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Women’s World Cup– You Win Some, You Lose Some

28 Jun

When I was a little girl, I always secretly wanted to play sports but (besides martial arts) I felt like I missed the boat and wasn’t good enough to play with the other kids. I especially wanted to play soccer, because it was the most physically intense sport I ever saw girls playing. As I got older, I realized the other cool things about soccer: it’s a way to connect with people all over the world, all you need is a ball and some open space, and it’s one of the most amazing workouts that exists!

USA's Abby Wombach battles for the ball against North Korea

Last year I started playing pick up games with some girlfriends while we followed the Men’s World Cup (more commonly referred to as “THE World Cup” because, you know, women’s sports don’t count). It was so exciting because bars downtown would open at 6am for games and they would be packed with loud, enthusiastic, international crowds of fans. I wore my Mexico jersey in the street and got stopped by strangers every time who wanted to talk about the games. When it ended, I looked forward to the 2011 Women’s World Cup.

Now, the Women’s USA team is ranked higher than the Men’s USA, so I thought that soccer fans would come out for their games at the very least. I was wrong. The bar that opened for all the Men’s World Cup games was only open for USA Women’s World Cup games, and in today’s game vs. North Korea I was one of 5 people there watching (including the bartender). It kind of pissed me off.

Here’s some other things that piss me off about the world’s response to the Women’s World Cup:

1) It’s difficult to find information about it. Sports Illustrated dedicated a whole issue to the Men’s World Cup, and I could barely find a Women’s World Cup SCHEDULE online before it started, let alone information about the teams and players, history, etc.

2) As with most women’s sports, and there is (MUCH) less money put towards it. On the bright side, the opening games were almost sold out in Germany this year and reports say that turnouts are on the rise as time goes on.

3) I can’t stand to look at the USA Women’s jerseys this year. Why? They managed to make a soccer jersey that looks like it’s being unzipped to show a little cleave:

Soccer jersey? Or sexy nurse? I hate these things!!!

4) By the way, when I was looking for those jerseys I found instead “Football WAGs” (thats: “wives and girlfriends”) in in the 2010 Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. Yuck!!

Objectifying women is so patriotic.

5) There’s still a lot of homophobia and other issues of discrimination surrounding women’s sports, according a .


Christine Sinclair of Canada and Kim Kulig of Germany

FIFA is launching a campaign called to encourage girls to play soccer, and it’s easy to be inspired by these players. They are awesome, that’s why. Not only are the women footballers great athletes, they play with integrity. It’s commonly known that male players are much more likely to go down in attempts to get fouls called against the other team, but the women are known for avoiding that kind of game-playing.

Check out the and as well.

Now readers: go forth, play and support women’s sports! USA! USA! ;)

Men Who Want To Protect Women

15 Jun

Most fathers, brothers, boyfriends and more are good men who respect and care about the women and girls in their lives. Many of these men feel protective of these women and girls, and I can understand why. The world is not a very good place for women in a lot of ways. 1 in 3 women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime.

I’m concerned, however, that some men may have some poorly informed ideas about how to best support the safety, comfort and happiness of the women and girls they love.

Threatening, intimidating or fighting bad people doesn’t help women.

Often it’s just a joke, but sometimes it’s more serious. The sentiment of “If anyone messes with you I’ll mess him up!” is not only misguided, but could cause more harm than good.

1) Telling a woman that she essentially needs a bodyguard sends her the message that she is a victim who can’t take care of herself and is deeply disempowering, not to mention insulting.

2) Violence and posturing are the problems here, not the solutions.

3) Often the best way to stand up for someone is to help them stand up for themselves. My mother recently moved to Texas and several women there told her, “Oh I don’t need to learn self defense– my husband has a gun!” Her response: “Where is your husband right now?”

Instead of saying, “I’ll protect you,” try things like, “I”ll stand by you if you need to tell that guy off” and “No, you’re not overreacting. He has no right to treat you like that.”

Warning women or girls to distrust men or to live in fear detracts from their quality of life.

Women don’t need to change how we dress or where we go in order to protect ourselves. Over 90% of violent crime is committed by men. Those men are the ones who need to change their behavior.

Rather than warning women or girls “what guys are like” or “how some guys think”, men who care about women should spend that time and effort talking to other men about how to respect women and how not to commit sexual violence.

Women: Expecting the men in your life to protect you is dangerous for everyone involved.

While women and children are most often the victims of sexual assault, men are much more often victims of violence in general. Women are taught to avoid conflict in our society, while men are taught that “a real man doesn’t back down from a fight.” That’s how a lot of men get hurt.

I would not want or expect any man in my life to take a punch for me, any more than I would want to take a punch myself. I write mainly about keeping women safe, but honestly one of the biggest social lessons a man can learn to keep himself safe is to avoid conflict. Repeat after me: “Hey man, I don’t want to fight.”

Tips for everyone to protect your loved ones:

-Don’t laugh at sexist, hateful or. If you can, confront the joker about why it’s not funny.

-If someone you know feels unsafe, don’t brush off their feelings. Encourage them to get out of that situation in their own way.

-Understand the warning signs of and .

-Recognize that nobody “asks for it” when they are raped or sexually assaulted. , including children.

-Empower your loved ones. Don’t let them underestimate themselves or put themselves down. Build their confidence by believing in them even when they don’t believe in themselves.

All Girls Are Beautiful!

25 May

Three reasons you should love yourself just the way you are:

1) Images in magazines are not real.

2) Dr. Seuss put it best:  “Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

3) All girls are beautiful.

Thanks to for creating these videos and more through their and .

Mom Power!

8 May

This Mother’s Day, instead of sending a card, I thought I’d share a little bit about how my mom has empowered and inspired not just her three daughters, but so many others…

I was brought up in my parents’ martial arts studio from the time I was born. My mom was proctoring black belt tests while she was pregnant with me. You know how little kids don’t realize right away that their moms have another name besides mom? Well, it took me even longer because all I ever heard anyone call my mom was ma’am. “Yes, ma’am!” “No, ma’am!” They didn’t want to have to do extra push ups! Basically, I had the coolest mom ever. When I was three, I told the neighbor boys (whose dad was a cop) that my mom could totally take their dad in a fight. As an adult, I now realize that, although true, that probably wasn’t a very nice thing to say … but I was just SO proud of her! Even at three years old, I recognized that it was something special to see a woman with a black belt– let alone running her own school!

Growing up studying martial arts, especially as a girl in a school with female leadership, I developed a strong foundation of self confidence that carried me though to adulthood unscathed by bullying and poor body image, cattiness and cliques. I owe it not just to my training, but to my teacher: Master Mary Murphy Edwards, 7th degree black belt.

This is my mom. Wouldn't you be inspired?

Once at Take Your Daughter to Work Day, my mom took me out of high school to the UW-Madison campus to watch her do a self defense demonstration at a Sex Out Loud event. I was used to seeing my mom teaching martial arts and throwing people around, but I wasn’t used to hearing college kids say in awe: “Wow, that lady kicks ass!”

My mother always told me, “It’s not the size of your muscles, it’s the size of your backbone that counts.”

When I was a teenager and started disagreeing with my parents, my mom stood up for me and said,

“I don’t want my daughters to back down to people just because they are older than them.”

Then there are the basic life skills– a different kind of empowerment. I complained bitterly growing up because my mom made me do chores. Now I know how to clothe, feed and clean up after myself and do household repairs and when I see other adults who don’t I think, “Wow. Thanks, Mom.”

In 2007 my mom moved to Texas, leaving me to run her martial arts school (can you say, “big shoes”?!). I still receive e-mails from students who studied under her years ago and want to get back in touch. And I still call my mom first when I need advice… about anything.

I guess what I’m saying is, Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there! Mom power!

Happy Mother's Day!

I teach to kids, and they can be soooo interesting to work with sometimes…

One kid in my class is a very smart, talented and charming little guy who sometimes forgets that he is bigger and stronger than the rest of the kids. He means well, but he has a habit of manhandling his classmates rather than using his words (we are working on this). Today, he was playfully grabbing one of the girls and she yelled,

“Stop touching me!” He didn’t listen to her, so I told him,

“Hey– You need to listen to her words. She is asking you not to touch her so now it’s your job to respect that.” Again, meaning well, he patted her on the shoulders saying,

“Sorry, sorry!” I stepped in again,

“She just asked you not to touch her, so touching her more is not the answer.” Inwardly I was smacking my own forehead thinking, “Geez, is this kid ever going to get it?” I looked up, and he was holding a sparring helmet above her head (to help her put it on) and, bless his little heart, he looked her in the eye and asked,

“May I?”

I was thrilled! I wanted to cheer, “And that’s how kids can practice talking about consent!” but instead I beamed at him and reinforced the behavior with a,

“Good asking!”

Kids are all up in each others’ space, as a general rule, and it’s mostly in good fun. It’s important for us as adults to set the standards, however, that both kids and adults need to ask before they touch and listen to the answer. If kids practice respect, they will grow into respectful adults.

Childhood Sexual Abuse

31 Mar

This week the ran a cover story entitled , about a young woman whose father sexually abused her as a child. She and her mother found support through a local child advocacy center called .

We know that 1 in 4 women and 1 in 6 men will be sexually abused before the age of 18.

Those numbers may seem unreal to you, but those are the facts. If this is such an epidemic, why aren’t we hearing about it? There are many factors contributing to general silence and misinformation around this issue. Children have a hard time reporting their abuse, and when they do, they are not always believed. It is typical upon receiving an adverse reaction that a child will recant, saying they made up the allegations. Many times the abuser makes threats to harm the child or someone they love if they tell, or they convince the child that the abuse is their fault and that they will get in trouble if they tell.

Abusers are most often known and trusted. They look and act the same as anyone else. So how can you protect your children?

is an organization dedicated to educating individuals and organizations about preventing child abuse. They have compiled a wonderfully useful and detailed document that outlines .

April is . If you are able, please consider making a to your local .

Clothing and Victim-Blaming

28 Mar

In response to recent news about the Texas gang rape of an 11-year-old girl and , Florida state Rep. Kathleen Passidomo thinks a .

Is this 2011? These are the moments that remind us that if don’t have a movement to carry us forward, we will slide backward.

It blows my mind that anyone could look at the gang rape of a child and say, “Well look at how she was dressed– she was asking for it.” What shocks me even more is to hear this kind of oppressive rhetoric from a woman.

I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. In our society women are allowed to be the virgin, the wife/mother or the whore. Unfortunately, we women have taken on the responsibility in many cases of enforcing these narrow roles. So often it is fellow women making remarks about how a woman chooses to dress, and we learn how to do this to one another at a young age. At a recent training I attended, a sexual assault prevention educator described her experience teaching middle and high schoolers. She said more often than not it was the girls who argued that some girls are “asking for it” when they dress like a “hoochie.” Her response?

“Do you really think anyone gets dressed to go out, looks in the mirror and says to herself, ‘Ooh yeah! I’m going go be a rape victim tonight!’?”

The other reason women seem to look down upon one another for dressing or presenting themselves in a “sexy” way is jealousy. From my point of view, there is plenty of sexiness for all of us. Another woman being sexy doesn’t make me or you or any other woman any less sexy. Sex as power for women is for another conversation, but for now let’s just think about sisterhood. Let’s support one another, no matter what we are wearing.

Signing off, I couldn’t help but to think of this piece from Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues:


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