March 2002

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Dear [[Name]],

Welcome to the March issue of the Back Off newsletter. I should start by apologising for getting this issue out a little later than usual. The first half of this month found me lecturing most days and, for two weeks, every night, combined with a week lecturing in Tamworth/Armidale I just didn't get enough time in the office to sit down and get this issue organized.

So now I've got the excuses out of the way I trust that this issue finds you happy and well as we move towards the Easter break. Some of the seminars I have been conducting this month have been in universities around NSW, which put me back in contact with a large number of people who had been through my seminars whilst at school.

It is always great to hear feedback from those who have applied some of the strategies picked up in the seminars. A lot of the talks I was doing during this time were focused on the issue of date rape where 'date rape' drugs were discussed in some detail. This is a timely opportunity to remind you of the 'date rape drug' feature we ran in the August issue of Back Off last year, which can be found via the archive page on our web site at

Our feature article this month is the third in our series on sexual harassment where we look into a typical harassment scenario. Remember to look back through the January and February issues to get an overview of how to deal effectively with this most common form of male to female confrontation. That's it from me, take care, be happy and keep sending those emails through.

Take care, your friend

PS- Remember to visit our 'archive page' to browse through our previous Back Off issues.

'''Whatever your mind can conceive and believe, you can achieve.''

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Imagine it is a Friday night. You are out at a bar in the city with two or three girlfriends enjoying a girl's night out. The girls decide to visit the bathroom that is located at the opposite end of the bar to where you are sitting. Standing outside the women's toilet is a group of guys. In amongst the group is the guy we have profiled in earlier newsletters. The Dickhead!

This is the guy who spends a great proportion of his life seeking out those whom he perceives to be weaker than himself. The guy who has to continually harass those whom he believes will submit to him. The guy who attempts to compensate for his numerous inadequacies by constructing a thin veneer of power and confidence. Every bar, every nightclub, every party, every workplace, and every classroom has a Dickhead, and they all play the same game exactly the same way.

You and your friends walk past the group and into the bathroom. After a few minutes one of your girlfriends heads out of the bathroom, past the group of guys and is walking back to where you have been sitting. This situation provides an opportunity for our friend, the Dickhead, which is too good to miss. A bar full of people, him with all his mates and here is a woman on her own just asking to be hassled. In his mind he puts a big sign above your head-'I'm a woman, pick on me.'

Our friend turns to his mates and says, "Watch this boys, this will really crack you up. I can't believe how funny I am!" He then walks up behind your girlfriend, who has done absolutely nothing other than being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and is all over her like a rash. His hands are groping her everywhere as he rubs himself up against her and announces to the bar, "Hey darling you like a bit of this don't you. Hey boys what do you reckon, give her one or what?" At this stage imagine your girlfriend responds by quietly saying, almost in a whisper, "Don't. Just stop it, don't." She then slinks off back to the other side of the bar amidst great laughing and hilarity from our mate and his friends.

If we freeze the scenario right there we can see this is a classic illustration of a typical sexual harassment confrontation;

  • Guy selects girl because guy perceives girl to be a good target.

  • Girl responds submissively, which re-enforces in the guy's mind he has made a good choice.

  • The situation continues and gets worse for the girl. She walks away feeling embarrassed and defeated.

  • The guy goes back to his mates as the big hero. Once again able to compensate for a feeling of inadequacy by having selected a target who has submitted to him.

  • Whether the scene is a bar, a classroom, a party or a workplace the 'game' is always the same.

  • The cycle continues.

Now let's have some fun. Let's imagine you come out of the bathroom and are confronted in exactly the same way. As you walk through the bar our friend approaches you from behind and verbally and physically confronts you. Obviously confident from his previous encounter, he lets fly with all the usual bar room banter followed by the regulation grope and pelvic gyration. You stop and slowly turn around to confront him. A hush of anticipation falls upon the bar. But before responding you ask yourself the two most important questions you can ever ask yourself in a conflict; Question one-"Why have I been selected?" Question two-"What is he expecting me to do?" Asking these questions not only gets you inside the head of the person who has confronted you, but is also a very effective way to identify and target the weakness of your opponent.

Identifying your opponents' weakness is the key behind every form of effective self protection whether it be verbal or physical. Having asked the questions now let's answer them. You have been selected for this confrontation simply because you are a woman and therefore perceived as being a good target. The guy who has selected you expects one of two reactions. You will either submit completely or totally over react. Both of these reactions provide the guy with a feeling of power and control, the very reason he exhibits this type of behaviour in the first place. Having identified the selection process behind the confrontation you now choose how to react. Rather than reacting the way you are expected to by either shying away from the situation or, conversely, yelling, screaming and making a big scene imagine, just for fun, you chose the following reaction. Whilst maintaining eye contact you quietly reach forward with your right hand, palm skyward, fingers slightly separated, almost claw-like and with the speed and grace of a majestic eagle you grab a handful of testicles! Your eyes never leave his as his feet now hover two to three centimetres above the ground, colour slowly draining from his cheeks, a strange animal like whimper emanating from the back of his throat.

The group of friends who, not ten seconds earlier, were in full verbal support of their heroic comrade have fallen silent and ashen faced. Your grip tightens. I have a dictionary in my office and now and again I have flicked through it in an attempt to find one word to describe this pain-there isn't one! Let me just say, on behalf of every guy who has had this done to him, this is so excruciatingly painful once you have experienced it even if, many years later, you see it happening to somebody else it makes you feel sick. Anyway back to our bar scene. As the bar falls silent and our mate, the dickhead, slowly falls from consciousness you quietly lean forward and say, "Next time I walk past you, if you touch me, or make any comment, I'll rip these off and shove them fair up your arse!" You then confidently stroll back to your girlfriends.

Now I know what's going through your mind. How can anybody suggest to an intelligent, rational thinking person this is the most effective way to deal with sexual harassment? Well of course I am not suggesting that at all, we are just having a bit of fun. Far be it for me to suggest the next time some bloke verbally and physically confronts you in a social environment the only way to deal with it is to grab a fistful of his genitalia. However, before you get too critical let's look at the, all-important, end result. An hour later the girls decide to visit the bathroom again. You all walk through the bar and back past the Dickhead and his mates. Just off the top of your head which one of you will not be confronted? Which one will not be hassled? Which one of you will he avoid? I think the answer is fairly obvious. The reason you are no longer seen as a good target is due to the fact you stood up for yourself. You didn't submit or yell and scream rather, you confronted your harasser and targeted his weakness, in this instance it was a physical one.

I'll stress again the end result here is the key, the end result being you are no longer perceived as a good target. Let us briefly look back and summarise the bar scene:

  • You and your girlfriends were selected for harassment due to the fact the 'Dickhead' perceived you to be good targets.

  • The first girl selected reacted exactly as he had anticipated which made him look and feel powerful in front of his mates. He selected you anticipating the same submissive response.

  • Your response, however, was totally unexpected. The result being not only did you confront and take control but the likelihood of being re-selected almost totally diminished.

  • Remember, no matter what form the confrontation takes, the way you respond will do one of two things. It will encourage the situation to continue or it will encourage the situation to stop.

  • The two key questions to ask in any conflict situation are, "Why have I been selected?" Followed by, "What does he expect me to do?"

As discussed in the January issue, the 'Dog on the couch' strategy is a brilliant way to deal with this kind of harassment. The above example outlines the selection process of the guy and how he responds when your reaction is not in line with the 'script' he has written for you. Of course the 'reaction' outlined above is not how I would suggest you deal with sexual harassment, but I think it paints a very clear picture of how this game is played.

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Q. You have said that sexual harassment is an expression of weakness on behalf of the guy, what do you mean by this?

A. Guys who select girls/women for this type of behaviour are attempting to compensate for being inadequate. They only ever select targets that they believe will react in a way that makes them look powerful. In almost every situation where those selected stand up for themselves or respond in a way that the guy can't handle, the harasser moves on to select a 'better' target.

Q. Are guys really stupid enough to fall for the dog on the couch strategy?

A. All evidence suggests that they are! This strategy has been taught for over ten years to thousands of girls and women and continues to be as effective today as when I first started teaching it.

E-mail Brent at:

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Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence.
Talent will not;
Nothing is more common than unsuccessful people with talent.
Genius will not;
Unrewarded genius is almost legendary;
Education will not;
The world is full of educated derelicts.
Persistence and Determination alone are omnipotent.

President Calvin Coolidge
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Here are some more helpful hints for dealing with those 'tricky' social situations that can sometimes arise:

"Always remember that the motivation behind some guys going to night clubs and, to a lesser extent, parties is often to pick up girls. You should bear this in mind when deciding whether you can trust them or not."

"Not all blokes are a problem, but just be weary of the 'over-friendly' or 'over-generous' types, they often expect something in return later in the evening!'

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Dear Brent,

Hi! This is a girl from Germany. I've been to Australia last year for 5 months. I have to say that I was very lucky to have been able to attend your programme at manly high school. We had a lot of fun and I learnt how to get my way out of a situation of sexual harassment.

Though I haven't been in such a situation yet, fortunately, I haven't forgotten a word you said about those kind called men and when I came back I told all my girlfriends. They were surprised that school is supporting stuff like that in Down Under, because it's very useful and we haven't heard of it over here. So we started looking around for organisations or programmes like that but weren't successful to find someone to come to our school.

Our principal said he doesn't want to be involved in this and left it up to us. I think this is sad, because we have reports about kidnapped children and raped (and sometimes killed) girls/women in the news every week. Ignoring it is a way to get along but if this happens to one of our students one day it's too late. I'm thankful that I have been able to get this knowledge about what to do when a guy tries to rape me and how to react or not to sexual harassment in general. I love those newsletters, because they are not only useful but funny as well!

C.L - Germany

Dear Mr Sanders,

I have just bought and read your book, and want to congratulate you on an excellent piece of work. I'm staying in Pretoria in South Africa, and the father of two daughters. Could you please send me your monthly free newsletter, and please let me know if by any chance there is a place in Pretoria or Johannesburg that perhaps present seminars of similar format.

F.V - South Africa

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'Don't think "problem", think "opportunity".' - Anon

'An obstacle is often a stepping stone.' - Prescott

'Things do not change; we change.' - Thoreau

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