Self-defense: A False Sense of Confidence?

The following is a guest blog by our good friend, Kate Webster, Ph.D. She is the Director of Violence Prevention Programs at Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center in Chicago, IL. This gal kicks ass – and she uses her fancy advanced degree as an improvised weapon. *kidding* Seriously, she’s brilliant and she rules. Here’s Kate’s response to a recent interview on the Today Show that made all of us at GFB throw up in our mouths a little bit. -Erin

When I was in college, I knew there were dangers on my campus, as there were on any campus, and I wanted to be smart about being safe. Yet, all I heard was a bunch of don’ts.

Don’t walk alone at night, don’t go to fraternity parties, don’t get drunk at parties, don’t wear short skirts, don’t dress like you’re asking for it. Sound familiar?

To be safe, I was told to walk with a guy at night, carry mace or a siren whistle, or use the “blue” campus phones. But these tips always confused me because what if I didn’t have a guy friend to walk with me or want to carry mace or couldn’t find a blue campus phone?

Now, don’t get me wrong, some of this advice can be quite wise—it can be safer to walk with someone you know and trust, and mace or a whistle can help to stun or startle an attacker so you can get away. What confused me at the time was how the tips seemed to say that I had to rely on someone or something else to help me to feel safe. Couldn’t I stand up for myself, by myself? Luckily, a number of years later, I stepped into my first women’s self-defense class and found my answer to be a resounding yes.

I’ve been teaching self-defense ever since that first 12-hour course and firmly believe that we all have the power to stop, prevent, thwart, avert and successfully confront an attack through the most peaceful means possible—which sometimes might mean being physical and striking back, but more often means being assertive, strong, empowered, confident, and knowing you are worth defending.

However, not everyone seems to agree. On the Today show a couple of weeks ago, Pat Brown, a criminal profiler, denounced self-defense for young women, claiming it gave them a false sense of confidence. She erroneously claims that in self-defense classes, girls and young women learn to punch incorrectly and kick in high heels. And, according to her assessment, it’s not going to work—especially against a 200 lb Mike Tyson type of attacker.

I was so frustrated and saddened by these comments. Not just because they are incorrect—we teach untrained techniques such as a palm heel or a knee kick and not a trained one such as a punch—but because they are damaging to girls’ and young women’s ability to feel strong, empowered, and capable of taking care of themselves.

Peppered throughout her interview are comments of what we need to do to keep our girls safe and I was sorely reminded of those don’ts I heard back in college. Not a single time did she mention what girls and young women can do for themselves to keep themselves safe. She has a point that there are things all girls and young women can do to keep more safe, but let’s not blame them for wearing sexy clothing, having a few too many drinks, or wanting the freedom to walk home alone. Instead, let’s give them tools to feel strong and confident so they can make the best choices for themselves, and  decide for themselves if they want to have a drink, wear a short skirt and walk home alone.

The self-defense we teach at Thousand Waves Martial Arts & Self-Defense Center teaches teens and adults of all genders how to feel stronger in their mind and body and make the most peaceful choice in the face of violence that is appropriate for themselves. Giving individuals a sense of their own agency and a capacity to make decisions for themselves—the bad along with the good—is the true gift we can give the young people in our lives.

Media Perceptions of Self-Protection: The Newsroom

I’m currently playing catch up on a several different TV shows, one of which is The Newsroom (the HBO/Aaron Sorkin show about a TV Newroom ala CNN/MSNBC).  A few of my friends are really into it and I’ve watched about four episodes so far.  I haven’t really been loving it as much, but I’m determined to stick with it a few more episodes before forming a final opinion.

I recently caught Episode Four entitled “I’ll Try to Fix You”, which centers around the issue of gun control.  Now, I’m not a big fan of guns.  I’ve learned to shoot various types and I’ve learned how to defend myself against one just as all GFB speakers have, but one particular scene in this episode made me sit up and go “what?!?!”

Will (the lead character played by Jeff Daniels) is out on a date with Carrie (Kathryn Hahn).  They have made their way back to his place for a little post-date fun when she mentions that she has some pot in her purse.  She tells him to grab it out of the front pocket while she goes to slip into something more comfortable.  When he opens her purse, there is a little pearl-handled pistol staring up at him.

Will is now visibly disappointed and calls Carrie to him like a father disciplining a naughty child.  While chastising to her, he disarms the gun and tosses the bullets into her purse.  She grabs the now harmless weapon from him and says something along the lines of “you have your opinion, but if someone confronts me, I’m going to be able to protect myself”.  His response?  “That’s ridiculous because we know that in reality this is what would happen…” then he reaches up and knocks the gun out of her hand.  He catches it like an expert and points it back at her.

Now all that dialogue is paraphrased, but when I heard what he said to her, I actually said outloud, “No!  That is not statistically accurate!”

As we’ve been revamping the Girls Fight Back website and preparing to launch our Fall 2012 tour, Erin, Megan, Bree, the rest of the gang, and I have been discussing how difficult it can be to market the idea of self-protection or self-defense.  And part of that difficulty comes from the fact that a LOT of people simply don’t believe that it works.  They just don’t believe someone can successfully fight back against an attacker.   Particularly that a woman can fight back against a male attacker.

During these discussions, Erin helpfully pointed us towards the work of a man named Dr. Gary Kleck. Dr. Kleck has dedicated most of his career to investigating violent incidents, and measuring how victims’ reactions to the assault affect the end result.   Now you can read the entire 77-page study paper he released if you want, but here’s the CliffNotes version as Erin gave it to me before I was able to read the document myself:

-Research shows that self-protection (SP) is very effective in preventing the completion of a rape.

-SP efforts, both forceful and non-forceful, reduce the odds of an attack ending in rape.

-SP is effective, whether the offender is a boyfriend or a stranger.

-SP is effective, even if he is drunk or drugged.

-SP is effective, even against multiple attackers.

-SP is effective, even in attacks happening at home, or at night.

-Injuries, especially serious ones, are rare in situations where people are defending themselves.

-If you fight back, you are statistically NOT more likely to get hurt (as opposed to non-resistance).

-It’s quite the opposite…you are LESS LIKELY to get hurt if you fight back.

-Conclusion: Fighting back reduces the risk of the rape, and does not increase your risk of injury!

Now, you may be asking “what happens when you add guns into the mix?”  Well, the US Department of Justice released this little fun fact in 2002.

*A fifth of all victims defending themselves with a firearm suffered an injury, compared to almost half of those who defended themselves with weapons other than a firearm or who had no weapon.

Now, I’m not trying to encourage you to run out and buy a gun.  I don’t own one and I don’t ever intend to.  All I’m trying to point out is that SELF-PROTECTION WORKS!  We have to stop buying into the myth that we as women can’t protect ourselves.  Yes, we have to be knowledgeable and that’s why GFB always recommends training whether that be standard self-defense training or weapons training, but we have power!  And choosing to use that power in violent situations DOES make a difference.

Keep tuning into the blog for success stories about women using their power (including a story of my own) and more insights from popular media (My Little Pony – what!?!?!).

The greatest oak was once a little nut…

Lee Paiva-Sinclair is based in San Francisco with 3 teenagers, a husband, dogs– in love with all. She is Founder of NO MEANS NO Worldwide, a global rape prevention program, and established the first organized women’s self-defense program in Kenya.

I first met Erin at a summer self defense conference where we were both speakers. I was actually quite new to the self defense world and had a lot to learn. Erin and I hit it off right from the start – even to the point where the next morning we came out from our respective dorm rooms with the exact same hairdo!

Through Erin and Girls Fight Back I found a whole world of light and positivity being directed at two of the darkest issues we could ever face – rape and murder. Erin found a way to shift that horror into a prism of empowerment and even humor. From where I stand, this is no small feat. Girls Fight Back is a breath of fresh air in what is typically the least popular topic on the planet. I secretly believe she is some kind of superwoman for getting girls to engage on this subject and feel cool for doing so.

Check this GFB list and judge for yourself if something supernatural is taking place:

  • GFB rose from the ashes of a horrific tragedy
  • Founded and run by a woman
  • Delivers impactful rape prevention presentations like a female Chris Rock
  • Uses bright, youthful, blackness-busting colors to re-brand the self defense movement
  • Networks with like minded people and orgs like Zuckerberg on steroids
  • Flies to colleges and businesses all over the country – with a baby sometimes – to deliver the good news about personal safety
  • Constantly gives generously of GFB time,  resources and expertise for FREE
  • Wrote an amazing book for college bound girls (the BEST gift you can give a graduating senior)
  • Trail blazes the use of social networking to keep women and girls connected and active in the cause
  • Creates a healthy non egoic work environment that improves and empowers her staff, not just the message
  • Is not pushing a proprietary information lock down. Her safety strategies, business, marketing, promotion and media expertise are shared fearlessly. ‘If it’s useful to you and your cause – have at it.’ (Those are her exact words.)
  • Calls me up and says “I was thinking about what you said and I had an idea ….” and it’s mind blowingly brilliant every time.

Girls Fight Back is a living, breathing expression of what it means to practice with purity of purpose. This is not a flowery note tacked to the end of my letter, this is my true and honest experience of Erin and the program she has created.  So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY GFB! Ten years is a long time in any business and the sky is apparently the limit for you. I leave with a quote that reminds me so much of the testament and temperament of Erin and the GFB dynamic:

“The greatest oak was once a little nut who held its ground.”

Glad we get we all get to be a little nuts together!

Note from Erin: On the day I met Lee, we sat under a tree for about 5 hours talking. It was like a time machine, that tree. Since then, Lee has become more like a sister, and she is the first person that challenged me to take GFB global. That happened, and I’m forever grateful to her for pushing the limits that only our minds seem to put on what’s possible…

Lessons From LaSalle University . . .

The fierce ladies at LaSalle University!

Last week, I finished up my second East Coast Girls Fight Back! Extravaganza at LaSalle University and I learned a few things.  Here are my lessons from LaSalle:

1.  The ladies at LaSalle are fierce.  End of story.  However, should you need more evidence, check out the picture and you will have no argument left.

2.  Always bring two pairs of straight leg jeans to seminars. 

This might seem like a weird lesson to share but, here’s the deal.  We always wear straight leg jeans and pumas to seminars.  I brought my designated seminar jeans with me and all was fine until my clumsy streak reared its awkward head. As I was leaving the elevator to go to my hotel room, I fell and ate it so hard that both my jeans and knee were damaged, one of which (my jeans, thankfully) was damaged beyond repair.  I was left with only a pair of skinny jeans that look ridiculous with the pumas.  Lesson learned.

3.  Being my friend is dangerous.

Just ask my friend Tom, and he will confirm the above statement.  Tom lives on the East Coast and made the drive down to PA to say hi and see the GFB seminar.  As the only dude in attendance, Tom was roped into being our Scary Bad Guy and was a great sport about letting me throw down some serious fight moves on him in front of a crowd.  This, friends, is proof that being my friend can be dangerous.

I would like to give a big shout out to everyone who worked so hard to bring GFB to LaSalle.  I had a GREAT time!

I Heart Huntingtown High School!

GFB Jaime and Dena, the awesome lady who brought GFB to Huntingtown High School.

Last week while I was on the east coast, I got to bring Girls Fight Back to the fabulous young ladies of Huntingtown High School. I was so excited when I peeked out from backstage and saw about 700 high school ladies ready for GFB.  This event was jam-packed with excitement.  The ladies were pretty much a perfect crowd . . . super energetic with just the right hint of sass.  I also had a scary bad guy who doubles as a drama teacher in real life.  I would like to drop a big thanks on Mr. Andersen for being the most believable SBG yet and an even bigger THANKS on Dena for all of her hard work to bring GFB to the high school.  We all truly appreciate it.  Finally, Push Pause TV on Fios covered the seminar and is putting together a story on Girls Fight Back at Huntingtown High School. All around, it was awesome!

To all of you wonderful ladies at Huntingtown, I had an amazing time sharing GFB’s message with you and talking with you after the seminar.  Thanks, everybody and stay dangerous!

Girls Fight Back at Salisbury University!

GFB Jaime rockin' the sweet shades from Salisbury University.

Hi all!  Last night was awesome for a couple of reasons.  First, I got to hang out with the lovely ladies of Salisbury University.  Second, they gave me the sweet shades you see in the picture at the top of this blog.  We had a great time talking about intuition, awareness, and kickin’ booty! I want to give a big thanks to the wonderful ladies who coordinated this event and brought me to campus.  I had a fabulous time at Salisbury . . . Stay dangerous, ladies!

Fighting back at Salisbury University.

You Don’t Look Like It . . .

Hi everyone.  I checked in to my hotel today and met the very nice man who manages the hotel.  He asked what I was doing in town and I told him about Girls Fight Back and what we do.  He looked at me like he was really surprised and asked, “You teach people self-defense?” I said yes and he replied, “You don’t look like it.”

Just to be clear, he definitely did not mean this as an insult; he just found it surprising.  I actually think it is kind of cool and goes to show that it doesn’t matter what gender you are or how big and muscley you are . . . and yes, I just made up the word “muscley.”  It just shows that anyone can learn to defend themselves and, once they reach a certain point in training, can teach other people how to defend themselves. 

The main message here is not to let your size or anything else about yourself make you thinking are not capable of being your own best protector, because it’s more about your fighting spirit and willingness to really go for it than size or some other variable.  Also, for all you ladies out there, remember that fighting like a girl is actually a good thing. 🙂

From Miami to Walsh.

Miami University throwin' down!

Okay, I admit both places were in Ohio so it wasn’t quite the glorious road trip that the title implies.  Last week, I spent some quality time in Ohio and the first stop was Miami University and they were super cool . . . and creative.  For example, The Programming Board has an amazingly large banner that they named Abraham, which stands for “A Banner Reaching Awesome Heights and Miracles.” Once I heard that, I knew I was with good people and that we were going to have a good time.  I had a great time talking with everyone about personal safety and kickin’ booty when necessary.  A big thanks goes out to Devin, the event coordinator and Scary Bad Guy.  Devin is actually a repeat Scary Bad Guy and has mad skills in this area. 

The next stop was Walsh University and, while they did not have a banner named Abraham, Bernie, one of the event coordinators, taught me a catchy song called “Stop,” which is a song about ending harassment and other inappropriate things.  The crowd was awesome, very interactive and entertaining.  I have to a throw out another big thank you to Steven, my very, VERY nervous Scary Bad Guy and Mike, one of the other awesome event coordinators.  And, Mike don’t think I forgot about the pony I demanded in return for this seminar.  I’ll keep an eye on my mail for it.  🙂

Overall, my trip to Ohio was a huge success and a lot of fun.  I had a great time with all of the awesome students at Walsh and Miami!

GFB Jaime with the awesome event coordinators at Walsh University!

Girls Fight Back at Elizabethtown College!

Stop number three on the Pennsylvania seminar trail was Elizabethtown College and it was GREAT!  The crowd was full of energy and a little rowdy with some shenanigans up their sleeves . . . Just the way I like them.  Heather Rhodes deserves a big thank you for bringing Girls Fight Back! to campus.  I’ve been the worst about getting a picture before the whole crowd leaves lately but I did manage to snag a photo with the lovely ladies you see above.  Thanks Elizabethtown! 

Students Fight Back at Pennsylvania College of Technology

Penn College of Technology was my second stop on the Fight Back Pennsylvania extravaganza and it was a blast!  Staying true to their name, they had a stellar technological set up with multiple flat screens to blast out our Students Fight Back power point.  I would like to give a big shout out to everyone who worked to bring us to campus, especially Mike Hersh.  Mike was particularly helpful because he let me volunteer him to play the role of our “Scary Bad Guy” and still spoke to me after the seminar was over.  Thanks for being a trooper, Mike!   

Thank You.

             Well, hello there everyone! I just wanted to take a quick second to thank all of GFB’s  supporters for what you enable us to do.  Something we hear a lot at GFB is “thank you.”  We hear it after seminars from our awesome clients and great audiences.  We see it when you post it to our facebook page and when you email us.  But the truth of the matter is you deserve the thank you because, without you, our mission would have never come this far. 

                I was thinking about this yesterday on my flight from Portland to Philadelphia.  Some people, when I tell them that for a certain part of the year I live in airports and hotel rooms, they ask me how I do that.  Well, the truth is that it doesn’t really give me any pause and on my flight yesterday I kept thinking how lucky I am.  Sure, I’ll be living in airports and Hampton Inns for a while but I meet the most amazing and inspiring people when I ‘m on the road and I get to talk with them about something so fundamental to all of our lives.  The truth is that, without all of the support you have given us over the years, we wouldn’t have been able to spread our nearly message as far or nearly as fast.  

                Thank you for making what we do possible and keep hoping with us that someday it will be a service that is no longer needed and working with us to make that day happen.

                Strong. Resilient. Spirited. Unified. 

Cool People Doing Cool Things

Here at Fight Back Productions, we love to hear awesome stories about people doing things to better the world, whether in the field of violence prevention or elsewhere.  This week, I’ve been super excited to hear about some really cool people doing some really cool things.  Check out these links and look for ways that you can help make a difference in your community!

A retired EMT and police officer in south Florida makes self-defense education accessible to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered community.  Attacks on minority groups such as the LGBT community are on the rise, so kudos to Mr. Cacioppo for his good work!

Two friends of Girls Fight Back are in the running for Pepsi Refresh Awards.  Basically, Pepsi gives a ton of money out to people doing good things so that they can do more good things.  But to win the money, they have to get votes…lots and lots of votes!

One of these projects belongs to longtime friends Shawn Decker and Gwenn Barringer.  Shawn is HIV+, Gwenn is HIV- and they are married.  They travel the country teaching teenagers and young adults how to stay safe and know their status when it comes to HIV.  If they win, they’ll receive $50,000 to travel the country and do their thing.  Honestly, if anyone hasn’t seen them speak, they are a hoot and a half!  Plus they are just cool people with a lot of great information to share.  So click here and get signed up to vote for them!

Driver’s Ed for Love is a new friend to Girls Fight Back and is all about offering relationship education to young adults.  I had the pleasure of seeing their program at this year’s SEPC and was really excited about the concept of this program.  The idea is that if we educate young people about how to select mates, we will decrease divorce and other heartaches and increase happiness in our love relationships.  They are in the running for $150,000 to get their program off the ground by training program facilitators, conducting research and offering free programming at colleges around the country.  Click here and get signed up to vote of Driver’s Ed for Love.

Now the cool thing about the Pepsi Refresh project is that you can vote twice a day, once online and once via text message, so vote for both of these awesome project everyday during the month of September.

The last cool person doing a cool thing that I want to mention is…well…ME!  Ok, maybe I’m not really that cool (I’m actually kind of a dork), but my daughter and I are doing something that I’m pretty proud of and that you can help us out with.  We are walking in this year’s AIDSWalk DC and trying to raise $1000.  The infection rate in our nation’s capital is 1 in 20!  That’s comparable to some parts of Africa! A thousand dollars is a high goal, but we are getting so close!  We only need $305 to break it and taste some sweet, sweet victory.  You can make a donation of any size here.  Thanks to our amazing GFB family and their generous donation to support us, as well as, our new friends at Driver’s Ed for Love who also made a donation.  I’m so inspired by the friends and family who have stepped forward to help us raise this money.  It is incredible!  So thanks in advance for any monetary love you show.

Know someone doing something cool to make our world a better place?  Let us know here in the comments or on the wall of our Facebook page!  We’d love to give them a shoutout!

We have a stake in one another. What binds us together is greater than what drives us apart. If enough people believe in the truth of that proposition, and act on it, we might not solve every problem, but we can get something meaningful done.

–Barack Obama, December 1, 2006 (World AIDS Day)

Safety Tip For Your Hotel Stay

One thing the GFB Speaker Team does a lot of is travel. Sometimes we live in hotel rooms while we are plane-hopping from campus to campus. One thing you want to do when you travel is make sure you safeguard your hotel room number. This might sound like an oh-so-obvious safety tip but you would be amazed how many times the well-meaning front desk agent at a hotel has announced my room number in a crowded lobby. My recommendation is if the front desk agent starts to tell you your room number in front of other guests, just nicely ask if they would just write the room number down on that fancy key card holder they give you.

Another thing you want to do is make sure, if you are traveling with someone else, that they do not announce your room number to a lobby full of people. This happened to me very recently and, while I don’t want to name any names, mom I’m looking at you. 🙂 The bottom line is strangers should not know where you sleep, even it is on a very temporary basis and you think everyone around you looks normal. Stay safe in your travels!

Hardcore Improvised Weapon!

Beware you aspiring home invaders, women are willing and able to fight back.  And you never know what they will have lying around their house to club you over the head with!

Senior Citizen Success Story

I’ve recently had the pleasure of speaking for a couple of local senior groups and this story just goes to show that you shouldn’t mess with “little old ladies.”

When is self-defense the answer?

I have Google alerts set up on topics ranging from self-defense to the hottest spring sandal trends. I was going through them to see if I could find any gems and I came by a somewhat unsettling post on Yahoo Answers. If you’re not familiar with that sight, here is the rundown. Basically, if you have a question, you can post it on Yahoo Answers and the wonderful users of the World Wide Web can submit answers to your question. I came across this question: What is the best self-defense that’s not purely on defensive maneuvers?” The person who posted the question also posted more details and said,

“I guess I’m kinda looking for something that teaches yousomething like setting your opponent up, grabbing his arm, and forcing it out of socket . . . kinda gruesome but after all the bull **** I take from kids around school, there’s a lot I’m willing to do to inflict some pain on certain people.”

This post made me think it is a good time to revisit two topics: what self-defense is really about and respecting each other as people. Self-defense is about protecting your physical safety when you think it’s threatened. It’s not about teaching someone a lesson and it’s definitely not about revenge. Whether you agree with it or not, there are certain truths in society. One of them is that a person can stand at an acceptably distance, say really mean things to you, and you are not actually allowed to beat them up. That is what we call assault. If you think your physical safety is threatened, that is a completely story and it is why self-defense exists.

This person’s post also made me think about how we treat each other. I am a firm believer that people are basically good but there are a few bad apples thrown in the mix. However, sometimes even the best of people can cave into something like peer pressure and maybe treat someone else poorly or bully them. The person who asked this question has been bullied, probably pretty severely to make him seek out that kind of information. It is so important that we respect each other’s humanity and their dignity and hopefully that will reduce the number of people who feel like fighting is the only option.

FREE Girls Fight Back! Program in NC

Hope anyone close to the Piedmont Triad Area of North Carolina will join me for the fun, free event!  At 11am on Saturday, June 12th, I’ll be presenting a free Girls Fight Back! seminar at Advanced World Martial Arts Systems in Kernersville.  The program is appropriate for ages 13 and up and will last about 90 minutes with plenty of time after to answer any questions you may have.  I’ll be talking about ways to avoid becoming the target of a violent crime by trusting your intuition and behaving like a bad victim and I’ll finish up with some simple fight techniques that you can use if you ever find yourself confronted by an attacker.  The program is presented with tons of humor and you’ll leave feeling like a stronger, more empowered person.  Pete Andrews of AWMAS has graciously agreed to let me use his studio for free and while there is no charge for the seminar itself, we will be collecting donations for Heroes Serving Humanity.  For more information about the workshop check out: http://www.awmas1.com/page_latestnews.htm. And call 336-992-5223 to sign-up.  Call ASAP – space is limited.

Bullying in Schools, Phoebe’s Story

I feel like this blog topic is a little late coming, but I think it is an incredibly important topic. I came across this topic while reading an old people magazine . . . Don’t judge me and let’s not pretend you don’t love People magazine.  Anyway, I read an article about bullying. Bullying in schools exists and recent events show that the results of bullying can devastate students, communities, and families. Take the story of Phoebe Price. Phoebe was a Massachusetts teen who was basically bullied to death. Phoebe was a recent Irish immigrant and her friends said that she became the focus of a jealous classmate, Kayla Narey, and friends for dating a football player who was also dating Kayla.

That is when the bullying really started. Kayla and her friends called Phoebe derogatory names involving her heritage and threw cans of soda at her. At some point, it became too much. Phoebe was depressed, despondent and took her own life. This all begs the question, who do we hold accountable? Well, on March 29, that question was answered. Nine teens were indicted and are facing charges, including statutory rape and criminal harassment.

The indictments are a very clear statement that bullying will not be tolerated and when mean spirited behavior brings such devastating consequences, accountability will be there. But I think the real question is this: How do we, even as teenagers, let our behavior get to that point? More importantly, how do we fix it? Stories like Phoebe’s crystallize the need for anti-bullying and bystander intervention in high school and even before. The people who drove Phoebe to the point she reached are being held accountable but we will not fix the problem until we fix the way we relate to each other.

Bullying expert, Barbara Coloroso, made a statement that I find particularly compelling in light of these circumstances. She said, “You don’t have to like every kid in school, but you have to honor their humanity.” Ms. Coloroso is absolutely right. We don’t have to like everyone but we need to respect each other’s dignity as human beings. We need to treat people fairly ourselves and intervene when we see behavior that doesn’t rise to that standard.

Anyone who has been through high school knows that it is like a battlefield with different factions competing for control. Who says it has to be like that? Imagine what would happen if it wasn’t like that, if nobody was terrified to step through the doors to their classrooms, and people didn’t spend time thinking of ways to cut each other down. If we change the environment and our behavior, maybe we can prevent more tragedies like what happened to Phoebe.

Rain, Rain Go Away. Leave Me Alone. I Don’t Want Any Problems.

I have news. Spring has not arrived in New England. Or, if it has, it chose hatefully to take a day off when I stopped in for a visit earlier this week.

But that’s OK, because cold and damp did not take the fire out of the Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut Tuesday night, where Girls Fight Back had 300 fierce high school women throwing knees and exercising their vocal cords.

Stop! Leave me alone! I don’t want any problems! Yes, old man winter, that means YOU! But I digress.

The event was fantastic, and I want to throw out a particular thank you to Ms. Andi Orben, who flashed her mad organizing skills to pull off a completely smooth evening, David, our AV tech extraordinaire, and Sam, maybe the nicest, least-threatening scary bad guy volunteer. EVER.

And finally, to the ladies of Taft: you palm-ed, you knee-ed, you knee-ed and you rocked. Thanks for sharing your contagious enthusiasm with me. And for not making fun of my frizzy rain hair. I owe you!

Bystander Intervention in Maine!

“It was really scary, but I’m glad we got involved”  Check out this link for an awesome story about five women who subdued an attacker in Maine.  You go girls!