On being ready to go, at all times

March 11, 2016

You have probably heard that a black protestor being escorted out of a Trump rally was punched by a Trump supporter.

I had a person of a certain visual appearance look at me just a little too long when I walked out of [a public service environment] today.

So I’ve been wondering…..

What proportion of your life, would you say, requires you to be ready to go when in public?

Now this may be mostly for the men, I don’t know. The closest I assume that it comes in most of my female readers’ experiences is the threat of a sexual attack in off hours in poorly populated areas.

How often do you think, “I might have to beat the shit out of this fucker right here, right now.”?

Or, if you are of a slightly different personality than me, “I need to figure out how I’m getting the fuck out of here without injury, asap”.

How often are you the stranger? The other? The person who looks, acts, appears…is assumed to be, the kind of person who some asshole, like these Trump supporters, feels perfectly willing to attack?

A few times ever? That one year you had to move to a new High School?

Occasionally, but mostly when you visit a certain kind of bar? or attend a certain kind of music concert?

Is it a part of you misbegotten early adulthood and you’ve moved past that?

Or is it a monthly or weekly sensation*, right up to this very day?

How does this affect the way you view the hatred that spews out of the mouth of right wing politicos and their more objectionable supporters?

*I sat for five minutes wondering if I should make this a main part of the post or let it emerge in the comments. I’m torn. So let’s just include it: Does it matter whether you’ve ever actually had to defend yourself from some jacknut like the Trump fan in the video? Is the frequency of actual attack relevant to how you should feel? or do feel? Is it relevant to how other well-meaning people (“voters”) around you should credit your experiences?

24 Responses to “On being ready to go, at all times”

  1. BWJones Says:

    Situation awareness at *all* times is standard operating procedure. When I walk into a room, I’m looking for exits. On the street, *all* people are sized up. Carry yourself with confidence and walk with a purpose. Be polite, helpful or even deferential to let people pass. That avoids most problems right there.

    If someone lays on hands, break their arms, right at the elbow. Escalate from there as required.

    To be honest though, I’ve walked the worst neighborhoods with cameras in many cities around the world, large and small and almost never had a problem. People generally 1) Don’t care about anything other than their own world or 2) are good folks. The predators out there are few and far between. Those who might become predators can be turned often if you are confident and polite. One group of kids who initially wanted to take my cameras were rendered as friendly as could be when I offered to take their photos and send them copies.

    As far as the Trump rallies, they concentrate the assholes. I don’t go there.


  2. OlympiasEpiriot Says:

    Female, white, usually pass for middle class here. Am now middle-aged. Always on. Even now.

    First defense is using one’s brain. It might result in you saying something clever that distracts or difuses the situation. It might be using whatever is to hand in a way that can hurt. And, if it goes beyond that, the best weapon for self defense is one that can’t be taken away…my hands, elbows, knees and feet.

    I am 5′ 1.75″ tall. I actually have a better time of it with a taller attacker. I can get in close and hit hard in sensitive spots and he can’t get any distance to slug me. He is reduced to essentially hugging me trying to break my grip and he can’t get the front of my neck. Someone my height requires different tactics…like handy anythings that can be turned into weapons. Bike chains are good. I once dealt with it with a mechanical pencil. (Yup. Seriously.

    I’m not highly trained, I just have a highly developed sense of survival and have, as they say, “been around”. Shit happens. When it does, best not to worry about getting dirty.

    I don’t think that “do I have to mix it up?” and “what do I do to get the fuck out of here?” are mutually exclusive.

    I would probably not go to a Trump rally. I also don’t go to Frat Houses, crack dens, or inside a cage with a MMA fighter.


  3. Odyssey Says:

    Fortunately rarely. And I’m more of a “get the fuck outta there” kind of guy.


  4. OlympiasEpiriot Says:

    Hmm. About your postscript…

    Being sucker punched is not having a fight. If I had been in the position of that young man being already escorted out by the cops, I probably wouldn’t have hit back either. He was surrounded by cops and being hit out of nowhere is very disorienting.

    The frequency of attacks in my life is way down now that I’m Old. But, my instincts seem to still be set at Age 16. It is brain stem stuff, not entirely rational.

    I don’t think I understand “Is it relevant to how other well-meaning people (“voters”) around you should credit your experiences?” in the context of the title of this post. Could you expand on this, please?


  5. drugmonkey Says:

    Have you ever had your “always on” stance questioned on the basis of how often you’ve ever had to fuck someone up?


  6. DJMH Says:

    Those of you saying that it makes more sense to stay away from a Trump rally– I agree with you on a practical standpoint, but I have huge respect for the people who are doing this. It is, in a micro fashion, akin to people who chose to travel to the South to stand up for civil rights, or to be the first kids integrated into white schools. Sure it was going to end badly. Also clear that it was necessary as a way to demonstrate both our values, and theirs.


  7. rs Says:

    I live in south side of chicago with the campus of UoC, so yes, guards are always on even though I don’t want to stereotype. Guns shots in your street are not fun.


  8. OlympiasEpiriot Says:

    Ah. Well, no. Anyone who has met me in person actually doesn’t need to be told I’m “on”. It happens less frequently now, but I’m the kind of woman who gets unsolicited advice to “be nicer” or to stop intimidating people. Now, the sensible ones see I’m too old to be told. I also physically fuck people up much much less (I ache longer afterwards). But, I always roll up my sleeves and get real in a discussion. I think I pissed off several people on the Diversity Subcommittee of my kid’s school’s School Leadership Team when I was invited to ‘share my ideas’.

    Btw, I need to second DJMH’s comments about those demonstrating against Trump. At some level I was responding to travelling to a Trump rally, I think. I do get involved in local lines of resistance, but tend to not travel for them. I did once as a teenager and a nuclear disarmament march. It was an odd experience of being present at one big game, a mutual masturbation session that accomplished little, if anything.

    Here, I’ve turned out at home and I’ve travelled to bring food and drink to strikers (and hold a sign for a while). I was a volunteer escort at my local Planned Parenthood for years until they changed their security methods and didn’t use us. I will probably turn out to protest Trump when he rallys here. He’ll be here eventually.

    I am very happy to see Chicago run him out. They got backbone there and don’t need my help. I’ll step up when that shithead brings his brown shirts this way. We got plenty of local wannabe Sturmabteilung.


  9. John Stuart Mill Says:

    So, the people who lost their free speech rights to an angry mob in Chicago are the “brown shirts”??? Alrighty, then.


  10. E-Rook Says:

    I live in a city and I practice situational awareness during appropriate times (eg after dark, I walk through a sketchy neighborhood to get home). I take corners wide, don’t listen to or look at the iPhone, look over my shoulder when I exit the train station to see who around is where and their trajectories, I keep away from alleys & doors, keep an eye on vehicles with someone in them or darkened windows, cross the street when necessary, and sometimes walk with keys in my hand with the long one between my fingers. I make eye contact with people I pass and nod/smile if they seem friendly, though.

    I’ve never had to be violent. I’ve been prepared for it though. I’ve interjected a few times when someone was being abused, putting myself at risk. I figured the worst that could happen was physical injury or pain, but I can’t ‘not’ do something in certain situations. Typically a bully like that will only pick on someone who won’t fight back. I think of the behavior, stimulus, reward, behavior cycle must be going on in their brain when they are getting a kick out of being abusive.


  11. ericbgonzales Says:

    Great post! Situational awareness is important, now including movie theaters. Try to sit in the very back by the aisle.

    Also, I wish more people would take off their conference ID badges when they are away from the conference location. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I feel those badges bring unwanted attention to people in a new city.


  12. Ola Says:

    Got mugged in an alley while in college, while riding a bike, 3 kids jump down off a wall and tried to take it. Punched one in the face and the others backed off. Then I got the fuck out of there before it escalated. This was a defining moment for me – nowadays I’m not nearly as fit/agile as I used to be, so I practice a lot of situational awareness at night, regardless where I am. Biggest issue in our town are the homeless panhandlers, you never know when a “spare some change guv” is going to get crazy because you’re dealing with a mentally ill person. I’m not as confident I could take someone out, as I used to be.


  13. OlympiasEpiriot Says:

    Dear John Stuart Mill,

    Free speech is everyone’s right, including those people who disagree with Trump’s oral diarrhea. The first amendment refers to governmental silencing, not being shouted down by people upset at demagoguery riling up racist thugs.

    Bless your heart,


  14. . Says:

    female, always on. its a survival instinct from being a teenage girl.


  15. E-Rook Says:

    When I worked at a university and was a supervisor, I encouraged my staff to use the campus police escort to their cars during darkness or weekends (you’d be surprised at the assaults that took place in broad daylight, just isolated). I feel that safety (and feeling safe, too) at work is a right.


  16. dsks Says:

    How often do you think, “I might have to beat the shit out of this fucker right here, right now.”? Or, if you are of a slightly different personality than me, “I need to figure out how I’m getting the fuck out of here without injury, asap”.

    Super rarely, thankfully. In fact, one of the reasons I like it over here in the states is that the places I’ve lived haven’t had the antisocial drinking and lad culture the UK has, and the arbitrary violence that often goes with it on weekend nights etc. Even when I lived in St. Louis I never felt as on edge walking about town as I did in seemingly more mundane British cities like Bristol and Southampton (although there was one short period when a trend called “the knock down game”, similar to a British phenomenon called “Happy slapping”, sparked off, but it wasn’t nearly as widespread as it was/is back home). That’s just my subjective appraisal though.


  17. jmz4 Says:

    Jesus, people. Those all sound like terrible ways to live. Constantly worrying, or even just thinking, about your safety like that must be exhausting. I have less apprehension in a mosh pit than some of you are describing in your daily lives. I’m not saying its unwarranted, I don’t know your situation, but it sounds awful.

    I’ve lived in cities my whole adult life, been mugged once, at gunpoint, but no amount of “situational awareness” or “escalation” would have prevented it. I just gave them my cash and they were gone. Honestly, even if I thought I could have fought them, why would I? Over some money? Not worth it.

    So I guess I’m not “ready to go” at all. Luckily I don’t have to be. I’m a big, tall dude and my daily attire kinda makes *me* look like the criminal (or at least suggests I’m broke). I’ve definitely had people scared of me walking behind them or up to them, and it annoys me, but its definitely better than the alternative. I realize that especially poignantly after reading these posts.


  18. Jonathan Badger Says:

    I’ve been mugged, once in 1990. But I don’t think the mugger *understood* that I gave him my wallet as I ended up getting beaten up and my glasses broken anyway. I think the mugger was an addict of some kind, probably crack given the time period. Perhaps that’s influenced my tendency to not like to out late at night, but to be honest, I like to be in bed by 11pm or I’m useless the next day anyway.


  19. Luminiferous æther Says:

    @JB – sorry to hear that. Being mugged/robbed is one thing. Being beaten is another. Thankfully, I have not faced such a situation (yet), but if it were no-bodily-harm type stuff I’d immediately be in try-to-defuse-the-situation mode. However, if it crosses over the line into physical, especially by a drug addict/bigot/other such entity for whom I generally have zero respect, I think it would awaken the hulk inside me. I don’t know the specifics of your situation of course, but I hope you fought back.


  20. SidVic Says:

    Yeah so…

    My personal opinion is that Trump is a strange orange man and it will distress me greatly if forced to vote for him over the repulsive, obese, corrupt harridan Hillary.

    I will note that the guy that got “punched” at the trump rally was throwing the bird, the double bird in fact. To use DMs analogy if you walk into a certain type of bar and give everybody the F-you don’t be surprised if you get hit.

    OlympiasEpiriot- you are clearly delusional! pull it in…

    Islam is a comprehensive political, social as well as religious paradigm. Its adherents are culturally confidant ( this is not a criticism). Islam is not consistent with the classical liberal pluralistic society we inhabit. The US does not “owe” admittance to anyone. My personal belief, after having traveled extensively is that we have a good thing here. We should be generally proud of it; and it should be protected.


  21. E-Rook Says:

    Sid- “obese”? Seriously?


  22. E-Rook Says:

    Jmz- middle & high school, I was bullied, so I learned those skills to avoid being body checked, sucker punched, hair pulled (from behind, they’d yank the hair at the nape of my neck, very painful), and books knocked down. At the time and place I went to college, the fear of gay bashing was a thing. Must be nice not to have to care about your surroundings, but I’ve never been mugged or assaulted as an adult.

    I admire the folks who protest at those rallies, and I’m glad there are cameras rolling. Hopefully the press does its job.


  23. jojo Says:

    Yeah I’m pretty oblivious most of the time, TBH. I simply do not spend much if any time thinking there might be an attacker I have to escape/disable. I took martial arts as a kid but i certainly never had occasion to use it. People could probably take advantage of me I suppose, but statistically such things are rare and likely I can’t prevent them anyway so why make myself crazy/paranoid assuming everyone around me is a criminal? I have had just enough cultural baggage instilled that when I’m walking alone at night that I put my phone away and pay more attention to my surroundings but that’s about it…


  24. Zuska Says:

    It’s disturbing that anyone would think someone deserves to be punched, or was “asking for it”, because they flipped the bird at a political rally. No one is ever “asking for it” to be punched. People who punch other people punch them because they want to punch them (excluding self defense when your life is threatened), not because the person they punched was asking for it. That shit doesn’t fly at a Trump rally any more than it does in an abusive relationship.


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