Sunday, January 25, 2015

Spoiling for a Fight!

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Spoiling for a Fight
I have stewed upon this subject for the last few days and feel the need to say something.

Many a bad situation has followed the words “what are you lookin at?”   It is pretty much the universal announcement that someone is spoiling for a fight and they are ready to provoke one.  Once you hear that pronouncement, your guard is up.  

This is the start of a “Monkey dance”.
What is a monkey dance you ask?   Read Rory Miller’s Facing Violence.  The short description is that a Monkey Dance is the typical bar fight, some guy marking territory.  It is a social conflict to decide dominance.  Typically, a monkey dance is between two guys.  More and more they are woman vs woman but rarely does it ever cross genders.   The target of the announcement either backs down or fists fly.  While most monkey dances end at bloody lips and someone making a hasty exit, some go on to true violence and life threatening altercations.  Predicting which ending will occur is not so easy under stressful scenarios.  How do you know if the monkey dance is started by a guy who wants just impress the girl he brought by showing he can fight vs someone who wants to shoot up the place and really spill blood.
I suspect not one of you would say to your buddy something like “just ignore him, it doesn’t mean anything”.    ALL (yes I mean ALL) of my friends who train in self-defense would immediately have all their antennas up.  Even if visibly they were trying to de-escalate by ignoring the guy, none of them would turn their back or let their spouse, girlfriend, parent or child be in between themselves and that guy. They would deal with it, even if that meant paying their check and leaving.  That is if the instigator will let them leave without a fight.
Now let’s take the video making the rounds on the internet lately from the website Hollaback! (
A woman walks silently through New York.  She says nothing.  She has normal clothes on and is wearing nothing “provocative”. She doesn’t smile and she doesn't interact with anyone.  She just WALKS.  On average every 6 minutes for 10 hours she hears some kind of verbal comment from a guy on the street.  Some seem harmless (“hey beautiful”), some are a little more concerning by adding a sexual twist to it (“daaaaayamn”); others are downright creepy (a man follows her silently for nearly 10 minutes without a word). At least one follows her and jokingly (supposedly) gets on her case for not talking to him as he offers her his number and basically accuses her of not being nice (By the way, the words he uses are a classic manipulation technique used by predators. Read The Gift of Fear by Gavin DeBecker)

Now I’ve seen a few people, men and women, comment online about how what happens in this video is no big deal.  But I propose to you that we women have different fears and safety concerns than guys.  One of the best quotes on this subject is the following:
“It is understandable that the perspectives of men and women on safety are so different--men and women live in different core, men are afraid women will laugh at them, while at core, women are afraid men will kill them.”  
 ― Gavin de Becker, The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect Us from Violence
This may seem dramatic but it’s not.  Rape and death are universal female fears.  It’s not always a conscious fear at the front of most women’s brain but it’s not far from it when walking alone somewhere.  
So gentlemen, just accept this premise for a second and then accept that every cat call on the street that your wife/girlfriend /daughter hears is heard by us the same way you hear “what you lookin at?”.  The antennas go up immediately.  The question pops into our brain “Is this the guy who will not stop at the cat call?”  From a self-defense standpoint, for me it’s the shot across the bow and ignoring it can lead to badness.  Confronting it may not stop it or even may escalate it.  
So why does this matter?  What are the consequences of that innocent “cat call”?  Certainly, most cat calls stop right there.  MOST guys realize that if they are ignored they just need to stop.  But even if they do stop, it has brought an aware female up to a more anxious level of alertness.  Your silly comment has made me walk on with more stress than I deserve.  And most women have learned at a young age to just walk on, if they let us.  
What if they don’t let us?  What about the guy in the video who followed for 10 minutes or the other who was verbally manipulating her?  Look at the fear on her face in the video.   And she KNEW the person in front of her was a team mate.  What if she WAS alone?   Well in a monkey dance if they don’t let you walk away, it’s a fight.  And it’s usually a fight that you mostly walk away from if it’s a true monkey dance.   In the cat call women’s scenario it’s not a fat lip and bruises we are worried about, its rape.  THAT is the reason for the high anxiety levels.  Rape is a life altering physical and psychological nightmare. No one should ever have to contemplate if “this is the one” every time someone thinks saying “daaaaaayam” to a complete stranger on the street is harmless.

So if you wish to dismiss the video and its intent that’s your right. But I encourage you to talk to your female loved ones about their experiences.  I bet most of you will be surprised.
And one final thought:  Think how you would feel if you heard “what you lookin at?” every 6 minutes of your normal day. 
Just ignore it?

~submitted by an anonymous female Black Belt~

Facing Violence
The chapter on the dynamics of violence alone should be required reading for anyone who says they train in or teach self-defense.

The Gift Of Fear
DeBecker states and demonstrates, sadly through countless stories of survivors of violence, that true fear is a gift, one that is designed to save our own lives, if and only if we listen to that gift and don’t ignore the signals we all receive about dangerous situations we encounter.

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