Tag Archives: feminism

Self-Defense And Family

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, was 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.

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Amy Kaufman Burk is a novelist, blogger and mother of three grown children. Her novels, Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable and Tightwire, include issues of sexual assault, healing and empowerment. 

Amy’s Author Page On Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Kaufman-Burk/e/B00R0S66Y4

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Filed under feminism, girl power, NoMore

A Sexual Marionette

I’m deeply disturbed by a television commercial I saw. The spot opens with a man sitting on a double bed. He’s handsome, even features, a bit rugged, fully clothed. Enter his wife/girlfriend. She’s blonde, blue-eyed, wearing a robe. She speaks in a voice simultaneously childlike and seductive, “Do you think I’m pretty?” From a feminist perspective, not a good start. But more disturbing, in fact chilling: she’s a puppet manipulated by strings.

She sheds her robe, and underneath is red lingerie trimmed in black lace. She has a weirdly thin body, with absolutely no fat content. She asks for her man’s approval as she shows him several positions she can get into, by manipulation of the strings. She’s a sexual marionette.

And no, I was not watching a porn channel; I was with my 17-year-old daughter, lounging in our family room, watching the Food Network. And no, the commercial was not for edible underwear or lick-it-off-your-body chocolate sauce; it was for Direct TV.

A while ago, Time Magazine’s cover story took on the issue of rape on college campuses. The article stated that 20% of female students are being sexually assaulted during their college years. Clearly, a problem of this magnitude does not begin on campus. The stage has been set, and a dangerous mindset is deeply engrained in our cultural values. If a commercial on a major network – viewed by children, adolescents and adults — casually portrays a woman as a sexual puppet, the groundwork for rape is in place.

Nobody of any gender should be viewed as another person’s marionette. Nobody should be treated as a sexual toy. As long as anyone can be viewed as a sexualized doll attached to strings, we are accepting a culturally endorsed value of sexual objectification. This is the foundation for sexual assault – one person in a position of power, forcing another person to be a sexual marionette.

It’s time to cut the strings.

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Novels by Amy Kaufman Burk

Sexual assault and hurtful sexual experiences are so prevalent that I decided to include these issues in both of my novels. I tried to treat the issues, emotional and physical, with the respect they deserve. Having worked as a therapist for 25 years before becoming a novelist, I also hold boundless respect for the human capacity to heal.

Hollywood High: Achieve The Honorable

Caroline Black, 15 years old, leaves her college prep academy for the local public high school, which opens her world. Written in reaction to witnessing gay students bullied in high school, as a voice against bullying, stereotyping and sexual assault.

Tightwire

Caroline Black, a rookie psychology intern, goes through one year of training, working with her first patient – a young man who is stormy, seductive, complex and troubled. Written in support of healthy sex and sexuality, healing from sexual assault, same-sex parents, and as a voice against the stigma of therapy.

Amy’s Author Page On Amazon

https://www.amazon.com/Amy-Kaufman-Burk/e/B00R0S66Y4

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