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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 1998 6:04 am 
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Granted - here in the United States - the female of our species endures more rights and freedoms than many countries in this world - not the best - but definitely at the top. Why then, do we continue to cultivate a "victim" mentality in our girl children?

"We don't do that!" I hear you protesting now. But if you stop for a moment and check around - you will see the many signs that fertilize this negative growth.

You may have come across women in your dojo who had a real problem with eye contact - or physical contact. Whether abuse has ever been a factor or no - a woman will often shy away from a style such as ours that involves striking each other as part of the conditioning process. "So?" you say. "That's to be expected. Some men do too."

The entertainment media sends us messages - look at the persistant female main characters in films where the woman is persistant and strong - she often projects a twisted and/or disturbed character. Yet when the genders are reversed - the male character usually elicits sympathy from the audience - think for a moment - you will see examples of this in recent "hit" movies...

In the courtroom - how many stories have we heard of a victimized woman becoming a victim again by filing charges? Victims report that exams and interviews are often enough to discourage follow through - What was she wearing? Does it really matter? What did she do? Did she provoke the attack by her demeaner/dress/makeup/hairstyle/job? Did she fight back? Why or why not? And if that hurdle is passed, then she has to endure this scrutiny into a most painful and humiliating episode in a courtroom full of strangers - including many (if not most) men. That again discourages the victim from fighting back even after the fact!

Statistics continually show that a large percentage of women who fight back under an attack get out of the situation relatively unscathed. Why then have most women heard that fighting back will just make the assailant angry - they should submit as it is a power struggle and let it get over with - I've read this in numerous articles - (though the tide is changing slowly) and have encountered this belief in women I have met from various walks of life. It seems that the socialization process of women in this country is one of submission and subjugation to violent attack, thus denying her the right to her own self-preservation!

Boys coming home with black eyes from school are asked if the other guy looks worse - and perhaps coached on fighting/defensive techniques. Girls who complain about harrassment from boys kicking their chair or desk, or even snapping their bra straps (!) are told to just avoid the perpetrators - dress conservatively - stay out of their way. When a girl says "no" she's teasing - doesn't mean it - she's encouraging pursuit.

How can we educate our young girls that they have the right to defend their life and their honor? Is it a hopeless task because of media messages? How can we get the message to our young people that "No." is a complete sentence - as discussed in Gift of Fear? How can we break the cycle of cultivating a "victim" mentality in the women of today?

Let's have some ideas.

Peace,
Lori


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 1998 12:29 pm 
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Posts: 2071
Location: Boston, MA
Lori,

Your comments are on and valid from what I have seen with many of the girls that "hang out" at the center where I work.

Some of things we are trying to do include providing role models. This means having strong, self-confident women staff working with the girls and leading activities. We offer physical activities that challenge the girls, to allow themselves to experience and develop a sense of their own physicality (as opposed to being observers). We also provide some separate time/activities for girls (we do the same for boys) so they have a chance to talk and interact with each other (co-ed situations really have a different dynamic). One of these include a girl's running group, I get invited along for a run here and there with them, and it is a real learning experience to hear their discussions and the things on the mind.

Dispite what we do, there are still many girls who "sit out", who rather be watchers, who rather be almost "assessories" to the boys.

If anybody has suggestions/ideas, I would be glad to pass them on.

david


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 2:45 am 
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Posts: 203
Location: Florida
Lori & David:

In generic terms, it seems to me, that 1 pitfall as parents and family members is that we may tend to do a little more for a little longer with the girls in the family. Unfortunately, this kindness done in the spirit of love perhaps tends to foster a degree of dependence.

The more we do for them, rather than implanting a message of love, can actually imply weakness, or a lack of capability.

The old saying about give someone a fish, you give them a meal(dependence), but teach them how to fish(independence) and you give them a way of life. We should do this with all the kids, but especially see to it we do it with girls.

Don't we rush to the injury just a little quicker, sympathize about tormentors a little stronger, etc. with our girls?

So are we facilitating this mindset of passivity and dependence so that when true adversity comes along all at once, they are less prepared to deal with it and become unwitting victims?(not victims, but survivors?!)

Speaking of victomhood vs. survivordome there was a great quote by L. Bacall, who said she not only survives bad scenarios and adversity, she prevails! Now, this is what we need to impart to our young ladies - that they do not become victims, nor do they just survive - but that they prevail!


Just some food for thought.


JohnC


P.S. - speaking of movie roles, strong characters, etc., I think there is a perverse manner lately that takes an actress like Geena Davis who actually exudes a characture of maledome - please - This is not what we really want is it?

Conversely, take a look at the role in Alien played by Sig Weaver. This was as heroic and strong a role anyone, male or female, has ever played. But it was done within her uniqueness as a female human being. This is more what we want.


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Fri Sep 25, 1998 10:55 am 
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Location: Boston, MA
John,

I agree with you theoretically. As a parent (of two young boys), I am at lost as how to implement that. Some kids just need more hand-holding and others do not. I see this difference with my two kids. Getting it just right is an art. One won't know until much later.


BTW, I like the Ripley character (Weaver). She was not one dimensional. She had fear but worked her way through it. She drew on anger and on her "protective" instinct. Another female character of interest, though not as well rounded, is Hamilton's character in Terminator II.

david


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 1998 5:51 am 
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Posts: 203
Location: Florida
David:

I agree also that each child is unique and some seem to gravitate more to neediness and that boys can also have too much given them and lose a sense of autonomy and mastery.

I think you have expanded on the reason the Weaver role in Alien comes across as it does - it is more real, more believable, as you said she has to work through her very palatable fear, the stark terror - BTW, talk about the essence of the adrenaline cocktail dump! Fantastic acting! I want her on my team!

The Hamilton role in T II is 1 dimensional - this was a woman on a mission from God with her face set like a flint! I agree it is in the thumb's up category though. I want her on my team as well!

I may be wrong, but it does seem that there is a slow trend to expand women's roles in the movies beyond the screaming/crying victim or the blond bombshell.

For the record, what probably influences our kids more so than celebrities is the actual modeling of the people in their lives - their parents, teachers, coaches, etc.

So, all you women in the martial arts, how does it feel to be a role model?

Peace,

JohnC

P.S.: A woman friend mentioned to me an oddity that seems to parallel this discussion - she noticed that she and most of the women she knows are very uncomfortable with the "stranger's glance" in passing pedestrians or passing drivers. What is this about I wonder if it is a commonality?


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 1998 1:22 pm 
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Hello John-san!

It does seem that there is a slow trend in Hollywood to improve the nature of women's roles - less victims - yet it's interesting to see how the pendulum swings - from screaming crying victim types to cold hearted bitch in "Indecent Proposal" - everything must find it's balance.

Now I'm waiting for decent women martial artists in film - there have been a few come up recently but not many substantial roles that I've seen yet. I recall a Cynthia Rothrock film I saw some time ago that disgusted me for the stupidity of her character - there are some amazing women that have demonstrated considerable skill as supporting characters - when will Hollywood be ready to give them a real role? Like Sigourney?

As to the influence on our kids by the role models in their lives - have you seen the controversial new book claiming that parent's influence is minimal to nil? The author claims that peers will influence our children more than any adult or authority figure. It was causing quite a stir sometime back - I don't recall the name of the book but read a few reviews on it- it seemed the author made a few valid points - yet I still believe that there is something to be said for family and extended family influence and support.

As far as being a role model, I hadn't really considered it before as there were primarily males in the dojo. Now that has changed however, and I can only speculate as to the amount impact I have on some of these young girls' lives. Parental feedback is similar for parents of girls and boys so far.

About the uncomfortable feelings coming from stranger's glances/glares - I can understand what your friend means. When I lived overseas, walking down the street could become an ordeal if you didn't follow some guidelines. The men would yell and whistle and call out explicit and embarrasing suggestive remarks to any females that were either dressed provocatively (this could mean simply wearing SHORTS!) or walking unescorted. Ok, so that may be a bit more backward than it is here - but when first exposed to this I found myself dropping my eyes and walking more quickly as a natural reaction. Here in the U.S. I know women who have expressed this same feeling of discomfort in meeting the eyes of strangers, or even regular acquaintances! One of my sensei's first female black belts recently told him that prior to training in martial arts, she would never meet anyone's eyes! You would never know that now!

How are we conditioned to lower our eyes in this way? Why do women feel uncomfortable about meeting a stranger's eyes? I believe this exists to a greater degree than we might think - where I do not have a problem with it - I can recall a time when it did bother me - and it makes me empathetic to students who have this problem. I don't believe that it comes from parents - it must be more of a social influence. Where's Dr. Michael Knight on this one?

David, this might be an area that could be developed for working with some of the girls in your center. Any type of eye-contact, self-assurance drills would probably be a help. The girls in my classes get practice with this in sanchin in front of a mirror, eye contact during kotekitae and other conditioning drills, and especially kumite. But there should be a way to pass these skills on to girls who are not training in the martial arts. Especially since simple confrontation of a potential predator can sometimes be enough to avoid an attack!

Any ideas anyone?

Peace,
Lori


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 1998 4:54 pm 
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Posts: 8
Location: castle rock,washington
Hey All,
John,you ask why some women feel uncomfortable with a strangers glance????If it were only a glance I think I could handle the whole thing a lot better,but it rarley is.My husband and I just talked about why I have to jogg on a busy road,he said I should run in the sand dunes,no one ever goes there and thers no houses.I said thats fine for you because your a man,its a little safer for you but I want to be some place that people can see and hear me.I asked him do you ever worry about some one waiting to jump you?how about a person who wants to rape you no matter what.I`m not trying to sound like a pig but guys(not all) dont have to worry about how they dress,smile,flirt,talk,walk,Ihave to be careful with stuff like that.just because I want to dress sexy does this mean that I deserve out of line comments,stares,or even grabbing?Some times I forget we are all just socialised animals.Wow!I dont know how long that has been hiding but sure feels good to let it go!Sorry if I got a little crazy,bad subject. Mavourneen


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Sat Sep 26, 1998 10:11 pm 
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Joined: Fri Sep 25, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 181
Location: Sacramento, California, USA
Lori, et al.,

I have been reluctant to jump into this thread because it seems to me this topic is more appropriately addressed by women. But it is also a bit weird that this thread should have started right about the same time I stumbled across an the October issue of Unte Reader. There are severl articles in this issue dealing with gender, and exploring the differences between young males and females. One author, Deborah Blum, notes the behavior of her young son, and how she had not encouraged him to pretend to be a carnivores dinosaur, but somehow, that what he wanted to pretend to be. She goes on to describe the role of sex hormones in development, and explore some of the socialization process that contributes to gender identity and behavior.

The book, Reviving Ophelia, also offers insight into the diverse development of boys and girls. As a father, one son, two daughters, I have watched with fascination the gender differences in my own children.

When I taught womens self defense, I would begin the class by asking the women how many of them thought they could defend themselves in a dark parking lot. Almost none of the participants would believe themselves capable of fending off an attack when by themselves. Interestingly enough, however, when I asked them to visualize themselves in a dark parking lot with a small child, and an attacker coming after both them and the child, the response was significantly different. Almost universally, the women visualized themselves protecting the child and defeating the attacker.

When I explored this response with the class later, it became apparent to me that most women have a sense of strength for their family that they do not share for themselves.

When I was an instructor, I believed it was necessary to develop a sensitivity to each student. Certainly, being aware of gender differences is part of this sensitivity.

Your question about how do we break the cycle of victimization, really goes beyond martial arts. But, martial arts can be a key part of the formula. I think breaking the cycle begins with affirming the self worth of every individual. The dojo is an excellent place for this to happen. I looked for success in each of my students, and measured what success was by the student. I reminded my students that looking up, and standing tall was not only and acceptable behavior, but one that one benefit them physically and emotionally.

I wish I had a better answer for your question though Lori. When we find one, the world will be better. Peace.


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 1998 4:10 am 
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Lori –chan

You bring on very pointed subjects !

You wrote : “About the uncomfortable feelings coming from stranger's glances/glares - I can understand what your friend means. When I lived overseas, walking down the street could become an ordeal if you didn't follow some guidelines. “

Yes it can be very disconcerting with some oafs out there—some men are real morons …but for the most part European women deal with it very well … as they have come to understand that it is more of a mating instinct than a real threat ! In fact , in Italy , if a woman doesn’t get any attention on the street , she comes home feeling very miserable ! They don’t look down or signal annoyance or some other negative feeling , they simply look right though the eyes of the person as if he does not exist , maintaining a neutral bearing which discourages approach ! The confident bearing / not encouraging look can intimidate a male subliminally once his natural predatory instincts sense she does not fit the ‘prey ‘ profile !

Same with suggestive embarrassing remarks …act like you have no ears but dart your eyes for a split second through the idiot ! The best defense is always denying the persistent jerk his existence …not responding ..pretending he is invisible ! Anytime you signal that you are affected by what he does and says , you make things worse !

You wrote:” How are we conditioned to lower our eyes in this way? Why do women feel uncomfortable about meeting a stranger's eyes? I believe this exists to a greater degree than we might think “

Back in Europe , one of my history professors would say that the reason had to do with the very survival of our race , I. e., men waged war and killed other men [generally] but would not harm submissive females so they could live to bear more children !

In my readings of the subject , I note that little girls fall prey to the so called ‘good child syndrome” more so than little boys , although the problem is very acute for both ! It is also referred to as the good child handicap ….parents want their children to grow up decent and responsible adults , but in so doing they set the kids up for some serious problems in life . Sounds paradoxical , doesn’t it ! In other words, the good child , the lady like woman , doesn’t hurt others , is not negative , not rebellious , not angry , does not fight , smiles etc. ! And so it is written that the good child / woman is emotionally handicapped outside the environment they were brought up in ! Many of us still behave at age 40 as the person we were at 5 !

Making matters worse is the fact that as tribal intimacy eroded into soulless bureaucracy ,we are all subjected to a” big brother “ controlling force which manipulates our emotions and imagination!

One hideous manifestation of this concept is the manner in which ‘ big brother ‘ programs women’s minds for self defense , i. e., they are weak , so they need ‘ verbal / physical techniques ‘ different than men to survive ! Fact is ‘ mental toughness’ is more important than physical conditioning ..although that helps ..of course ! Traditionally , the story goes , women have been conditioned to ignore their survival instinct and defer to males for bravery ! But in a good book I read , the title escapes me now , it was written that all women have the killer instinct…that it triggers mostly out the “ mother with child “ biological instinct …but it is always there for the ‘ tapping ‘ as , according to neurobiologist konrad Lorenz in his book “ on Aggression” a full one third of the human brain is devoted to survival –which includes readiness for physical combat !

Now is the interesting point to the discussion : since there is a child in all of us , when you face danger , the inner child faces danger as well , and that triggers the killer instinct momentarily to protect this inner child ! This is the image to project in your mind when you train ! Protect the innocent child inside of you who depends on you for survival !

Developing and maintaining an independent free soaring inner “self “ is the key ! A self- concept that just will not conform to social boundaries ..be a rebel ! That develops a tremendous mind set !

Best ,

Van Canna


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Sun Sep 27, 1998 12:00 pm 
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Posts: 2071
Location: Boston, MA
Lori,

Regarding being a "role model", realize that you're that NOT just for the girls but for the boys (men) as well. You're among a fairly rare group (women who train). People will notice and scrutinize your every move to see what you're made of...

Eye contact is part of body language which communicates our perspective and relationships with others. We can fake it with some, but others can catch on real quick about our real underlying state of mind. As van sensei's post indicates, you have to have a real sense of what you're capable of doing to communicate it.

Somehow, girls need to learn and believe what they are capable of. They need to learn the language (eye contact is one form) to communicate that. I am believer that physical activity can help foster girls' sense of confidence and must be part of the approach. Doers know by pure experience what they're capable of doing and achieving. Watchers can only guess (this is true of boys too)...

david


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 1998 5:15 am 
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Location: Florida
Mavourneen

Bad subject? I was referring more to the passing car or pedestrian, where the glance is brief. I frequently curiously glance at drivers as they turn my way or pull up next to me at a stop light. This seems perfectly natural to me. Perhaps this is a luxury only men can afford.

BTW, if you jog on the roadside in view, I will glance at you. If you are worthy of a longer look, I will admire God's creation and smile. This seems a fairly obvious expression of free will.

Actually, my point or question was not whether a woman feels comfortable with a stranger's glance, but more so that they do not meet the gaze at all.

Frankly, it seems to me that not looking around us and at others can be problematic in the extreme far beyond the benefit of avoiding unwanted further advances. It seems that there can be a way of glancing that implies nothing more than brief observation that connotes assertiveness and self assurance, but then men don't stare at me ... Image


JohnC


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Tue Sep 29, 1998 1:02 pm 
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Location: dartmouth, ns canada
Talk about the victim mentality! Last night I was watching a tv show called “The Outer Limits”(ok-I admit it-I’m a sci-fi fan), and there was an attack on a woman in an elevator. Now this woman was a forensic scientist, and she knew what was coming, so she screamed and crumpled into a ball in the corner just so her attacker wouldn’t have to go to too much trouble. UHHHH! The same program also showed another woman as a victim in a different way, she was blaming her husband for a decision they made together. I looked at my husband after the show was over and told him I won’t be watching it again(he was happy about that-he doesn’t like it anyway.)

On the weekend I went to see the new Jackie Chan movie Rush Hour. As mentioned on someone else’s forum(Van’s maybe?), there is an abduction of an 11 year old girl, and she puts up a great fight. This is something I have noticed in many of Chan’s movies, women are not portrayed as just victims. BTW, the man who was on the receiving end of her defense sported marks from it throughout the whole movie. And she got away from him, it was someone else who caught her.

Eye contact? If you are not looking around, how could you know what’s going on around you? I know when I was a teenager, and not as confident as I am now, I avoided it. I always felt confused about how to deal with the attention of strangers. Now, who cares? If someone is looking at me in a way I feel is inappropriate, I give him a hard look, and if that doesn’t work, I have been known to ask him if there is a problem(he was really bothering me). Not that it happens often, people are curious about other people, and we are social creatures, so it is natural to look at one another. And if I am driving along, I usually check out people on the sidewalks out of both boredom and caution, what if they ran out in front of me. If there is a great looking man running along, I will admire him in much the same way JohnC mentioned above. But there is such a thing as courtesy, and a few men step over the line.

As adults, aren’t we all role models for all the young people who know us?


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 1998 3:31 am 
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Location: Florida
Natalie:

Touche!(Although honestly, I don't gaze at jogging men!)

BTW, your comments reminded me of the time once while the dojo was in training for an upcoming AAU tournament, we all went jogging in the neighborhood surrounding the dojo. It was all guys, some young, some older, in shorts, tank tops, no shirts, etc. As we're chugging up a hill, this convertable full of young woman passed by, gave us thumbs up, all smiling, whistling and hooting. Well, all I can say is we lived off that high for weeks! My, my, my ...


JohnC


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Wed Sep 30, 1998 4:40 pm 
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Location: castle rock,washington
Hey John,
A glance and a smile is great,I love that!Like I said it`s all the other crap that p***s me off.A bit ago I had a good friend tell me you need to meet other peoples looks,dont look away!I never knew I did that so I work real hard at it.I used to feel like if I look directley at him or her mabey that would send the wrong message but have since learned it`s the look you give.(like natalie`s hard look) Mavourneen
p.s.As far as men not looking at you,try putting some pretty little shorts on and the guys might check you out or you can use my old,baggy,torn up sweats I use.LOL!!!


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 Post subject: The Victim Mentality
PostPosted: Thu Oct 01, 1998 4:12 am 
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Location: Florida
Mavourneen:

I did - LOL! So you think a pair of Daisy Dukes ....? Image


JohnC


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