Friday, September 23, 2011

Is Television Portraying Men in a Better Light?

I wondered about this as I watched the new show last night "Person of Interest." The show is about a different person each week who is either the victim or perpetrator of a violent crime and of course, the "good guys" who put a stop to it before it happens.

In the season premiere, the "person of interest" is a woman, Diane Hanson, an assistant DA for the city. Naturally, it is thought that she is going to be the victim of the crime, perhaps targeted by a gang she is prosecuting or her ex-boyfriend who works in the same office. It turns out, Hanson, the pretty DA, is actually the ring leader of a group of bad cops who she tells to kill her ex who seems to be on to them. So score one for the ex who is actually the good guy here.

I have also noticed in a few commercials lately that it is the wives, not the husbands who are put in a worse light. In one phone commercial, a man tells his wife that he got a contract for a cell phone and she mutters about how wasteful he is with money and how he doesn't consult her when spending money. It turns out, he got the phone for free and and she looks shocked and shuts up.

In another State Farm commercial, a guy is talking to his agent in the middle of the night innocently while his wife comes downstairs, yelling at him for talking to what she thinks is a woman he is involved with. The male agent is shown at the end of the commercial in his cubicle while the husband just looks slightly exasperated with his jealous wife. These commercials aren't the best but I wonder if it shows that the tide is turning with the "men are idiots and cheaters" theme.

What do you think? Do you see examples where men are portrayed on television in a more positive light or have I just cherry-picked a few examples that are not part of a trend?

Sunday, September 18, 2011

How to Win a Fight or Dodge a Lawsuit?

Which is more important? I thought about this question as I read through a new book on fighting called How to Win a Fight: A Guide to Avoiding and Surviving Violence written by Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder. I was excited to see my copy show up in the mail and I started reading to see if I could gain some insight into how to increase one's self-defense moves.

I had previously interviewed Lawrence Kane, the author of The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting for a PJTV show and one of the things that struck me about Kane and the other authors in this self-defense genre is how much focus is placed on avoiding a lawsuit or jail. Yes, those are good goals to have, but better ones are avoiding losing your life or your limbs.

The book starts out with a warning that self-defense is legal but fighting is illegal. "Readers are encouraged to be aware of all appropriate local and national laws relating to self-defense, reasonable force, and the use of weaponry, and act in accordance with all applicable laws at all times." Next, a foreword by Sergent Rory Miller emphasizes how bad you will feel if you killed someone in self-defense. He goes on to let you know that "Maybe the relatives of the guy who attacked you, though they have been afraid of him for years, come out of the woodwork and get a small army of attorneys and start remembering how he was 'a good boy, very caring'...." These family members and their attorneys will be looking to take your money from you. Or, you could end up in jail for defending yourself.

Then, in a chapter called "Use Only as Much Force as the Situation Warrants", Kane and Wilder ask the question, "Is it really better to be judged by twelve than carried by six?" Their response? "We do not advocate that sentiment because we feel that it trivializes the seriousness of violent confrontations. Never forget that if you are found guilty in a jury trial, you will be spending a whole lot of time in a confined environment... Even if you don't go to prison, you could lose your job, suffer the consequences in you family and community, etc." To the authors' credit, they do point out that "under no circumstances should you let your fear of legal consequences keep you from living through a violent encounter... If you don't survive, everything else is meaningless." Good advice.

As far as the rest of the book goes, absolutely read it if you are interested in learning the tactics of self-defense. It is terrific in that area. The chapters on awareness, the seven mistakes to avoid in a fight and how to use your words as a weapon are invaluable.

My problem is that the real readers of this book are likely to be highly civilized middle-class people who are likely to hesitate too long to defend themselves, not too quick to throw a punch. Yes, I wish the criminals who need this book would read it but they won't. If they thought that far ahead, they wouldn't be criminals. The average American is probably not aggressive enough in self-defense, rather than too aggressive. If you don't believe me, remember that most people passively hide under a desk during mass school shootings which often leads to the person being shot or killed. J.Reid Meloy, author of Violence Risk and Threat Assessment, points out that those who are aggressive or who have the opportunity to run away are more likely to live through an attack like this.

Having a flexible strategy that will help you survive when approached with violence is imperative, this book will help you be prepared to find one that just might work.

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