If you have been feeling traumatized by the national narrative about sexual harassment and assault this election season, know that you are not alone. If you fear for your personal safety or the safety of your loved ones because of the pre and post-election hate speech and hate crimes, know that you are not alone.
As Gavin de Becker says of fear, "you have the gift of a brilliant internal guardian that stands ready to warn you of hazards and guide you through risky situations."
At IMPACT, we talk about turning this "gift of fear" into courage.
As part of the IMPACT family, you are part of a community that is empowered to stand up to any form of sexual harassment, coercion or violence. And we hope that you draw some comfort and security from this community and from your training.
We also invite you to be courageous as a bystander, to say NO to violence or harassment you may witness against others. While we teach boundary setting and self-defense techniques at IMPACT, we remind you that the courage and strength you show are things you already had. And it is the courage and strength that you show that inspires us every day.
It's our first time presenting a class at the Oakland Asian Cultural Center (we are SO excited to be there), and we'd love to have you there with us to show your support (and get a little practice at the same time!).
Please come join us!
WHEN: 7pm, March 4th
WHERE: 388 9th St, Ste 290 (More details here)
Say what you will about Justin Bieber, he can sing a catchy tune, but it wasn't until I sang along with "What Do You Mean" on the car radio for the seventh time that I rewound the lyrics in my mind, tilted my head like my border collie does, and went, "Huh?"
When you nod your head yes
But you wanna say no
What do you mean?
When you don't want me to move
But you tell me to go
What do you mean?
Hey, Justin, protip: if she wants to say no, she means no. If she tells you to go, she means go now. When you follow that up with a warning, "Better make up your mind," we'd like to suggest that she already did.
I've counted four official videos from the Beebs for this song, but the most popular one is also the most troubling. Justin meets John Leguizamo (?!) in the dark and pays him a wad of cash to KIDNAP his girlfriend (the one giving him those troubling and difficult signs).
These nice fellows throw her in the back of a car, taking her God only knows where. (Oh, Justin, you may not know this but statistics for assault victims transported a secondary location are dismally low. At IMPACT, we train students to never comply with a demand to move to a secondary location.)
Cuddling with boo in the trunk
But never fear! It turns out they're tied up in a creepy warehouse (as if there's any other kind).
Here Justin saves the day and pressures her into jumping several stories into the dark, where they land on a fun bounce-house cushion. The girl is appropriately grateful, has fun at the skating party that bumps off, and, presumably, later gives Justin the reward she was so cruelly withholding earlier in the evening.
All this, for me?
To recap: Justin is told No but is confused. In order to convince her he means her no harm, he pays men to traumatize her in order to play her hero and look good in comparison. In a moment of intimacy, when she is most frightened, he asks her "Do you trust me?" With no other choice but certain death, she decides she has to.
Rape culture has never been so catchy.
Last year, IMPACT Bay Area taught 226 teens, young adults, and adults full-force empowerment self-defense with only 3 suited instructors. Think about that for a minute.
On average, each instructor took hits from more than 75 students, and each student hits a suited instructor hundreds of times in each class. Only three instructors have been taking thousands of hits for the sake of empowering our students to be safe and live fuller lives.
What could we do with seven more instructors? We could train 525 MORE students next year, doubling our reach!
But we can't do it if we don't get their training funded. It's imperative that we raise the $35,000 needed by the end of the summer (we're currently only at $7,000), or those 525 students won't have padded suits to kick and hit.
$50 will buy a pair of overalls and pay for needed alterations
$150 will buy a helmet
$250 will buy a chest protector or a groin protector
$400 will pay 1 trainee to go through their first supervised phase
$1,000 will pay for 1 trainee to go through their final supervised phases
$5,000 will sponsor 1 new instructor!
*Huge thanks to the Emmy-winning filmmaker Paige Bierma for the amazing short!
It’s just creepy. Right message, wrong delivery.
Women: We know you can kick his ass, because you’ve been running with our product longer. Flash him a darling smile and then pick up the pace, leaving him panting for more.
In reality, this goes like this: “Hello, 911? There’s a guy chasing me. I think he’s the one who’s been following me all week. No, he didn’t touch me. Did he have to? No, I already left him in the dust. No, I can’t really describe him because I WAS FLEEING HIM. Oh, fine. Okay. Yeah, I’ll just change my outfit and change my routine and go a different direction next time. Thanks, anyway.”
Here we go again: yet another product aimed at women’s fears that may, but probably does not, provide them with an added degree of safety. TigerLady is sharp plastic “claws” attached to a pad that you hold in your hand. It is designed for runners. As I always do when these products appear I ask myself:
Self-Defense and Family
Amy Kaufman Burk is a novelist and blogger, and an IMPACT grad. She graciously offered to guest write this post.
I had never kicked a man in the face, or kneed him in the groin. I had never even raised my voice in public. Until I was 32 years old.
I had given birth to my first child a month previously. He was slumbering in my arms -- a swaddled bundle of peace and trust. I was in monumental need of a nap, with the desperate exhaustion of a new parent. But I loved cradling my baby, and wanted to hold him a bit longer. I’d been entirely oblivious to the world outside my newborn for four weeks, so I settled on the couch in our family room and reached for the TV remote.
As the screen came to life, I zapped to attention. The news anchor was describing a kidnapping. A mother was loading groceries into her car -- broad daylight, crowded parking lot, upscale neighborhood. A man approached, showed his weapon, and took her baby. When my husband came home that evening, he found me hyper-alert, napless, clutching our firstborn. I told him I wanted to learn self-defense.
The class was hands-on, with a coach guiding us through every fight. Our “assailant” dressed head to toe in protective gear, so we could fight without injuring him. I learned to break an attacker’s hold, to shout to scare him off, to fight when needed, to knock him cold if necessary. But self-defense is about protecting from harm, not about causing mayhem. So I was also taught techniques to de-escalate a dangerous situation, to fight only as a last resort. I learned to recognize the difference between an empty threat and an impending assault. If the assailant crossed that line, I was ready. The empowerment that grew within me, the commitment to protecting my self, is about strength and safety. The experience was life-changing.
Six years passed, and I was walking home in San Francisco after a day at work. Suddenly, a man grabbed my arm. In an instant, my self-defense class was at my fingertips. I gauged his stance, his build, his level of aggression. I shrugged off my natural impulse to pull away, and instead stepped toward him. I hurled my briefcase to the ground, 100% ready to fight, and yelled in his face, “BACK OFF!” The entire street froze. The man let go, retreated several steps, shot me a terrified look, and ran away.
I felt invincible for one stellar moment. Then I felt something even better – solid, down-to-earth empowerment. I picked up my briefcase and walked home. By then, my first born was an older brother, and I held my children. Tender and strong.
Self-defense and family. That’s what it’s about.
Amy Kaufman Burk is a novelist and blogger. Her novels, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable and Tightwire both deal with issues of sexual assault and hurtful sexual experiences. Visit Amy Kaufman Burk's author page on Amazon.
My pro-consent guerrilla art on Stanford campus
This guest post was written and printed with permission by Eva Jordan.
There’s a lot of discussion now on the Stanford campus about affirmative consent (“yes means yes”), which is terrific, but I’m not sure that people always know what that looks like or sounds like. It often evokes a man procuring permission from a woman for penetrative sex – a single exchange for a particular act, in a hetero context. That’s is a good starting point if you’re looking to prevent rape, but it’s pretty basic and omits so much about what it means to be a good, respectful, and enjoyable sexual partner, and what it means to communicate, which is the only way to ensure a truly consensual relationship.
I wanted to present an image of empowered, ongoing, active consent, in which the couple is communicating about their actions through questions, answers, and mutual sounds of pleasure. At a recent Take Back the Night event, a speaker said, “If it’s not a ‘F**K YES,’ it’s not a yes!” and I think young people need to really understand this. Sometimes sexual partners acquiesce because they feel pressured, but a reluctant or hesitant yes isn’t a true yes, and yes should be a fluid process (so to speak), not a lone phrase.
The piece is a 3’ x 6’ hand printed linoleum block print, which I put up all around campus. It’s an image of a half-clothed couple in a sexual embrace. The word bubbles that weave around them represent a dialogue of desire, flowing around the bodies the way information ought to flow between people who are having sex: playfully, respectfully, and, ideally, with input from all aspects of self and body (hence the words continue even down to their feet).
I especially wanted to show the woman possessing agency and being an equal participant. One of the most striking features of my own experience of stranger rape was the echo in that act of all the times I had felt subtly coerced by sexual partners, and had lacked my own full voice. I had no prior history of sexual violence per se, yet I perceived rape to be the ultimate expression of a familiar dynamic, and that was a wake up call for me about the challenges women, in particular, still face.
Although children ought to be having age-appropriate conversations about sexuality and consent all along, college is a crucial time to educate on these issues and to support our youth with real skills and understanding. I live on the Stanford campus and am privy to the lives of undergrads, and despite our progress in many areas, the culture here is still shadowed by misogyny, body shaming, and an inherited, ill-conceived image of masculinity, all of which intersect with unexamined attitudes about race and class to create an atmosphere in which many people feel at times unheard or unsafe. While I want women to find their full voices, and that’s a huge part of the equation, I believe the onus is primarily on the men—young male students as well as their older mentors—to sensitize and re-train themselves to become people who would never perpetrate any of the many gradations of violence, or stand by while others do so.
The good news is, young folks have elastic, eager minds and a little bit of learning can go a long way! It’s been beautiful to see the activist culture bloom on campus this past year, as students (including many men) speak their truths and agitate for change around gender-based and relationship violence. I hope my own art-based activism will add to the sense that students are held up in their efforts by a larger community that cares and holds hope.
Eva Jordan is an artist and stay-at-home mother who has also worked in the fields of psychotherapy and garden design. She lives with her family next to a freshman dorm on the Stanford campus as a Resident Fellow, where she supports and helps shape the culture of the dorm. She is an IMPACT graduate.
Impact Bay Area recently had the opportunity to partner with HealthRight 360 to offer a free introductory class for women trauma survivors. The class included self-defense techniques and gave the women a chance to practice against a mock assailant. In an article released by HealthRight 360, Joanna reported:
“It was wonderful to see our clients, many of whom are trauma survivors, taking up space, using their voices, practicing the techniques with power and confidence, and laughing in the process.”
We are grateful for the opportunity to teach these amazing women and partner with HealthRight 360. To learn more about the class, check out this article!