This blog is part of the Scáth na Feannóige/Shadow of the Hooded Crow project exploring fénnidecht as a practice to follow the War Goddessses, Badb, Macha and the Morrígan whose name is Anann. This is a less formal place for me to discuss various issues of interest to someone on a modern version of the Outlaw warrior path such as physical training, history, Old Irish literature, pop culture inspirations, werewolves, ecstatic trance (okay, I find that one tough to write about but I may try), gender issues the wilderness....


Monday, May 25, 2009

Terminator Salvation and Physical Feminism at TEOTWAWKI

We went to Terminator Salvation Saturday night and it was an awesome movie on almost every count. Well, written, with the exception to be addressed here, well cast, well directed, with good nods to the first two movies and, of course, state-of-the-art special effects. I've reviewed it for The Sarah Connor Charm School (link will change later when it, probably cobbled with this, is put on the other website). But there is one thing that must be addressed here.

The scene, in fact, exemplifies, negatively, the very reason I have this blog and started the SCCS. Because while today we have to learn to defend ourselves because good men are not always going to be there to save us and we shouldn't expect them to and law enforcement might be callable in most cases but an awful lot of awful things can be done to you in the time it takes for them to get there, which in some places is longer than others but is always a long time, when the shit hits the fan and society breaks down it will be worse. I'm not of the school that says all men are potential rapists, seriously, some men are just not, but when society breaks down those who are will feel more free to act. There are, indeed, some men today who do not rape simply because they do fear punishment, along with it being easier for men who already don't care to get away with it, these men will rape, kidnap, torture and kill as well.

This is why I've always made the connection between physical feminism and preparedness. This is one of the things I hope to get across in this blog as it goes along, along with addressing our needs today. Because the needs are basically the same, it just will be even more dangerous. As women, we must prepare ourselves to be our own champions at all times (and this is not to say it won't be more dangerous for men, as well, but it seems that more men in the survivalist/preparedness movement are gearing up for it, while not all women are...some are, this is good, more need to).

*SPOILER ALERT* This will spoil this one scene, but as it doesn't give away anything more, I would hope those who have not yet seen it will consider reading this, if not, please return.

In the scene, Blair Williams (Moon Bloodgood), the character most of us had the most hope for in carrying on the original Sarah Connor's (Linda Hamilton) legacy*, has survived bailing from her plane when it is blown and has met Marcus (Sam Worthington) and he goes off while she begins to dress her injuries. She puts her Desert Eagle off her body and moves away from it before she is confronted by three men, one of whom has, of course, acquired her gun. She does tell him he should have chambered a round and takes it from him and begins fighting them. Just as I hope for a real kick-ass scene, she is quickly over powered and Marcus must come and save her. With her hardly having fought at all.

Now, of course, he needed to save her to carry the plot. But why in this way? Why make her a fucking moron? Why make her an ineffective fighter? There are so many ways this could have been done differently and carried the plot the same way.

Why not have her injured and he needed to save her by stopping her bleeding? Or at least have a machine be the danger, as really these men where just humans? Or if it needed to be an attempted rape scene, and noting the danger is actually a good warning to put out there, why not have her be more efficient, at least let her take out most of them, and Marcus only come in the end when one might have gotten a drop? Three against one are, after all, bad odds...but at least let her, a warrior, be more effective, not so totally helpless against three men who were clearly not real fighters. But really, have her have her frigging gun on her, not having been so stupid to be in open territory without it. That one thing is just mind boggling to me. You do not walk away from and of your weapons in such a situation. Ever.

This message, that women are just plain victims and always will be, needing men to save them is atrocious. It should never have been in a movie franchise which started with a woman who went from being a Final Girl (spunky and can save herself but not a trained warrior) to choosing to become a warrior in the end (which marked the first movie as unique, really, because she is going off to prepare, having already taken the measures of a gun and a dog, something Final Girls do not typically do).

This has basically ruined what was an otherwise great movie, well not quite as great as the first two, but a really good action movie, for me. And one that had such potential. There are many otherwise good female roles, the older and obviously takes -no-shit leader of a group of survivors, Virginia (Jane Alexander), the various women in various positions in the Resistance, yes, even Kate(Bryce Dallas Howard, who does a marvelous job of reclaiming a character who had been rather horrible in the very badly done Terminator 3), yes, rather cliche cute, smart kid, Star (Jadagrace). Blair Williams could have been a real icon for physical feminism and for prepared women, but they chose to portray her as a warning for how "helpless women are by nature" instead.

In fact, such a scene as this, which shows the danger and the need to be prepared, done with Blair winning the fight, with her having her weapon and blowing the hell out of the would-be rapists, perhaps recovering from the wound Marcus had already had to save her from, would have taken this movie from a good action film to an amazing women kick-ass must watch over and over obsession for me that the first two movies are. But no, while it's a good action movie, worth seeing for that, and Christian Bale saves the character of John Connor from the emo legacy that Nick Stahl and Thomas Dekker created and remade him as the real Sarah Connor's son, it doesn't get added to my rotation. I won't watch it after every viewing of Terminator and Terminator 2 (which I run frequently, sometimes to sit and watch and sometimes as background while I do other things in the house). And it could have. It might have even held a special place because of such a scene, a scene that both reminds us that TEOTWAWKI will add to our possible peril AND remind us that we do not need to hope that some man will be there to save us. That we can champion ourselves.

*Yes, in the end of T2 Sarah fell short of the saving shot and the T800 needed to save her and John. It's an annoying event for many of us, done simply because Schwarzenegger had to be the hero of the piece. And yes, he takes on the mere humans during her escape, but she was doing okay until he himself drove her back towards them. The end of the movie was marred, but this scene is even worse. And, of course, we always have the fact that in the fist movie, Sarah saves herself in the end, the man protecting her already dead and so she had to champion herself.

Copyright © 2009 Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Year of the Gun: Second Step, Responsible Use of Lethal Force (RULF)

In the end of March, we continued our firearms training, following NRA Basic Pistol, this time turning to Arming Women Against Rape and Endangerment (AWARE), a teaching group run by women that I've heard good things about and have wanted to check out for a long time. In short, the good things I heard were verified by this class, which was not only informative but also very well presented by AWARE founding member and vice-president Lyn Bates, who herself has extensive training since 1983 including with Massad Ayoob ("I wanted to learn from the best" she noted), competes in defensive firearms, is a member of the International Law Enforcement Education and Trainer's Association, American Society of Law Enforcement Trainers, American Women's Self Defense Association, is a contributing editor of Women & Guns and has written the book Safety for Stalking Victims: How to Save Your Privacy, Your Sanity and Your Life (she is also mentioned several times in McCaughey's Real Knockouts and in Quigley's Not an Easy Target).

The small class was equally men and women, with one man joining us at the last minute, having been a long time shooter and member of the Harvard Sportsman's Club who saw the information. While started, as Lyn explained, as a "women teaching women" school, they soon began teaching men as well. This, of course, could bring up a common problem seen when women have positions of power in what is considered a "man's world" where some men feel compelled to "take over" ...this was not going to happen with Lyn, that was clear (any more than any of the men who were, in fact, helping with Evelyn Logan's class we took previously would have had a chance). (This subject will probably end up being a future post here)

This class, is a vital step in preparing to defend oneself with a firearm, although it might not be the funnest step as it's a non-shooting course and deals with the hard, sobering facts that must be faced. It is, of course, a prerequisite for AWARE's Self-Protection with Handguns and Defensive Shotgun courses.

This is not to say it's all lecture and sitting, there were several exercises, such as the Tueller Drill and Using Cover and Concealment, to break up the talk and video tapes. The class starts with Introduction to Self-Defense, going over, among much else, the reasons for it, when it's required, what deadly force is and when it's justified and when it's not, not breaking the basic safety rules and what determines who wins.

The class then goes over what happens before and during a violent attack. This includes what the signs of aggression and imminent attack, what fear and trauma are, how the body and mind react to danger and how to harness that reaction and gives a guideline for interaction with an attacker.

After a lunch that included the video Home Defense, we moved into what happens if you have to shoot. As well as explaining the duty to retreat if possible under most circumstances (especially in states without "Castle Laws" like MA), shooting to stop (as opposed to even thinking "kill or wound"), not being focused on it went over the physical and cognitive after affects and what might happen to you with the law. Yes, you are probably going to be arrested. "The police will treat the person with a gun as a suspect." Do not have gun in hand when they arrive, give clear, calm information that you are the one attacked and that you want time to calm down before you give a statement. The importance of knowing who to contact if this happens, before it happens, was noted, this includes that those of us who train with AWARE can contact them, or have our lawyer contact them, for help with resources for your defense.

The last segment was on gun storage, including lock boxes and other devices and what to do should your home be invaded, including the cover and concealment exercise and how to determine if someone is in your home. The class finished up with a video of Massad Ayoob discussing Post Shooting Trauma.

During breaks Lyn kept herself approachable for questions and informal discussion, as well as having put out over a hundred handouts related to the subject, from serious articles to cartoons (this is in addition to several books that come with the class, two of Ayoob's In the Gravest Extreme and The Truth About Self-Protection, Bo Hardy's Defensive Living and Gila Hayes' Effective Defense). I found Lyn's teaching style approachable and open, while she also kept the class moving along and cleanly organized. The information was often grim, but the importance of getting the reality of the consequences was always obvious. This class is an absolute necessity for anyone considering using a gun for self-defense as much as learning the actual techniques, which will be the next step.

So I feel totally vindicated already in having promoted AWARE since hearing what others said, even though it took me awhile to get there. Especially if a non-shooting class was this interesting and strengthening. I can't say enough about how important I feel this class is, these are things we always have to consider. We will be taking Self-Protection with Handguns next month and I'm hoping they eventually offer a Defensive Shotgun class (interest will likely make it happen *hinthint*). AWARE isn't limited to firearms training, either, they also offer Pepper Gas and Persuader/Kubotan training, as well as an Assault Prevention class they offer free for groups of ten or more.

I highly recommend AWARE for both women and men for any of these purposes. And, always remember, you cannot take too many classes, even the "same class" because it will never be the same. I note this as I will be doing defensive training at Major Wadron's at some point too. And, yes, I'm still hoping to train with Ayoob myself one day.

(for the Third Step: Self-Protection with Handguns click this link)
Copyright © 2009 Kym Lambert ní Dhoireann