Today’s Google Doodle commemorates the 388th birthday of French author Charles Perrault. He wrote (based on folk tales) some of today’s widely-read, widely-watched, and widely-merchandised classic fairly tales, including Little Red Riding Hood. Today’s versions of the tales, however, have been sanitized to make them more family-friendly (and marketable). As this article notes:

“His version of Little Red Riding Hood, for example, made it more explicitly obvious that the ‘wolf’ is a man intent on preying on young girls who wander alone in woods.

“From this story one learns that children, especially young lasses, pretty, courteous and well-bred, do very wrong to listen to strangers, And it is not an unheard thing if the Wolf is thereby provided with his dinner,” he wrote.

 “I say Wolf, for all wolves are not of the same sort; there is one kind with an amenable disposition – neither noisy, nor hateful, nor angry, but tame, obliging and gentle, following the young maids in the streets, even into their homes. Alas! Who does not know that these gentle wolves are of all such creatures the most dangerous!”

Some things haven’t changed much in the last 400 years.  Most people still envision those who mean harm as looking like monsters.  Pretty easy to spot, right?

If all “bad guys” were this obvious, there wouldn’t be as much of a problem evading them, right?  But, alas, not all those who mean harm look like scary monsters.  Most, in fact, look like regular people.  Just like the three photos below, all of whom are Ted Bundy.  (If you don’t know about Ted Bundy by now, do a web search.)  


I could have told you the fellow depicted was an actor, a tech startup CEO, an attorney, or just any regular joe.

You don’t have to be a famous serial killer/rapist to get away with crimes.  Most perpetrators are someone the target knows, and to some extent likes and trusts.  That’s a deliberate ploy.  Most perpetrators depend on their targets’ trust, and manipulate it to their advantage.

And they rely on silence.  Not only the silence of their victims, but silence of those around them.  Silence of those who think they’re a “nice guy.”  (Bundy got away with his crimes longer than he should have because he was well regarded by a number of influential people.)  
This is why we spend time in our self-defense classes learning to recognize the “red flags” that a person’s intent may not be good for you.  I’ve heard from some students, in retrospect, that this turned out to be the most valuable and useful part of class.
Because not all monsters look like wolves.

Here are a smattering of #selfdefensesuccess stories that have across my screen these last couple of weeks.

Important to remember: I’ll bet none of these women ever took a “self-defense” class (though at least one had military training).  The two most critical factors in successful self-defense are (1) the belief that it can be done, and (2) trying one tool after another until something works.

From Louisiana, a 72 year old woman routes armed attacker with nothing but her steely instincts and a fire extinguisher. Woman’s son later describes his mom as “a pretty strong old fart.” Yeah, that’s how I’d have described my mom too.  http://www.dailycomet.com/article/20131231/ARTICLES/131239885/1320?p=1&tc=pg#gsc.tab=0

Now going north to Ohio:  woman uses voice, attracts bystander attention. Bystanders call police. Police arrive in time to see the woman running out of the house, followed by man with knife. Man is subdued and arrested!  http://www.springfieldnewssun.com/news/news/police-man-attempted-to-rape-woman/ncZbw/

Some self-defense stories are more graphic than are others.  This one is graphic.  Let’s jump across the globe, to Bangladesh.  In this instance, a woman fights back against an acquaintance by cutting off his penis and bringing it to the police.  http://www.opposingviews.com/i/society/woman-cuts-penis-man-attempting-rape-her  The wanna-be rapist then claimed that he was the real victim, because they had been having an affair, he refused to leave his wife and children and move with her to another city.  So, he claims, she cut off his penis and is pressing rape charges to retaliate.  This attempt to deflect responsibility is a common tactic among rapists.

And now back to the glorious Puget Sound, the last one for today is from former student “E” who relates a self-defense success years earlier:

“When I was a young college student, I often passed through New York City to get from my parents’ home to my college in upstate New York. On one such visit, I was walking down a street and felt like I was being followed. I made the decision to act irrationally: singing to myself, walking with a twitch/jerking motions. I tried to act like a mentally unstable person. After a while, the man stopped following me, and I’m certain that if I hadn’t, I would have been attacked.”

Do you have a story to share?  Contact me!

Do you want to learn some of these skills that proved successful for others?  A plethora of six week Self-Defense 101 for Women courses are about to begin in the next week.  Visit the page and register today.

OK, not exactly “fishing.”

Teach anyone any skill set, and she can use it for her own benefit.  However, she is also likely to use her skills to benefit her family and community.

Teach a woman self-defense skills, and she can not only defend herself (and those she cares about) she will probably teach others around her those skills.  Before you know it, she will be demanding self-determination.  She will demand to be an active participant in her life and in society.

So not only will she be safer, her community will be safer.

I don’t care if this is over 3 years old, it’s still funny.  Ellen DeGeneres learns some basic self-defense moves, just in case she finds herself in another dancing situation.  Good for her being proactive about her personal safety in front of all those cameras and audiences!

If you can’t see the above video on your device, watch it directly on YouTube.

Hey — you want to practice those moves?  You can here! (Chris Matthews dummy not included.)

I confess, I’ve neglected this blog for over 6 months.  With any luck at all, I’ll resume posting.

Part of the delay is more teaching time.  Yes, there are now more self-defense classes available.  Self-Defense 101 for Women is now a six week course (up from 5 weeks), and offered in more venues:

  • Seattle Central Community College and Bellevue College continue to offer Self-Defense 101
  • Self-Defense 101 replaces the Weekend Workshop at the ASUW Experimental College
  • South Seattle Community College will offer it for the first time this winter
  • Its premier at the University Heights Center was very successful, and it will again be at that location by winter’s end
  • And Self-Defense 101 will appear at the Phinney Neighborhood Center the second week in January — the class was just posted, and it is already almost half full!

See more info at Strategic Living’s Self-Defense 101 page — find your class today.

“I was lucky!”

I hear this a lot, both in the media and from students. A woman or girl defends herself successfully, fights off an attacker, but then minimizes her good work by crediting chance.

You probably already know the story of one of the most crucial breakthroughs of modern medicine. Dr. Alexander Fleming inadvertently left a petri dish uncovered over a weekend. When he returned, he saw that mold had infested the dish. But before he threw away the spoiled experiment, he took a closer look and saw the mold was killing the bacteria. And thus the path to penicillin, and other antibiotics, was born.

Radioactivity was brought to light when physicist Henri Becquerel stored a chunk of uranium in a drawer besides an unexposed photographic plate. When he took them out a week later he noticed that the rock had left an imprint on the plate in the absence of light. Working with his students Marie and Pierre Curie, they discovered radiation.

And popsicles were invented in 1905, when eleven-year-old Frank Epperson left his soda-making gear outside, in the cold, overnight. The next day, the water and flavored powder mixture had frozen — along with the stick he’d used to stir the mixture. (Twenty years later, the adult Epperson applied for a popsicle patent.)

In all these instances, it took an observant person to see what most of us would call a “mistake,” and find the opportunity.

“Luck favors the prepared mind,” said by Dr. Louis Pasteur.  All three were lucky, and they were prepared.

Your safety will depend, in large part, on your ability to recognize opportunities to fight back, to see an attacker’s vulnerabilities, and to exploit weaknesses. Luck in self-defense does indeed favor the prepared mind, despite so-called “mistakes.”

After Deborah Horne from KIRO TV interviewed me about what women can do to stay safer, my evening class got a visit from Alison Grande and another cameraman from KIRO. They spent about an hour filming and briefly interviewing a couple of the students, and used probably about 20 seconds in this segment:

 

I have to say I’m glad that the media is also presenting what women can do for safety, not just recommending we stay home, quivering, until the police catch the creep(s).

Last night Kiro 7 News had a story of a 14 year old girl who fought off a potential rapist. She was walking from her bus stop when a guy grabbed her and tried to drag her off. She fought back, and she won!

Kiro 7 interviewed several people on the street for the version they broadcast last night. Most expressed concern and fear about the attack. Two of the comments are more noteworthy.

One was from a woman who stated she was glad the girl was able to fight off the assailant, BUT not everyone would be able to do that. She’s right. Not everyone can, BUT I’ll bet she’d be surprised how many women really can fight back with really simple techniques (BTW, several of my five week self-defense courses are just about to begin, if you want to learn those skills). It dismays me when women just write off the possibility.

The second noteworthy comment was the very last one. “What was a 14 year old girl doing out at 1:00 in the morning?” Indeed, that was often brought up by some of the online comments from viewers. That may be a good question for her parents, but it in no way, shape, or form lessens the responsibility of the attacker for his actions. Regardless of why she was out, the attacker should be brought to account for his misdeeds.

The report rape for sexual assault is already too low (somewhere between 15 and 30% are reported to law enforcement). Women and girls who are targeted are less likely to report if it includes getting scolded by the “well-meaning but clueless” brigade. So I wag my finger at Kiro 7 News for not only including that comment, but making it the very final statement on air.

I was on the air for about 12 minutes. Carol Carini interviewed me on KKNW 1150 AM the morning of Friday, August 17th, 2012.  This was probably the hottest week of the summer, and the week I was directing a kids’ karate camp. Arrived at the dojo (karate school) especially early to wait for the phone to ring . . . and it rings, and it’s a sales call.  But wait, the very instant I hang up my cellphone rings and it’s Carol!

We talk about if self-defense can be for any woman, what keeps some women from fighting back, what can seniors and children do, etc. Then Carol tells this cool success story, when she had to fight back. Very nice to be talking with a radio host who’s not asking, “but shouldn’t women not walk outside by themselves?”

Please listen at http://www.StrategicLiving.org/joanne-live-life-radio-show.mp3

I was just surfing on the web this morning, and came across an ebook with a totally AWESOME title:

Self-Care and Self-Defense Manual for Feminist Activists

I haven’t had a chance to read it cover-to-cover, but just leafing through the pages this appears to be a very thorough and articulate personal safety book.  Certainly better than 99% of what’s on the market.

If you are concerned about social justice issues, if you want to be out there making a real difference in the world, and you want to keep yourself physically and emotionally together, download and read!