Thursday, May 26, 2011

COMMENTARY: Be Prepared for Rape

Kansas representative Pete DeGraaf (GOP) believes women should be prepared and plan ahead for rape. As he was quoted on the Kansas House floor: "I have a spare tire on my car." He went on to add: "I also have life insurance. I have a lot of things that I plan ahead for."

Good thing he has a spare tire. If I lived in Kansas, I’d consider finding out what kind of car he drove and where he parked it….

“How in the heck do you plan for rape?” I’ve heard that question more than once since the Representative’s comments. Most women answer that you can’t.

I believe the Rep is right. Yeah, it can happen. You know what Lewis Carroll said about clocks, right?

I don’t watch a lot of daytime television. I’m not fond of the drama dependence it seems to foster in viewers. I made an exception one day many years ago when I was home from work and Oprah Winfrey’s program advertised testimonies from crime victims and how they survived.

All of these women maintained that they’d planned ahead. No, they didn’t know the specific nature of their attack, but they had it in their mind how they were going to fight back should they be attacked.

One woman in particular’s story stuck in my mind. I wish I remembered her name and the date, I’d get a copy of that video. She was a middle-aged Black woman who lived out in the country with her aged and ill mother. She was concerned some man might break in and rape her. She fixed in her head what she’d do.

One night, she woke up to see a naked man standing over her bed. He ordered her to perform oral sex.

Remembering her plan, she grabbed his male organ as tightly as she could, looking like she was going to comply. Then she gave him a mighty twist. She didn't scream because she was afraid she'd awaken her Mom and give her a heart attack.

She kept hold of him, while he screamed, pled, threw up, and nearly passed out. She got up and led her attacker to her door literally by the short hairs, unlocked the door, and kicked him naked outside in the cold and dark. Just to make sure he was leaving, she picked up her shotgun and fired a few rounds after him.

Then she called the police.

When the police arrived, they found her attacker at the foot of her drive.

“Get me away from that crazy woman,” he was begging them. From the police officer's reports, the guy was in a lot of pain.

I don’t ever want to be in her situation, but if I am, I want to be that woman. I want my would-be attacker to beg the police to arrest him so he can go to a nice, safe jail and get the hell away from me.

From what the other crime survivors said, they all survived various kinds of attacks because they had some kind of plan as to how they were going to react when they were attacked. Yeah, ladies, you have to have it fixed in your head that you’re going to be that crazy lady.

Now, I’m suspecting that Representative Pete DeGraaf has a more ‘commercially viable’ option than I’m proposing. Rape insurance--I think not!

If you're going to spend money on rape preparation, think rape prevention and saving your own life.

If someone attacks you, you need to learn how to survive. One self defense expert, Jerry Van Cook, who wrote "Real World Self Defense" suggested that you fight. Anyone who's going to rape you, is going to contemplate killing you. After all, it's your word against his in a rape and he'd rather not have you as a witness.

So, how do you plan for a rape? Get some self-defense training for a start. Check with your local YWCA or Rape Crisis Center, they'll usually have some free or low-cost classes you can take.

Meanwhile, YouTube to the rescue.

Worst case, you're grabbed and on your back. This video shows you how to defend yourself. Practice with a friend until the moves become instinctive:

Or maybe your nightmare is having someone come to your bed. Here's how to protect yourself:

You may contemplate weapons. I'm not one of those liberals who doesn't believe in our Second Amendment right to bear arms. However, you don't need a gun, per se if you're not comfortable having one or can't afford one. I keep a Maglite by my bedside and I can whip that flashlight upside an attacker's head without any remorse. My Mom used to walk with an umbrella. As a kid, I've seen her point that bumbershoot at someone and threaten to jab it into their mid-section if they didn't leave us alone.

Pepper spray's another good option. Just make sure you know how to use your spray and don't get yourself. Your own cosmetics can work, too. Ever spray yourself in the eye with perfume accidentally. OUCH!

If you're think you'd like a Taser or stun-gun, get the pink one. What? Me suggesting pink? Heck yeah, imagine your attorney holding up your cute little pink Taser in the court and seeing the jury laugh.

If you're a reader like me, you may want to check out some books. Jerry VanCook's Real World Self Defense is a good place to start.

The thing is, think about what you'd do if you were attacked. Get a plan that works for you, practice the moves you need to make, and keep that plan in your mind so it's a reflex if you have to defend yourself.

If your life's anything like mine, what you plan for so carefully just doesn't happen--but if a rape attack does happen, you'll be better prepared to deal with your assailant and avert your own rape.

Be safe, sisters.

Monday, May 9, 2011

BOOK REVIEW: Waltz of the Asparagus People -- Robin Meloy Goldsby

I first heard the song, "Piano Man" back in 1973. I'd snuck out of bed and was listening to a program with host Chip Monck late on a Saturday night. I fell in love with Billy Joel's soulful voice and that song. I went to school the next week and raved about the song. Typical OKC market, it took about two weeks for "Piano Man" to hit there.

I've loved story songs since "Puff the Magic Dragon," but "Piano Man" has somehow always stuck with me. I had questions about the piano player's life and those of his listeners.

Well, thanks to my friend, Robin Meloy Goldsby, I have learned a lot more about the people behind the beautiful big grand pianos.

Her debut book, "Piano Girl" introduced me to Robin's early career, at eighteen playing at coastal fish restaurants during the summer and then moving to New York City to play in the lobby bars of grand hotels. I learned about being stuck behind the potted palm while all the really visible floor-space went to the bar and patrons. And, I will never be able to listen to "Cheek to Cheek" without wholly inappropriate hilarity that requires a "you-had-to-have-read-the-book" explanation.

Needless to say, I was pretty excited when I heard the sequel to "Piano Girl" was coming out in April.

I wasn't quite sure what to expect when I saw the cover. "Waltz of The Asparagus People" is the kind of title that stops you at a bookshelf and most likely brings a chuckle to your lips if not an outright guffaw. And that's just the cover. Robin Meloy Goldsby makes beautiful music with her piano and soul-stirring laughter with her words.

This encore collection takes us to her current career as a composer and pianist at the luxurious Schlosshotel Lerbach in Germany. Life behind the Steinway is not all glitz and glam, though. It's trying to find a skirt that doesn't get tangled up in the piano pedals, wearing sleeves that don't chafe as you move your arms, and shoes that look good and don't make your feet hurt. We see Robin's life from the highs of an interview on NPR's "All Things Considered" where she accidentally meets a former US President to playing a bit role in "House on Sorority Row" where she's the awkward geeky girl who gets killed with her head stuck in the toilet.

There are sad moments, too. "Little Big Soul" tells the story of Robin's friendship with Conny and her daughter, Lisa, and the beautiful song that resulted from it.

Robin gives us food-for-thought concerning foreign exchange students and their impact on culture. She also tells us about naked saunas in Germany.

And that's just a small taste of the huge slice of life that Robin serves up to you. In the end, you're left with a smile on your face and the hope that Ms. Goldsby will grace us with many more stories in the years to come.

Rebecca Kyle, May 2011