I sure did feel like good ol' Charlie more than every so often back then).  It's a reminder that there are callous folk out there who make promises and renege on them, for their own amusement.

And this was a comic.  And it was funny and poignant.  And some adults have a hard time recognizing bullying (unless they directly see the pain it causes to their own children, and even then not always).  Because it was OK as in normal, typical, kids will be kids.  They'll get over it. 

Most will.  Some won't.

How do you recount your past to the next generation?


Sunday, December 08, 2013

Success Stories: Fighting Assault that Worked

I'm going to be posting every week or two a smattering of stories ripped from the headlines.  They all will be on women or girls who were attacked and thwarted the evil-doer's dastardly plans.  They all, preferably, will give some details on what the defender did that worked.

For this week, our first story is close to home (Seattle, that is).  A young woman bit her attacker's hand, continued fighting, screamed for help, and ran for help.  This story was in The Seattle Times, and you can read it at http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/11/young-woman-fights-off-attacker-in-south-seattle/http://blogs.seattletimes.com/today/2013/11/young-woman-fights-off-attacker-in-south-seattle/.

For our second story, we travel to our neighbors north, to Canada.  In separate incidents on the same night, one guy attacked at least two women.  Each woman did the same thing, according to the new story:  screamed and fought him off until he fled.  This one was apprehended by the police.  You can read the Edmonton Sun article at http://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/11/27/two-19-year-old-women-fight-off-attacker-man-arrestedhttp://www.edmontonsun.com/2013/11/27/two-19-year-old-women-fight-off-attacker-man-arrested.

Our third story is from the other side of the Atlantic.  A man attacked a young woman after she dropped her child off at school.  This woman fought, kicking her attacker in the groin.  And he fled.  You can read the story in the Manchester Evening News at http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/pictured-sex-attacker-fought-woman-6350863.

And our final story is from our nation's capitol.  A woman attacked while taking out her trash fights of attacker (good job on getting rid of the trash).  You can read this brief story on the WTOP site at http://www.wtop.com/58/3515082/Capitol-Heights-woman-fights-off-attacker

If you come across any self-defense success stories, or have stories of your own you want to share, please contact me.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Spotlight on Self-Defense Weapons: The Hand Grenade


No, I am NOT advocating to my self-defense students that we consider this a viable self-defense weapon.

But self-defense does take on a different timbre in other locations.  Such as Libya.

Souad Soltan, a congresswoman in Libya, carried a hand grenade for self-defense.  It was found via metal detector as she entered Tripoli's City Hall for a meeting.  It was confiscated.  On her way out she asked for it back, claiming she needed it for self-defense.  Her request was denied.  I don't know if she's since replaced it with another, or with some other weapon.

Check out this article on why she's carrying that grenade.

There are several pros and cons for her choice.  First, she's only got one chance to use it.  It's blast is indiscriminate, so she or bystanders could also be injured.  And it will only go as far as she can throw it.  On the positive side, it seemed to fit well in her handbag, and it could take out a number of attackers at once (which probably was why this is her weapon of choice).

Your self-defense will look different in different places.  Since the fall of long-time ruler Col. Quaddafi two years ago, civil protection has weakened.  More people have access to weapons, and some are using those for harm.  Anyone involved in politics is someone else's target.  Your precautions under those circumstances not be as carefree as most of us in Seattle (where it is common to cross a street while staring down at your phone).

And carrying a concealed grenade is probably illegal in Washington State.  So don't do it -- there are better options for you.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Self-Defense Success Story from "O Magazine"


Alert reader Donna saw this article in Oprah's magazine.  It recounts how one woman out jogging used the self-defense skills she had learned in a class long ago. 
As I was reading October’s issue of “O” Magazine on a bright, sunny Seattle morning this weekend, I came across an article written by Kris who describes how the self-defense skills she had previously learned in a women’s self-defense class came in handy one dreadful day when she was almost raped.   Fortunately, Kris had remembered the physical and verbal defense skills she had learned and put them to work when she was attacked.   Physical self defense tactics are one of the most important skills a woman can learn. 
You can read Kris' story online.

Kris recognized the reality of imminent physical harm, used decisive targets, and used her voice effectively.  Kudos to Kris!

And thanks to Donna for sharing.

PS - do you want to learn what Kris knew?  A new cycle of six week self-defense courses will be offered beginning this coming January.  Can't spare 6 weeks?  Try the five hour self-defense seminars -- next one is December 15.



Monday, December 02, 2013

New Use for Old Taser

Do you own a taser?  Have you never used it, are considering not carrying it around any more, and are now wondering what to do with it?

Zap your veggies.

Today I heard on The Splendid Table that a scientist in Japan found that "stunned" potatoes are healthier for you.  Apparently shocked potatoes produce more antioxidants.

You can hear it here too, it is the first 50 seconds of the program.

The scientists, however, used a low charge for up to half and hour.  Not exactly what your stun gun was meant to do.  You can read an article about it in the Daily Mail.

DISCLAIMER:  I am NOT recommending you try this at home.  And, if you do so, I bear no responsibility. Take a self-defense class instead.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Using Their Super Powers for Good: Bikers Against Child Abuse

Sometimes the weight of the legal system is not enough.  Even when it is on your side.

Sometimes you need a larger-than-life hero (or shero).

That's where Bikers Against Child Abuse come it.

Bikers Against Child Abuse (BACA) are bikers, no doubt about it.  They may not be outlaws, but they sure leverage that image to great effect.  They protect children who have been abused.  Literally.

Members of BACA "adopt" children who are afraid of their environment due to physical or sexual abuse.  Perhaps the abuser is still hanging around, sometimes the abuser is in jail, or maybe the abuser now lives far away.  The abuser need not be physically present to make their presence felt via threats, nightmares, and proxies.  Members of BACA are there for the kids, physically.  They show up when their adopted child is having nightmares, is afraid to walk to school, or is being stalked/harassed by the abuser or his family. They accompany the child to court to give the child courage and backup when testifying against the abuser.

They are there so the kids don't feel so alone or powerless.

They show up.

This article about the Arizona BACA chapter give a lot of detail and story about how they operate.  Locally, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center partners with BACA.

The AZ Central article  depicts a variety of ways BACA members help.  Some can offer advocacy to navigate the child welfare system or file for a protection order.  They spend time with their children.  They will even provide a security line in case the abuser's family members decide to harass the child.

They want the child to be empowered, to live healthy and fun lives.  Without fear.  Because they have a family who has their back.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Redlight Traffic: Catching Pimps via Big Data

A new iPhone/iPad app came on the market earlier this month.  Created by Amin Haq of Leadership Eastside, this easy-to-use app helps members of the public recognize the telltale signs of sex trafficking and gives them an easy and safe way to report what they've see.

You may be wondering why you should pay attention.  After all, isn't the sex trade something that happens in far-away, exotic lands?  To other people?

No.  Unless Northgate Mall is counted as far away and exotic.

Yes, slavery is alive and well and in our backyards.

I've begun hearing from some of my students about witnessing attempts to lure young girls into cars.  Wondering what was happening, and if they should intervene.  Fortunately, the targeted girls did not go for the bait. 

Those targeted are in their tweens and teens.  Eleven years old is apparently not too young to be forced into prostitution.

Take a look at this article from The Seattle Times for more info.

While it is supposed to also be available on the Android market, as of November 25 I have not seen it in the Google Play store.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Amy Cuddy Was Here!

Prof. Amy Cuddy, of the Harvard Business School, gave a talk at the University of Washington last night.  Alas, I was not able to attend.  Those of you who have taken my Self-Defense 101 classes know how her work on body language, perception, and self-perception can contribute greatly to your personal safety.

That's because every attacker needs a target and an opportunity.  Dr. Cuddy's work on body language is relevant to your personal safety because you can learn how to make yourself less likely to be targeted.

Even if you, like myself, did not attend Dr. Cuddy's lecture, you can still benefit from her knowledge.  She has readily-accessible media, including:
  • a TED Talk
  • a Vimeo video (this is the one that's required viewing for my 101 students), and
  • this interview from yesterday with Marcie Sillman at KUOW-FM's studio.
There's a few more short ones online, so take a look around and be prepared to be informed and fascinated!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

One Lonely Blog

I confess, I've neglected this blog for over 6 months.  With any luck at all, I'll resume posting.

Part of the delay is more teaching time.  Yes, there are now more self-defense classes available.  Self-Defense 101 for Women is now a six week course (up from 5 weeks), and offered in more venues:
  • Seattle Central Community College and Bellevue College continue to offer Self-Defense 101
  • Self-Defense 101 replaces the Weekend Workshop at the ASUW Experimental College
  • South Seattle Community College will offer it for the first time this winter
  • Its premier at the University Heights Center was very successful, and it will again be at that location by winter's end
  • And Self-Defense 101 will appear at the Phinney Neighborhood Center the second week in January -- the class was just posted, and it is already almost half full!
See more info at Strategic Living's Self-Defense 101 page -- find your class today.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

There Is No Joy in Steubenville


Judge Thomas Lipps ruled today that the two young men who are alleged to have raped a fellow 16 year old student have been found guilty.

CNN's report this morning emphasized the emotional heights of this ruling. The two young men, Trent Mays and Ma'lik Richmond, were sentenced to time in juvenile detention. Richmond cried after the sentencing, while trying to apologize to the victim and her family. CNN's reporter, Poppy Harlow, reported on how hard it was to watch “as these two young men — who had such promising futures, star football players, very good students — literally watched as they believed their life fell apart. . . .
One of the young men, Ma’lik Richmond, as that sentence came down, he collapsed, . . . the convicted rapist told his attorney that “my life is over, no one is going to want me now.”

Yes it is true that their lives will be changed forever.  They are now considered sex offenders, and will carry that label for the rest of their lives.  The boys, however, will not be the only ones to carry a live-long burden.  Their victim will be carrying a hefty burden, for the rape as well as for all the photos and videos that were widely distributed and viewed by her friends, family, classmates, and even people who never knew who she was before. Perhaps her promising future too has been diminished (what do you think, Poppy Harlow)?

Sure I know that much of the media feels compelled to find the "human interest" side in every story, to tug on our heartstrings in a bid for viewers.  But this "tug" felt more like a heave.

Yes, these young men's lives have been diminished.  But it was not the sentence that did them it.  It was their own actions, for which they are now being held accountable.  And that's how justice is supposed to work.



If you can't see the CNN video in the viewer above, try this link to YouTube: http://youtu.be/MvUdyNko8LQ.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Taking On Rape Culture: Zerlina Maxwell, Super-Shero

Zerlina Maxwell had the audacity to suggest, on Fox News no less, that to end rape we should teach men to NOT RAPE

What a concept.

In response, she received of messages from FOX viewers intent on intimidation by calling her names, dismissing her ideas, and even threatening her with rape. This is a typical tactic of misogynists, to try to silence articulate women who speak out. 

Did not work. 

Since then, Maxwell has published these suggestions for how to teach men not to rape.

The context of Maxwell's comments was a conversation on Fox News' Sean Hannity Show about gun ownership maybe preventing rape.  Maxwell, herself a rape survivor, took issue with how the topic was framed:
“I think that the entire conversation is wrong. I don’t want anybody to be telling women anything. I don’t want men to be telling me what to wear and how to act, not to drink. And I don’t, honestly, want you to tell me that I needed a gun in order to prevent my rape. In my case, don’t tell me if I’d only had a gun, I wouldn’t have been raped. Don’t put it on me to prevent the rape.” 
As a rape survivor, the conversation about how to best combat rape and domestic violence is personal and can be very challenging.  Rape culture is a pervasive part of our society because of social conditioning. Yet we struggle to find ways to avoid patterns of victim blaming and many of us would rather advise women on the precautions they should take to avoid being raped as opposed to starting at the root of the problem: teaching men and boys not to be rapists in the first place.
Way back in October, Colorado prosecutor Ann Munch spoke in Seattle about blaming rape victims for their attacks. She was not the first to notice how jurors would often torpedo a case with solid physical evidence because the victim did something to bring it on herself, such as leaving her home to go out for pizza, riding the bus, or being at work.

Maxwell's point is that when men and boys commit rape and the victims get blamed, it perpetuates a cycle of acceptance that men and boys will be men and boys, and that rape is a natural, expected occurrence.  Almost makes it seem as benign as April showers.

Rape is not a natural, expected occurrence. Rape is a deliberate, planned act of domination. Rape happens not because of how a woman dressed, or how much she drank, or what she drank, or which dark alley she may have walked down. Rape happens because a rapist was present.

I don't give out list of what to do or not do in my self-defense classes.  Any good self-defense class should give you tools to better navigate the world you choose to live in, not lock you up "for your own safety." Any good self-defense class should place the responsibility for sexual assault and rape squarely on the perpetrator.  And any good self-defense class should equip you to make safety choices for expanding your presence in the public world.


Tuesday, March 12, 2013

My First Morning at DAWN

I (almost) completed DAWN's 50 hour training to work as a volunteer domestic violence advocate, and today was my first day on the crisis line. Actually, I didn't talk to any of the callers -- I shadowed an advocate to listen in on what she'd say to callers, did data entry on each call, learned about available resources, etc.

This was a busy morning, with one call following another following another. Moms worried about their daughters' relationships, a woman looking for immediate shelter, a soon-to-be-ex-wife looking for financial help to get through a dragged-out divorce. There's a lot of need out there, at the very least for accurate information on the law, your rights, and access to the myriad of resources available.  It feels good to be able to connect a person in need with the help they are seeking, to bring just a bit of relief to someone in the anxiety of crisis.

The next volunteer training is in late June.  There's always the need for volunteers, so if you are looking for a super-worthwhile cause, this could be it.  I'll be checking the schedule to make up those classes I missed while out of town, so maybe I'll see you there.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Feeling Lucky? Part I

"I was lucky!"

I hear this a lot, both in the media and from students. A woman or girl defends herself successfully, fights off an attacker, but then minimizes her good work by crediting chance.

You probably already know the story of one of the most crucial breakthroughs of modern medicine. Dr. Alexander Fleming inadvertently left a petri dish uncovered over a weekend. When he returned, he saw that mold had infested the dish. But before he threw away the spoiled experiment, he took a closer look and saw the mold was killing the bacteria. And thus the path to penicillin, and other antibiotics, was born.

Radioactivity was brought to light when physicist Henri Becquerel stored a chunk of uranium in a drawer besides an unexposed photographic plate. When he took them out a week later he noticed that the rock had left an imprint on the plate in the absence of light. Working with his students Marie and Pierre Curie, they discovered radiation.

And popsicles were invented in 1905, when eleven-year-old Frank Epperson left his soda-making gear outside, in the cold, overnight. The next day, the water and flavored powder mixture had frozen -- along with the stick he'd used to stir the mixture. (Twenty years later, the adult Epperson applied for a popsicle patent.)

In all these instances, it took an observant person to see what most of us would call a "mistake," and find the opportunity.

"Luck favors the prepared mind," said by Dr. Louis Pasteur.  All three were lucky, and they were prepared.

Your safety will depend, in large part, on your ability to recognize opportunities to fight back, to see an attacker's vulnerabilities, and to exploit weaknesses. Luck in self-defense does indeed favor the prepared mind, despite so-called "mistakes."


Sunday, February 17, 2013

LIghtning Strikes Twice -- In the News Again

After Deborah Horne from KIRO TV interviewed me about what women can do to stay safer, my evening class got a visit from Alison Grande and another cameraman from KIRO. They spent about an hour filming and briefly interviewing a couple of the students, and used probably about 20 seconds in this segment:

 

I have to say I'm glad that the media is also presenting what women can do for safety, not just recommending we stay home, quivering, until the police catch the creep(s).

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Self-Defense Makes Local News

Several highly-publicized incidents of stranger attacks on women, and self-defense comes to the media mind.  Four women have been assaulted in Seattle's north end, generally considered fairly residential and safe. KIRO TV News came out to talk with me, and here's their evening story for Tuesday February 12:



If the above video doesn't play on your browser, visit the KIRO site for viewing.

Later that evening they came to take some video of a class I was teaching. While we were not the "feature," they did show some really good work by our students.  I'll post that one when I find the video online.

Visit my website for more info on taking a self-defense class.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Can't Buy Me Love


But money can buy anything else.

If you've been following me on Facebook, you know I'm taking domestic violence advocacy training through DAWN (Domestic Abuse Women's Network, serving South King County). We cover lots of topics: social justice, economic justice, basic family law, basic protection orders, suicide, teen dating violence, batterer intervention, safety planning, chemical dependency, trauma, LGBTQ issues, religion, available resources, . . . it goes on and on, deeper and deeper.

And money is a recurring theme. Access to resources is probably the most important factor affecting what you can do to keep safe. Abusers very often try to control access to bank accounts, funds, and pocket change.

In all my self-defense classes, I tell students that they need to have their very own bank accounts. Their name, and only their name, should be on it. This account needs to have enough money to live on for 6 months to a year. This is your safety hatch.

Perhaps an insecure partner, even abusive spouse, will whine. "Sugarplum, we're married now, we don't need separate accounts. Why are you holding out on me?"  Or maybe, "Honey, don't you trust me? You must not care about me the way I care about you." Or even, "You have all that money separate, you must be cheating on me!"

Once upon a time, in this land of the free, women were not legally entitled to own property, including their earned wages. Any and all income, regardless of who earned it, belonged to the male head of household. I emphasize in my classes that the slow change in the law, giving women the right to retain their earnings, to buy and own property, to save and spend and invest, is a critical precursor to effective self-defense. Otherwise, you have nowhere to go.

I've taught far too many women who ended up homeless or in transitional housing. Keep the account. In your name. Only.



Monday, January 28, 2013

Fun with Fakes

Jay Leno's The Tonight Show has an occasional segment called "Fun with Fake Surveys."  Some of the show's writers go to a local mall and pretend to "survey" shoppers. They would collect a few bits of info from those who responded (the "target") in return for a gift card. Info like your name (first and last), college you attended, home town, marital status, hobbies, etc. Then another actor would use that info to pretend to be someone the target had known from college, or met at the beach, or who works out at the same location. The fake friend would begin a conversation, and it would lead to a compromising situation when other actors playing bosses, new husbands, or creepy road rage stalkers joined in.  They wanted to see how far the target would take the charade for their "friend."

To see what actually happens, you'll have to see the show. Fortunately The Tonight Show is available online, free, at NBC's website. I'll even make it easier for you, here's the link to the show that prompted this blog post.

On another but related note, hardly a week goes by without a Facebook Friend request to add my date of birth to a FB app.  Your birthday is one of a handful of pieces of information that can unlock a whole host of other information that can let another person pretend to be you. That's identity theft, and it is bad. In my life, the only people who need to know my date of birth are family, moderate to close friends, the IRS, my employer (for the IRS), my bank (also for the IRS). And anyone doing a criminal background check (I always pass, thank you for asking). I decline the FB app requests.  I recommend that when you sign up for services such as FB that really do not need your birthday but insist you put down some date or you don't get to use the service, do not provide your real birthday.

I recommend you carefully consider what information about yourself you make available, to anyone who may be asking. Even if it seems innocuous. Information trafficking is a big black market business.

I wonder how many people the Tonight Show actors approached to get the three featured targets on this episode. How many said no, or gave only partial info (like refused to give their last names). I wonder if any gave fake info, so would know immediately that the person approaching, pretending to know them, were bogus?  Anyone up to calling The Tonight Show's producers to ask?

Friday, January 25, 2013

How to Undermine A Great Self-Defense Success Story

Last night Kiro 7 News had a story of a 14 year old girl who fought off a potential rapist. She was walking from her bus stop when a guy grabbed her and tried to drag her off. She fought back, and she won!

Kiro 7 interviewed several people on the street for the version they broadcast last night. Most expressed concern and fear about the attack. Two of the comments are more noteworthy.

One was from a woman who stated she was glad the girl was able to fight off the assailant, BUT not everyone would be able to do that. She's right. Not everyone can, BUT I'll bet she'd be surprised how many women really can fight back with really simple techniques (BTW, several of my five week self-defense courses are just about to begin, if you want to learn those skills). It dismays me when women just write off the possibility.

The second noteworthy comment was the very last one. "What was a 14 year old girl doing out at 1:00 in the morning?" Indeed, that was often brought up by some of the online comments from viewers. That may be a good question for her parents, but it in no way, shape, or form lessens the responsibility of the attacker for his actions. Regardless of why she was out, the attacker should be brought to account for his misdeeds.

The report rape for sexual assault is already too low (somewhere between 15 and 30% are reported to law enforcement). Women and girls who are targeted are less likely to report if it includes getting scolded by the "well-meaning but clueless" brigade. So I wag my finger at Kiro 7 News for not only including that comment, but making it the very final statement on air.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

"She Asked for It," or How to Release a Rapist

Anne Munch has certainly seen her share of rape cases. A prosecutor for the state of Colorado, she  she spoke to a full auditorium at the University of Washington on October 19, 2012, about the all-too-often occurrence of victim blaming in sexual assault.

First she asked the men in the audience what they did on a daily or weekly basis to avoid rape – there was dead silence. "Nothing, right?" Same question to the women and answers popcorned out: go to parties with friends, carry pepper spray, don't walk alone at night . . . Ms. Munch asked the guys, "Did you know women – your sisters – think like this?" You could almost hear jaws dropping.

Only a short while into her career as a prosecutor, Munch realized that in addition to the victim and the accused, there was always a 3rd party in any rape case, which she dubbed The Unnamed Conspirator.  It's a petri dish for enabling predators, made up of societal attitudes towards rape victims and women in general. And it is these overall societal attitudes that guide police and prosecutors, judges and juries, in determining how to let the vast majority of rapists off the hook.

[Note: this concept has been around a long, long time. At least 3 or 4 decades. It's generally called "rape culture."]

Munch cited 2 cases from Colorado that she had worked on.  Both cases had incredible amounts of physical evidence and no indication whatsoever that the women had consented to sexual activity.

In the the first case, three out of 12 jurors would not vote to convict. The Unnamed Conspirator likes safety "rules", and the victim had broken a biggie. One of these societal "rules" is that if you don't go out alone at night you won't get raped. This survivor had ventured out, all by herself, at 9 pm in a small resort town to get a slice of pizza. Uh-oh. The Unnamed Conspirator: "She should never have been walking alone at night." Hence three women on the jury refused to vote guilty, even though the defendant's culpability was clear.

Munch believes the way to negate The Unnamed Conspirator is through education, which is why she now travels around the world speaking, training, and consulting on sexual assault and domestic violence cases.  The two most pervasive and insidious myths she works to banish are:
  1. Sexual assault can be prevented by following a large and highly restricting list of "rules" (one of which was referred to above), and
  2. Men cannot control themselves (so women become responsible for some men's actions).
Let's return to the Real World, where neither of the above "rules" are true. Vulnerability by itself means nothing. It's only significant when someone tries to take advantage of it. In other words, the only person responsible for a rape is the rapist.

In every self-defense class I teach, you will not be getting those "laundry lists" of people and places to avoid, activities to not engage in, or limiting dress codes.  Because they do not work -- they do not keep you safer.

And the second Colorado case – it had a pile of evidence as high as the Rocky Mountains but never came to trial. The accused's name was Kobe Bryant. Celebrities will rarely be held accountable for bad behavior (and that's a whole 'nuther blog post).

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Lessons from the Cat #5: Talking about Powerful Women

Lilith
Lilith, my cat companion of almost 19 years, moved onto her next life last month. Her mission was to explore strange new tablecloths, to seek out new crevices and closets, to boldly go where no cat had gone before. Mission accomplished!

Since she came to live with me at the age of 5 weeks, Lilith was a fearless and headstrong explorer. No cupboard was off limits, as far as she was concerned. Nor was she was aloof, far from it! She was fearless as well as demanding in getting lap time and pettings. For a while I had to pet her tummy for at least 15 minutes before I would be "permitted" to do my morning yoga. Even then, she felt entitled to play with my hair whenever I was in "downward dog." My clever cat of steel was featured in this blog post about a year and a half ago, and in this one a year ago. Lilith is sorely missed.

Last month I began a few revisions to my website's home page. The goal is to make it more informative and easier to navigate. I was working on my sub-heading, playing around with words for women finding their super powers of protection. I used the phrase "super shero." Sent the draft around to a couple of friends. One in particular disliked the phrase. She felt it too contrived and off-putting. So we were brainstorming alternatives. My friend came to this conclusion:
It's a crying shame there's such a paucity of terms for positive images of female power. Would be nice to have lots of choices from which to select the one with the perfect nuance. 

If only the whole world knew who Lilith was. If a woman learned to project such presence, it would never occur to anyone to even think of messing with her. The only figure I can come up with who's maybe even a distant second is Elizabeth II, Queen of England.
I have to agree, there are few truly positive adjectives for powerful women. Especially in a public venue.

Lilith watching . . . 
Most of us don't consider women when we think of powerful, intriguing, or even interesting people. Last week I taught a self-defense class for teen girls at a local high school. They paired up for an exercise, but first I asked them to introduce themselves to their partner and think of who they'd want to have dinner with tonight if they could pick ANY historic figure. Only two (of 12) picked women.

How do you talk about powerful women, or do you even positively talk about powerful women? Might you want to change that?