Archive | Self Esteem RSS feed for this section

How Martial Arts Empowers Women

22 Aug

If you watch martial arts movies, you know that martial arts is extremely male-dominated. This often leaves women wondering if there is a place for them in martial arts classes. Am I strong enough? Will I get hurt? Will there be other women there? Will I be taken seriously? Will I be harassed?

Janice earned her black belt after 50!

Anyone can do martial arts. Male or female, any age, even people with physical or cognitive disabilities can learn to do martial arts. If an instructor tells you differently, that only demonstrates their ignorance.

Any well-qualified instructor who has integrity should make ANY new student feel welcome and supported at their school. If this is not the feeling you get from an instructor, look elsewhere! Remember, the rules for authority figures are the same for anyone else– if it feels disrespectful, it is disrespectful.

Reasons women benefit from martial arts training:

1) Feel stronger and more connected to your body. Martial arts training develops balance, coordination, flexibility, strength, speed and power. You will be amazed at what your body can do! How hard you hit has very little to do with how big you are. When you feel good about what your body can do, you feel good about your body in general.

I trust Jennifer Endres (now 5th degree Master Instructor) to strike with control in close quarters.

2) Get comfortable setting physical boundaries.Working in close quarters with classmates to practice self defense techniques may put you outside of your comfort zone initially, but you will quickly find yourself becoming more confident and less intimidated by other people who are in your space. You also learn to set clear physical boundaries through communicating with your practice partners.

Did I mention how fun it is?! Laughter is a great stress reliever!

3) Let go of stress and anger in a healthy way.There is something about the physical process of throwing strikes, in the air or on bags, that literally shakes stress out of your body. This, combined with the grounding of stance work and learning healthy breathing techniques makes martial arts an excellent stress reliever, especially for those of us who feel we need to keep our stress to ourselves (a common concern for many women).

From my 2nd degree test-- The woman in red is my mom, Master Mary Murphy. The 4th degrees on either side of me are now Master Instructors as well! There's no end to the opportunities for learning...

4) Develop a sense of achievement and success. Regular practice leads not only to significant improvement in technique, but to opportunities for rank advancement. There’s something very satisfying about tying on that shiny new belt, a visible reminder to the whole school of what you’ve accomplished through persistence and practice! Plus, rank trumps everything else in a martial arts school. When we line up to take a drink at the water fountain, it’s not “ladies first”, it’s “white belts first”!

If you are in the Madison, WI area, check out to schedule a free trial class.

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 .

On SlutWalks And Sisterhood

13 May

Slutwalks, Sisterhood and Safety: Divided We Fall

I am relatively new to Twitter, and my head is SPINNING following the discussion around #slutwalks.

The Background: What is a SlutWalk?

In January 2011, a Toronto police officer addressed law students at a safety presentation saying “You know, I think we’re beating around the bush here. I’ve been told I’m not supposed to say this, however, women should avoid dressing like sluts in order not to be victimized.” Although he after a massive public outcry, his comments are part of a larger problem—1) That people mistakenly believe that rape has anything to do with what the victim is wearing, 2) That victims are routinely blamed for crimes committed against them while perpetrators are routinely defended and 3) That we as a society have consistently used words like ‘slut’ to shame women and attempt to control female sexuality to ever-changing standards of what is seen by whoever speaks loudest as ‘normal’ and ‘appropriate’.

In response to these issues, activists   on April 3, 2011 in the first SlutWalk, an international movement. Many activists have identified SlutWalk as an updated version of (TBTN) rallies.

TBTN marches (since the first in Philadelphia in 1975) demand an end to rape, so that the streets and the night will be safe for all. Many in the sexual assault prevention field have criticized TBTN as out of date because we now know that the VAST majority (75-85%) of sexual assault is perpetrated by someone the victim knows, often in a home and often involving alcohol use on the part of the perpetrator and/or the victim. The scenario rarely involves a strange attacker jumping out of the shadows.

SlutWalks, in contrast, aim to communicate that rape is part of a rape culture– and that culture needs to change. More specifically, a culture that says that women who dress “a certain way” are “asking for it”. A culture in which the media reports on what an 11-year-old girl was wearing at the time of her gang rape, and adds how difficult the aftermath was for the perpetrators and their families.  A culture that perpetuates the idea that men are animals with no self control who can’t and won’t hear the word no if a woman is ‘dressed like a slut’ because she is too attractive or, more accurately, because she is not worthy of respect.

Since the recent , in which Jaclyn Friedman gave a truly poetic and inspiring which is quickly becoming a part of the history of this movement, there has been a backlash against SlutWalks as a form of activism, including from some feminists.

The Controversy: Why SlutWalks make many people uncomfortable

1)      Some people think SlutWalks are meant to encourage ‘sluttiness’

First of all, that is not the point of SlutWalks. The point, as one protester’s sign put it so well, is that “Sluts don’t cause rape. Rapists do.” The point is, when women get dressed to go for a date or to go have fun with their friends, they shouldn’t have to think to themselves, “Hmm, if I wear this, will people disrespect, harass and assault me?” Rather, they should think, “What do I feel good wearing?” regardless of whether or not their particular brand of personal expression is seen as acceptable by others.

Secondly, this plays into what activists refer to as ‘slut-shaming’, which Jaclyn Friedman denounces so beautifully. “Because the secret truth nobody wants you to know is that, using nearly any definition, there’s nothing wrong with being a slut. Not a thing. It’s OK to like sex … And as long as you’re ensuring your partner’s enthusiastic consent, and acting on your own sexual desires, not just acting out what you think someone else expects of you? There’s not a damn thing wrong with it.”

2)      Some feminists take issue with the word ‘slut’

I don’t think everyone involved in SlutWalks agrees on this point, but some have stated they want to reclaim or take back the word ‘slut’. Many feminists, myself included, do not believe that it is possible to reclaim words in this way, because you can’t reclaim what was never yours to begin with. Slut is a derogatory word with no male equivalent that has been systematically used to justify violence of all kinds. On the other hand, it is a word that gets people all riled up—and hey, there’s no such thing as bad press! Many activists argue that using such an incendiary word brings energy to the movement, and on this point I believe they are correct. How else did the fire spread so quickly? There are SlutWalks being organized all over the world right now. It’s been less than 2 months since the first event was organized and young activists can’t get enough. Some people may be upset, but the point is to raise awareness of the issue and boy, has it got people talking!

3)      Some people think that women only ‘dress like sluts’ because they think that is the only way to get attention and love, because they have poor self esteem, because they have been brainwashed by the media, etc.

This is not about why women dress the way they do. It’s about women’s right to dress however they wish without fearing harassment and violence. Also, I think it would be an incredibly arrogant for anyone to make the assumption that they know about a person’s inner desires based on how they dress.

4)      Some people are offended when women are not appropriately ashamed of their bodies and sexuality.

I don’t know what to say to these people other than, “I’m sorry you feel that way.”

SO. This is the Twitter storm I have been following for the past week, and I’m getting so dizzy, I feel a little sick. Here’s why.

As well-known young feminist and writer Jessica Valenti asked during the : “Why don’t you spend more time attacking rape culture instead of young feminist activism?”

Indeed, anti-SlutWalk feminists and do seem to be quick to come down on the free expression of other women on this one… While I may agree that Wente and Dines may be missing the point from up there on their high horses—can’t we just agree to disagree?

I understand why activists are bristling at seeing their movement twisted in the media by those who would probably be better off doing some supportive shrugging and saying, “Hey, it’s not my thing and I don’t quite agree with the messaging, but good for them for getting young people engaged in raising awareness of sexual assault and double standards!” What I don’t understand is why the response to opposing viewpoints has often been catty and downright mean.

I’m reading posts and tweets that criticize others for making assumptions in one breath, and go on to make assumptions about that person in the next. I’d like to see some more sisterhood at play here. I’d like to see young activists reaching out to SlutWalk-opposed feminists and say, “Hey, I’m sorry you disagree with our activist expression, but I respect you for working to support women in your own way. It’s a free country and women have been silenced enough without us trying to silence you for disagreeing. Thanks for stirring up debate and upping our press coverage. Peace, sister!”

Because ever since the inception of the women’s movement, women have struggled to stand united. We’ve got more differences that we do similarities, as a group. The women’s movement struggled to include lesbians and women of color and working class women. Now it struggles to include both women who think women can dress however they want and use whatever words they want, and women who think there should be boundaries in how we dress and speak. All these women agree on equality and a woman’s right to live free from violence.

United we stand, divided we fall. Let’s get it together, sisters.

And for those of you in my neck of the woods, join me at on June 4! Stay tuned for photos and more from the event.

Respect is SEXY!

12 Apr

bloggers Lori and Courtney wrote an excellentdiscussing Dr. Ogi Ogas’s (shame on them)which asserts that “gender equality inhibits arousal”. (Say wha??! I know, right?)

Their main point is that his science and logic is faulty, countering with the following stats:

A Rutgers University study d that feminism boosts sexual satisfaction for both men and women, and that having a feminist partner is linked with healthier, more romantic relationships, at least for heterosexual couples. A study published in the journal Sex Roles found that:

-College-age women who reported having feminist male partners also reported higher quality relationships that were more stable than couples involving non-feminist male partners.

-College guys who were themselves feminists and had feminist partners reported more equality in their relationships.

-Older women who perceived their male partners as feminists reported greater relationship health and sexual satisfaction.

-Older men with feminist partners said they had more stable relationships and greater sexual satisfaction.

A dear friend of mine just discussed this very issue with me this weekend. Her current boyfriend is what I would call a feminist, whether or not he identifies that way. Before dating him, she was used to being with men who were socially and sexually aggressive, disrespectful, and inconsiderate of her feelings. She expressed that looking back, she doesn’t know why she was attracted to them because things are so much better with her current boyfriend. Since stats don’t have faces, I asked her if she would share her story… and she has some really powerful things to say:

When I think about my perceptions of sex when I was an early college student in comparison to what I think now, I can’t believe that the same person held such different ideas. I grew up in a healthy, respectful environment. It was taught to me at a young age that regardless of gender or sexual affiliation, each partner should be expected to treat that person as an equal with respect and love and that no one person be dominate over the other. I was involved academically in school, as well as athletics, and had many healthy friendships with both guys and girls. Just recently I have had one eye opening revelation-what we witness in the media and music, even if we had healthy upbringings with good morals instilled in us, can still persuade people to act irresponsibly, dangerously, and maliciously when it comes to sex….especially when alcohol is involved. In movies, songs, commercials….women are often objectified and men are often glorified when they can have several conquests with women. As a college student, I found myself that being submissive and giving in to men who were being forceful with me did not satisfy me sexually, but it satisfied an attention need and a normalcy need (or what I thought was normalcy). The feeling I had when receiving a text message inviting sex or when a guy at a party would insinuate sleeping together later made me feel wanted and needed. In all reality, I felt like shit the next day knowing that I was intimate with someone who typically knew nothing about me as a person and had no intention of knowing me in the future. But in the moment, I felt wanted and needed…and was happy to feel “sexy enough” to get a guy off. I have a hard time counting the number of times I really enjoyed ANY of those encounters myself. The only need I was fulfilling was my obsession with attention-a sign of my vulnerability and insecuirty. When I started dating the person I am with today, I found it odd that he wanted to actually date. We would have sex, like many couples do, but it wasn’t all we did, and it was different. It wasn’t expected, he never insinuated, he has never demanded or pushed limits. It was so different to me, and at first uncomfortable. That is sad to think about now. It is frightening that a respectful man who doesn’t push for sex or expect it was strange to me. I couldn’t believe he wanted to spend so much time with me, and that our sex life was more than just sex. He is concerned with my satisfaction more than his own, and I have found that I have learned alot about sexuality, what is healthy, and that women can really enjoy sex too! I know college is a difficult time for all, a time for exploration, but it is devastating knowing that some women feel they need to be in uncomfortable situations to feel wanted, and also that some men think they need to be forceful (whether physically or verbally) to feel powerful. This goes for same sex relationships, as I have a gay friend who was in a relationship for several months with a man who demanded he do things sexually that my friend was uncomfortable with…but went along with because he wanted so badly to feel wanted. In much fewer words, our media has a sad way of influencing our perceptions on what is normal behavior for dating and for sex. I am fortunate that although I have allowed myself to be put in situations I am not proud of, I now am dating a guy who helped me to really feel important AND sexy. Although I was having sex in college, I didn’t have a SEX life. I do now, with a mature man who is comfortable with himself and loves me unconditionally. People need to recognize rap music and comedians as crap entertainment, and not emulate what they portray.

is a fabulous comedian and blogger who specializes in celebrity humor. I just want to say I respect her for saying exactly what she thinks.

Here GloZell calls out on the lyrics of her song (I know, this is so last summer but bear with me here…)

Now, I know some sexual assault prevention activists might look at this call out as victim blaming– that GloZell is saying that Rihanna is “asking for it”. My interpretation is that she hopes to empower women like Rihanna to seek healthy relationships. So. Good lookin out, GloZell. We all need to look out for one another. Rihanna is so talented and captivating and it’s not right that she has had to deal publicly with her abuse, but I hope she is finding ways to grow past it because, fair or not, a lot of eyes are on her. I think we need to hold people accountable when they have so much influence, particularly over young girls. Seriously, who wants a rude boy? Where are the songs about nice guys?

Too Muscular? Is That a Thing Now?

21 Mar

Is there such a thing as being too muscular for a woman? This never occurred to me until I started teaching kickboxing. Every now and then a student would approach me and ask, “This isn’t going to make me too muscular is it?”

1. No, you’re not going to get “too muscular” from working out 2-3 times per week. You’re going to maintain a healthy body.

2. Since when are we worried about this??!

Muscles = Strength. Physical strength is especially important for women. Yes, it feels great to be able to endure a hard workout, but more importantly it feels great just to be able to do normal stuff. I teach a Women’s Strength Training class at . After training for a few months, one of my students said to me, “I feel so much better. I know it sounds silly but before I took this class I wasn’t able to lift heavy things. I self-identified as ‘weak’ and I would joke about it with friends and family. They would say, ‘Oh, don’t make her carry that, she’s so weak!’ and I would laugh and say, ‘Yeah, I’m so weak!’” After a few months of strength training she became proud of her ability to manage physical tasks in day to day life.

Concerned about looks?

First of all, a strong woman is a sexy woman and anyone who sees physical strength as a turn-off is SO not worth your time. Seriously. Think about it.

Secondly, the purpose of diet and exercise is to nurture vibrant health. And when I say “diet” I mean eating for health every day as part of a healthy lifestyle. I do NOT mean jumping on the bandwagon of some diet fad in order to lose weight because you don’t look like the model on the latest cover of Cosmo.

We all have different body types, and a healthy body is an attractive body.

That being said, let’s say you legitimately need to lose some body fat for health reasons. Muscle burns fat.

Let me go one step farther and speak to those of you who still really want to look like those models in the magazines.

Check out Heidi's abs. I guarantee you she does strength training.

Cardio alone will not give you a body like this. Women who do cardio only tend to have a doughy look, even when they are very thin. Anyway, how muscular do you think you are going to get? Is Jillian Michaels too muscular?

You think a body like this happens by accident??

I can imagine some women would say yes. They want the abs but not the arms. I don’t really get it. What about Jackie Warner? Are those abs too much for you?

Good news! I give you my 100% guarantee that you will never look in the mirror one day and think, “Whoops! I’ve gone and done it! I didn’t mean to build those large, well-defined muscles! What’s a girl to do?”

These women are full-time fitness professionals. I’ve read Jackie Warner’s book. I know what she eats. That woman is DISCIPLINED.

Let me put it simply. Even if there were such a thing as too muscular (and perhaps some body builders have gotten there…), it is pretty much a full-time job to get there.

For the average woman, doing the recommended amount of exercise (alternating strength/cardio 3-6 days per week) and eating healthy foods without taking supplements like creatine, you’re just going to look good and feel strong.

In my book, that’s a good thing.

Don’t Be A Punching Bag: Fight Back!

25 Feb

I am LOVING season 11 of . Ok, maybe as a martial artist I’m a little biased. This season more than ever they are moving to a martial arts based training program. The 2 new trainers are a Golden Gloves boxer (Cara) and a kickboxer/mixed martial artist (Brett). More than that, this season has a wonderful group of very compassionate contestants and totally fierce women! If anyone watched season 10, you would have seen that one woman (Ada- they called her “The Terminator”) had to rep for all the females. I love Ada but man that season was so frustrating to watch. Really obnoxious gender dynamics in the group.

Anyway season 11 is awesome, you must check it out. Prepare to be inspired.

I love this show because it is all about physical empowerment. You watch mostly sedentary people with serious health problems transform into full-fledged athletes. Ever heard of a thing called mind-body connection? By week 7 or 8, you see all of them, one by one, blossom into completely different people. They become confident, assertive, expressive and most importantly they stop questioning whether or not they can accomplish any task set before them. No matter how difficult the task, they approach it with a can do attitude.

A downside of the show is that, because it is a competition, not everyone can continue. On the other hand, because they have to fight to stay there, they are forced to find the fighters inside of them.

Martial arts based training programs, aside from being a fun and engaging way to exercise, really help people to get to that point. Particularly for women, martial arts is such a healthy way to find the fight you need to succeed in life. As women we have a lot to fight against:

  • Unhealthy body image we learn from the media
  • Lack of representation/recognition in history, politics, sports, etc.
  • The idea that we are “the weaker sex”
  • The impulse to put everyone else first
  • The learned habit to constantly apologize for what we think, feel or say
  • The fact that female-dominated professions are undervalued and underpaid
  • Creepers at every turn…

Yet, I often see women in my self defense classes who seem physically pained at the thought of hitting someone! The thought of it. Seriously. And I have to wonder to myself, “Would you be that pained at the thought of taking a hit?” The answer is usually no.

How can this not look fun to you??!

I’ve heard people say that, generally speaking, men take out stress externally and women take it out internally. Of course there are exceptions (I, for example, want to punch people in the face when I am stressed), but in general I have seen that to be true. Women seem to feel that we don’t deserve things. Even basic things, like feeling safe and comfortable and happy and good about our bodies. I’ve said this before but just for good measure: You deserve to feel safe, happy and confident! I’m not saying you should go around punching people in the face, but I am saying you should not take crap from other people. You are strong and intelligent and anyone who makes you feel otherwise is a worthless jerk, so forget them.

Check out this of Jillian Michaels teaching Biggest Loser contestant Marcy not to be a punching bag. Love her or hate her, Jillian is hard core. I’m going to go on the record and say I’m a fan. If you watch the , you’ll see another great scene with the new trainer Cara boxing Kaylee, a contestant who didn’t know she was a fighter until she got in the ring. Great stuff!

You don’t have to do martial arts to be a fighter in your heart, but if you’re having a hard time finding the fight in you it’s a great place to start. If you’re in Madison, WI and you mention this blog post by March 31, 2011 I will give you a FREE 30 minute private lesson to help you get started at my studio: . Call 251-7755.

If you’re not in the area but interested in starting training, here’s some tips on how to find the right place for you:

  1. Martial arts studios should offer a free class or week, or at least a reduced rate drop-in class before you sign on to any sort of contract. I recommend trying classes at more than one place before you make your decision.
  2. Listen to your instincts. Martial arts training involves a lot of trust, so look for instructors that make you feel safe, welcome and supported.
  3. Self defense vs. competition is one of the biggest differences between schools. My school is a self defense based school, focusing on personal development. If you like competition and find it motivating, that might be a good fit for you, but personally I don’t see the value of full contact sport fighting. There are ways to compete, like light-contact sparring, that won’t leave you with a broken nose.
  4. Do you see a variety of people in class? When the student body is diverse in terms of gender, race, ability, body type, etc. that is usually a good sign.
  5. Are there female instructors or high ranks? You can’t always hope for this, because it is a male-dominated profession, but it is a good sign for you when women are in leadership positions in any setting. That being said, I know many wonderful male martial arts instructors who believe strongly in female empowerment and equality.

Ok, now go forth and fight back! Let this song be your soundtrack:

How To Love Push Ups (Even If You Can’t Do One Now)

14 Feb

I can’t tell you how many women walk into my studio feeling seriously demoralized because of a real or perceived lack of upper body strength. Yes, men naturally have more upper body strength than women and yes, it can be really annoying when a man can do more push ups or pull ups than you without training. So what can we do about this?

As once said, “Don’t be a cry baby. Be a try baby.”

Push ups have been called “the perfect exercise” because they truly work the entire body and you can do them anywhere with no equipment. Women, in my experience, sometimes approach this exercise with hesitation. I can’t really blame them. If I hear one more fitness instructor refer to push ups from knees as “girl push ups” I am going to puke. I watch men do sloppy, pointless push ups every day because they would have to go to their knees to do them properly. Meanwhile I see many women who are ready to do push ups from their toes but lack the confidence.

Anyone can learn to do proper push ups, even if they start out with very little upper body strength. As with any physical activity, it is important to learn proper form from a qualified instructor to avoid injury and maximize efficiency. After that, it all comes down to your personal commitment.

Check out this instructional video and get started today. Set a goal you can keep, but know that the more often you practice, the faster you will see results. I recommend working on your push ups at least once per day (it takes 5 minutes or less!) but if that seems daunting start with 3 times per week. Anything less than that will leave you feeling frustrated.

Self Defense and “The B Word”

10 Feb

So much of self defense involves standing up for ourselves in social situations when that creeper won’t leave us alone. Can you guess the reasons why women often don’t?

  • “I don’t want to be mean.” (You’re not being mean, he is.)
  • “I don’t want to be rude.” (You’re not being rude, he is.)
  • “I don’t want to create an awkward situation.” (…You see where I”m going with this.)

All these answers and more boil down to a deeper issue that most women don’t want to say out loud:

“I don’t want to be a bitch.”

Now, why would a woman fear being a bitch when she could in the same moment fear being disrespected, intimidated and having her space invaded? I’ll tell you exactly why. Because when you draw a firm boundary with a creeper that says, “No, you are not welcome in my space,” he will either leave with his tail between his legs OR your worst fears will be confirmed. His charm will evaporate, his face will contort, he will look at you like you are a cockroach and he will spit, “BITCH!” right in your face. Even worse, he may start announcing this to anyone who will listen. “Look at that bitch over there…”

When this happens, if you are not prepared for it, you will feel your heart drop into your stomach. Your skin will crawl and you will want to disappear. It is a horrible feeling, which is why most women will do anything to avoid it.

Do not despair! You can defend yourself from the B word, and, in case this wasn’t made clear: You are NOT a bitch.

Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” She was a smart lady. She’s pretty much beat me to my whole point in one powerful thought… but since you asked– I’ll elaborate.

“Bitch” in a self defense context is code for: “You won, and being beat by a girl is bad for my macho reputation.”

Keeping this in mind, consider the following.

3 Reasons You Should Not Feel Bad That Creeper Called You a Bitch:

  1. This word has nothing to do with you. It’s about him. He’s embarrassed and he’s lashing out.  You could be the sweetest, nicest person in the universe and this jerk would say the same thing.
  2. By flatly refusing to internalize his attempt to put you down, you win FOREVER. That was the best shot he had at making you feel bad, and if that didn’t work, he’s got nothin’. Plus, you know already that he feels bad if he’s resorting to the B word, so win-win for you!
  3. You ditched the creeper– sweet! The main point is, this guy was creeping you out. Now he’s peaced out with no harm done to you, so long as you remember Eleanor’s advice.  All things considered, that was pretty easy.

Now that you’ve thought about how damaging this word can be to women even to the point of keeping them in physical danger, I hope you will consider one more step in taking this power out of oppressive hands. Please consider dropping the B word from your vocabulary when it comes to other women. Sisterhood is still powerful. Why would we use the oppressor’s tools against our sisters? He’s doing a fine job keeping us down without our help.

Last night I watched comedy special (she’s hilarious and super smart) and she had me rolling on this one particular joke.

Long story short, she described the experience of 5 guys in the back of a truck yelling cat calls at a woman jogging and posed the question, “In the history of the world, do you think that strategy has ever worked?!” (Go watch her special “Money Shot” for the , it’s available on Comedy Central or through her website. P.S. Support , they are awesome and underrepresented.)

Anyway it got me thinking about all those times on a minimum-weekly/maximum-daily basis that we women get harassed on the street, and how nasty it can feel. In NYC it is so bad that women have demanding that lawmakers consider passing legislation to restrict it.

Here are some things to consider when you have this experience:

1. Know that it is not a compliment, no matter what they say.

When you holler at EVERY woman and girl who passes you by, it is not a compliment. When you say invasive, nasty stuff like, “I bet you look real good in the morning” (someone said that to me recently, I didn’t make it up) that is not designed to make you feel good about yourself. It is designed to make him feel like he has the right to say anything he wants to any woman, because he doesn’t respect us.

2. Recognize that it has nothing to do with how you look or how you dress.

There have been days in the winter where I was so ridiculously bundled up and in a hurry that I looked like a large cranky muppet walking down the street, and my face was barely visible. It was barely clear that I even was a woman and I STILL got hollered at. I was like, “Seriously?!” Anyway there are some ignorant people out there who will suggest that when a woman tries to look nice, she is “asking for attention”. These are the same people who say that women “ask” to get raped. They are wrong. Period. Never doubt that. Unless I point a gun at a man’s head on the street and yell, “HOLLER at me! GO ON! NOTICE ME!!”, then it was HIS choice.

3. Remember that you have a voice too, and you can use it.

Ok I know this may sound cheesy or over-the-top, but here is my standard verbal response to creepy street harassment:

“It is not ok for you to talk to me, or any other woman that way.”

I don’t use for every, “Hey, pretty lady.” but you better believe I used it for Mr. “I bet you look real good in the morning.”

If they try to argue, I don’t bother engaging but sometimes finish with a firm, “You should be ashamed of yourself.”

Give it a try. It works for me. They never see it coming. You walk away feeling like you took control of the situation and ended with the upper hand. What if we all said this, every time? Is it possible they would get the message? I don’t know, but my feeling is that it is worth a try.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.