Tag Archives: Madison

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM)

5 Apr

Hello to my powerful, dynamic readers! Did you know? It’s April aka SAAM aka a great time to attend free events that are open to the public that provide information and insight about the social problem of sexual violence. And you KNOW I’m gonna be at those Madison, WI events!! Here’s the… I hope you’ll join me!

Chimera Self Defense Designed for Women – April 11th from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Madison East High School.

Chimera teaches women of all cultures, ages, backgrounds, and physical abilities that they have the right and ability to protect themselves from violence. Space is limited in this FREE workshop. Call (608) 251-5126 x10 to register or email Chimera@danecountyrcc.org. Sponsored by the .

Excerpts from Film “Very Young Girls” – April 13th at 6:30 p.m. at Lussier Community Education Center.

Excerpts from the film “Very Young Girls” features the Director of G.E.M.S. (Girls Education Mentoring Services) in New York City as she works to help girls who are victims of sex trafficking. Producers of this documentary hope to change the way law enforcement, the media and society as a whole view sexual exploitation, street prostitution, and human trafficking that is happening right in our own backyard. Light dinner served before viewing. Post-film viewing discussion facilitated by Annette Sallay of . April 13, 2012, dinner at 6:30 p.m., film viewing at 7:00 p.m. at the 56 South Gammon Road, Madison, WI. For more information contact annette@respectmadison.com, or (608) 283-6435 x10. Sponsored by Project Respect.

 SAFE (Yes! I will be teaching this!) Self-Defense Class Fundraiser for Lilada’s Livingroom- April 15th from 3:00-6:00 p.m. at Monona Terrace.

A women’s empowerment event to raise funds and awareness about sexual assault and violence against women. In this fun and dynamic class, women will learn to recognize and avoid dangerous situations, communicate assertively, escape various grabs/holds and strike with power and accuracy in a safe, women-only space.
• Great Entertainment!
• Fabulous Door Prizes!
• Women of all ages and stages!
The proceeds raised from this event will help to fund healing services to young survivors of sexual abuse and our Teen Mom Empowerment Programs.
Suggested Donation: $5 for students, $10 for adults
ADDITIONAL DONATIONS WELCOME!
Please make donations via:

Sponsored by Lilada’s Livingroom.

 Keynote Speaker, Jaclyn Friedman – April 17th at 7:00 p.m. at UW Memorial Union (TITU).

, editor or “” (and one of my heroes!) will be speaking about her new book “What You Really Really Want“. Her interactive presentation discusses the mixed messages that women receive daily about sex and safety, “separating fear from fact, decoding the dangerous message all around us, and discovering a healthy personal sexuality.” (I will be there as a representative of the Dane County RCC!) For more information email uwpaveoutreach@gmail.com.Sponsored by UW PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment).

Cover art from

(I will be speaking at this!) Take Back the Night – April 19th at 5:00 p.m. on UW Madison Campus

A broad-based community event that will focus on violence in our communities. It will include a march to the state capitol, speakers, a candlelight vigil, and a speak out. For more information visit Sponsored by UW Campus Women’s Center.

Speaking at Take Back The Night rally, April 2010

 Healing through Art and Movement – April 20th from 4:00-6:00 p.m. at 16 N. Hancock Street, Downtown Madison.

Come to an open house and explore creative experience that promote creativity and vitality. Art therapist Laura Teoli will talk about experiental treatment for depression, anxiety, and eating disorders at Rogers Memorial Hospital. Grace Valentine and Tara Rollins, dance/movement therapists at Hancock Center, will talk about the importance of grounding, finding reconnection with the body, and experiencing the joy of movement. Light refreshments will be served. RSVP appreciated but not required. For more information, please call (608) 251-0908 or email grace@hancockcenter.net.

 RCC Spark – An Online Auction to Benefit RCC - April 23rd

A group of concerned Dane County residents are hosting an online auction, , to help the RCC. Local goods and services, memorabilia from national celebrities (Elton John, Lisa Loeb, Kenny Rogers, Cheap Trick) plus many fun experiences and meals with local VIPs (Rep. Peter Barca, Matt Rothschild) will be up for bid. Winning bidders donate their high bid amount directly to RCC. All items/services will be revealed and open for bidding for one week, beginning April 23rd at noon. Auction ends April 30th. For more information, please contact Meg Rothstein at megrothstein@gmail.com.

 ”The Purity Myth” – April 26th at 7:00 p.m. at UW Memorial Union.

A based on‘s hit book, ““, is a critique of society’s obsession with virginity and how it affects girls and women. For more information, email uwpaveoutreach@gmail.com. Sponsored by UW PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment.

 Sexual Health Fest – April 27th from 10:00am-4:00 p.m. at Library Mall.

Resource fair with tables from many organizations. I’ll be there repping the Dane County Rape Crisis Center from 12:30-4pm! Sponsored by .

 Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon – April 28th from 12:00-2:00 p.m. at Bethel Lutheran Church located on 312 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison.

The Voices of Courage Awards Luncheon recognizes the extraordinary work being done throughout Wisconsin and honors the outstanding work of individuals and organizations that have exceeded the highest standards in their efforts to end sexual violence and support survivors. Tickets are $20.00 per person. For more information, please visit the event page at . Sponsored by .

 Wrap Around the Capitol – April 28th from 2:00-3:00 p.m. at the North Hamilton entrance of the Capitol, Madison.

Wrap Around the Capitol, 2:00-3:00 p.m., Saturday, April, 28th North Hamilton entrance of the Capitol building, Madison. We will encircle the Capitol to show our support for survivors of sexual violence in the observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. We will meet at the North Hamilton entrance immediately following the Voices of Courage Award Luncheon. For more information, visit .

 Big Read, selections of “What You Really Really Want” by Jaclyn Friedman – April 30th (I’ll be there!) and May 1st at 7:00 p.m. at UW Memorial Union (TITU).

Using research, reality-based advice, revealing quizzes and creative exercises, “What You Really Really Want” will show readers the way to separate fear from fact, decode the dangerous messages all around us, and discover a healthy personal sexuality. For more information, email uwpaveoutreach@gmail.com. Sponsored by UW PAVE (Promoting Awareness, Victim Empowerment).

Villari’s Martial Arts for Best of Madison!

16 Feb

FINALLY! My martial arts studio, , is on the ballot for and I thought I’d do a little shameless but truly heart-felt promotion here because let’s face it– I think we ARE the best. Here’s why we deserve your :

TOP 5 REASONS TO LOVE VILLARI’S MARTIAL ARTS OF MADISON

1) Over 20 years serving the community from the heart of Madison, WI.

We’ve been located at 532 State Street since 1989. Over the past 23 years we have taught countless martial arts, kickboxing and self-defense classes to thousands of people. Our self-defense and empowerment focus has helped our students to build confidence as well as physical fitness and mind-body connection. We have trained all groups of people– children, adults, law enforcement, athletes, folks with developmental disabilities and folks with limited mobility. We have helped people to lose weight, rehab injuries, and feel great about their successes. We have made donations over the years to local organizations including Special Olympics, Dane County Rape Crisis Center, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, and more. We have offered free workshops to student organizations and non-profits. We have demonstrated that we care about our community.

2) The largest, most highly-trained group of black belt and master instructors you will find at any martial arts school in Wisconsin.

Most martial arts schools have a handful of black belts if they are lucky, and very few are home to master instructors (5th degree or higher). Check out our black belt instructor list:

7th degree master instructor and studio founder: Mary Murphy Edwards

5th degree master instructors: and

3rd degree senior instructors: (Martial Arts Director- testing for 4th in April), (Outreach Director) and

2nd degree instructors: (Office Director- testing for 3rd in April), (Kickboxing Director), and Trisha Vanatta (temporarily inactive)

1st degree instructors (testing for 2nd in April): , Curtis Rueden (kickboxing)

That’s 3 master instructors plus 9 black belt instructors. Most of our 2nd degrees and above have over 8 years of experience. Our 3rd degrees and above have over 12 years of experience. Master Murphy has over 30 years of experience. You can see, as a group, we have a lot of experience!

3) Shaolin Kempo Karate and SAFE offer the best of self-defense.

, our main style of martial arts, is a mixed style founded by that was designed with self-defense in mind. When Grandmaster Villari founded his system in the 60′s, it was considered extremely taboo both to mix styles and to declare yourself a martial arts grandmaster. Villari legitimized his style through inspiring self-defense success stories over the decades, including training law enforcement and military who reported using what they learned to save their lives in many instances.

SAFE combines the best of martial arts principles with an in-depth understanding of the dynamics of violence against women in our society.

4) Our kickboxing program was the first of its kind in Madison, and yes– it’s the best!

We founded our kickboxing program in 1999 during the national cardio kickboxing frenzy. Unlike cardio kickboxing taught at gyms, where instructors can become certified in an afternoon, our classes are taught only by martial artists (including 3 black belts right now). We teach proper technique for striking with power to vulnerable targets– essential skills for self-defense. We also hit heavy bags for resistance training. Our kickboxers don’t just build muscle– they build skill!

5) The warmest, fuzziest place to hit people!

Our community is friendly, welcoming and supportive. Anyone who joins us is treated as part of the group. We genuinely care for one another, and treat one another well. Why else would people stick around for decades? This year, we are transitioning into becoming a worker-owned cooperative. Although martial arts involves a hierarchy of belts, our instructors are not about ego. We work as a team and we treat our students with respect.

 

Thank you for your !

SlutWalk Chicago Highlights

7 Jun

The Women’s Movement is BACK, baby! What an exciting day.

For those of you who have not yet heard about SlutWalk events popping up all over the world, these are marches protesting sexual violence and particularly the use of slut-shaming and victim blaming to justify sexual violence, rather than holding perpetrators accountable. Yes, there has been some controversy. See my previous post or Jessica Valenti’s wonderful Washington Post for more information on the debate around SlutWalk. See this for more on the ideology behind the Chicago event.

Ok, so while the weather reports warned of thunderstorms, thousands of protesters of all ages, races, body-types, backgrounds and genders gathered in Thompson Plaza in Chicago on Saturday, June 4 to march against sexual violence, against victim blaming, against slut-shaming and FOR women’s rights. The weather stayed sunny– and HOT– and it made me wish I was as scantily clad as some of the other activists around me. Yes, some were in lingerie, bikinis, and short skirts– people were dressed in all different ways, including at least one woman who marched in a hijab. I wore jeans (a very sweaty mistake) and a t-shirt reading “ASKING is the first thing I do with my mouth”. Others used bare skin as their message board to the world, writing things like, “This is not an invitation to rape me” or, more simply:

This woman was very nice. We chatted about sunscreen after the march.

Here are some things that I found really exciting about SlutWalk Chicago:

1) Holy MEN, Batman! There were tons of them, and they led cheers in booming voices that went a little something like this: “Gay, Straight, Black, White! All unite for women’s rights!” Heart-warming.

2) We ran into the Avon Walk For The Cure and sisterly love abounded!

We loved each other! Sisterhood!!

3) There were kids at the march.

Her sister's sign read, "I DARE U TO CALL ME ONE."

4) I wish I had caught this on video: A bus driver saw us, read our signs, beeped a funky rhythm and fist-pump danced at us until her light turned green. We fist-pumped right  back. It was awesome.

5) Most polite protestors ever. Sample conversations:

“Oh, excuse me! I didn’t mean to invade your space!” “You’re fine!” *warm smiles*

“May I take your photo? I love your signs!” “Sure!” “Thank you!” “You’re welcome!”

Speaking of signs, there were some great ones! I give you the beautiful, strong messengers of SlutWalk:

Blurry but I love it: "Just because I have BIG TITS doesn't mean I want to FUCK YOU!" Say it, sister!

Chanting: "Hey hey! Ho ho! Sexual violence has got to go!"

Powerful. "Nobody asked me what my rapist wore." This sign struck me the most deeply.

Haha I LOVE this one! Summing up the sex-positive messaging in SlutWalk.

Yeah, we've had ENOUGH!

No more victim blaming!

After the march we heard speakers, slam poets, and even a (hilarious) ! (My frequent readers know how I love female comedians…)

Other highlights of the speeches, for me, were from the Chicago Metro YWCA with her “chat-sy about consent” which we could start practicing now “or, you know, forevs” as well as an organizer (whose name I didn’t catch- did you? Let me know!) from the . Emily’s talk was empowering, silly and sexy as she discussed my favorite topic: consent! From SWOP, I learned a lot about how sex workers face additional challenges from law enforcement in reporting rape, and also that many cities have or are considering creating laws that would allow law enforcement to assume a person was soliciting based solely on what she is wearing and where she is standing. Alarming!

I was too tired to attend the after party and after-after-party, so I got a Slurpie (7-11s everywhere in Chicago!) and took a nap. It was a sexy fun day, and I ran into some organizers planning to bring SlutWalk to my hometown of Madison! Stay tuned for more info on that as it becomes available.

I’d love to hear your comments/questions! And remember:

“Women’s rights under attack? What do we do?

STAND UP! FIGHT BACK!”

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.

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