Sleaze from Presidential campaign triggers testimonials from women who were sexually assaulted

By Gayle Tice

Update, October 23, 2016

The conversation around Trump’s comments keeps evolving.  It includes encouraging statements about male “locker room talk.”  From men reflecting on the locker room talk of their youth and how it never crossed into bragging about sexual assault, to the high school and professional male athletes in this story who have taken a visual stand for respecting women inside the locker room, I am seeing exactly what I hoped to see.  Men are standing up to men and fighting the ‘boys will be boys’ excuse.

http://www.cnn.com/videos/us/2016/10/18/portland-high-school-wild-feminist-locker-room-shirts-pkg.katu

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Editor’s Note: A recent article in the New York Times described how one woman’s effort to gather brief stories of how women have been sexually assaulted has launched a tsunami of responses, totaling over 27 million. Hearing that, Gayle Tice, a frequent contributor to the Mountain News-WA, seized this opportunity to share her experiences and the stories she has heard from the women in her life.

I attended a Women’s Leadership Institute conference recently. On a walk back to our dorm rooms with a couple of the other women, I brought up the question of uncomfortable encounters with men. I wasn’t prepared for their responses. Sure, I’ve used my now-fiancé, then-boyfriend, to shield myself from a couple of men that got too close with their opinions or invitations. But I’ve never had a cab driver lock the doors and badger me for my number to the point where I feared for my life—and I’ve never been followed for blocks by some man badgering me for a date, refusing to take no for an answer. I’ve never had to run through my options for a safe exit; I’ve never had to think about how I might fight back.

I haven’t been called out in a sexually suggestive manner since I dealt with juvenile classmates talking about me eating my middle school boyfriend’s “mayo and mustard.” Or the boy, who turned out to be 12, who moved his avatar suggestively in an online game when I was in my teens. He didn’t know how to get my attention otherwise; I told him it was creepy. He apologized, and we talked about cartoons and how there would be a girl his age interested in the same things he was someday, if he approached her respectfully about it.

I can excuse the man who said “That’s fine, I like girls in my lap,” when I nearly fell into his as my city bus sped off before I had a chance to sit or grab hold of the bar. I was an adult by then and chocked it up to an awkward response to an awkward situation, and then sat far back from the man.

I haven’t faced the kind of aggressive catcalling that many women have. Though I have talked to a catcaller who wasn’t calling to me, but rather a tour group of University of Washington female freshmen about why they weren’t all in bikinis on that hot day and how nice various parts of them would look in one. That man and I had spoken before. So I was probably in a better position to tell him how uncomfortable that was to watch. He loiters by a bus stop I used frequently; some days I don’t feel like hearing him and walk to one farther down the street.

And I’ve listened to a college classmate who loved lollipops, but wouldn’t eat them publicly anymore after the thousandth “I’ve got something you can suck on.” Ditto for corn dogs, popsicles, etc. She shouldn’t have to choose her food based on whether it can be construed as a stand-in for the male sexual organ.

I’ve been called pretty by random, mostly older men. I’ve had them call out, “Hey, little lady.” I stop and talk, as they’re usually pleasant enough, but I don’t accept their invitations to coffee. Once, I was willing to clean the silicone attachment from a man’s false leg, but I wasn’t willing to cuddle with him after I brought it back. Then, the owner of the coffee shop where this encounter began told the man he had been on his couch long enough and needed to pay and leave; this was an occasion where I drew attention to the fact that I was there with my now-fiancé. I try to be open, friendly, and unafraid. I try not to judge and shy away. That’s how I want to live; that’s the world I want to live in.

Then I hear “grab them by the pussy” from a man who is trying to convince America to select him as our highest leader, and I am afraid. Afraid that this is one more example that says we don’t have to learn to relate to each other better than this. Afraid that this lewd and degrading comment is excusable as “just locker room talk,” repartee that he isn’t proud of but that we shouldn’t construe as dangerous. It is dangerous. It is dangerous if it gives other men even one little bit of permission to act the same. We are talking about someone who wants a leadership position. People can come back from mistakes, but let’s not buy into their excuses while they try to do it.

If men don’t call men out on this nonsense in the locker room, at home, at work, in public, and in politics—the men who do it are going to keep thinking it is something that men have the right to do. I find it somewhat encouraging that Trump has been spoken against prominently by several male politicians.

Meanwhile, women get insanely detailed descriptions of how to take their keys out before they start crossing the parking lot, how to place them between their fingers to do damage, how to know which opens their car and be ready to hurry so they don’t leave an opening for an attacker. I haven’t seen a woman doing this, but the description turns my stomach.

Further, this article in the New York Times came out yesterday (October 10, 2016), talking about journalist Kelly Oxford’s tweet that had received nearly 27 million responses as of the article’s publication:

Kelly Oxford’s twitter page: https://twitter.com/kellyoxford/status/784541062119456769

NY Times:
http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/11/us/politics/sexual-assault-survivor-reaction.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news

Even with some of those responses being about how gross it is that women go through things like that, or even with some of them being multi-tweet horror stories there are a lot of different women writing about their first assault. Their FIRST assault. A lot of women are writing about the FIRST time they were assaulted, and some can’t recall which was their first! Are we, as a society, not uncomfortable enough about this yet?

I don’t know how much damage I could do with my keys alone, but I have fierce fingernails and I could probably put some force behind jabbing my umbrella into someone if I needed to. Maybe it is time to really learn what I can do if the occasion ever does arise. What could I do with my own hands, feet, knees, and teeth?

Please notice that I’ve talked about men standing up to men before I’ve talked about women fighting back. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you never had to face another woman who tenses up, wondering if you are the one she is going to have to fight against? Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you didn’t have to express yourself to women under the shadow of grabbings, forced contacts, lewd comments, and other men who couldn’t accept the word, “No”?

My fiancé’s fear that I’ll come across trouble when I go out to cover nighttime art events by myself, is very real. It is muggings and weapons related violence on his mind; I will continue to banish the thought of sexual assault from mine.

But maybe it is time to learn a few things.

gayle-headshot-103-best-10-11-16

Gayle E. Tice

https://www.linkedin.com/in/gayletice

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This entry was posted in Culture, Gayle Tice, People Profiles, Politics, Spirituality. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Sleaze from Presidential campaign triggers testimonials from women who were sexually assaulted

  1. brucesmith49 says:

    This article has triggered a number of conversations about safety and self-protection. Here are my thoughts.

    The number one goal is to survive with little or no injury to oneself. Weapons offer no guarantee, despite what the NRA and Hollywood tell us. I used to teach gun safety when I first moved out here because so many people I knew had guns, mostly pistols – including machine pistols, which are miniature machine guns – and their lack of knowledge of the gun OR fighting was frightening and dangerous.

    In a personal, one-on-one type of assault, the conditions are usually dark and unpredictable. Finding and using a weapon under those conditions make them impractical a lot of the times. Plus, they can be used against the person who hopes to use them for protection. As I have said before, I am not a big fan of using keys as a miniature weapon. I would save the keys to make sure you can drive away to safety, and also to ensure that the perp doesn’t get them. Your fingers can do to a perp’s eyes what a key can do, perhaps more effectively.

    Talking is the best defense, in my opinion. I was assaulted once, with a knife in a crazy kind of mugging done by a drugged guy who really was trying to make a racial/political point by robbing me and threatening to rape my wife. Although it took ten minutes, I was able to talk him down by giving him my wallet, not showing any fear, not provoking him by trying to disarm him or “teach him a lesson,” and my wife slowly slid behind me and took herself visually out of the guy’s line of sight, which reduced his attention on her and his sexual inclinations. Eventually his buddy came by and convinced him to leave. The cops arrived a few minutes later and finished the deal. I got all my money back.

    If I was ever in a situation where talking was ineffective and I was under direct physical assault, my first line of defense would be accept the intimacy of the assault. I would be willing to fight close in. That is counter-intuitive, as most people would try to push an attacker away, but it is actually safer and more advantageous to be close in, so that you can grab part of his body. Depending on the threat level, my response would be equal to the threat and designed to get me free and escape unharmed. Biting is the first thing, bending fingers backward is next. Then forehead poundings, especially to the nose. Also, elbows to the jaw or side of the head, and stiff palm thrusts under the chin upwards are what I would be attempting to do. Eye gouging is last.

    If grabbed from behind, I would wrap an arm or leg around the perp’s leg and try to take him down. Once he is destabilized, I would kick him in the side of his knee, trying to dislocate it. After six months of rehab he’ll be back walking, and after a little jail time soon working and paying taxes.

    If a gun or knife comes into play, things are a little different. A knife is generally considered more dangerous than a gun in hand-to-hand combat because slicing and dicing is an effective long-term strategy for combat via making someone bleed out or tire rapidly for a final kill maneuver. Deep thrusts are rare in my view, and again are not immediately fatal. Nevertheless, the knife has to be addressed. In my mind, I would use any piece of clothing available to use to wrap my hand in so that I could grab the knife and neutralize it. A hat, a coat, a napkin, a baggy shirt sleeve – anything will do. Then I would go for a neutralizing blow, such as a forehead to the nose, or fingers up the nostrils. Eye attacks, again, would be a last resort. Take the knife away and let the perp run away. Then call the cops.

    Same thing for a gun, although you don’t need to wrap the hand. Intentionally forcing the gun to discharge is also a defense because it is so loud. Forcing the perp to shoot by pressing against the trigger will destabilize the guy – the recoil will move the hand and gun into the body of the perp, and make the shooting hand unsteady. The noise would also distract the perp. If the shooting takes place in a confined area, such as a room, car, subway, the bang will be deafening.
    If the perp gets a victim on the ground, it is much easier to kick him in the balls or hyper-extend his elbows by hitting them from below and behind the arms. Also, sticking fingers into his nostrils or mouth will also distract and partially disable him. Sharp pressure on the blood vessels of the throat, by pushing the fingers into his carotid arteries will also be helpful in reducing the attack.

    The big thing in a personal assault is being willing to strike back – to not take it. No panicky, helpless screaming, Shout for help or to psychologically neutralize the perp. Shouting STOP!, STOP !, STOP! loudly and forcefully at your attacker will be a deterrent. I know of one instance where a rape was averted by a woman just shouting NO! directly at the perp over and over until help arrived – but it took awhile. Nevertheless, it worked. Deploy icy stares, show no fear, develop a willingness to shed blood for one’s dignity and to save the life of ones you love and want to protect. Psychologically letting your perp know that you are not going to be an easy target will be your best defense.

    As for mass shootings, here is my strategy: hiding and escaping are the first two priorities. Always know where the exits are. If safety is unavailable, use the bodies of deceased victims as a shield for protection, even using them to advance on the shooters and waiting for an opportunity to neutralize them. Even a guy with AR-15s slung over every shoulder will have to pause to reload or switch weapons. That split second might be the ideal moment to throw a beer bottle at him, turn on the lights, blast him with a fire extinguisher, bust his knee joints – or not. Being a hero is secondary to the primary goal of surviving uninjured. Also, being confrontive and projecting toughness may be counter productive and dangerous. Sometimes being a passive, weepy victim might be the best tactic.

    Bruce

  2. Gayle Tice says:

    Thank you for adding this comment Bruce. I hope that reading descriptions ahead of time could help someone stay calmer when it counts, heaven forbid it ever counts. Thank you for recounting specific experiences, and giving an example of a perpetrators buddy who convinced him to halt and exit the situation he had created. Friends help friends make better decisions. We have to help hold each other to higher standards, and I believe men are in a unique position to do this with other men. Pardon my assumption if the mans buddy was not a man.

    I have one question. You talk about what YOU would do. You are an adult male, who is as far as I know not significantly disabled in the use of your limbs. What might change if there is a significant difference in size, strength, or ability?

    I am thinking adult man vs. young woman without male companion, as is the case in many of the responses to Kelly Oxford’s Twitter post. You address my question somewhat already, with your versatile ideas, but I am interested in anything further you might have to say.

    Women might resort to carrying weapons, guns, stun guns, pepper spray, etc. as a way to feel less powerless and with the idea that weapons will close the gap. Your thoughts are mine as to why that may not work when it needs to. As a personal preference I also don’t like the idea of carrying a physical reminder of what could go wrong.

    • brucesmith49 says:

      Size does not matter much, in my opinion. In fact, I would suggest that women use their smaller size to their advantage, such as grabbing an arm and climbing up the guy, or squirming and twisting to reduce his grip or control. The techniques for countering an attack that I suggest are the same for anyone given their size – fingers in the eye, nostril, or mouth; bending a finger backwards until it breaks or the perp lets go.

      The bigger and more troubling question is what to do in the in-between times. For instance: He has a knife and tells you to lie down in some kind of rape scenario. What do you do then? Do you take a chance on countering his aggression and risk escalating the event? Any move past complete compliance and passivity is going to risk an escalation and more dangerous behavior. This is a tricky subject. How far are you willing to go to neutralize his threat if you escalate the situation? A lot of inner psychological decision making is going to go on in that instance. Regardless of one’s decision, the person being assaulted can always change their mind from passivity to action at any time. Perhaps a general rule of thumb is “play it cool, stay alive, keep all options open, only confront when all other options have been utilized or he intensifies his behavior.

      To answer your question about my assault – Yes, the “buddy” was male. Both guys were men, about twenty or so, late teens in age. Neither had any violence or arrest in their past, and the cops eventually let them go on reduced charges, with probation and community service as restitution. I was okay with that. A personal apology would have been nice, though, since one guy lived a couple of blocks from me and my wife.

      • brucesmith49 says:

        Another thought, Gayle, on pepper spray and such. Again, I am not a big fan of that kind of deterrent. Perhaps the biggest contribution to one’s safety is a kind of placebo effect – knowing that you have pepper spray, a knife or a gun, lets you FEEL safer, and that is mightily important. However, knowing that you can stop an attack is even a mightier state of mind. I would recommend taking self-defense classes to everyone. Nothing is better than training, preparation, and building one’s confidence.

  3. Gayle Tice says:

    I appreciate your wording of the bodily vs. weaponized self defense argument. Self defense classes were what I was thinking when I said it might be time to see what I could do. I am not the most coordinated woman around, nor the strongest, yet I refuse to stay off the streets or only travel only with others. My confidence has lied exclusively in the fact that trouble is not imminently likely, and there are generally members of the public around. It is time to consider resting it on more than that.

    • brucesmith49 says:

      I admire your confidence, Gayle, and your belief in the general safety of our streets. I concur with your assessment that our world is generally safe, but we can and should take reasonable steps to prepare ourselves for trouble if the need arises.

      For all: guns are not the answer.

  4. Gayle Tice says:

    I agree. My Facebook overflows with pro gun, anti gun control sentiment. It paints a world I don’t wish to live in. I do want to walk through the world with more streanth and self assurance, regardless of the level of danger.

  5. Gayle Tice says:

    *strength

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