Protest Safety: All the Links

The upcoming workshops I’m leading on Protest Safety cover a lot of ground: verbal assertiveness, non-verbal communication, boundary setting, de-escalation, intervention, and tactical nonviolence. Since we can’t do justice to all those areas in one session, I’m posting these more detailed resources. If you’re coming to a workshop, feel free to print the handouts and bring them with you for reference. (I’ll have some handouts available at the workshops, but we often run out.)

Boundary Setting (PDF)
De-escalation (PDF)
Intervention (PDF)

Finally, the following resources are referenced in the Basic Protest Safety handout above; I’m putting the links here again for ease of access:

Know Your Rights: Free Speech, Protests & Demonstrations (ACLU)
Search and seizure (EFF)
How to use your smartphone in a protest
Tactical Nonviolence: philosophy & methods (Bruce Hartford)
Crowd psychology and safety
Activist’s Guide to Basic First Aid
Pepper Spray & Tear Gas: Avoiding, Protection, Remedies

Remarks from Gun-Free UT Rally

Gun-Free UT rally

Gun-Free UT rally

Today I spoke at a campus rally against the implementation of a state law that will allow concealed carry of firearms on public college campuses throughout Texas. For an hour, informed, compassionate, articulate staff and faculty at UT spoke out about the many ways this law will endanger the campus community. I was particularly struck by the words of Matt Valentine, a fellow staff member here at UT, who told us something remarkable about the Founding Fathers’ interpretation of the Second Amendment as it pertains to college campuses:

The University of Virginia Board of Visitors took up the issue of campus carry in 1824, and didn’t have to look far for an originalist perspective—Thomas Jefferson and James Madison were in attendance. The board resolved that “No Student shall, within the precincts of the University … keep or use weapons or arms of any kind, or gunpowder.”

Tragically, while our rally was in progress, a mass shooting was taking place on the campus of Umpqua Community College in Roseberg, Oregon. Initial reports indicate ten people have died and another 20 are wounded.

Here’s a rough transcript of my remarks:

I work in the School of Undergraduate Studies here at UT; I was an undergraduate and graduate student here, and I’ve taught here. I’ve also taught self defense for over fifteen years. There are some counter-protestors here with signs about how guns are necessary for self defense, and I want to speak particularly to them today. I teach and write about violence prevention and self defense policy, so I want to talk about the impact this law will have on women’s safety, and I especially want to address supporters of the law who claim it will reduce campus sexual assault and make women safer. It will not.

Sociologist Jennifer Carson, writing in the journal Violence Against Women, has described our culture’s “fetishizing of the gun as the primary tool of self-defense. The NRA,” she points out, “has become the predominant public face of self-defense, and its positions and politics are often seen, erroneously, as representing those of all self-defense advocates.”

As a teacher of feminist empowerment self defense, I’m here to tell you the NRA does not speak for me, or our movement. the NRA’s insistence that women must have guns to stay safe is unsupported by data. There is a robust research base to the contrary, most recently a random controlled trial involving 900 college women that was reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, showing that women who participated in feminist-informed self defense–not gun-based–experienced a 50% reduction in sexual assault. Resistance can and does stop sexual assault, without guns. It does so every day. Despite the proven effectiveness of such training, the NRA claims that women have no power or agency over their own safety unless they carry a gun. Their support of this law, their desire to flood our campus with guns, is an attempt to make women complicit in the ongoing militarization of our communities. We will not comply.

If we allow guns in classrooms, office, and dorms at UT, more women will die. This is a fact. Dr. Deobrah Azrael at the Harvard School of Public Health said the following about campus carry laws earlier this year: “What we know is where there are more guns, more women die. That’s just incontrovertibly true. . . . everything we know suggests that access to firearms increases the likelihood of death and injury. Disproportionately to women . . . . If more women have guns, have them accessible, the likelihood that more women are going to die by suicide goes way up. What we know is that . . . when there are more guns and they’re more accessible, unintentional gun deaths will increase. What we know is that alcohol and guns are a terrible combination.”

All of which is incredibly relevant to the college environment. If there is a gun in your dorm room, actuarial evidence shows—the statistics compiled by insurance companies, not lobbyists—that you are at greater risk of dying from that gun than from any other possible event happening. Having a gun in your dorm room is the greatest threat to your life on campus.

I’d also ask everyone here to remember that if we allow concealed carry all over campus, we are giving rapists and potential rapists permission to carry a weapon everywhere with them, which will make the commission of rape that much easier for them. Rape is already a crime of power. The last thing we need to do is give rapists firepower.

Thank you.

Two New Pieces: RAD and DIY

hvmagykahlhlnapmhuliJezebel featured another thing I wrote! This one is about the horrifying student manual for Rape Aggression Defense, the most popular women’s self defense program on college campuses. Take a RAD class and you will learn, among other things, that you shouldn’t try to run away from an attacker unless you get 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least three times per week. Otherwise, running may make you too tired to fight. Yes, they really tell you that.

I have new column up at McSweeney’s as well–this one about those darling Do-It-Yourself “anti-rape gloves” featured recently on Instructables:

What I find fascinating, reading through these directions, is the way the glove-maker’s amorphous anxiety about his sister’s safety is transformed, through a laborious 15-step process, into a tangible object, a comforting piece of proof against the risks his sister faces: a weapon. You can almost see the therapeutic benefits accrue as the worried man applies his knowledge and skills to the problem. In his workshop, he has tools to help him create safety: clamps, vice grips, an angle grinder, a drill press, an automatic center punch, a vernier caliper. Every material he handles is measured, every step is planned. The process offers control. It requires precision. It lets the glove-maker think creatively, consider options, make choices—all things that help us feel we’re in command of our lives.

 

Are the gloves he produces going to help to his sister? It’s possible. Unfortunately they aren’t dressy enough to wear on dates, which is when women are most likely to be assaulted.

 

 

Convention Harassment Materials

Concerned about potential harassment at a convention you’re helping to run? Want to advocate for better anti-harassment procedures at a conference you’ll be attending? My friends Jeremy and Alex put these materials together (with a little input from yours truly) for Sun Dragon  last year. They got lost in Sun Dragon’s recent website redesign, so I’m posting them here in PDF format:

CON Handling Harassment Complaint – Suggested guidelines for convention staff or volunteers when they are approached by someone who has been harassed.

CON Safety Team Incident Reporting – Suggested procedures for formal reporting of an incident by designated staff.

CON Witnessing an Incident – Advice and suggestions for those who witness harassment–includes common attributes/examples of harassment, What you can say/do to interrupt an active situation, and how to report.

FearLess Fridays, Week Twelve: Pass it On

FLF

I hope, over the past eleven weeks, you’ve gained a new awareness of your own power to protect yourself. The activities we’ve tried out are all about transforming ourselves from the inside, into confident people who act out of strength rather than fear. Now that you’re on your own path to fearlessness, it’s time to widen the circle. Helping others find this path will help us as well as them. So this week, your activity is simple:

1, 2, and 3: Teach something you learned in the last three months to three other people.

Here are handy links to each FearLess Fridays activity:

FearLess Fridays, Week One : Recognize Your Comfort Zone
(Bonus: Week One Extra Credit!)
FearLess Fridays, Week Two: Make Eye Contact
FearLess Fridays, Week Three: Practice Assertive Body Language
FearLess Fridays, Week Four: Say No
FearLess Fridays, Week Five: Claim Your Space
FearLess Fridays, Week Six: Notice People and Assess Situations
FearLess Fridays, Week Seven: Be Loud
FearLess Fridays, Week Eight: Learn the Best Targets and Weapons
FearLess Fridays, Week Nine: Devise Exit Strategies
FearLess Fridays, Week Ten: State What You Want
FearLess Fridays, Week Eleven: Inquire and Connect

For the rest of the week, look for opportunities to show someone a simple skill you feel you’ve mastered. Also try to share with them how the activity changed your perspective. If you’ve found these activities helpful, consider signing up for a longer self defense course.

By Friday, I hope you’ll have witnessed the incredible impact that empowerment-based self defense training can have on people (that’s what got me involved in self defense instruction in the first place). And you should also be even more aware of the kind of change we can create when we build these skills together, by bringing them into our communities and sharing them.

Let’s use the next five days—and every day after that!—to make ourselves safer and more powerful! Check in below in the comments to share how things are going—or Tweet your responses to @SusanSchorn, hashtag #FearLessFridays. You can find all the FearLess Fridays activities on the main page.