Category: Title IX

Mandatory Fun at Andrew College

Andrew College June 2015

At Students Fight Back, some of the programs are mandatory attendance for certain organizations or classes. You can always tell at the beginning of a program.. Because let’s be honest, who is just jonesing to give up their free night to learn about self-defense? Not you average college student. However, since we aren’t your typical self protection seminar, about 15 minutes into the program, most of the students are on board and ready to kick some booty.

At Andrew College way down south, I spoke to the entire student body. Yep. All of them. And it was mandatory. Uh-oh.

The program started with our handouts being made into paper airplanes. Awesome. But if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em, right?
I told them we needed to work on their airplane-making skills… ‘cus some of these were just sad. Yeah I called them out on their game and had a little fun. That’s right friends… we can learn about self defense AND have fun. Oh yes we did.

The further we got into the program, the more cats got on board. People were hollering and killing the badass ballet moves, while also hitting the pause button to realize we have a serious problem on our hands as a society and we must take the steps to be ready if we ever find ourselves in a sketchy situation. It was definiely a success, especially starting off with a room full of about 300 students who were less than pumped about self-defense.
At the end of the program I had two sassy ladies approach me and give it to me straight: “You know, I didn’t want to be here at all tonight. But, I actually ended up having a lot of fun. Thanks for coming.” Awwwww Yeah! Thank YOU! This, my friends, is the best feedback I can receive. Moments like these make me puff my chest proud to be a part of such a unique organization that can connect with students on their level. Because at the end of the day, its ALL about the students, our future leaders.

Thank you Andrew College for rocking out with me for the night.. it was my pleasure and I hope we can do it again soon. Till next time..

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

TGIF at Lynchburg – Badass Style

Lynchburg June 2015

Friday nights are usually pretty difficult to draw in a crowd of college-aged kids to Students Fight Back. And let’s be honest: who can blame them? Self-protection is a hard enough sale, especially when competing with Friday night beer specials. Yet, take a look at the picture seen here. Look at this beautiful, FULL auditorium room at Lynchburg College. They are KILLING IT, with a diverse room of women and men being total badasses.

We seriously had so much fun. The crowd was uber engaged, played like the latest Marvel superheroes, looking out for each other, and pumped to learn some new moves. I think one of my favorite moments was after I taught the “knee to the face” move in the Badass Ballet. My volunteer creeper, who usually has little-to-no idea what he has signed up for, looks at me with dead serious face and says “Man! That would really hurt.” Why yes, fake creeper, it would. I shared with the audience and reminded them that we are learning these moves so creepers don’t mess with us. These aren’t moves I want you to use against your roommate after he eats all your peanut butter. These are skills to defend yourself. Protect yourself. To save your life.

I love joshing around with all the peeps I meet. It’s definitely one of the favorite parts of my job, to teach self defense and have a crowd roaring like Lynchburg. But I also love knowing the GFB team is traveling around the country leaving college students with tools to literally save their life.

Damn. It’s a day well lived when you can say that.

Thank you so much Lynchburg for being such rock stars and making it a priority to lead empowered and safe lives, even when that means choosing SFB over your favorite watering-hole on Friday nights. It was an honor to thrown down with you all. Can’t wait till next time!

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

Holla’ for Hofstra

There has been a significant shift in the crowd and energy at our GFB programs in the last year. A lot more inclusive to men, all of our programs now meet Title IX requirements and a majority of our programs are geared towards both women and men. I recently spoke at Hofstra University and though the environment and school was set for our standard SFB program, there was a serious girl power vibe taking place that night. It was ladies night, fo sho.

Hofstra May 2015

I love the shift in our program and that our society in general is more inclusive for men to feel supported in joining the conversation on self protection. But there is this small part of me that really loves that sisterhood feeling that is still very alive and should be.  There can be so much competition and “cat fighting” going down during the high school and college years when a lot of students feel that pressure to be the best and have it all (while I find in your later years, you realize everyone can be their best self and have it all, but I digress). It was just so cool to see all the BS pushed aside and totally focused on empowering and supporting each other for 75 minutes. It was all about being our own best protectors, looking out for each other and living a fearless life.. All with an unspoken fierce-sisterhood energy in the room. Oh hell yes.

Thank you for sharing your campus and energy with me Hofstra. You are all inspiring  badasses.. I look forward to the next time!

Love and Light,

Bree

UNITY! Greek Life and Friendship University of Riverside!

I had an absolute blast with the Greek Life students at the University of Riverside!  I was really humbled to be a part of the Fraternity & Sorority Involvement Center’s unity week: their goal was to promote community and in fact this is the first time they have had a program like Students Fight Back for their organization.  What an honor! The pillar of focus for Tuesday was Friendship, and nothing says “BFF” like learning how to stand up for others as an active bystander and rocking your bod into ready position if a creeper makes a move!

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I got a warm welcome right away—and I definitely have to give a special shout out to Carly (one of our incredible sponsors) and the Blue Team (I wore that shirt just for you gals)!

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We dug into all the great tidbits of how to trust your intuition, being aware of folks who try to manipulate us and recognizing that ANYONE can be a creeper so it’s important to be aware.

The enthusiastic crowd of men and women were super engaged and willing to learn!  When it came time to get up and practice the badass ballet, I could see the confidence building in their eyes and it totally showed as they rehearsed the moves.  It gave me goosebumps!  Our volunteer “creeper” couldn’t have done a better job and we all had a laugh as we discussed groin strikes at length!

After the show I met many folks who said they were super empowered by the program, which is the best kind of feedback anyone can give us.  And I loved posing with ya’ll for photos afterwards…you are all so unique and inspiring!

Thank you so much UC Riverside for inviting me for your awesome event!  I won’t forget your hospitality, passion and energy.  I hope you move forward peacefully, in the spirit of friendship, and remember always that YOU ARE WORTH FIGHTING FOR!

Cheers!
GFB Nicole

Behind the Scenes with LIM College 

 

Lim College April 2015LIM College specializes in programs for peeps on the business side of the fashion industry. Students Fight Back visited LIM last month and let me just say: these cats are fiercer than the catwalkers you see on Project Runway, friends. And might I suggest, probably way more fun.

LIM College is taking action to make their sassy campus the safest and most empowering place it can be. The Counseling & Wellness Center who sponsored SFB were so passionate about getting the word of empowering young men and women to protect themselves (and each other by being an active bystander) they had a raffle for a free iPad. Um yeah. I thought it might be a tad classless to ask if I could enter, but don’t think it didn’t cross my mind.

For reals this crew was fabulous. And my male volunteer, which can honestly be a awkward job that they don’t know they’re volunteering for, was simply amazing and so supportive of the conversation taking place.

Thanks so much LIM College for allowing me to be a part of your behind-the-scenes posse for the afternoon. You were amazeballs and I can’t wait to see you all the next time ’round.

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

Heart Overflowing – The GFB Academy of 2015!

 

GFB GinaWhen I agreed to pick up the baton from the amazing Erin Weed and take over Girls Fight Back, I had no idea just how much space this company, this mission, and these women would take up in my heart.

Heart. Overflowing.

GFB has become my passion project and I am so proud to be a part of continuing Shannon’s legacy. Our new speaking team made up of Bree, Morgan, and Nicole along with our amazingly talented team member, Beth, met with me this month in Los Angeles for a few days of speaking practice, fight training, and general sisterhood bonding. We were joined by our founder, Erin Weed, and some great supporters of our program including Bob Martin, Lisa Gaeta, Jennifer Bunting, and our ever so creepy fight partner, Don.

New for 2015!! . . . I spent the latter part of 2014 writing furiously and consulting with a pool of experts to update the script for both the Girls Fight Back and Students Fight Back programs. We wanted to be sure we were keeping up with the changing world in relation to violence prevention with a little makeover, but Academy was the first time I had a chance to see the words on a page light up on the stage. And, it was awesome!  Our new and improved program includes:

  • Using your intuition
  • Safety tips – awareness, eye contact, verbal boundaries
  • How to be an active bystander and a good ally
  • The definition of consent
  • How to support a survivor
  • How to set boundaries that work for you
  • Verbal De-Escalation Skills
  • The basics of self-defense in our Badass Ballet
  • Plus a review of improvised weapons, ground fighting, and how to sign up for a full-contact adrenaline based self-defense course near you!

Bree, Morgan, and Nicole are ready to come to campuses and share with you our collective passion for living our best lives and empowering campus communities to fight back against violence. And now, a few words from the ladies . . . .With love and gratitude,  GFB Gina

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The 2015 GFB Academy was my 3rd time and counting, and it stood in a category of its own. There was something extra special about this academy, something of a new-birth with more certainty and diction, yet being able to look back at where we had been with so much pride and love. Fusing the constants of GFB that will always remain true, fearlessness, spirit, resilience, power, support to name a few, with a fresh breath of inspiration and steps forward to lead this generation. To describe last weekend in one word, although perhaps cliché, it would most definitely be gratitude. For all the powerful women and men who make GFB possible. For our Founder for having the courage to dream big. For our President for being daring enough to take a risk and leap of faith. For the mentors for believing in us and sharing their wealth of knowledge. For our speakers for working their asses off and inspiring me in new ways, and having the lioness-heart to be open to change while impressing their gifts and ideas on GFB. And most importantly, to all supporters of GFB, including you reading this post. You are why GFB is possible, because you are brave enough to believe in a world without violence and take the steps possible to make it happen, while leading a powerful, badass life of love and light along the way. So thank you so much . . . and here’s to a new frontier of GFB. See you on the road:) – GFB Bree

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Self-defense is so much more than the fight; it’s about knowing that exactly who you are in this very moment will always be enough. Regardless of who we are, where we’ve been, the knowledge we have acquired, we have all experienced moments when we felt defeated, but the Girls Fight Back Academy continues to remind me that all of us have greatly underestimated our strength. The Academy provides a space where we can be pushed through our limits, which is emotionally and physically challenging, but so incredibly satisfying. I am beyond grateful for everyone who made this year’s GFB Academy so amazing — this work can only be done when we support one another and truly believe that each one of us is worth fighting for.  – Lots of love, GFB Morgan

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Being a part of the GFB academy was such an amazing experience!  It was my very first academy and the existing group welcomed me with open arms. To be surrounded by such strong, beautiful, intelligent and confident women who are all champions of educating people to change the world is very humbling. I am honored and thrilled at the opportunity to work beside these women, learn with these women, fight back with these women and call these women friends.  Our process is intensive – we put in long hours and it is worth every second of it when we know we are prepared to go out into the world and start empowering other women to live the life they’ve always wanted.  That is why I’m here.  This isn’t about me…this is about the goal of ending violence in the world FOREVER.  – GFB Nicole

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Quickly nearing my two year milestone as a contributing advocate of Girls Fight Back, it seems the need for this kind of program in our modern world has remained ever relevant. It has continued to evolve with the help of the most caring, proactive, and strong women it has been my honor to work with. I look back on Academy 2015 with pride and never ending gratitude in my heart. How does one sum up such an eventful weekend? Intense, emotional, tiring, nerve-wracking, productive, rewarding, empowering, and funny, all at once. It is experiences like this that drive home the importance of our mission at GFB, including the choice to live with purpose, believing in our own worth, and being part of a solid support team. We’re all on this journey together! – GFB Beth

Girls Fight Back Academy at Dinner 2015

Every founder dreams of the company they start growing beyond them. I certainly did. And to be in Los Angeles with the growing GFB team, it warms my heart to see this legacy of beautiful badassery continuing in my absence. I was deeply moved during my time with each of them. Their passion for the message, their dedication to getting all the material right, their consciousness around the personal feelings of me and the McNamara family – well, it all felt like a warm blanket of awesomeness around me the entire time I was there.

I was given the opportunity to share the history of Girls Fight Back, from the very early days up until the day I sold the company to Kirkland Productions – and beyond. Because I am lucky, in that Gina Kirkland continues to include me and the McNamaras in her decision making for the future of GFB. She doesn’t have to do this, but she chooses to – and it’s both humbling and inspiring to see her model of leadership as GFB continues to change the world…one empowered woman at a time.

I want to applaud the entire team for all their hard work. I love you all!  – GFB Erin

 

To book a Girls Fight Back, Students Fight Back, or Fight Back on Spring Break for your campus . . . .

866.769.9037

gfb@girlsfightback.com

Westchester Community College: Peace, Love, Hugs and Badasses

Westchester1

Westchester Community College’s beautiful campus was full of energy and is a breath of fresh air on the cusps of New York City. Students hosted a week full of activities to bring awareness to domestic violence, including a freaking bake sale to raise money for a domestic violence shelter. Are you kidding me?! These kids are ROCKSTARS! Not to mention they brought Students Fight Back on board to throw down and educate their peers about leading a safe and badass life.

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And we had so much fun! We joked around, kicked some ass and hugged. HUGGED I tell you! I made some amazing new friends who are THE leaders on campus (including their larger, state-wide community of SUNY) taking some necessary and bold steps to say they will not stand for domestic violence, assault, abuse or bullying of any kind as long as they are around. They are creating a safe environment for all walks of life. Hell yeah Westchester. Thank you so much for allowing me to be a part of your brave community. It was truly inspiring. I can’t wait to come pow-wow with y’all again soon. Until next time..

Love and Light,
GFB Bree

Let the SUNYshine in! SUNY Potsdam – Loving Life!

SUNY Potsdam 9.25.14“I love this job!” Those were the words I exclaimed out loud to myself (yes I talk to myself) while leaving SUNY – Potsdam after an amazing turnout for Girls Fight Back! Man, we had so much fun! Of course we got our intuition on, kicked some ass and had real talk. But we did it all while having a hella good time. That’s why I think GFB rocks so much… you can learn to be your own best protector and empower one another while still loving life. And it’s pretty amazeballs to do both.

Thank you SUNY – Potsdam for the incredible energy and life you brought.. You let the SUNYshine in. (Mmmm that’s cheesy!)

Truly, I was honored to be a part of your vivacious community!SUNY Potsdam 9.25.14 Pic 2
Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Morningside College Friday – Fierce, Fun and on Fire!

Morningside College 2

What can I possibly say about Morningside College?  These kids were fierce, fun, and on fire to make their campus a safer place.  From the moment I arrived on campus to the moment the program was over we were laughing like old friends.  The turnout was awesome (and on a FRIDAY night!) and everyone was 100% into it.  I got some great questions after the program too.

Then something else magical happened.  The awesome student team that coordinated the event took me out to eat at a Mexican place that evidently has a pretty big following, La Juanita’s (La Jua for short).  No joke, my chimichanga was so good, I’m tearing up right now just thinking about it.  And we were seated right next to this epic mural that I insisted we must take a picture in front of.  #diva

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I’ve had lots of awesome meals with amazing students in my almost 6 years with GFB, but let me tell you, Morningside College knew the way to my heart. Teaching students how to become their own best protectors AND eating cheesy tortilla wrapped saucy goodness?  Life just doesn’t get any better than that, friends.

-GFB Heather

Stay Dangerous UW-La Crosse!

University of Wisconsin

The ladies of UW-LaCrosse came to this Girls Fight Back event fearless and ready to take on any Creeper McCreeperson that crossed their double boundary. It was incredible to see so many students come together to support one another and learn how to be their own best protectors. We at GFB stress that our events are just introductions to self-defense, so it was wonderful that so many organizations from on and off campus providing some kickass resources for the students to take their self-defense education to the next level. I want to give a special thanks to Drea, Jessica, the Campus Activities Board and WSSA for putting on such a great event! Also, a special shout out to our not-so-scary SBG, Tom, for volunteering!

 

Stay Dangerous UW – La Crosse!

 

GFB Morgan

Manhattanville College Castle Throw Down!


Last Friday we kicked off our first throw down of the Fall 2014 Girls Fight Back Tour. And apparently we are rollin in style this year, cus friends, I spoke to Manhattanville College peeps in their castle. Yep, that’s right. A castle. Uh-huh. We fancy. It was my first time speaking in a castle, and probably the first time the bad ass ballet ever went down in a castle. In fact, there were a lot of firsts. It was the first day on campus for every student in the audience. Their first night staying on campus! Yep, they don’t get much brand-newer than that (yes, that’s a made-up word). Props to Manhattanville for getting this essential message out LITERALLY from day one. Proactivity at its finest.

But all though my new friends might be green, they were mean and tough when it came to fighting back. So engaged and ready to support one another, asking important questions and ready to take personal safety into their own hands. It was awesome-sauce. All I can say is the class of 2018, you bad. In all the right ways. Thanks so much Manhattanville for letting me kick off (and kick ass, in the most literal way) your first day as freshmen. Boo-yah!

Love and Light,

GFB Bree

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

The Invention of Wings Book Cover

Book Review: The Invention of Wings by Sue Monk Kidd

 

1865 – The 13th Amendment is ratified abolishing slavery

1870 – The 15th Amendment prohibits the denial of the vote based on race, color, or previous condition of servitude

. . . . . .

1920 – The 19th Amendment prohibits the denial of the right to vote based on sex

 

The Grimke Sisters (1792 – 1873 – Sarah & 1805 -1878 – Angelina) lived to see slavery abolished but not long enough to see women get the right to vote over 50 years later.  They are two of the earliest outspoken American feminists and two of the best known female abolitionists.  Both women were born in Charleston, South Carolina to a plantation owning and slave owning family.  Going against their family’s way of life and also against all standards for women of their time, they became leading abolitionists and later feminists by speaking in public, publishing pamphlets, and assisting with the education of many of the children of the abolition and feminist movements.  Their combination of these two passions was controversial in their adopted faith of Quakerism as many feared it would split the abolition movement into two groups—those who also felt that women and slaves deserved equality and those who were passionate about ending slavery, but still held fast to male superiority.  And, so it did.  At a time when women had no legal rights and were relegated to the roles of wives and mothers only, these two sisters dared to speak in public on political issues to both women and men.  Their published works include, “Letters on the Equality of the Sexes,” “Appeal to the Christian Women of the South,” and “An Appeal to the Women of the Nominally Free States.”

 

The strength and conviction that it takes to stand up for what one feels is right despite the views of those around you is awe inspiring, especially at a time in history when women had very few role models to look to when forging an unconventional path.  In Sue Monk Kidd’s “The Invention of Wings,” the story of the Grimke Sisters is beautifully told in the form of a novel.  Though some aspects of the narrative were created to fill in the gaps, many of the characters, facts, and historical events are true with quotes from the writings of both women included.  If your background in feminism doesn’t stretch much past the 1970’s, exploring the original works of the Grimke Sisters and the ground they gained for all of their sisters is a must.

 

Sue Monk Kidd’s novel is a story of courage that brings to life the ugly history of slavery in our country through the eyes of Sarah Grimke and a slave owned by her family, Hetty “Handful” Grimke.  The alternating narratives of the two main characters speaks volumes about civil rights and brings to mind the words of Emma Lazarus, author of “The New Colossus,”, “Until we are all free, we are none of us free.”  This applies to the dual struggle of Hetty, who was bound by the terrible shackles of slavery, and Sarah who was blessed to be free, yet still not truly free due to the limitations placed upon her sex; and it applies today to remind us to continue the fight to end oppression in whatever form it appears.

 

“The Invention of Wings” gets a GFB Thumbs Up.  — GFB Gina

 

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Whatever is morally right for a man to do, it is morally right for a woman to do. I recognize no rights but human rights—I know nothing of men’s rights and women’s rights; for in Christ Jesus, there is neither male nor female.”

― Angelina Grimke

 

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“Here now, the very being of a woman, like that of a slave, is absorbed in her master.  All contracts made with her, like those made with slaves by their owners, are a mere nullity.  Our kind defenders have legislated away almost all of our legal rights, and in the true spirit of such injustice and oppression, have kept us in ignorance of those very laws by which we are governed.”

― Sarah Grimke

 

To read the book: https://www.amazon.com/Invention-Wings-Sue-Monk-Kidd/dp/1472212746/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=8-1&qid=1390612592

UConn.. we applaud you.

Last night GFB Speaker, Bree and Speaker in Training, Leah dropped in at University of Connecticut – Storrs on the Be Your Own Badass Tour to bring Students Fight Back to the Huskies.  This event was hosted by the wonderful UConn Student Union Board. These badasses owned the night with energy, love, laughter, and some serious ass kicking . . . it was incredible.

Having gained quite a bit of national attention recently after some very controversial comments about sexual assault on campus, I would love to shine light on a very important fact: The UConn Student Union Board, lead by Kyle and Samantha, had invited Students Fight Back to campus months prior to these events and the media attention. These Huskies were leading the school long before the media attention to create a positive change in their student culture and to let their voice be heard that violence is unacceptable. The Board and students in attendance last night were not reacting to all the recent violence and media attention . . . they were taking the proactive, courageous steps to make personal safety a priority.  And THAT is the kind of action that deserves resounding cheer, applause, and media attention.

Thank you UConn Huskies . . . you are truly fighting back!  And for that, we applaud you.

Much love from the Students Fight Back and Girls Fight Back team.

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