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What’s the one time of year when your attacker is most likely to be wearing a mask?

You guessed it: Halloween. Other than that it’s not very likely, despite popular mythology.

I live in Madison, Wisconsin and Halloween is the one time of year that isdowntown than Badger football Saturdays. State Street draws tens of thousands of raucous out-of-towners in costume. Up until , things were so out of hand that the city had to grease street lights to prevent partyers from shimmying up them and some rioting crowds were tear gassed. Finally the city formalized the event, fenced in the area with aggressive lighting, and sold tickets. Since then the number of arrests has declined significantly, along with attendance.

Now I don’t know about your state, but mine has a serious . It gets more severe in any sort of holiday or celebration setting, like Halloween for example. When people are drinking heavily and wearing disguises, I would hope that my readers would know to raise a red flag.

Here are some tips to make Halloween fun AND safe (my favorite!):

1) Drink , as usual. Or not at all.

2) Consider mobility when choosing your costume. If you can’t move very well, it makes you more vulnerable.

3) When meeting new people who are masked, ask to see their face. It’s not weird– you’re meeting a person, not a gorilla mask or whatever it may be. That way if that person turns creepy, you could describe them to police.

4) Follow your instincts and have fun!

Happy Halloween! Be safe! Make good choices! ;)

 

 

Women and Drinking and Creepers, Oh My!

12 Jul

Not only are drunken creepers unpleasant, they can be dangerous, especially when our own inhibitions and judgment are impaired by alcohol and other drugs.

90% of all campus rapes occur when alcohol has been used by either the assailant or the victim. (, 2007)

Alcohol is, in fact, the most widely used predatory drug. Think about everyone you know who has been sexually assaulted or raped and ask yourself if they or the perpetrator were using alcohol or other drugs. I don’t know about you, but in my social network the statistic looks more like 100%.

Yes, more widely talked about drugs like GHB and Rohypnol are still an issue, but only in about 3% of cases. More commonly, we need to be watching the use of alcohol (present in 55-63% of victims) and marijuana (present in 30% of victims).

While binge drinking is harmful in so many ways (physically, psychologically, socially), I don’t feel I can convince the devoted drinkers to drink less with a blog post so instead…

Here are some tips for partying safely:

  • Use the buddy system. When you go out, make sure you have friends who you trust (and who are deserving of your trust) to be your better judgement if you overdo it. It’s a good idea to have a designated sober person even if nobody is driving. Do NOT separate from your group. You may have learned from experience that looking out for your drunkest friends can be a thankless job (I’ve had to physically fight with friends to keep them from going home with strangers) but it beats the alternative.
  • Resist the drunken “hook up”. First of all, you know it’s not going to be very good even in the best scenario (you may not even remember it well), and the worst scenario is that it may turn into sexual assault. One of my best friends had to stop one of his friends from going home with a creeper and he reasoned with them “If you two really think you have something here, then why don’t you exchange numbers and get together when you are sober.” Wise words.
  • Don’t let a man walk you (or your friend) home unless it is someone you trust deeply. In Madison a few years back, a young woman was kidnapped and violently murdered by a man who claimed to know her. The woman was drunk to the point where she was not fully functioning and this man told the bartender he was her friend and he would get her home safe. He was never found after the murder. I’ve also heard of more than one case in which a “friend” walked a woman home, then forced his way into her house and raped her.

I helped plan this ad campaign when I was a student! Remember: a person cannot give consent if they are incoherent or incapacitated by alcohol.

Now, to address The Drunk Creeper. Sometimes he is overtly predatory, but sometimes misguided nice guys who lack social skills can get a little creepy too when they get a little liquid courage.

From U of Minnesota's brilliant "The Other Hangover" Campaign

Things to keep in mind when dealing with drunken creepers:

  • Drunk people don’t recognize subtle social cues. I imagine I am talking to a cross between a naughty child/dog and someone who doesn’t hear very well. I use a firm voice, simple wording, and a clear message. “NO. Leave me alone NOW. I have NO interest in you now or EVER.” or “STOP. TOUCHING. HER. NOW. or I will get a bouncer to throw you OUT.” Not only are they not offended, they often still seem confused, like they think this might be a flirtatious game, so you may have to follow up with, “I am NOT joking. I am SERIOUS. Leave NOW. Bye!.. BYE! (*shooing away motions*)” etc.
  • Don’t try to reason with drunk people. If they try to argue for continued creeping, do not engage! A trick is to put your hand out firmly in front of their face like you are saying “STOP.” Drunk people can’t help but to stop when they see this, at least momentarily. In the pause, cut them off and resume assertive communication from the step above. “STOP arguing. GO AWAY NOW.” Or you can go away, if that seems like the better option.
  • Your friend may have an inner creep that comes out when he is drunk. Just because someone is a nice guy normally, doesn’t mean he gets a free pass to creep when drunk. Here you may take a slightly more compassionate stance with something like, “You’re not acting like yourself, and I don’t like this side of you. (Name the behavior:) You are being rude and you are making me feel uncomfortable. Let’s talk again when you are sober.” Then leave the situation.

7 Self Defense Myths

10 Jul

My job as a women’s self defense instructors is widely misunderstood. This is partially because there is no really credible certification system for teaching women’s self defense, so many people teach it without a complete understanding of what they are teaching and give people the wrong idea. Why should you believe me over them? Not only have I grown up studying martial arts since I was old enough to walk at a school owned by my mother, a now 7th degree black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate (a self defense based mixed martial art), but I have spent several years educating myself about violence against women through research, volunteer work and activism. Most self defense teachers understand one or the other– fighting back or what you’re fighting against. I strive to understand both sides.

These are some of the most damaging myths about self defense:

1. You need to learn how to protect yourself if someone attacks you when you are walking alone at night, because nobody you know would attack you, and if they did you would know what to do.

About 90% of violence against women falls under the category of sexual assault, and within that we know that about 85% of sexual assault is committed by someone the victim knows: a friend, acquaintance, family member or intimate partner. Most women don’t believe someone they know and trust could attack or sexually assault them, which is why their guard is down and they usually have not thought through what they would do in such a situation. A good women’s self defense class teaches more than martial arts– it teaches how to navigate dangerous social situations.

2. Women are targeted to be victims based on how they look and/or what they wear.

Attackers choose their victims based on what they think they can get away with. Who won’t tell? Who wouldn’t be believed? Who can they overpower with the least amount of struggle? This is why the majority of sexual assault victims are minors. To suggest that a woman’s appearance has anything to do with her attack is called victim blaming and it is extremely damaging.

3. Perpetrators of sexual assault and other violent crimes are sick and different, so they are easy to spot and avoid.

Most perpetrators look and act just like anyone else. I would even go as far as to say that many simply do not know better than to commit sexual violence. In a poll of college aged men whose actions fit the legal definition of rape, over 80% said their actions were “definitely not rape.” This is why it is important to talk about these issues and educate people to change our culture.

4. Self defense is mainly a set of physical skills plus screaming “NO!” and “BACK OFF!”

Self defense is first about recognizing and avoiding dangerous situations so you hopefully never have to use your physical skills, and second about recognizing that we as women are just as strong and capable of fighting back as any man. Although the material is serious, a good women’s self defense class should feel fun and empowering!

5. The hardest part about physically fighting someone off is that they are probably bigger and stronger than you and they may have a weapon.

Probably the biggest obstacle that most survivors report is the “fight, flight or freeze” response to trauma. Many women report that they didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late and then they were in such shock they were unable to think clearly or act in the way they would have thought they should. If you know how to fight back, it doesn’t matter how big or strong your opponent is. What matters is your reaction in a moment of high stress. That is why martial arts classes are great preparation– because they train your body to react to unexpected attacks with physical defenses, and because they teach how to communicate clearly while working in close quarters with other people’s bodies.

6. Women who don’t leave abusive relationships are different from me. I could never end up in a situation like that.

Any person is capable of ending up in an abusive relationship. I know many intelligent, strong, powerful women who have ended up in psychologically toxic or physically abusive relationships. If it were obvious, nobody would go there! The are so subtle and complex that the best thing you can do to avoid it is to understand and HEED the by getting out before you are too emotionally invested.

7. Pressure points and grappling are the best defenses for a woman who is not trained in martial arts.

UGH this one annoys me. Let me put it this way: most self defense classes are from 2-12 hours long. I have studied martial arts since I was a small child and I STILL have trouble using pressure points effectively. My first choice for physical defense? HIT ‘EM IN THE FACE!!! As for grappling, it’s so trendy right now with the surge in popularity of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and MMA. The thing is, joint locks are great (although too complicated for a beginner), but if you are smaller than your opponent you do NOT want to go to the ground with them. Yes, there are ways to defend on the ground but no, they are not easily accessible for someone untrained in martial arts.

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.

When I started this blog, I thought to myself, “I’d better not get too political here.” So I pressured my brilliant activist sister to start a , instead. But you know, I’ve reached a point where I can’t not speak out against the blatant attacks on women by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin state government.

I’m talking about Governor Walker and his unquestioning, morally bankrupt Republican majority in the House and the Senate, whose latest genius idea (<- I must be angry if I’ve been driven to use sarcasm) is to defund family planning services in Wisconsin.

spell out how the proposed budget will affect family planning and health care services in the state:

All 12 Republicans in the Joint Finance Committee voted to:

  • Eliminate state funding for Planned Parenthood health centers in Wisconsin
  • Against tens of thousands of women, men, and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood
  • Against lifesaving cancer screenings, HIV testing, birth control, and annual exams
  • Put the entire BadgerCare Family Planning program at risk. A program that provides 60,000 patients across the state with basic, preventive health care each year

Now, for those who may be thinking,“Well I’m opposed to abortion so I don’t know if the state should fund clinics like Planned Parenthood…” I can totally understand where you are coming from. That being said, only 3% of Planned Parenthood’s funding goes to abortion and exactly NONE of that funding comes from the state.

We’re talking about tens of thousands of uninsured, low-income and working class women and families losing access to BASIC health care such as cancer and STI screenings, breast exams and pap smears, annual check ups and access to birth control.

What will this mean for Wisconsin? A rise in unwanted pregnancies, STIs, and women dying of cervical cancer.

for the :

The medical director of the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene says women will likely die of cervical cancer if Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposal eliminating $266,400 for cervical cancer screening prevails.

“I see at least 1 – 2 high-grade lesions every day during cytologic evaluations,” Dr. Daniel Kurtycz says in prepared remarks to…the Joint Finance Committee…. “Without follow-up, there is no doubt that some of these lesions will become invasive. Because cervical cancer takes at least two years to run its course, sometime after 2015, we will have women dying of cervical cancer as a predictable consequence of the funding reduction for testing in this budget.”

This cannot stand. Please by contacting your representatives or volunteering. Spread the word. Organize!

This is one of the most frequently asked questions in the women’s self defense classes I teach.

Generally speaking, most self defense and personal safety professionals agree that while it is a great idea to carry a cell phone for emergency calls if needed– talking on your cell phone is not the best idea when walking alone.

Keeping in mind that the vast majority of violence against women is perpetrated by someone that the victim knows and not a stranger jumping out of a dark alley, stranger attacks do happen.

Put yourself in the attacker’s shoes: a cell phone does not make the potential victim less alone, it just makes her more distracted. Attackers are essentially overgrown bullies– insecure and cowardly on the inside, posturing for power thrills on the outside. They are not looking for a fight, they are looking for an easy target. They are looking for someone who seems distracted and easily intimidated.

To avoid looking like a target, walk with confidence and appear alert. Keep your shoulders drawn back (not hunched forwards), head held high, and stay aware of your surroundings. That means no earbuds, either. Make brief but complete with anyone you see, and listen to your instincts. BONUS: You will find that walking this way will actually make you feel stronger and less fearful!

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?

Sisterhood– There’s Safety in Numbers

21 Feb

I wanted to write about sisterhood, because it is very important to me. When I teach women’s self defense, this subject always comes up. Some of the most dangerous situations for women– emotionally and physically– are social situations. Parties, bars/clubs, work. These are the places where women face harassment and intimidation on a regular basis. In a world where women are bombarded with attacks of many kinds (disrespect, invasion of personal space, objectification, unrealistic body ideals, etc.), sisterhood is one of the most dependable defenses we have.

When I was in college, I was standing outside a party once with some of my girlfriends. We were chatting and sort of dancing to the music we could still hear coming from inside the house. Out of nowhere, this giant drunk creeper stumbled towards me with a creepy look and a “Heeeey…” I was not interested in talking to him and I know how that song and dance goes so I calmly replied, “You know, I’m talking with my girlfriends right now. I’m not interested.” He stepped closer and slurred, “But you were moving your hips…” I put my hand up and stepped back saying, “Yes, I was, and that was not an invitation of any kind.” He looked confused for a moment, then when he realized what had just happened he said, “BITCH,” and turned to walk away. Before I had time to process what he had said, one of my most petite friends busted out of our group to confront him. She tilted her face all the way up to look at him (he was literally 3 times her size) and she full out screamed in his face, “How DARE you speak to her like that?! She was PERFECTLY POLITE to you! You should be ASHAMED of yourself!! GET OUT OF HERE!!!” His eyes just about bugged out of his head and he looked at all of us looking at him and then he took her advice and got out of there. I may have had my physical safety under control, but my sister took care of me emotionally in that moment.

Another wonderful friend of mine moved to New York to teach, and she told me that one of the things she missed most about home were her girlfriends. One night she was out with some of her female coworkers at a bar and she had to brush off a creeper who, on top of the usual creepy stuff, said something really racist to her. Not only did the other women fail to stand up for her, but one of them started flirting with the creeper saying things like, “I don’t know what her problem is.”

What a difference. If my friend had said to me, “Wow, you were kind of bitchy to him,” instead of telling him off, how would I have felt? Unfortunately women still do this to each other. What is stopping us from forming sisterhood?

As I got thinking (and talking with some of my sisters) I realized it can be difficult to put your finger on exactly what sisterhood means. I Googled it, and most of the results had to do with or . These books (later movies) as well as the HBO series do seem to capture that intangible spirit of sisterhood. But that form of supportive female friendship is what one of my friends called sisterhood “with a little ‘s’.” Sisterhood with a big “S” has to do with Sexism with a big “S”. This has to do with systemic structures of inequality, not individual interactions.

Me with some of my fab soul sisters

So what does Sisterhood mean?

I’ve learned a lot about sisterhood from girlfriends like the ones in the stories above. I turned to some of my oldest friends for advice as I was drafting this post, and as usual they had some brilliant things to say. In particular, my dear who taught me not to use the B word questioned making a distinction between the big “S” and little “s”:

To me, they’re absolutely intertwined – the impulse to be kind to a friend or go out to lunch with a group of women IS about solidarity and it does fly in the face of sexist societal structures that tell us we can’t/shouldn’t trust each other, that other women are bitchy and we should turn to our boyfriends for truly fulfilling companionship. I mean, the personal is political, right?

The kind of female friendship represented by Sex and the City or any of those other cultural examples has deep roots in history, and when women carve out a safe physical and emotional sphere together, it leads to systemic change. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton were best friends; they spent hours writing letters and discussing strategy while Susan changed Elizabeth’s babies. The consciousness raising circles of the second wave womens’ movement started as bridge clubs and book groups. I talked to a group of 80 year old women from the Dane County League of Women Voters who told me they originally joined the movement because it gave them a chance to talk to adults, to other women, during the day while they stayed home with their kids. So for my money, kinship among women is revolutionary on a systemic level, even more so today when we’re inundated with reality TV depicting “catfighting” and stories of women trying to tear each other down.

The that best describes what I’m after here is:

The solidarity of women based on shared conditions, experiences or concerns.

Now that is interesting. Solidarity. I happen to be located in Madison, WI and working 5 blocks down from the capitol in the middle of probably the largest and most historic we’ve seen here since the .

50,000 people protested outside the capitol

It has brought tens of thousands of people to the capitol day and night for the past eight days (today is day nine). My younger sister, actually, has slept in the capitol every night since this thing started. She’s an organizer. Anyway, people are calling this an “ideological war” or a “war on working families.” It is pretty bad out there. Understandably, people are upset, so they have banded together in solidarity to do something about it. I’ve been to the capitol for the protests, and it is truly amazing to see the sheer numbers.

Protestors at the Wisconsin capitol

Meanwhile, many journalists and bloggers are commenting on a that is happening at the same time. Even worker’s rights in Wisconsin has been called a In other news, the House of Representatives just voted to cut funding for , which, in addition to family planning services, offers preventative health care to millions of women who would otherwise be unable to afford it. (No federal funding goes towards abortions, except in cases of rape, incest or immediate danger to the mother.) It is in the hands of the Senate now.

Let me just be clear, before continuing, that I am not trying to make any sort of political statement about abortion. Planned Parenthood is an organization that focuses primarily on providing information and resources that prevent unwanted pregnancy. No unwanted pregnancy, no abortion. Yes, some clinics do provide abortion services but that is a very small part of what they do as an organization. They educate people to make informed decisions about their bodies, they provide access to contraception, and they provide check ups and preventative health care like STI and cancer screenings. I don’t think I’m being overly political when I say that Planned Parenthood is an organization that has devoted 90 years to protecting women’s health and safety and, as a woman, I like to know they are here for us.

Are women hitting the streets? Are we even our US senators? Do we recognize that even if we don’t use Planned Parenthood’s services, that we have “shared experiences, conditions or concerns” with women who do, just by the nature of being women? Flying in the face of this kind of Sisterhood, I know of at least who is working to tear Planned Parenthood down. Lila Rose is a 22-year-old anti-abortion activist who has led a smear campaign against the organization. I understand being opposed to abortion. I don’t understand throwing millions of women under the bus to further your own ideology. Especially from another woman.

When I was younger I would have hated that woman. Honestly, I have to fight the instinct now. One thing I have learned about Sisterhood is that part of it means not turning against other women, even when they do things you really don’t agree with or understand. That doesn’t mean you can’t disagree or fight for what you believe in. It just means that it’s important to have compassion for other women, no matter how different they may seem, because at the end of the day you and she face a lot of the exact same experiences. I try to have compassion for women with whom I disagree, like Lila Rose. I only wish she would have more compassion for the women and families who will be left with no back up plan if Planned Parenthood is destroyed.

I guess I have to end this the way I started it– with questions. What would the women who fought for our rights throughout history think of us today? Women came together over one issue after another to fight for the common good. When I look at the shockingly high rates of sexual assault against women in this country, I know the fight is not over. But where is the Sisterhood? Why is “feminism” a dirty word? Why do women disbelieve other women who report rape? Why do women call other women words that are designed to keep women down? I’d like to see women come together again around issues that affect us all. Poverty, racism, homophobia, domestic violence, etc.– If it affects some women, it affects all women. Why? Because we are sisters. So let’s act like it.

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.


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