Saturday, November 22, 2008

The N-Word

Ahh, the n-word, the reviled word that white people are not allowed to ever say, but black people can utter at anytime. There's a teacher in Florida being punished, probably rightly so, for using the word in a classroom ( or the video: He, of course, is white. The news article never goes into the specifics of the situation, just the way he used it by writing in on the board in the acronym c.h.a.n.g.e. (Come Help A N***** Get Elected).

Most peoples reaction is probably that the teach never should have done what he did. I would agree. He chose a very poor method for teaching. But what was his intent? Is he a racist that was just passing along his racist attitudes to a mixed class? Or was he trying to teach the kids how pervasive language can be used to perpetuate racist ideologies? I could not find anything that says what the teacher specifically said in class or what his intent was.

I am of the opinion, and I'm not alone, that the word should be removed from use. It won't be easy for some, as this article points out: But that does not mean we should not try. The only way to do this is to punish anyone who uses the term, white, black, or other. If a black teacher were to use the term, the punishment should be the same as if a white teacher used it. If a black student uses the term, the punishment should be the same as if a white student used it.

I do realize that historically the courts have not treated white and black criminals the same. I like to think that is changing. However, to say that because the courts do not treat people the same is an excuse to not treat people the same is other situations, is allowing a bad thing to be perpetuated. Perhaps the courts will become fairer after the language is made more fair.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Sexual Trauma in Military

I recently read an article about sexual trauma and its results ( which talks about sexual trauma in the military. It states that women, and men, who experience sexual trauma while serving in the military have higher rates of depression and PTSD afterward. This should not be surprising. What should be shocking, but unfortunately is not, is the fact that 14.5% (22% according to a different study) of women reported sexual trauma while serving.

It takes a strong woman to join the military. Then they are trained in combat. Yet, this horrible crime still occurs. I am not suggesting this is the victim's fault. It is always the attackers fault. It is sad that it is still occurring. One would think our military would have learned the lessons from a few years ago when they got in trouble for not doing enough to prosecute offenders of sexual assault. The article does not go into whether the crimes were even reporting. It was conducted by the VA for the purpose of getting a handle on and treating vets.

A question that comes to my mind is whether combat training is useful in stopping a sexual assault. Is the training they learn in the military effective at stopping an attack? If not, why not? It could be that a lot of these attacks occurred while a group of people were out at the bar and inebriated. This does not excuse the crime, but may provide a reason why someone was not effective in defense of themselves. If that is not the case, what type of combat training is necessary for a woman to defend herself?

I teach self defense. I enjoy teaching woman how to stop an attacker. I like to think that what I teach will work...but reading an article like the one listed above makes one wonder. What would truly be effective? A knife? A gun? A taser? It is challenging to teach women, who tend to be smaller and weaker than men, how to fend off an attack by someone who could be twice the size and four times as strong. The most important part is awareness and prevention. However, once an attack starts, viciousness and ruthlessness become critical.

Self defense is not for the squeemish. If there is any hesitation in gouging someone's eyes out, it could be fatal. A lot of people have a problem with this. I was teaching one woman how to break someone's grip on her wrist. It was only one session and I was holding very lightly, maybe 25%-50% at most. She never came back. I found out when she told a mutual friend that she believed no one who grab her that hard! And that was just a wrist grab. She will experience a rude awakening if a guy does a full force strike to her face or crushes her throat with a vice like grip.

I tend to doubt that a woman who joins the military would be that squeemish, but that is an assumption. Again, I am not saying an attack is a woman's fault. I am saying that a woman may be able to stop an attack if she is prepared. It is kind of like a country and military spending. Countries maintain a military to defend themselves, not necessarily to attack others. Self defense training is kind of like maintaining a military. It should be kept up to an effective level. Then, hopefully, you never have to use it.