The men in the room were taken aback that we even had to think of this.
May 7, 2015 10:51 AM   Subscribe

My approach in shooting the portraits was to create a community experience. I set up open calls for women and female-identifying individuals to have their photographs taken holding whatever made them feel most safe walking home alone.
Iowa-based artist Taylor Yocom presents: Guarded.

From an Identities.Mic profile of the series: These Photos Show the Lengths Women Go to for Self-Defense
"Women still worry whether what they wear on any given day will get them assaulted in their own neighborhoods," Valerie Hudson, an expert on international security and foreign policy analysis at the Texas A&M Bush School of Government and Public Service, told Ms. magazine in April. "They must still worry when they get into a cab alone or when the repairman shows up at the door; they still cannot jog at night or go camping by themselves; they still give their date's phone number to a friend so the police will know who to investigate if their body shows up in a shallow grave somewhere."
posted by divined by radio (196 comments total) 45 users marked this as a favorite


 
I carry my keys in the manner depicted in the photos too, as we all learned to do in college. But seeing the photos makes me think how ridiculously *not* protective they seem. Like they *might* work as a last resort, but how much more effective an actual knife would be in the case of an actual attack.

Seeing the whistles gives me a similar feeling. Only the mace seems like it would actually be effective in the moment. But then you risk macing yourself too.

Interesting post.
posted by vignettist at 11:01 AM on May 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


These are some powerful photos, but I just couldn't help but cringe at all the keys between fingers. If it makes you feel safer, then I guess that's a benefit all its own, but you're going to hurt yourself way worse than you hurt your attacker.

Of course, worrying about the practicality of these self-defence techniques is probably missing the more important point: fuck this world where all women need to consciously plan how they are going to respond if assaulted on their walk home.
posted by 256 at 11:01 AM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Count my husband in that group of men who are astonished that women even have to think about this issue. He was completely bewildered when I described the things that women do to at least attempt to protect their safety. He still insists that I should be carrying mace, but I don't.
posted by vignettist at 11:03 AM on May 7, 2015


I carry my keys in the manner depicted in the photos too, as we all learned to do in college. But seeing the photos makes me think how ridiculously *not* protective they seem. Like they *might* work as a last resort, but how much more effective an actual knife would be in the case of an actual attack.

Yep, exactly. This is why I started carrying an actual knife.

Something that always blows my mind is just how often self-defense accoutrements are explicitly targeted to a stereotypical feminine audience: pink camo mace, pink pepper spray guns, pink-handled knives, "Little Viper" fashion bracelets, "safety cats." How the hell did we get here? And how the hell can we get out?
posted by divined by radio at 11:09 AM on May 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


One interesting observation - none of the women showed a firearm as their choice of defense.
posted by NoxAeternum at 11:10 AM on May 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


we didn't make up the key thing because we thought it was the best plan, we were taught it in so many different ways that it quickly became clear that we'd be blamed for our own rapes if we didn't do that, or cover our drinks, or park near the door, or avoid late shifts, or not look too slutty or too prim, or, or, or - they're basically talismans against blame, not harm. and they don't even really make me feel safer, it's just yet another thing i mostly reflexively do because that's what good, smart girls do.

all the same, i've been raped 3 times, not counting the years of childhood molestation.
posted by nadawi at 11:10 AM on May 7, 2015 [128 favorites]


...a woman's life is one lived under surveillance, a system of inner and outer regulations even more restrictive than a man's. Even a simple stroll down the sidewalk becomes an exercise in self-loathing. Suck in your stomach. Straighten your hem. (What if it rides up, exposing you?) Every shop window offers a glimpse of your own reflection. Adjust, adjust, adjust.

Between the above FPP yesterday, and this today, it occurs to me how many barriers I have to living anything like an "authentic" life. I'd like to go to the gym every day, but I prefer to go at 4 a.m. because I hate crowds (judging/looking at me) and silently maneuvering/feeling guilt about taking up time on equipment meant for more fit/deserving people than me.

Recently the city restricted parking around my gym from 3-5 a.m. to deter people sleeping in cars and campers overnight on public streets, so I have to walk from the parking lot instead now, which makes me nervous. So I go to the gym less, so I feel weaker.

I get to work at 6 a.m. and have an electric car. If I thought it was safe, I'd walk the 1/2 mile from the closest charging station to my office. But it's not safe at 6 a.m.

Part of this is being a survivor and still coping with all of that noise. This is only one small part of my everyday life, but it's one of so many little moments of guardedness.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:13 AM on May 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


I propose a complimentary series of portraits featuring men holding the objects that most remind them not to assault people.
posted by mrjohnmuller at 11:14 AM on May 7, 2015 [92 favorites]


they're basically talismans against blame, not harm. and they don't even really make me feel safer, it's just yet another thing i mostly reflexively do because that's what good, smart girls do.

YES. Because you know if/when something happens to you, the very first thing people are going to ask is: "What did you do to stop him? Did you even scream, say no, throw a fist or an elbow? Did you aim for his eyes or his throat or his groin? I mean, honestly, did you even try?"
posted by divined by radio at 11:15 AM on May 7, 2015 [56 favorites]


Yeah, constructing how to defend myself/how to escape/how to get from point a to point b safely is horribly routine that I don't think about it until it's brought up like in these photographs. My husband, bless him, gently teases me for being paranoid (not about assault, but about burglary) when I insist on the doors being locked at our house that I have to give him that dose of reality that an intruder in the house would be ever so much more dangerous for me than it would be for him.
posted by Kitteh at 11:16 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I used to carry around a rape whistle and one of those weird cat knife things until I sliced my hand open with the latter and realized that in neither of the rapes I experienced would the whistle have been helpful. That rape prevention tools have been made to be fashionable grosses me out beyond reason.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:16 AM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I'm with Sophie1 in that I would love to go to my gym when it opens at 6 am but I am seriously frightened of the 13 minute walk/5 minute bike ride between my home and there.
posted by Kitteh at 11:17 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Oh god, Divined by Radio, you are so spot on. I went catatonic and couldn't do anything to fight back. Granted both guys used their considerably higher body mass to pin me down so I lost access to air but still. Guess how much blame I was dealt as a result when I went for help. The disgust in the male doctor's eyes when I asked him to fix my broken cervix after my second rape was enough to make me swear off male doctors for life.
posted by Hermione Granger at 11:19 AM on May 7, 2015 [17 favorites]


A friend put this quite eloquently to me when I made a comment about how I had never really worried about getting mugged because, in addition to being a big dude, I never really dressed like someone who looked like they would have anything worth taking.

"Some of us always have something worth taking," she reminded me.
posted by 256 at 11:20 AM on May 7, 2015 [138 favorites]


The disgust in the male doctor's eyes when I asked him to fix my broken cervix after my second rape was enough to make me swear off male doctors for life.

FUCK THAT. This makes me want to explode with rage.
posted by Sophie1 at 11:23 AM on May 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


I learned the key thing from my physics teacher in high school, actually. He taught it to both the boys and the girls during class one day. He also went on at length about the killing properties of the pointed end of a high heeled shoe to the skull.

He was really sincere. Also something of a whack job. I think he got suspended for wearing an indecent cave man outfit for Halloween, eventually.
posted by instead of three wishes at 11:32 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


My fav.
posted by Mental Wimp at 11:43 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


One interesting observation - none of the women showed a firearm as their choice of defense.

I'm sure that the reason for this is the same as the reason why no one is carrying a knife either - it would be illegal in most jurisdictions as it is an actual weapon. And of course if a woman actually did defend herself with such a weapon she would certainly end up in jail, with her attacker suing her for attempted manslaughter or somesuch.

Although, I believe there has been a lot of push in CA in the last few years to allow open carry. But that's another FPP altogether.
posted by vignettist at 11:43 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


One interesting observation - none of the women showed a firearm as their choice of defense.

Since the photographer is based in Iowa City, I assume many of the women study or work at the University of Iowa, which does not allow concealed carry on campus.
posted by gyc at 11:47 AM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


I noticed the no-guns thing as well, and found it an interesting contrast to blogs like this in which quite a few people--almost all men, I'm guessing, from the types of things that they do (and don't) carry--feel the need to be packing heat on the street at all times. (Blogs like that also introduced me to the term "murdered out", which is about making as much of your stuff matte black as possible, I guess so that you can pretend you're the Batman of the cubicle farm or something.) Then again, even if a woman were carrying a gun, I could guess why she wouldn't want to advertise that fact by having someone publish a picture of her wielding one.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:50 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I don't mean to downplay the feelings of anyone who carries keys or mace or pepperspray or anything else, but what I found most interesting is that they didn't show anyone carrying nothing.

According to the stat in the article most women feel safe walking alone at night (I do). Presumably those women don't carry anything (I don't). I feel much safer walking along a city street than in enclosed (i.e. indoor) places. When things go bump in the night, I carry a phone and the first thing I do is open the door before trying to figure out what the noise was. Outside on a sidewalk? No worries. No carries.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


If it makes you feel safer, then I guess that's a benefit all its own, but you're going to hurt yourself way worse than you hurt your attacker.

Really? Fuck. Disclosure - large dude that does this exact thing in my pocket when things get a bit sketchy
posted by Hoopo at 11:52 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


The men in the room were taken aback that we even had to think of this.

I know it shouldn't, but somehow that still shocks me.

I'm a dude, so I felt pretty comfortable wandering my college campus at all hours of the day or night, often barefoot, because why not when you live in an on-campus dorm and you wander into your lab space to work on a project when most everything else is closed, and it's California so the weather's nice. But when I was coming to a summer open house before my freshman year, there was a ton of coverage about the disappearance of Kristin Smart (Wikipedia article; currently no closure), including a billboard or two around the town. Then there was a serial rapist and killer (trigger warning), whose crimes weren't solved for a number of years. I was an orientation leader for new students for a few years in a row, and one year, we were coached on what to tell concerned parents because of a recent case.

One time, I was studying with a young lady who was going to walk back to her apartment, and I asked her if she wanted me to walk her back. She seemed confused at the offer, and I felt odd trying to describe my concern for her safety. I didn't push her on the topic, because I didn't want to intrude, and I didn't want to stress her out if she was comfortable with walking alone.

With all that, with the statistics like 1 in 4 women in college will be raped, I can see how guys can be oblivious to that reality. They live in a much safer world, one where you can walk around alone, even drunk, and generally feel pretty safe in most college environments. And they might have their list of supposed reasons women get raped, personally justifying why some people are victims and others are not. Still, I keep hoping that something will make it all click, and they'll realize "oh shit, the world of women can seriously be terrifying. Of course you are prepared to defend yourself in any situation."
posted by filthy light thief at 11:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


These are some powerful photos, but I just couldn't help but cringe at all the keys between fingers. If it makes you feel safer, then I guess that's a benefit all its own, but you're going to hurt yourself way worse than you hurt your attacker.

Showing the potential attacker that you're prepared -- even in a way that's not actually much preparation -- can be a pretty big factor in warding off the attack entirely.
posted by Etrigan at 11:54 AM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


What worries me about this post, is that they are all defending against random-Bad-Guy-on-the-street rape -- the bogeyman, the monster in the closet. Most rapes are by acquaintances. This is a distractor from the real danger, the 'nice' guy next door.
posted by Dashy at 11:58 AM on May 7, 2015 [54 favorites]


Since the photographer is based in Iowa City, I assume many of the women study or work at the University of Iowa, which does not allow concealed carry on campus.

Makes sense. But I checked the policy, and all weapons are banned, explicitly including tasers. I saw a few of those. I'd venture to guess that Taylor Yocom didn't want to imply any kind of approval of gun rights, either because of her own opinions or from a desire not to alienate her likely audience.
posted by topynate at 11:58 AM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


One interesting observation - none of the women showed a firearm as their choice of defense.

That's because, statistically speaking, they are essentially useless. Even apart from the factors like obtaining a firearm if you're under 18, studies have shown it has no effect or even potentially worsens situations (PDF). For instance, most women are murdered by their SO or a relative near living spaces rather than strangers in public, and guns in the home attributed to 65% of murders of female victims, with "no protective effect" shown. Firearm availability increases the fatality of violence towards women, and is extremely likely to be used to threaten or intimidate them. And from another report (PDF):
Our iterative model-building strategy also allowed us to observe whether the effects of more proximate risk factors mediate the effects of more distal factors in a manner consistent with theory. For example, the 8-fold increase in intimate partner femicide risk associated with abusers’ access to firearms attenuated to a 5-fold increase when characteristics of the abuse were considered, including previous threats with a weapon on the part of the abuser. This suggests that abusers who possess guns tend to inflict the most severe abuse.

However, consistent with other research gun availability still had substantial independent effects that increased homicide risks. As expected, these effects were due to gun-owning abusers’ much greater likelihood of using a gun in the worst incident of abuse, in some cases, the actual femicide. The substantial increase in lethality associated with using a firearm was consistent with the findings of other research assessing weapon lethality. A victim’s access to a gun could plausibly reduce her risk of being killed, at least if she does not live with the abuser. A small percentage (5%) of both case and control women lived apart from the abuser and owned a gun, however, and there was no clear evidence of protective effects.
posted by zombieflanders at 11:58 AM on May 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


pink camo mace, pink pepper spray guns, pink-handled knives, "Little Viper" fashion bracelets, "safety cats."

As Tom Waits puts it: "A Sweet Little Bullet from a Pretty Blue Gun".
posted by Paul Slade at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2015


. I'd venture to guess that Taylor Yocom didn't want to imply any kind of approval of gun rights, either because of her own opinions or from a desire not to alienate her likely audience.

that's quite a leap. is your own bias about guns leading you to that conclusion?
posted by nadawi at 12:01 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


when you live in an on-campus dorm and you wander into your lab space to work on a project when most everything else is closed

Working alone in a building that is mostly empty? THAT would scare me. Letting someone I don't know well walk me to my door (where they could easily push themselves in after I unlock it)? That would scare me. City sidewalks feel way way safer to me, and I suspect that they're objectively speaking safer, too.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:03 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


is your own bias about guns leading you to that conclusion?

Not really. I don't like the American laws on guns, not that it's any of my business. I'm just pointing out that gun politics is a really big issue and could have easily coloured an essentially unconnected message if guns were shown.
posted by topynate at 12:05 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


With all that, with the statistics like 1 in 4 women in college will be raped, I can see how guys can be oblivious to that reality.

it's more likely to be done by someone they already know than a random lurker in the bushes, though. i don't need someone to walk me home, i need someone to make sure that the creeper friend-of-a-friend who makes all the women in a friends group uncomfortable on multiple occasions doesn't step up his game from close talking while boxing you in with his arms to outright assault.
posted by poffin boffin at 12:06 PM on May 7, 2015 [44 favorites]


> What worries me about this post, is that they are all defending against random-Bad-Guy-on-the-street rape -- the bogeyman, the monster in the closet. Most rapes are by acquaintances. This is a distractor from the real danger, the 'nice' guy next door.

I hear ya, and I'm not personally worried so much about random guy-on-the-street rape. But given how aggro street harassment gets when you don't take kindly to the "compliment," I keep my guard up to protect against opportunistic displays of physical intimidation.
posted by desuetude at 12:08 PM on May 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


> fuck this world where all women need to consciously plan how they are going to respond if assaulted on their walk home.

Male. I do that every single time I go walking at night in my own well-known neighborhood, or in any unknown neighborhood at any time of day. Where Am I Right Now and What Would I Do If? It's part of the general attitude of be-here-now mental awareness and is exactly the same kind of thing as knowing, when I drive, what's behind me and on either side of me at all times, as well as in front of me. Are any of these oncoming cars weaving as if the driver were drunk? Which two parked cars near me might suddenly emit a dog or cat or child from the gap? Is there an 18-wheeler (or even a Smart) riding my back bumper so that I couldn't slam on the brakes? If I suddenly needed to swerve into the ditch, is there a ditch beside me that I could swerve into?

Long-ago karate class memory I have not forgotten. Teacher is explaining mental awareness during a class break.
Question: But sensei, you just can't anticipate everything. What if you're driving and there's a rapist in the back seat?
Answer: If rapist in back seat, don't get in car.

(Sensei left it to one of the black belt assistants to explain that in beginners' language. "If you are practicing the kind of mental awareness we teach and recommend, you will have looked in the back seat before you got into the car and you will be aware of the rapist because you have seen him.")
posted by jfuller at 12:10 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


> Male. I do that every single time I go walking at night in my own well-known neighborhood, or in any unknown neighborhood at any time of day

OK, but imagine you have all the concerns you do now (I don't know what they are -- muggers, drunk drivers swerving onto the sidewalk, feral dogs) plus most men were bigger than you plus rape was a bazillion times more likely to happen to you than it is now plus there were guys yelling "SMILE!" at you from passing cars.

We get all the shit you do, plus the special shit that's reserved for women.
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:14 PM on May 7, 2015 [73 favorites]


"If you are practicing the kind of mental awareness we teach and recommend, you will have looked in the back seat before you got into the car and you will be aware of the rapist because you have seen him."

Ugh, I think I know what they mean, but this is why women feel so victim-blamed so much of the time. You should have known not to let that guy walk you home, because he pushed his way into your room once you unlocked it. You should have known not to make out with a guy on the third date, because if you kiss him of course he's going to want more. You should have known not to walk around outside by yourself. It's victim-blaming bullshit, and it's actively harmful.
posted by brainmouse at 12:15 PM on May 7, 2015 [61 favorites]


I tried to explain to a friend why I don't have a knife to defend myself. Because the people I have needed to defend myself from have not been people I could stab, and the situation in which you need defense bubbles up slowly like a frog in a pot. There's no point when a knife would help until it's too late.
posted by ChuraChura at 12:16 PM on May 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


they still cannot jog at night or go camping by themselves
I don't jog, but I do exercise at night, by myself, and often walk at night, and have gone and would go camping by myself. Many women do. It does make me feel unsafe at times, but the benefits outweigh the risks for me and I refuse to live in constant fear. I think this discussion about how going out alone is dangerous for women and that men do not realise that is valuable, and these photo's are a powerful way of showing that, but I wish these discussions weren't always framed in an "women can't do this" way. I know nobody means it that way, but it does imply to me, whenever I do go exercising at night (or, more likely, just walk home at night), that I'm stupid for doing that, not because there's a very slight chance there might be a stranger-rapist, but because I should know that that's something that women cannot do.

Also, when I did shift work I did not have any other option. Millions of women have to walk alone at night.
posted by blub at 12:21 PM on May 7, 2015 [44 favorites]


What worries me about this post, is that they are all defending against random-Bad-Guy-on-the-street rape -- the bogeyman, the monster in the closet. Most rapes are by acquaintances. This is a distractor from the real danger, the 'nice' guy next door.

As nadawi so eloquently pointed out above, these tactics aren't necessarily enacted in order to be earnestly used as self-defense. Rather, they're almost always wielded as talismans in hopes that if we do get assaulted in a stranger-in-the-bushes sort of scenario, we'll be able to hold up our keys (or cat knife thing, or taser, or knife, or or or) as concrete proof that we were not asking to be victimized by failing to prevent, preempt, or put a stop to the assault daring to exist as a woman, unarmed.

If anyone is curious about why women might act or feel like we need to wave around our mostly-ineffective talismans, or why a man's vigilance when he is alone at night is fundamentally, materially different than a woman's vigilance at basically all times, even though most women intellectually understand that our greatest threats are going to come from inside the proverbial house... I would recommend checking out this epic, 844-comment thread from 2009 along with this incredible comment by WidgetAlley:
Mitigation strategies that you can employ will be criticized as being paranoid, prudish, or, God forbid, unjustifiably hostile to the hazard itself (men). You do not choose to put yourself in the hazard zone, because it is everywhere. You can only choose broad probabilities based on hypothetical scenarios, and you are going to be forced into some high risk scenario sooner or later (through going on a date with someone you don't know-- or do know-- or by having a male boss, or by needing to get to your car in an empty parking lot alone at night, or by drinking a little too much at a bar, or by inviting over that one ex who always treated you great while you were dating for a little post break-up nookie, or by doing geological field studies.) You do not get to leave the zone. Ever.

Then, when the hazard happens (because for too many people it is a when and not an if), you will rarely if ever be allowed to classify it as "shit happens". You will be reminded of it frequently and inexorably every time someone puts their hand on your leg when you didn't invite them to, or wolf-whistles at you in the street. If sexual assault is surviving an earthquake, imagine the survivors living with detectable tremors every day.

Living with the constant idea of sexual assault is not comparable to a known hazard. It is the largest, most untractionable, most terrifying unknown facing many women (and some men.) It resembles nothing so much as being an undercover agent in a foreign country.
posted by divined by radio at 12:26 PM on May 7, 2015 [35 favorites]


Sensei left it to one of the black belt assistants to explain that in beginners' language. "If you are practicing the kind of mental awareness we teach and recommend, you will have looked in the back seat before you got into the car and you will be aware of the rapist because you have seen him."

Sensei needed a beginners' course in rape awareness:
- The Rapist Isn't A Masked Stranger: 38% of rapists are a friend or acquaintance, 28% are an intimate, 7% are a relative. 38+28+7 = 73%.
- About 85 to 90 percent of sexual assaults reported by college women are perpetrated by someone known to the victim; about half occur on a date.

Just because you see someone doesn't mean you can predict their future behavior.
posted by fraula at 12:27 PM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Gentle reminder: if you are male and are about to comment about your safety practices, please think about why you feel the need to redirect a conversation that is very specifically about women back to your male experience before you comment about how you also plan against assault in the ways pictured when walking somewhere at night.
posted by Hermione Granger at 12:27 PM on May 7, 2015 [108 favorites]


Back in college there were people you could ask to walk you home as long as you lived on or within a few blocks of campus (and an erratically scheduled bus if you lived farther.) They came in teams of two, with radios, mostly men, but a fair number of women as well. I worked out when the end of shift was and would ask for an escort just before that, and then ask them in for coffee, as we'd arrive at my place just as their shift ended. As it happened, I regularly walked around the city in the small hours of the night with no fear and I had no concern at all about the walk back to my housing. My concern was that no matter how much I asked her not to, my roommate would let her creepy boyfriend into our place and then go off somewhere and leave him there. This was a guy who'd been fired from his on-campus job for hitting a female co-worker, among other incidents. I needed my escorts to give me cover to get into my room and lock the door if he was there. I'm not sure if any of the rotating cadre of escorts ever figured out what was going on but they always accepted the invitation to come inside with me.
posted by Karmakaze at 12:28 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


none of the women showed a firearm as their choice of defense.
studies have shown it has no effect or even potentially worsens situations

This is why I wouldn't consider it. It's far more likely to be used against me than to help me, whether at home or in a stranger assault.

This is a distractor from the real danger, the 'nice' guy next door.

They're both real dangers. I get that you mean one is likelier than the other, but they're both real.

it does make me feel unsafe at times, but the benefits outweigh the risks for me and I refuse to live in constant fear.

I'm the same way. I resent having safety used as a rationale for restricting my freedom, even though it means I do risky things.
posted by Miko at 12:28 PM on May 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


Yeah, I walk alone at night all the time and don't really worry about it. But I think this is a matter of women's personal sense of and tolerance for risk, and my feelings about this are my own. That doesn't mean that I'm right or other women are wrong. And yeah, if something ever happened, I know there would be victim-blaming, which is part of the risk calculation.
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 12:29 PM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I agree and I respect everybody's personal decisions on that, and would also expect to be blamed if something happened to me. Also, I do want women to be safer, and being out there acting safe and just being present, I like to think, helps that in some way.
posted by Miko at 12:30 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm just pointing out that gun politics is a really big issue and could have easily coloured an essentially unconnected message if guns were shown.

so you think people showed up with guns and the photographer specifically didn't include them because of her own bias or not wanting to derail the project? it just seems to me that the much simpler answer is no one brought a gun.
posted by nadawi at 12:33 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


To be fair, Hermione, the title of the post frames this as "men don't have to think about this" which does seem to make "I'm a man and I think about it" relevant. I assume that's why the men saying those things are saying them. And none of those men, that I've seen, seem to be saying that women don't have more fear or cause to fear.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:36 PM on May 7, 2015 [11 favorites]


they still cannot jog at night or go camping by themselves

I feel super safe camping by myself. I really shouldn't, because bears, but if there are no other humans I feel untouchable.

But I also feel the way as IoIhaP - I feel very safe on our city streets. Maybe it's because it's a nice area, maybe because I always remember that the worst sexual crimes in the region started with a kidnapping at 3pm in the afternoon, or maybe because I'm completely oblivious and paying too much attention to my ancient history podcast to notice I'm walking down a dark lane way. (My husband complained the other day as I lead him down the unlit lane way that is a standard part of my route home at night). I worry more about my iPod being stolen - which almost happened once, when I was reading & walking.

Perhaps also your experiences shape your expectations. I have been very, very lucky and have never been assaulted by a stranger; I would worry much more about being assaulted by someone I was dating.
posted by jb at 12:39 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


men could also just figure out how to quash that little voice that tells them every topic about women needs their "well, actually" input.
posted by nadawi at 12:39 PM on May 7, 2015 [43 favorites]


I do want women to be safer, and being out there acting safe and just being present, I like to think, helps that in some way.

I agree that walking on streets is the best way to make them safer - that's one of the reasons I love my neighbourhood (lots of people walking around at all hours).

I also try to be proactive when I see anything suspicious, like if someone seems to be harassing someone else or if someone is shouting. I'd rather be nosy than not stop something I could have (podcast immersion notwithstanding).

Sadly, there was someone murdered near my home last year - a man was beaten to death on the street near our subway station. We felt awful that we heard nothing - we were only a block away but didn't walk in that direction.
posted by jb at 12:44 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


I went camping by myself this last weekend, greatly encouraged by this AskMe. I didn't die and serial killers didn't get me. Thanks, AskMe!
posted by The corpse in the library at 12:46 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


One interesting observation - none of the women showed a firearm as their choice of defense.

Exactly. No guns, no knives, no baseball bats? I come away with the feeling that none of these people are serious about this. They may think they are, but most of what we see there ain't real weapons.

The only credible weapons I saw there were tasers, and those are one-shot. If you miss, it's all over. (And even if you hit; they don't always stop attackers.) Keys held between fingers aren't going to deter a serious attacker, unless you're lucky enough to have him die laughing.

We're talking about a life-and-death situation. If you don't want to die you have to be prepared to kill. And that means carrying something that can kill.

"You must be either the anvil or the hammer." -- Goethe

"Si vis pacem, para bellum." -- Roman aphorism
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:52 PM on May 7, 2015


actually, the biggest danger when camping alone is not people (or even bears), but breaking your leg or otherwise getting hurt and not being able to get help - worse, if no one knows your route. I always carried lots of water, iodine pills and emergency food (unsweetened chocolate - will keep you alive, but you won't be tempted to eat it until you must), but that's what I worried about - and that's the most common way I hear of solo hikers/campers/climbers dying. (For the record: I hiked & camped alone in Vancouver island for 6 weeks; worst thing that ever happened was dropping my wallet on a trail with all my ID and my bank card - fortunately, a nice couple found it and returned it to me).

congrats on your trip, corpse - hope you had fun!
posted by jb at 12:52 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


There was a point in my life where I actually had to say to myselef "even if I get raped, I can't take being so afraid all the time so I'm going to do stuff I want to do." I mean, I had to accept that rape was just a thing that might happen to me, but that I would continue to live my life, because what else could I do.

I don't think many men have had to make that assumption.

And I still question myself now and then; when I have an encounter that feels unsafe, or some random choice I made (going to a restaurant, walking in a park) results in me being suddenly alone in an isolated place with bushes or other features that could hide attackers. When I'm suddenly alone with a male coworker I don't know well, or a janitor, or a parking lot attendant, or a repair guy. Being alone with a strange man somewhere happens regularly as part of the normal course of life, but I have to treat it as a potential hazard, every time.
posted by emjaybee at 12:54 PM on May 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


I was at an event a couple years ago where they asked the women in the audience how long it had been since they felt physically unsafe (today? yesterday? this week?). Not only was it very recent for most of them, but they had no trouble remembering when.

Then they asked the men, and the time period was vastly longer and most of us had to actually think "Hmm... when was that?". For me its probably a few times a year at most.

That was the most eye-opening moment for me. I knew vaguely that this was a different issue for women, but it was such a stark difference. And realizing many women spend so much time thinking/worrying about this issue, when its something that basically never occurs to me unless I happen to end up in a weird place or encounter a seemingly dangerous person.
posted by thefoxgod at 12:55 PM on May 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


> Exactly. No guns, no knives, no baseball bats? I come away with the feeling that none of these people are serious about this. They may think they are, but most of what we see there ain't real weapons.

Can't decide if this makes me want to laugh, cry, or punch the shit out of something.

> We're talking about a life-and-death situation. If you don't want to die you have to be prepared to kill. And that means carrying something that can kill.

WE'RE TALKING ABOUT WALKING DOWN THE DAMN STREET.
posted by rtha at 12:57 PM on May 7, 2015 [199 favorites]


I come away with the feeling that none of these people are serious about this.

really? that's your take away? and one you felt the need to share? because of course that's the problem, women just aren't serious enough about their own safety.
posted by nadawi at 12:58 PM on May 7, 2015 [59 favorites]


sorry ladies, no leaving the house anymore unless you have chanted your KILL KILL KILL BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD mantra 100 times over your broadsword named WIDOWMAKER
posted by poffin boffin at 12:59 PM on May 7, 2015 [119 favorites]


/adds 10 minutes to morning routine for ritual and weapons prep
posted by rtha at 1:00 PM on May 7, 2015 [73 favorites]


We're talking about a life-and-death situation. If you don't want to die you have to be prepared to kill. And that means carrying something that can kill.

Yeah, this is kind of nuts. This isn't international relations, this is walking down the street. Once that deadly weapon comes out, you've now escalated the situation instead of de-escalated it. Someone is now going to be grievously wounded, and the chance is pretty good it will be you instead. Running away as fast as you can is probably a better bet 99% of the time than pulling out a gun.
posted by dis_integration at 1:04 PM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Victim blaming ad absurdum-- well done. Top-drawer satire, good chap.
posted by easter queen at 1:06 PM on May 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


Yeah, I'll start packing heat to and from work because I feel unsafe every day of the week when I get off the subway and have to walk in the dark and deserted alley underneath the trestle in order to get home.
posted by imnotasquirrel at 1:08 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Exactly. No guns, no knives, no baseball bats? I come away with the feeling that none of these people are serious about this. They may think they are, but most of what we see there ain't real weapons.

Baseball bats? You must have a larger purse than me. I AM JUST TRYING TO BUY MILK.
posted by maryr at 1:08 PM on May 7, 2015 [78 favorites]


congrats on your trip, corpse - hope you had fun!

haha, oh wow. best username in the comment.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 1:08 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


> We're talking about a life-and-death situation. If you don't want to die you have to be prepared to kill. And that means carrying something that can kill.

The other hilarious thing about this is, you know the rafts and rafts and container ships of shit women get for being "rude" to strange men by not smiling on command, or by not talking to the dude when we are just trying to read/walk/wait for the bus? But we're supposed to be ready to KILL and gosh, if we're not prepared to do that, then we must not be serious about staying alive. And of course, no one ever, ever second-guesses the choice women make when they kill in self-defense. Or do I need to go dig up stats on women imprisoned for incorrectly killing their abusers.
posted by rtha at 1:09 PM on May 7, 2015 [75 favorites]


I see this shit and I wish - I wish - I could see the photos as empowered and empowering. Mostly what I see is a culture so deeply fucking broken that this is a) normal and b) an expression of female empowerment. The thought of having to move my family back to the US just about makes me want to rage-quit the human race.
posted by Emperor SnooKloze at 1:10 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


si vis pacem, [puts colander on head] para bellum
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:11 PM on May 7, 2015 [26 favorites]


sorry ladies, no leaving the house anymore unless you have chanted your KILL KILL KILL BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD mantra 100 times over your broadsword named WIDOWMAKER

Goddamnit, I knew I had to be forgetting something. All this time, I've only been chanting the mantra approximately 100 times -- I'm always losing count, you know how women are with numbers -- rather than exactly 100 times. And I named my broadsword Solanas, not Widowmaker. So dumb! It just goes to show you that no matter how much preparation a woman puts in to, like, leaving the house to catch the bus to work or whatever, she's probably doing it totally wrong and willfully endangering herself via her complete and utter wrongness.

Ah well. Anyway, are we all still on for the usual unspeakably dark and mysterious ritual awakening tomorrow AM? I'll bring some green tea and, I dunno, some .357 Magnums or sawed-off shotguns or whatever. And once the ritual is done, and we're all locked and loaded? Oh man, we're gonna be SO FUCKING SAFE.
posted by divined by radio at 1:11 PM on May 7, 2015 [28 favorites]


Yep, exactly. This is why I started carrying an actual knife.

I do too. I don't tell (real-life people) anymore, though, because they look at you like *you're* the threat. I mean, you're carrying around a fucking knife. What the hell is wrong with you?

I am aware of the facts: Most sexual assaults are committed by known perpetrators. Any weapon you carry may well end up used against you. I get all that, but having that knife in my pocket and knowing that I can flip it open with a well-practiced flick of my thumb gives me confidence and at least a sense of added safety. Sad that it's necessary, but there you go.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:14 PM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Here, divined, this will help.
posted by maryr at 1:15 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


The other hilarious thing about this is, you know the rafts and rafts and container ships of shit women get for being "rude" to strange men by not smiling on command, or by not talking to the dude when we are just trying to read/walk/wait for the bus?

Including getting spit on and slashed with a knife.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:27 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Exactly. No guns, no knives, no baseball bats? I come away with the feeling that none of these people are serious about this. They may think they are, but most of what we see there ain't real weapons.

The only credible weapons I saw there were tasers, and those are one-shot. If you miss, it's all over. (And even if you hit; they don't always stop attackers.) Keys held between fingers aren't going to deter a serious attacker, unless you're lucky enough to have him die laughing.

We're talking about a life-and-death situation. If you don't want to die you have to be prepared to kill. And that means carrying something that can kill.


Meanwhile, even politely expressing to a male online acquaintance that you'd rather meet him for the first time at a coffeeshop, rather than his apartment . . . even if you make zero mention or implication as to why . . . sets off LE MEGAWHINE.

We're supposed to keep it top secret from men that we could ever feel afraid of them, while being ready to defend ourselves with deadly violence at all times.
posted by ostro at 1:29 PM on May 7, 2015 [67 favorites]


If only I had a penguin...: "To be fair, Hermione, the title of the post frames this as "men don't have to think about this" which does seem to make "I'm a man and I think about it" relevant. "
This is not really the case vis-a-vis framing for men's concerns, though. why? Because it's an experiential thing. Even if the men agree with the women they (we, I guess?) can't ever know that "is this dude the one? Better get the mace ready.", and the background thinking that kind of bullshit puts on women. I don't think it's a bad thing for men to generally say "yeah, women should be safe", but fuck, man: I look like an extra from a horror movie in low lighting. The best I can do is sympathize with the situation and give women in potentially unsafe situations a wide berth. I dunno.

rtha: "Can't decide if this makes me want to laugh, cry, or punch the shit out of something.
"

Probably not chocolate pickle though, because is ready to -- and will, without hesitation -- kill you.
posted by boo_radley at 1:35 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Even if most rapes are acquaintance rapes, women and people perceived to be women are regularly sexually assaulted (grabbed, pinched, groped, etc), harassed and/or followed in public. I was on Central Avenue for literally 45 seconds at rush hour last week grabbing dinner with a friend and we got honked at twice. One of the men had his kid in the car. Men are constantly telling us that they have the right to our attention, our time, and our bodies, and it makes total sense to me that a lot of us carry something to make us feel like we have security and agency when we're making our regular forays out into the world despite that barrage.
posted by NoraReed at 1:36 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


I do sort of like the idea that hordes of women could be traipsing around Iowa City armed with baseball bats. Do you think you have to carry your baseball bat, or can we rig up baseball bat holsters? Would a softball bat do, or is that too girlie?
posted by ArbitraryAndCapricious at 1:38 PM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


Do you think you have to carry your baseball bat, or can we rig up baseball bat holsters? Would a softball bat do, or is that too girlie?

Louisville Slugger sells a variety of bat sizes that you can customize (some models available in pink), including an 18" mini bat (I actually have one, and it's awesome). But, since this is for walking around, maybe the baseball bat/cane combo is a good choice.
posted by melissasaurus at 1:47 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


And you know, here's the thing: I have terrible hand-eye coordination, busted knees (so running is kind of a joke), and am generally wearing non-athletic clothes when I go out. I am not good at threatening others and flinch at violence.

And that should be ok. I should be able to bumble around the world in my slow and clumsy and oblivious way, and be perfectly safe. I should not have to be Wonder Woman or Laura Croft just to go get some goddamn groceries.
posted by emjaybee at 1:50 PM on May 7, 2015 [30 favorites]


We're supposed to keep it top secret from men that we could ever feel afraid of them, while being ready to defend ourselves with deadly violence at all times.

Yep. We're also tasked with remaining excruciatingly polite at all times, even when we're being threatened, followed, groped, or humiliated, because to behave otherwise might impugn the dignity of a well-meaning man. And yet: When women refuse.

For real, I am just loving the insinuation straight-up statement that if a woman does not arm herself with an undeniably deadly weapon, if she is not physically trained and psychologically prepared to take someone's life every single time she leaves the house? Well, it's only because she doesn't take her personal safety seriously. It's just such a wild idea that I can't believe anyone really thinks that way. (I'm kidding! I know that men -- #notall, but #definitelymorethanenough, #thankyouverymuch -- think that way.)

Do you think you have to carry your baseball bat, or can we rig up baseball bat holsters?

Too unwieldy, I think. What we really need is some of these! Discreet, petite, large enough to cause some serious head trauma but small enough to fit inside of even the most minimalist fashion clutch. It even has a keychain ring, so you can just snap that bad boy right off of your D-ring carabiner, extend it out to its full length with a quick flick of your wrist, and get to brutally beating someone -- yes, to death! what are you, some kinda sissy?! -- with it, all in less time than it takes to grab a chai latte from the Starbucks drive-through. I'm telling you, man, collapsible batons. All the women who take their personal safety seriously are carrying them!
posted by divined by radio at 1:55 PM on May 7, 2015 [20 favorites]


poffin boffin: "sorry ladies, no leaving the house anymore unless you have chanted your KILL KILL KILL BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD mantra 100 times over your broadsword named WIDOWMAKER
"

"the sidearm of your mother, and your mother's mother, and so on down the boffin line. Today, I give it to you: Known as Tranquilliores Felis Vocatio, this bat with a nail in has served our matrilineage well."
posted by boo_radley at 1:57 PM on May 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


I'm telling you, man, collapsible batons.
FYI these are illegal in many states.
posted by melissasaurus at 2:00 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


As someone who was assaulted by a stranger, it always makes me hinky when people say "Well, you really have to worry about acquaintances/friends/partners/lovers/spouses" as if the possibility of being assaulted by a stranger is negligible or super-rare. It is neither, sadly, and focusing on one set of dangers in lieu of the other is no solution.

I never had faith in the keys in my fingers thing - My phone is my primary security tool, and I think the fake conversation move has actually saved me at least 3 times, and maybe 5. (I do carry my keys on a ring so if I need to lash out, I can draw blood and leave forensic evidence.)
posted by julen at 2:02 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


> I wish these discussions weren't always framed in an "women can't do this" way. I know nobody means it that way, but it does imply to me, whenever I do go exercising at night (or, more likely, just walk home at night), that I'm stupid for doing that, not because there's a very slight chance there might be a stranger-rapist, but because I should know that that's something that women cannot do.

I agree, it makes me bristle defensively as well. I don't think that "no-one means it like that," actually. It's meant as shorthand for something akin to "can't without extra considerations for their safety," but I think that's ultimately often misunderstood. Women can walk at night, they can travel alone, etc. The question is how women must evaluate and manage the level of risk and what that does to our choices. But that slips and slides into a question of whether we're properly assessing risk, and comes back around to what women "can or can't" do again.

For example, the flip side of the same exact coin as the measures women take to protect against danger (keys in fist, cautious public meeting places, etc.) is when I "can't" -- sometimes pronounced "shouldn't" -- walk a few blocks (for example) to grab a cab at night in a situation where I feel comfortable and physically safe walking alone, because I'm compelled to stop and argue with a male friend or partner about it. I point out that if we go with their overruling assessment that it's not safe for me as a woman alone, then it's not safe for a man alone either. This logic does not go over well. I'm threatening their masculinity, I'm denying that they're physically stronger than me, I'm robbing them of the opportunity to be a good friend, I'm trying to prove something and I'm being naive. But that's not true, any of it, I'm saying that their upper hand with the fisticuffs is moot, as neither of us are bulletproof. More importantly, I can assess risks to my personal safety because I do it all the fucking time because the "don't get raped" training starts in toddlerhood, gentlemen, and when I want or need help I always ask for it without reservation.

Ultimately, it appears that what women "can't" do is be believed.
posted by desuetude at 2:04 PM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


Here's what worries me about a knife. So, you need to use your knife. What do you do? Slash the attacker? Aim for the neck, face, eye? I worry that a slash, especially if they dodged a little, would not stop them, just anger them and make them both enraged and in pain. Hopefully I'm running by then, but what if they've grabbed my arm as I slashed? Or maybe you're supposed to stab them? I don't know that one stab with a knife small enough to fold is going to make them back off. I know there's training for this, and I kind of like knives, but when I think as far as "step 2, attack with knife," I guess I don't feel amazingly confident that I know what to do with it. The keys, they taught us in college, were to gouge at the eyes or throat. The keys, I'd be less worried about being ripped out of my hand and used on me, for some reason. With a knife, that worries me.
posted by Miko at 2:05 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


FYI these are illegal in many states.

Yeah, which is why there are also some manufacturers that make flashlights that can double as cudgels.
posted by FJT at 2:08 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


the times i was saved by a knife it was more about brandishing it and making myself look like a bad target for whatever the asshole on the other side of me had planned. if i was on a bus and didn't feel safe, i'd take it out and play with it, or let it "drop" out of my bag. i never had to use it (well, for defense - it came in handy for a lot of other stuff).

presently i carry a crochet hook in my purse - also more useful than defensive, but i think it could work similarly to keys, with the added bonus of "dang, that crazy bitch is brandishing a crochet hook!? i'm not messing with that!"

i've heard lots of arguments against (mostly from men), but i still maintain that feeling confident in kneeing a guy in the nuts is a good skill for women to have. we're told all the time it's not successful, but i've kneed a couple dudes in the nuts and it was very effective.
posted by nadawi at 2:17 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


> The men in the room were taken aback that we even had to think of this.

Just goes to show there are men who are absolutely and utterly unlike any man I know or have ever known. (Except here, of course.) "You're going out running at this hour? Well for Ghod's sake at least take the dog."
posted by jfuller at 2:23 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


[A few comments deleted. Chocolate Pickle, at this point maybe take it that the Be Rambo solution has been mooted and leave it at that. Thanks.]
posted by LobsterMitten (staff) at 2:24 PM on May 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


Here's what worries me about a knife. So, you need to use your knife. What do you do?

I'm not much on any of these depicted items, because all but the phone require you to be up close and personal, which is a dangerous place to be for small women like me. I haven't carried a gun for years, but I used to and would again if I were out late on the street because I do know what to do with a gun. (Not from movies etc., from firearms classes.)

But regardless of what self defense tool makes sense . . . on the subject of the post, mark me down as another woman who is frankly angry that sexual harassment and assault is such an expected event for our gender that a plan of attack is part of what we think about when we plan to be on the street. I keep thinking about a movie from 27 years ago -- based on a crime which occurred 32 years ago -- and wondering when our society is going to accept that women are entitled to be sexy, to stop in bars, to walk on the street, and not be subject to assault and rape.
posted by bearwife at 2:28 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


I am imagining some kind of dystopian novel in which instead of getting blamed for not dressing conservatively enough, they get victim-blamed for not carrying enough heat. Sexual crimes don't decrease. Violent crimes rise.
posted by Going To Maine at 2:29 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


Collapsable batons are awesome!
posted by valkane at 2:33 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


If I were one of these women, and I had a gun and routinely carried it, I'm not sure I would allow myself to be photographed with said firearm.

Particularly if I wasn't entirely above board in procuring said weapon.

In other words, there are a lot of reasons why there might not be any guns shown, that have very little to do with "politics", except for the political aspects of women needing to carry weapons.
posted by jefflowrey at 2:35 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


So, here's something I've only talked about once before.

I've been assaulted and I've been raped. Each time, I was young, I was not in control and I was not thinking that it might happen. One of the things that makes me feel in control is being strong and being prepared. To be perfectly honest, part of the reason that I'm so afraid of being attacked again is I'm afraid I will kill someone. I'm afraid I've become a little too prepared and so I stay away from situations that might put me in a position where I would actually kill another human being. That's what it's come to.

And it makes me sick to admit it.
posted by Sophie1 at 2:39 PM on May 7, 2015 [31 favorites]


I propose a complimentary series of portraits featuring men holding the objects that most remind them not to assault people.

So the opposite of Everyday Carry's knife and tactical flashlight fetish then...
posted by srboisvert at 2:45 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Collapsable batons are awesome!

While I agree, I'd also warn folks that I've always heard that they fell into a legally risky place for normal folks to carry.

As in they're considered quite differently than a non-collapsable version of the same thing and are, again this is murky but I recall looking into it a while back, often grouped in with brass knuckles, slapjacks, and switchblades. If I had to guess I'd say it was probably legally based upon movies and gang fears than any real logic but just be aware before you assume they're legit.

posted by RolandOfEld at 2:53 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


> wondering when our society is going to accept that women are entitled to be sexy, to stop in
> bars, to walk on the street, and not be subject to assault and rape.

That would be so wonderful! It will happen when we've all died and gone to Heaven.

I put it that way because as a society we would like to see the rate of assault and rape declining. But any given individual wants the risk to drop to zero right now this minute, before she starts her jog.

Heaven. And if you don't believe, then never. But a knife (plus professional training) or a handgun (plus professional training) will get you--individual you--as close to zero risk as it's possible for you--individual you right now this minute--to get.
posted by jfuller at 2:57 PM on May 7, 2015


But a knife (plus professional training) or a handgun (plus professional training) will get you--individual you--as close to zero risk as it's possible for you--individual you right now this minute--to get

As other people have said, every statistic I've seen, as well as every personal story I've heard, tells me the opposite of this. The only two people I know who've fought back with weapons -- both of whom were trained, one of whom was extremely well trained - decades worth - were hospitalized. The extremely well trained one was hospitalized for close to a month. Why do you think weapons make people safer when common sense and many people's experience says the opposite?
posted by brainmouse at 3:06 PM on May 7, 2015 [18 favorites]


a knife (plus professional training) or a handgun (plus professional training) will get you--individual you--as close to zero risk as it's possible for you--individual you right now this minute--to get.

....

No, it really won't.
posted by suelac at 3:07 PM on May 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


Some of my opinions on the subject of self-defense as a woman have been labeled as defeatist by people who rely for self-confidence on whatever solution makes them feel safest, but basically there's no way you can stop someone from fairly quickly overpowering you if it comes down to it. You can't well shoot every gentleman in a North Face parka walking towards you saying "Excuse me miss, do you have the time" before they've closed the distance to grappling range.

Having followed this line of reasoning, I sometimes used to carry a "last-ditch knife" (tiny, pointed blade with a one- or two-finger grip) clipped into my skirt's waistband at the small of my back. With pants, I'd hook it onto my bra strap around the clasp (pants have a way of disappearing out of reach). Trouble is, while such an arrangement might bring a sense of bloody closure to a situation, it might not stop some of the worst from happening and will also almost certainly land the woman in jail (in my state, just having it on my person would - I've had a quick-thinking, kindly person pull my top down over my waistband when I carelessly exposed it by bending over in a grocery store).

These days I've taken to just hoping to stay lucky. That, and being too depressed to go anywhere.
posted by tigrrrlily at 3:08 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


My heart kinda broke at the woman who's maybe gonna leave a backward "LOVE" and/or the imprint of three roses in the face of her attacker.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:10 PM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


Just goes to show there are men who are absolutely and utterly unlike any man I know or have ever known. (Except here, of course.) "You're going out running at this hour? Well for Ghod's sake at least take the dog.",

Yeah it's my experience that a lot of men will make a show of "protecting" women from this kind of danger. Which strikes me as a condescending thing to do usually because dude, she knows, everyone tells her the same thing. She's making a decision to take whatever risk, possibly because walking with you seems like the worst option of all.

And I'll fully admit I'm quick to judge people who go on about "be careful it's a sketchy neighborhood" because no, not even, you're just being racist. But I should try not to judge women for being scared because of course people are always telling women to be scared, always. And the worst case is really, really bad to imagine.

At one point in my life I was fairly often compelled to walk into the actual 'hood at night, as a man of average height, slight build, and obviously out-of-place ethnicity, and you can bet I was watching my back then - for cops as much as robbers - even though nothing bad ever happened. So I know it's not a great time and I'm sure if something did happen I'd feel a little different about this subject.
posted by atoxyl at 3:24 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


basically there's no way you can stop someone from fairly quickly overpowering you if it comes down to it.

Yeah, I think this is the rub. It's impossible to be fully vigilant all the time - sometimes all of us are distracted by children, looking for stuff in bag, big noise down the street, etc. - and if you're caught in that unawares second, or that moment of goodwill where you let your guard down, all the weapons in the world won't matter to someone who's capable of grabbing you, pinning arms, etc. This is why, again, it doesn't matter if you're trained and armed to the gills - military women are, and they get assaulted, too. This is why the problem isn't "how do we train and arm women better" but "how do we end the culture of violence against women."
posted by Miko at 3:26 PM on May 7, 2015 [37 favorites]


Meanwhile, even politely expressing to a male online acquaintance that you'd rather meet him for the first time at a coffeeshop, rather than his apartment . . . even if you make zero mention or implication as to why . . . sets off LE MEGAWHINE.

On the other hand if the point is to get to know him and he persists in that attitude for more than a sentence or two before the clue sinks in, well, you've already learned something very important about him re self-centredness and empathy, and saved quite a bit of time.
posted by George_Spiggott at 3:28 PM on May 7, 2015


Yeah it's my experience that a lot of men will make a show of "protecting" women from this kind of danger. Which strikes me as a condescending thing to do usually because dude, she knows, everyone tells her the same thing. She's making a decision to take whatever risk, possibly because walking with you seems like the worst option of all.


There's probably a polite way to offer this - it's not an unreasonable thing to offer. I'm just saying - the "no, you can't do that, I won't let you" guy? If I put myself in a woman's shoes (damn I look fantastic in these lol) I feel like I'd find that insulting and possibly scary in itself. "I AM GOING TO FOLLOW YOU HOME."
posted by atoxyl at 3:37 PM on May 7, 2015


On the other hand if the point is to get to know him and he persists in that attitude for more than a sentence or two before the clue sinks in, well, you've already learned something very important about him re self-centredness and empathy, and saved quite a bit of time.

Uh, I assume in this case it's less that and more that he's a predator. I mean, he's probably also self-centered and unempathetic, but I pretty much go straight to "is whining about not getting to be in a position of power where he can assault me if he chooses to".
posted by NoraReed at 3:46 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


i find that much like all the messaging that surrounds how women are supposed to prevent their own victimization, it's not logically consistent. i've known lots of dudes who do that thing where they make it clear they think women can't know the dangers of walking alone at night AND those same dudes have also been shocked when women go down the list of ways that we're always thinking about those talismans against blame or, one step further, think we are being silly and paranoid. so it seems to me that, yeah, both views can be held at once - and i guess it sort of makes a perverse amount of sense, both spring from the idea that we aren't able to make those assessments for ourselves. no matter how we read the situations or handle them or don't handle them, it's up for second guessing from a man.
posted by nadawi at 3:52 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


There have been very few reported sexual assaults here at Iowa this year, and all the ones which were reported were in dorms. I don't know what this means though.

One nice thing we have at Iowa is a late night safety ride just for women. It will pick you up downtown where the libraries/bars are and take you home. There was some ridiculous uproar here when they made it women only, which is of course absurd.

Also if you're advocating carrying a firearm, I mean, at least at Iowa, carrying a gun on campus will get you in serious trouble. It's not a solution.
posted by Lutoslawski at 3:53 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's what worries me about a knife. So, you need to use your knife. What do you do? Slash the attacker? Aim for the neck, face, eye? I worry that a slash, especially if they dodged a little, would not stop them, just anger them and make them both enraged and in pain. Hopefully I'm running by then, but what if they've grabbed my arm as I slashed? Or maybe you're supposed to stab them?

Best bet is to stab in the kidneys from behind-this will result in a rapid loss in blood pressure and remove them from the fight. However this is not a practical solution for most self defense situations (great for sentry removal if you are ever in a WWII action movie however). The kind of knife you can comfortable carry concealed usually isn't that great (this is if you can manage it). The only way to 'win' a knife fight is not to get in one.

In most jurisdictions the possession of concealed weapons permit (usually used for guns) also covers things like large fixed blade knives and (my favorite) collapsible batons.

I'm afraid I've become a little too prepared and so I stay away from situations that might put me in a position where I would actually kill another human being. That's what it's come to.
In the vast majority of people who I have talked to about carrying a gun daily this is exactly how they approach every unknown person encounter. It is amazing how carrying a deadly weapon tends to make the average person way, way less aggressive. (this is also a bit of confirmation bias on my part probably-when i find out someone is an idiot and carries a gun I tend to not hang out with them anymore-but I find this to be a fairly rare occurance).

I also think it is very important to remember we (the US but really the whole industrialized world) has been in a 20+ year decline for crime of all type and especially violent crime. And the world is probably safer now than it has ever been. It is slow and incremental and spotty but it appears human beings are learning to be better to one another.
posted by bartonlong at 3:58 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Does that decline include sexual violence?
posted by NoraReed at 4:00 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


Yeah it's my experience that a lot of men will make a show of "protecting" women from this kind of danger.

Ugh, saints preserve us from "concerned" men who think that if we go outside against their all-knowing advice then we deserve whatever we get.
posted by zeptoweasel at 4:03 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


(The boyfriend who flat-out said that was not subject to dumping with extreme prejudice, but he should have been)
posted by zeptoweasel at 4:04 PM on May 7, 2015


Does that decline include sexual violence?

I started looking at that question, and the question of which countries and cultures have higher and lower incidences of sexual violence. And quickly came to realize that that is a complex and difficult area of study. Correlating it across cultures and time periods runs up against profound and shifting differences in rates of reporting at all levels, as well as the legal classification and cultural treatment of it as a crime.

To give just one example, Sweden has by a considerable margin the highest reported rate of sexual assault in Europe. However it is almost certain that their inclusively broad definition of sexual assault as well as high rate of reporting is responsible for this, not the true incidence of assault, which many other factors strongly suggest is actually much lower than the mean. Other countries don't have less rape, they just define it more narrowly (you would not believe how narrow the UK's definition is) and handle it far less well.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:15 PM on May 7, 2015 [3 favorites]


men could also just figure out how to quash that little voice that tells them every topic about women needs their "well, actually" input.

Please men, as a man, I beg you to listen to this advice. Because, while you think you are giving "helpful tips" from your vast store of knowledge, the really you are saying -- if a woman suffers violence, it's because of something she did or didn't do, not because someone else decided to be violent.

And then there is the question of how much violence, as miko pointed out. I mean, not enough and you get hurt anyway, too much and then you were excessive, and that has it's own set of punishments (beyond the injury of being put in the position of injuring someone else, which is a problem).

As I've said before, the motto of the World is "women are Doing It Wrong, no matter what they do." Don't perpetuate that.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:19 PM on May 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


I walk around a lot and I always carry my keys in my hand. I don't think I've ever thought that the keys would be much use in an attack, but it feels like if I am close to my house or car I can get in faster. It's irrational, really, but there you go. I think having a purposeful walk -- even if I'm out for a stroll -- makes more of a difference. It's not just about rape - I don't want to get mugged or have a mugging escalate into a violent confrontation.

The thing is, I like people and I also like walking around. So I have a fine line that I walk, of being on high alert but also open enough to friendly interaction. I would be interested to see this project with a broader range of women represented. Strange men actually tried to touch/assault me when I was younger (preteen and teen years) but I haven't experienced such incidents since I was 22 or so. On a college campus, it seems possible that one could be attacked by someone one knows while walking around by oneself, so perhaps college women are on especially high alert.
posted by stowaway at 4:21 PM on May 7, 2015


My key fob has a panic button that sets of my car alarm, so if I walk from a building to my nearby car at night I usually have my thumb resting on it. I don't expect people to come running when they hear a car alarm, but it might freak whatever Bad Guy it is I've absorbed into my subconscious.
posted by The corpse in the library at 4:24 PM on May 7, 2015


I've heard that car alarms can be useful for scaring away bears, so there's that.
posted by NoraReed at 4:26 PM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


I suspect poffin boffin's suggestion is the most practical. Just worship the Blood God and bathe in the effluvia of your enemies. I mean, you are unlikely to be the victim of unexpected violence if you are mowing down all before you, reveling in the blood and souls you are harvesting for your Grim Lord.

Of course, this leaves little time for going to the gym or reading a nice book, but, hey, can't make an omelet without burning a hamlet, as my mother taught me.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:38 PM on May 7, 2015 [28 favorites]


Bonus: it also works on bears, if they are a problem.
posted by GenjiandProust at 4:38 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


human sacrifice is so important
posted by poffin boffin at 4:41 PM on May 7, 2015 [16 favorites]


I was surprised that nobody had a phone. But I suppose it doesn't photograph the issue well.

I'm not afraid to walk alone after dark. In my twenties, I would often want to go home before sobriety or my ride saw fit, so I mastered the tipsy walk home. Over time I developed the System. What's in front of me is not as important as my peripheral vision. Pause frequently to see if their gait changes to match mine. Phone with one earbud in, so I can easily dial and have either fake or real conversations. I'd duck into corner stores for what was probably plenty of false alarms.

I also found that dealers were my best friend. They didn't want an increased police presence, so their blocks would always be free of street harassment. There's a lot of racism and class privilege packed into that reality. But until we destroy the patriarchy, I appreciated that it kept the creeps away.
posted by politikitty at 4:49 PM on May 7, 2015 [7 favorites]


Exactly. No guns, no knives, no baseball bats? I come away with the feeling that none of these people are serious about this. They may think they are, but most of what we see there ain't real weapons.

I bet a lot of people who do carry more-serious weapons would also be reluctant to be photographed with them. If they do end up using them, is someone going to reframe their self-defense as a pre-meditated attack? For instance, I knew someone in college who carried the biggest maglite at night because it was plausible she just wanted a flashlight, but if someone attacked her, a metal tube full of D-batteries would be pretty useful to have around.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 5:09 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


The best part about me having a dog the size of a small horse is that I can indulge my love of wandering around in the dark with impunity. Men cross the street to avoid us! It's amazing!

That or maybe the bec de corbin I carry or the belt of the heads of murdered men I wear - it's hard to say.

The important thing is, ladies, that we stop fucking around and embrace Badb Catha and her prophecies of despite. Let us be the scald-crows again and mow down the ranks of those who would oppose our bloody-handed reign of terror o'er the mean streets of our neighborhoods. Waly, Waly, shall be the cry of the bereft when we ascend our thrones of skulls!

Because Christ knows that nothing else seems to be working. Why not try ultraviolence for a change; it may be droll.
posted by winna at 5:16 PM on May 7, 2015 [29 favorites]


I was 7 years old when I first heard about holding your keys ready to defend yourself. I had been attacked in school by a group of older boys when I was 5 so I immediately went to my mother and asked for a ring of all the old spare keys she could give me and it did make me feel a little safer.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:26 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


Pause frequently to see if their gait changes to match mine

My later-boyfriend, then just friend was mortified when he decided to surprise me by playing hooky from class and walking behind me as I walked to my car. Once he made a personally identifying noise and I realized who he was, I recited to him how long and at what distance he'd been walking behind me, who else had been in that same area, when those people had changed direction, etc. The idea that he'd been on my sonar as an imminent threat put things in perspective for him (as opposed to offending him, which, well, see "boyfriend")
posted by tigrrrlily at 5:28 PM on May 7, 2015 [15 favorites]


I'd venture to guess that Taylor Yocom didn't want to imply any kind of approval of gun rights, either because of her own opinions or from a desire not to alienate her likely audience.

I finished my degree at a university in North Philly, driving there from my apartment in a sketchy area of West Philly. After a couple of scary encounters I decided to look into self-defense options. Knives and concealed carry were the first things I looked at. I did a lot of research because guns are expensive and I have a lot of gun-owning friends with CC permits and also I tend to fanatically research everything.

Here's what I found out about knives: if your attacker is bigger and stronger than you it is laughably easy for them to disarm and use the knife against you. Unless you are some kind of knife-fighting expert or have really good luck, having no knife is probably going to end up better for you than having a knife because of the change it will end up being used against you.

Here's what I found out about guns: concealed carry can work but it is a pain in the ass. You can't just buy the gun and forget about it. You have to train down at the range with that shit regularly if you actually expect to be effective with it in a crisis situation. And you need to train with all those different holsters you're going to need to buy, because there's no one-size-fits-all holster for women's clothing and sometimes you're going to need one at your hip, other times it will be ankle, other times back . . . I looked into the costs of holsters and regular range times. It gets expensive. Did not work for a poor college student. The last straw was when I realized I wasn't allowed to CC on campus. So I'd be leaving the gun in my car, defeating the purpose of using it for protection getting to and from my car.

A lot of these women appear to be young enough to be in college. It is quite possible that the ones who did consider concealed carry came to the same conclusion I did.
posted by schroedinger at 5:43 PM on May 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


I just showed these photos to my coworkers to see what they thought and in the most Napoleon Dynamite voice ever our intern muttered, "Well, I bet if girls could go super saiyan this wouldn't be a problem" and was totally serious.
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:43 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


a gentle correction is applied to the intern
posted by boo_radley at 5:48 PM on May 7, 2015 [13 favorites]


I would delight in it above all else if I could go super saiyan but when I try I get a massive migraine and nothing happens. :( :( :(
posted by winna at 5:49 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


The photos are striking and yet so sadly familiar.

Exactly. No guns, no knives, no baseball bats?

Over and above the usual mansplaining, something that underlies a lot of the "Why no guns or knives?" comments is how a lot of men structure their lives (consciously or unconsciously) to always have weapons nearby. Everyone I work with has a knife clipped to their belt or pants pocket. Probably a third keep a pistol in their truck, and everyone has guns at home. In the back of every work truck in the region is a US Forest Service approved double-bitted axe (perfect for the zombie invasion!), and looking three feet to my right as I type this I see a 4 d-cell Maglight for both power outages and paranoid fantasies. I could keep listing things off, but these are just routine, everyday things, not anything special or worthy of comment.

Of course it is acquaintances who are dangerous, more than strangers, because they have the same self-delusions of power and control that permeate our society.
posted by Dip Flash at 5:53 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Also, if you have a gun you have to be ready to actually kill someone. You have to be prepared to kill someone AND expect to go to prison, because god knows if the dude was a boy scout for three weeks in third grade and you aren't a vestal virgin with signed testimonials from the Seven Worthies you're going to go down as a crazed murderess.

I personally, however bloodthirsty I may feel at times, do not think I would honestly be able to kill another human being. Having a gun would not help me, because I know I would hesitate and then the dude would be bigger and stronger than I AND have a gun. It is actually HARD to get most people to be willing to kill other people - the military has worked quite hard at polishing the science of it.

So I laugh at the internet blowhards who are all 'JUST GET A GUN LADEEZ' because it's easy, as with so much else in the lives of women, to toss off a cheap and USELESS suggestion instead of considering that maybe we've thought about the issue before today instead of wandering in a vacant haze re: the reality of being a woman in this world until some manly straight-talk woke us up to the idea that life is stern and earnest.

Jesus.
posted by winna at 5:54 PM on May 7, 2015 [51 favorites]


The issue here is two-pronged. Women do experience certain types of dangers disproportionately, but as some others have mentioned, we also are reminded of those dangers disproportionately as well.

And we're reminded in different ways. First, with the warnings and the precautions. From the time we're very very young, we're taught the sort of mindset that sensei up there was pushing. Be constantly aware of your surroundings, do reconnaissance everywhere you go, always be fearful and suspicious of everything. But even beyond that, we're reminded of it in weird little Schroedinger's rapist ways, too. For a lot of women, street harassment is a daily thing. I guess the closest male equivalent would be if it were a regular thing for big, intimidating men to step up on you, puffing their chests out and making other threatening gestures. Maybe every now and again, they'll hit you on the arm or poke your chest or something. They rarely escalate beyond that, but sometimes they do, and people are constantly reminding you that some of those guys will beat the shit out of, or even murder you.

Live like that long enough and you'll probably be more hesitant to leave your house. If you're able, you may avoid going out.

In fact, there is a tendency among a lot of white, middle class and up women I know to do just that. The constant reminders create an overblown sense of the dangers of the outside world, which perpetuates itself as they isolate and cloister themselves, so they start developing real phobias just about doing normal things that others don't think twice about. Taking public transportation, walking in a city, going anywhere after dark or without a chaperone. Lots of people don't have the option to do that, though, which is why I think it's a class-based phenomenon.

Men offering helpful advice is a big factor in this. I know I've been lectured plenty of times about things like that, and I don't think I've ever had a man tell me anything new as an adult. The advice to check the back seat is first of all is pretty common knowledge among women, and second of all, pretty silly. Rapists hiding in wait in the back seats of cars are not a common real life occurrence. But we hear about sillyassed shit like that all the time. In fact, the back seat is nothing. We also hear about dastardly villains who hide under parked cars with box cutters and slice your Achilles tendon in order to incapacitate and abduct you, and about evil geniuses who play recordings of babies crying to get you to open your front door so they can blitz attack you. Just go look around on snopes or something for a while, and read some of the cautionary urban legends targeted toward girls and women.

These are obviously ridiculous scenarios, but now imagine that this is what people have been telling you the world is like since you were a gullible little kid. Imagine just walking around in your life with absurdly violent and extremely implausible threats hanging over your head all the time.

It is just so funny to me when men confidently lecture women about things like that, as though they're actually relaying new and novel information.
posted by ernielundquist at 6:03 PM on May 7, 2015 [22 favorites]


Oh jeez yes the under-the-car lurker thing. Could it be any more improbable and yet I bet if you polled a hundred women at least seventy had been solemnly warned about it.
posted by winna at 6:07 PM on May 7, 2015 [5 favorites]


ten years from now:

"No liquid-knuckles? No sick sticks? No drones?"
posted by FJT at 6:14 PM on May 7, 2015 [9 favorites]


My sister was carrying a knife when she was jumped on the street a block from our house in suburban New Jersey and raped. She made the mistake of pulling out the knife to try to defend herself. She still has a big scar from that.
posted by alms at 6:19 PM on May 7, 2015 [6 favorites]


so much depends
on the personal knife missile
glazed with the blood of my enemies
beside the PedBridge
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 6:22 PM on May 7, 2015 [8 favorites]


This is why I only leave the house wearing a self-defense-training padded assailant suit.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:24 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


"No liquid-knuckles? No sick sticks? No drones?"

If you were serious about your personal safety you'd've designed and deployed a mechasuit like the ones in Neon Genesis Evangelion.

SAFETY SCORNING HUSSY!
posted by winna at 6:31 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


evil geniuses who play recordings of babies crying to get you to open your front door so they can blitz attack you

Ha! Crying babies and cats in heat sound enough alike that the would-be villain might get a bucket of cold water sloshed on him!
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 6:57 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I have also done a lot of looking into what it means to carry a gun and expect it to help instead of hurt you, and everything serious that I read totally agrees with what schroedinger said. Unless you're prepared to make it your 24/7 lifestyle, hypervigilant at all times, fully trained up at all times, the most convenient holster at all times - it's not going to help, and might actually end up hurting.

The one convincing self-defense workshop I ever went to featured an officer saying something like "the one really useful piece of advice I can give you is run. When in doubt, just run." He went through a big statistical analysis about crimes involving guns and how although there is a risk you will be shot if you run, your risk is much higher standing still and frozen, or complying, or trying to disarm someone, and I don't remember the particulars but I remember the message: you have nothing to gain from a struggle, a standoff, or trying to get the upper hand. It's hard to shoot a running person and it causes a commotion and puts distance between you. So I have remembered that, tried to train myself in that instinct: if something seems at all weird, don't be ashamed about busting into a run, and even if a gun is pointing right at you, you may be better off going hell for leather than trying to think up something slick.
posted by Miko at 6:59 PM on May 7, 2015 [23 favorites]


What things can individuals do to make women safer? Besides not engaging in threatening behavior, of course.
posted by Joe in Australia at 7:13 PM on May 7, 2015


Ok, so I'm understanding the keys and the mace and the knuckles, but what is with the cigar cutters? Is that for like dick chopping or something? Is it some other device I don't know about and not even a cigar cutter?

Genuinely curious, I wasn't expecting to see like three of them in these gallery photos.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:25 PM on May 7, 2015


Can anyone point me to a reliable source for statistics on how much women actually have to fear from walking down the street? Not to downplay their situation, but people in general do worry more about crime than is necessary and think rates are going up when they're going down, so some indisputable numbers would be nice to have.

The most I could find was from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, "Rate of violent victimization, by demographic characteristics of victims, 2003, 2011, and 2012", which shows men being victimized at slightly higher rates than women. Of course, this aggregates all kinds of violent crimes; maybe a lot of men are joining gangs and mutually victimizing each other, while women rarely commit crimes but sometimes are victims of them (that's just an example made-up explanation for the stats, not meant as a true hypothesis).

At least one girl I know wants to get a taser, but she's told me she's not worried about self-defense, she just has a guy friend with one and thinks they're cool. If I wanted something for personal protection, that's what I'd get; it's meant as a weapon, so it should be more reliable than something like keys, but it's non-lethal so you don't have to wait for immiment injury/death to use it.
posted by Rangi at 7:38 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


Is it some other device I don't know about and not even a cigar cutter?

The kind of rectangular devices? I think those are tasers.
posted by kagredon at 7:40 PM on May 7, 2015


Compare public violence with with domestic violence: nearly twice as many women as men were "raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States" in 1996, according to the National Institute of Justice, and I haven't heard of the gender disparity getting any better since then.
posted by Rangi at 7:45 PM on May 7, 2015


This thread makes me really sad.

(Male. Learned the key thing in college too.)
posted by Songdog at 7:47 PM on May 7, 2015


They're stun guns. The terminology is a bit confusing: stun guns require direct contact to incapacitate, whereas tasers fire conducting wires in order to incapacitate at a distance.
posted by topynate at 7:47 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


I know someone who has been tasered on two separate occasions by the police. The first time immediately incapacitated him, but the other time didn't do anything worse than cause some pain and he was able to keep fighting. I don't know how the pictured ones compare, but at least with the police models there is a range of possible effects.
posted by Dip Flash at 7:50 PM on May 7, 2015


The one convincing self-defense workshop I ever went to featured an officer saying something like "the one really useful piece of advice I can give you is run. When in doubt, just run."

Yeah, and I can't run more than a quarter mile without gasping for breath and being almost unable to breathe, and also I'm 5'2" and not exactly in peak physical fighting condition here. Basically my only protective skill here is a willingness to go for the soft bits, which will do me fuck-all good in close quarters when I can't fucking run, and the ability to yell really loud. Which, likewise. If someone chooses to target me I am effectively dead or raped--dealer's fucking choice! Go on, surprise me!

I have made my piece with that, very consciously, because the only way I would ever be able to train enough and sacrifice enough to be the kind of person who would reliably target all comers... would be turning into someone who is sufficiently paranoid and sufficiently alert that I would not have the energy to be the person that I am. I would not have the energy to think about almost anything else or to be the fully formed person I am.

So frankly, fuck all of you assholes who want to turn this into a "well I could kill ANYONE who hurt ME" pissing contest. I came to terms with my own mortality and vulnerability already. Reminding me about it just feels like...... well. I would really love to go about my short, tiny, expressive life without constantly being reminded that hey, in the event of someone deciding to hurt me, there's gonna be fuck-all I can do about it! Seriously, I must come across this reminder and feel unsafe at least once every three or four weeks. If that's not your experience, fucking bully for you, but I am so, so tired of having this conversation turn into a "let's fix it" advice-style one-upping game, or worse a pissing contest--goddamn karate stories, why am I not surprised?--every time this comes up around men. Seriously. You win the tough-guy contest, dudes! It's okay! But please shut the fuck up about this like I should invest all this time and effort into completely controlling and dominating a contest that I start at an incredible disadvantage at from square one.
posted by sciatrix at 7:59 PM on May 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


Rangi, please read upthread where women have pointed out time and again that we have to be hypervigilant not only because of the risk of violence, but because of the risk of being blamed if something bad does happen to us. Crime statistics do not tell the full story.

> At least one girl I know wants to get a taser, but

A taser would not be an appropriate device for a child. Perhaps you meant "woman"?
posted by Westringia F. at 8:03 PM on May 7, 2015 [21 favorites]


Can anyone point me to a reliable source for statistics on how much women actually have to fear from walking down the street? Not to downplay their situation, but people in general do worry more about crime than is necessary and think rates are going up when they're going down, so some indisputable numbers would be nice to have.

I'm not sure those statistics exist in a tangible report form. Furthermore, they would rely on reported incidents, and a lot of sexual(ized) violence and attempts at it are not reported for a wide variety of reasons, and incidents in which you are creeped out but escaped any significant harm (in the eyes of the authorities) are often not even recorded. These are incidents that are often waved off or minimized by authorities, that are sometimes not believed or not considered important, that sometimes ends up with the blame being put solidly on the shoulders of the (almost) assaulted and not the assaulter.

For instance, I didn't report the two guys who tried to intimidate me into a blind alley while leering and clucking (it sounds hilarious, but it was frightening), or the guy on the subway who decided to let his fingers do the talking (he wanted to have me arrested for assault when I automatically reacted), or the guy on the bus who masturbated, got off when I did and tried to follow me back to my house, or the guys who paid quickly when I left a restaurant and followed me to my car (spreading out to my left and right) stopping and retreating only when they realized my friends were out there smoking and waiting for me, or the time a random dude reached out to touch my hair from behind holding it in makeshift ponytail asking me if I wanted to be tied up, or the creep who used to park by the tennis courts at the high school and watch the women who played and would move his car next to the ones he liked, often so they'd have to ask him to move his car so they could get in. Those are some minor incidents from my life. I didn't report any of them; they'll appear in no statistics, but they inform the way I look at the world.

In short, there are no indisputable numbers, so you probably going to have to put faith in what women are telling you about our experiences.
posted by julen at 8:09 PM on May 7, 2015 [32 favorites]


it's also not just the crime or the blame, but also that our culture normalizes women being expected to be accommodating to men at all times - which creates an environment where a woman never knows if an interaction is just going to be slightly off or if it's going to turn suddenly dangerous. that's part of what it means when people talk about rape culture - it's not just how often do attacks that make the crime reports happen, but also how many times in a 5 minute walk a woman is made to feel on guard by the utterly banal and terrifying attention of men. useful or not, sometimes it's just nice to thumb a knife in your bag as that happens.
posted by nadawi at 8:10 PM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


What things can individuals do to make women safer? Besides not engaging in threatening behavior, of course.

Call your friends out on casual sexism and misogyny. When you see people being harassed, go over and ask if everything is okay if you can do that in a non-threatening way. Don't follow women, even if you're going the same way (cross the street and walk ahead of her or go a different way if you can). Offer to walk women home/to their car/whatever if they don't feel safe, but be cool about it if they reject you. Always walk on the outside of the sidewalk so women don't have to deal with street harassment. Be a witness.
posted by NoraReed at 8:21 PM on May 7, 2015 [14 favorites]


walk women home/to their car/whatever if they don't feel safe

If a woman asks you to do this, don't scoff and mansplain to her that she's being totally silly, we're in like the safest area of the city. (I may have done this more than once when I was younger and jerkier . . . . )

Just accompany her wherever while chit-chatting about normal stuff.
posted by soundguy99 at 9:22 PM on May 7, 2015 [2 favorites]


You know that thing about how men are afraid we'll laugh at them, and women are afraid men will kill them? Maybe if we just laugh at them every time they start this stupid karate playground shit they'll go away.

And then we can focus on actual useful strategies for protecting ourselves. If we choose.
posted by easter queen at 9:52 PM on May 7, 2015 [4 favorites]


My understanding of why keys are good:

1) They are not easy to re-use, you set them up in your fist carefully but if dropped they cannot immediately be used against you.
2) Not illegal, you are just holding your keys.
3) Don't need to wait for serious escalation - any threat at all and you swipe at the face with them, you can scare and harm attacker (good for later ID) and hey, it was not intentional, I was just holding my keys.
posted by Meatbomb at 10:07 PM on May 7, 2015


I expected to see dogs!
Most women walking at night in my middle/ upper middle urban, very safe and tight knit neighborhood have one big dog or several small dogs.
The police say dogs deter crime, even if the dog's nature is not protective, it's intimidation and just too complicated for criminals to mess with a dog.
So many sweet dogs helping women feel comfortable. A great partnership.
posted by littlewater at 10:23 PM on May 7, 2015 [1 favorite]


What worries me about this post, is that they are all defending against random-Bad-Guy-on-the-street rape -- the bogeyman, the monster in the closet. Most rapes are by acquaintances. This is a distractor from the real danger, the 'nice' guy next door.

I'm always in the position of a third party observer here on this one, but yea.

A depressing, and shocking number of my friends and acquaintances and even family members have been raped. Many multiple times.

I've heard i think two stories, out of tens if not over 50 of "stranger danger".

I say this not at all to discount the reasons given here for feeling the need to be ready and "on" at all times, but just because it seems like the push back to stranger danger being the defacto primary threat often seems to even come from inside the room and i did get that vibe from this.

Almost every account i've heard was a friend of a friend, or a friend, or someone they already knew well who was "just hanging out" or a classmate or something.

But then i think back to the general feeling described of hyper vigilance and let it go.
posted by emptythought at 10:31 PM on May 7, 2015


What things can individuals do to make women safer? Besides not engaging in threatening behavior, of course.

In addition to what NoraReed said, I would say push back against the "women are always under threat" narrative and try to push a "women are competent" narrative. One way of doing this is not engaging in second guessing what any women do for their safety - frequently "what did she do to cause this" comes up a lot when women are victims of crime; shut that down as best you can given the context and other people involved.

If people question the validity of a woman's claim of feeling/being vulnerable, educate them on how biased the world is and how it says to women "it is your responsibility to ensure you are never a victim" - which leads to the dual result of women with means isolating themselves and women without means being more vulnerable to predators because they are expected to be psychic and somehow able to prevent violence against them.

Push back against these narratives in contexts of domestic and acquaintance violence as well. I found it enlightening to notice where my thoughts went when I heard about women being the victims of crime and when I thought about a specific woman's specific vulnerability. I ended up noticing and starting to try to ameliorate some real judgement I had toward other women based on how they dressed, all through paying attention to my knee-jerk reactions.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:46 PM on May 7, 2015 [10 favorites]


That exclamation point tattoo is rad
posted by Joseph Gurl at 12:18 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Trying not to step in front of this discussion, but I found that the phrase "talismans against blame, not harm" fits why so many of the people I know give up and just wear helmets while cycling. It's a great way to view all sorts of rituals we engage in when victims are blamed instead of perpetrators. I'll be keeping it in my little white cismale back-pocket!
posted by rum-soaked space hobo at 1:59 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


My self-defence class said that the best protection from assault was to run away making as much noise as possible if we felt slightly weirded out by a situation. If we were grabbed then our next step would be to go limp or wriggle out of the grip then run away making as much noise as possible. If that didn't work then use keys, nails, whatever is at hand to slash-not-stab at soft bits (eyes, ears, stomach, genitals) with the purpose of causing the attacker to temporarily lose their grip so you can run away making as much noise as possible. If you are forced onto the ground, try to keep a knee up to make it easier to roll him off you or your hands free to poke his eyes or clap his ears, again with the purpose of getting him to pause for a second so you can get free and run away making as much noise as possible. Failing that, try to leave a scar on him or scrape some DNA off him to make identifying him later easier when you run to the police station making as much noise as possible.

The TL;DR I took from this is that it's unlikely I will be able to incapacitate an attacker, because I am small and not strong. I was never able to push anyone off me in class even though my technique was fine. But I can definitely make myself an incredibly annoying target not worth pursuing. So now I keep my keys ready for slashing and decide as I walk along where the closest safe place to run to is because I can't run far or fast at all.

But I'd rather be able to walk around my town without being at risk of sexual assault, thankyouverymuch.
posted by harriet vane at 5:33 AM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


My self-defence class said that the best protection from assault was to run away making as much noise as possible

I was taught to yell "Fire" not "Help." People don't want to get involved with "help". Everyone comes out for "Fire."
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 6:00 AM on May 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I expected to see dogs!

I would not get a dog, which is an emotional project and a huge responsibility, just to walk on the street. When I have had a big dog, I did walk on the street with him at all hours, but that's because he needed to go for a walk, not for my protection.

the push back to stranger danger being the defacto primary threat often seems to even come from inside the room and i did get that vibe from this.

I'm not really sure why we keep circling back to "you ladies KNOW people you know are more dangerous, right?" Yes, I think we do. But this thread is about protecting yourself on the street. The photography project is about women's attempts to protect themselves on the street. It would be great to have truly representative stats about the risk, but we don't really have them, and furthermore, we don't really need them. Most of us have had moments where we have needed to protect ourselves, or been prepared to protect ourselves, on the street, or know people who have been attacked, intimidated, or had to protect ourselves, so I would personally appreciate not having it suggested that street risk is 'all in our minds,' or unimportant compared to other risks. I acknowledge that assault is more likely to come from people I know, and I do not overestimate the risk of walking alone (if anything I underestimate it, perhaps to my detriment) but that doesn't mean it's useless or uninteresting to talk about how to protect yourself on the street, where women do, in fact, get intruded upon regularly, and sometimes harmed in real ways.

Can we assume that we can hold both things in our minds, please - danger from acquaintances and danger from stranger assailants - but that right now we're talking about protecting ourselves on the street?

posted by Miko at 6:27 AM on May 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


Miko makes a good point about getting a dog - for the love of mike don't get a dog for any reason other than you want a dog. They are a nightmare of trouble and expense and the only reason to get one is that you enjoy being the guardian of an ungrateful beast that drools and sheds and destroys things with brio.
posted by winna at 7:22 AM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


#notalldogs (Though the larger point about them needing care and not being solely a security-related accessory, of course, stands.)
posted by Spathe Cadet at 8:08 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


-What worries me about this post, is that they are all defending against random-Bad-Guy-on-the-street rape -- the bogeyman, the monster in the closet. Most rapes are by acquaintances. This is a distractor from the real danger, the 'nice' guy next door.

--I've heard i think two stories, out of tens if not over 50 of "stranger danger".


Weell, they're not always mutually exclusive. The group that attacked me was made up mostly of acquaintances. Living in a small town as a teenager, most of the street harassment I got was from boys and men whose names or faces I knew.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 8:44 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Dogs would really only be useful for protection in some pretty narrow circumstances. At home, camping, or just walking around. You can't bring them on your commute or to work or school or a store or most other destinations unless they're actually service dogs.

Women out walking around with dogs are probably mostly walking their dogs rather than bringing the dogs along for protection so they can walk around.

I actually got really mad at a dog trainer once who assumed I had my big dog for protection. He was really hard selling some nasty dominance training for guard dogs. My dogs are my buddies, and I do everything I can to socialize them with as many people as possible and teach them that the world isn't a mean scary place. It's my job to protect them, not the other way around.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:00 AM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


In the "waking behind/near a woman in a potentially worrisome for her scenario": I've figured out the cross-the-street part. But I've always wondered if it would be beneficial to declare my presence and/or my directional intentions/. Now that I've read this thread, it seems that this would be a bad idea. I'm honestly trying to make sure I don't make a potentially scary scenario worse.
Plus, I can't think of any way to say something that wouldn't also be immediately terrifying.
posted by mfu at 9:14 AM on May 8, 2015


> In the "waking behind/near a woman in a potentially worrisome for her scenario": I've figured out the cross-the-street part. But I've always wondered if it would be beneficial to declare my presence and/or my directional intentions/. Now that I've read this thread, it seems that this would be a bad idea. I'm honestly trying to make sure I don't make a potentially scary scenario worse. Plus, I can't think of any way to say something that wouldn't also be immediately terrifying.

Oh, no need to announce your presence or intentions, that would be presumptuous and kind of creepy, yes. The thing that puts me the most at ease is just when people walk....well, normally. What I would consider normal, anyway, in public street etiquette. Relatively predictably and with awareness of space. Don't follow on someone's heels too closely if walking at the same pace, either pass or keep a little distance.

If someone is walking behind me for a spell, I generally do a nondescript partial-head turn to get a glimpse of them and more importantly, how they're acting. (You probably wouldn't notice what I'm doing, it looks like general "being aware of surroundings" or perhaps glancing at a sign, or the sound of a car coming down the street.) To that end, it's helpful when people behind me are walking slightly to the outside or inside rather than smack-dab directly behind me. Many people do this pretty naturally, but if not, it is a small adjustment/habit that you could make.
posted by desuetude at 9:48 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Claude Steele told this story in his book, Whistling Vivaldi: (this is from an NPR interview)
CONAN: And let me ask you about the title of your book, "Whistling Vivaldi."

Dr. STEELE: Yes, that comes from a friend, Brent Staples who writes for the New York Times, and his autobiography called "Parallel Time," a great book I can plug. He describes being a graduate student, an African-American graduate student at the University of Chicago, walking down the street dressed as a student and realizing that his mere presence was making whites uncomfortable.

And they would avoid him or sort of cross the street to get away from him and so on. He realized from this kind of behavior that they were seeing him through the lens of a negative stereotype about African-Americans in that neighborhood, that perhaps as a young male, black male, he might be violent. And it was making his whole experience of the situation tense and awkward. He learned how to whistle Vivaldi to deflect that stereotype.
My buddy Billy figured out he had been making women inadvertently on-edge for a while, being slight and threatened-feeling himself. He just hadn't been paying attention to how lone women might be feeling about his presence, 'cause he was busy worrying about his own safety. After he realized what worry he may have been causing, he said he felt terrible about it. I told him this story and he gave it a shot and said it seemed to work.
posted by lauranesson at 10:01 AM on May 8, 2015


To clear your palate from that nasty patriarchal aftertaste, enjoy this delicious bite of dry Toast: A woman like water.
posted by Freyja at 5:28 PM on May 8, 2015


Zuh? Is that supposed to be a link?
posted by Joseph Gurl at 6:41 PM on May 8, 2015


It should go to this, I'm betting.
posted by rtha at 6:50 PM on May 8, 2015


I also want to add, as a data point, that I started arming myself against strange men when I was six. They were clumsy, stupid six-year-old ideas, like tacks pushed through my sandals and needles threaded in my hair and pins shoved in my pencils when the cores fell out, big plastic rings and beads tied to my ponytail with raffia.

But I started protecting myself, of my own accord, from strange men who wanted to touch and assault and molest and rape me, when I was SIX.

Telling women they are doing it wrong is ridiculous. You don't know when they started feeling they had to.
posted by E. Whitehall at 10:04 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


(The discussion on "it's mostly violence by people you know" overlooks that disabled children are seen as very easy targets for sexual violence, particularly those who are known to be mute or otherwise without the tools for communicating what was done to them. All of what I listed there already happened to me by that point. I didn't start arming myself however I could because I was scared of the unknown -- I was arming myself because I was angry.

Volcanically angry, enough that "you might hurt me, but I'll hurt you too" was my watchword for everyone, for everything, everywhere. I don't wish that kind of anger on anyone. I don't think it should ever be necessary. It happens, yes. Necessary? To get through anything, to prepare for the worst? No. I think that is an absurdly cruel thing to ask of anyone.)
posted by E. Whitehall at 10:25 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not really sure why we keep circling back to "you ladies KNOW people you know are more dangerous, right?" Yes, I think we do.

I think you're ascribing a shitty tone to my post that i didn't write it with, and didn't intend to communicate.

My point was simply that the stranger danger narrative gets a lot of airtime online, and i think it's interesting to examine why when it's the prevailing cultural narrative and supported by a lot of shitty victim blaming men.

I didn't mean it at all in a "you ladies know..." kind of way, and i appologize if it came off that way. Your post did make me realize i may have been stuffing my foot in my mouth a bit though, so i think i'll just butt out now.
posted by emptythought at 12:05 AM on May 9, 2015


I got my first dog as a direct consequence of our flat being broken into through the front door during daylight hours. I'd wanted a dog for ages, but that occasion convinced my roommates to allow it. And after we got an 80-lb pit bull cross rescue - a roommate chose her - I found that I could walk anywhere I damn chose, at any hour, for the first time in my life. As someone who finds walking at night to be a necessity, this was revelatory. I'd walked with the keys in hand and (recommended by a friend) a can of oven cleaner to spray in a potential assailant's eyes, but with a big mean-looking dog, I didn't have to worry. I didn't need props. My beloved Brandydog died ten years ago this month, and since then I've rescued only little dogs, but I still walk as though I've got that huge (and hugely friendly, but she didn't look friendly) presence next to me.
posted by goofyfoot at 12:57 AM on May 9, 2015 [3 favorites]


Quick question: in the ninth portrait from the top, the short-haired woman with the Lake-something or another t-shirt is brandishing a rectangular, gun-like device that I don't recognize.

What is it?
posted by the hot hot side of randy at 6:05 AM on May 9, 2015


pretty sure it's a stun gun at a slightly weird angle.
posted by nadawi at 6:15 AM on May 9, 2015


Thanks.
posted by the hot hot side of randy at 6:35 AM on May 9, 2015


i'm going to look at the photos later. I dress as a man, esp hat/hair, walk with hips together in running shoes, make sure i have nothing round my neck so nobody can grab it and strangle me, and ostentatiously cover neck up because someone can reach from behind with a knife to your neck and you can't even scream, i know from experience (close shave) so you must be clearly un-touchable on the neck. Wrap scarf so doesn't go round neck, back and forth, and beef up shoulders. Not been safe always even then.
And remember: to women, you now look like a man, so don't walk behind them down the road, change roads or routes if necessary to avoid scaring them
posted by maiamaia at 8:37 AM on May 9, 2015


Our Lady of Self Defense, an illustration by Jenn Woodall.
posted by divined by radio at 4:50 PM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


...you have to be prepared to kill...

I'm always prepared to kill.

Kill an ice cold beer that is!
posted by turbid dahlia at 5:12 PM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


People who aren't ready to kill an ice-cold beer at any moment are replicants so it's all good!
posted by winna at 5:32 PM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


I'm not ready to kill an ice-cold beer. I am a beer pacifist. I only kill cider.
posted by NoraReed at 6:50 PM on May 10, 2015 [4 favorites]


Cidercide.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 6:58 PM on May 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


I've never told anyone this before, but when I was young I got in some trouble and barely got away from being charged with involuntary canslaughter.
posted by cortex at 7:08 PM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Hence Dead Guy Ale...
posted by Mental Wimp at 8:39 PM on May 10, 2015


is it made from real dead guys
posted by kagredon at 10:59 PM on May 10, 2015 [1 favorite]


Aluminum cans burn away without a trace in a good hot campfire.

Just sayin'.
posted by maryr at 9:43 AM on May 11, 2015


if you are male and are about to comment about your safety practices, please think about why you feel the need to redirect a conversation that is very specifically about women back to your male experience

Well, to me that feels a little unfair. Fear is a shared human emotion and vigilance takes many forms, and while I don't dispute the fact that the experience of walking home alone at night is vastly different for women than it is for men, and that the likelihood of something bad happening is potentially higher for many women than it is for many men, and that that bad thing is potentially going to take a more savage and horrific form, it feels a bit unnecessarily dismissive to say "this is girl talk, boys aren't invited".

While this isn't a discussion about self-defence exactly, self-defence is still a part of it. I submit that all sexes would have useful things to say about it.
posted by turbid dahlia at 3:34 PM on May 12, 2015


it feels a bit unnecessarily dismissive to say "this is girl talk, boys aren't invited".

well

not that that's ever stopped a man before
posted by kagredon at 3:54 PM on May 12, 2015 [21 favorites]


I can't think of a way to respond to that that wouldn't be snarky in return so I guess I'll take my leave! *tips fedora*
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:50 PM on May 12, 2015


Pffft. That fedora never even brought us our mozzerella sticks. Don't leave it more than 10%.
posted by maryr at 9:19 PM on May 12, 2015 [2 favorites]


For what it's worth, working in rape crisis you end up hearing the stories of a huge variety of sexual assaults and it becomes pretty clear how false and hurtful the whole "fight back" narrative is -- and most especially so when you actually witness police, friends, partners, and family interrogating a rape survivor about their choices and whether they fought.

I've long believed that self-defense courses and personal safety awareness lectures and the like are all deeply counterproductive in that they end up reinforcing this amazingly toxic cultural message that women -- not men, not our culture -- are responsible for ensuring they're not raped and provide leverage for the victim blaming that occurs when women don't fight off their attackers. Because the truth is that even well-trained people are far more likely than not to freeze and be passive than use a self-defense technique or use a weapon, and then there's this added victim blaming component of "you could have, but you didn't".

Everything about this cultural message seems insidious to me, in a way that suspiciously reinforces the structure that boxes women in fear. It says that women are responsible for their own victimization (because it's all about women preventing it), it persuades women to feel more safe than they actually are (which means less agitation for culture-wide change that actually makes women safer), and it provides a range of possibilities for victim blaming after the fact. The thing is, carrying these weapons doesn't deflect blame later and, often, it just intensifies it if the weapon isn't used (as it most likely won't be).
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 10:50 AM on May 13, 2015 [12 favorites]


See, I completely agree with that. And yet I'm glad I took a self-defence course. I think because it fills that talisman against blame niche, but also because I think many (a majority? I don't know) of crimes are opportunistic. Being a more difficult target might save my life, even if I don't get out unscathed, simply because the arsehole was hoping for quick gratification and not a battle.
posted by harriet vane at 5:48 AM on May 14, 2015 [2 favorites]


I actually think part of the reason I still smoke cigarettes is so that I can have a burning thing in my hand when I'm walking alone, just in case.
posted by lauranesson at 10:22 PM on May 16, 2015 [1 favorite]


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