Girls’ Fight Club

Lindsay Sainlar

They met at college.

They were sorority sisters.

And on June 12, 2001, their worlds changed together.

Shannon McNamara, a 21-year-old Alpha Phi at Eastern Illinois University, was murdered while attempting to fight off a serial murderer that had crawled through her screen window after ripping it open with a box cutter.

McNamara’s best friend, Erin Weed, said she remembers the phone call she received that left her afraid and searching for answers.

It wasn’t long before Weed realized what she needed to do. Because she was tired of hearing adult women talk about how they were afraid to take showers when their roommates weren’t home, Weed said she went on a mission to make them realize that “there is nothing more dangerous than a pissed-off woman.”

In a time when campus safety at Western is more significant than ever, the Campus Activities Board brought Weed to Garrett Ballroom to conduct Girls Fight Back, a program that educates women about the basics of self defense.

She broke her program down into three lines of defense: prevention, trusting intuition and the basics of fighting off an attacker.

“We weren’t born ready to fight a rapist,” Weed said.

She said everyone should take the time to devise creative ways to ward off potential attackers with common objects around their living areas.

“I can use about any household item to kick some butt,” she said as she demonstrated how to turn a paperback book into a two-by-four and how to inflict pain with a plastic hairbrush.

Weed demonstrated various escape holds and pointed out various pressure points on the male body that can be used to a woman’s advantage.

“Girls Fight Back gave me more confidence,” Richmond junior Robyn Trivette said. “I don’t want to be afraid, and I shouldn’t be.”

Weed took a week-long self-defense seminar with Navy Seals and the New York Police Department, which was when she realized how powerful and dangerous she could be.

Contrary to what most have been taught, Weed told the audience of mostly women not to yell “fire” if they are being raped.

Instead, she advised the audience to yell as if they were winning a fight, citing studies that have shown that outsiders are too scared to get involved if it sounds like someone is losing.

Yelling continuously also reminds the victim to keep breathing and tightens their muscles, which makes them more resistant to pain.

Bowling Green senior Kim Richardson noted the importance for girls to learn to fight back.

“Girls in general don’t know how to protect themselves or be assertive,” Richardson said, “If they feel like they know self defense and there comes a time when they need to know it, then they’ll be able to use it.”

Reach Lindsay Sainlar at [email protected]