Twice a year, I get really lame-brained "Warning!" emails about the latest crimes against women and/or tips-for-the-gullible on how to stay safe. They are typically lumped under subject lines that say "Prevent Sexual Assault!" or "Caution: Criminals Lurk in Dumpsters" or some such nonsense. Given that I'm an expert in personal safety and self-defense, they are mind-bogglingly stupid to me and my colleagues at IMPACT Personal Safety, yet somewhat credible to the uninitiated and ill-informed. One of my recent favorites was "Avoid wearing overalls!" The underlying logic is that an assailant with scissors could come along, "snip, snip"... and there you'd be, standing with your overalls pooled around your ankles.
Here's a refreshing change: I actually have useful tips that I invite you to send to as many people as possible. As much as I'd like to give credit where credit is due, these tips are so-far unattributed -- although they came from a hilarious and insightful new blog called I Blame The Patriarchy. It has some of the least namby-pamby gender analysis I've seen in a long time, and it's a hoot!
So, here goes:
Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work
1. Don't put drugs in women's drinks.
2. When you see a woman walking by herself, leave her alone.
3. If you pull over to help a woman whose car has broken down, remember not to assault her.
4. If you are in an elevator and a woman gets in, don't assault her. You know what? Don't even ogle her.
5. When you encounter a woman who is asleep, the safest course of action is to not assault her.
6. Never creep into a woman's home through an unlocked door or window, or spring out at her from between parked cars, or assault her.
7. When you lurk in bushes and doorways with criminal intentions, always wear bright clothing, wave a flashlight, or play "Boys Who Rape (Should All Be Destroyed)" by the Raveonettes on a boom box really loud, so women in the vicinity will know where to aim their flamethrowers.
8. USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If it is inconvenient for you to stop yourself from assaulting women, ask a trusted friend to accompany you when in public.
9. Carry a rape whistle. If you find that you are about to assault a woman, you can hand the whistle to your buddy, so s/he can blow it to call for help.
10. Give your buddy a revolver, so that when indifferent passers-by either ignore the rape whistle, or gather round to enjoy the spectacle, s/he can pistol-whip you.
Don't forget: Honesty is the best policy. When asking a woman out on a date, don't pretend that you are interested in her as a person; tell her straight up that you expect to be assaulting her later. If you don't communicate your intentions, the woman may take it as a sign that you do not plan to rape her.
These tips are reminiscent of Gloria Steinem's famous "If Men Could Menstruate" essay, a tongue-in-cheek rant on how the male dominator systems can take a life-giving process like menstruation and turn it into a "curse." But if men had their monthlies, the "boys" would probably be bragging about their rate of flow. I also penned a piece for my book, "Beauty Bites Beast," which is essentially a "switcheroo" piece. In it, I muse that there's no word I can find for kicking a man in the groin, so I coined one: "thwop." I then take the rape statistics that men and women get almost jaded to and substitute "thwop" for rape. If you read the piece, I think you'll find it eye-opening, if not cringe-producing.
The "Sexual Assault Prevention Tips Guaranteed to Work" piece is an answer to the complaint I've received on numerous occasions: "Why do I have to learn how to defend myself? Men should learn how to stop attacking women." Indeed. I have yet to make that argument successfully since I've never met anyone who really admits to being a rapist or assailant. But the next time I do, you can bet I'll hand them a copy of these rules!
Meanwhile, please don't send out dire warnings about ANYTHING, unless you've vetted them in some way or run them by an expert; in the realm of personal safety, that would be me. I'm The Safety Godmother, and if I don't know an answer about personal safety, I can find out in a jiffy. And, as you may or may not know, I'm also married to the Tech Daddy, who is a real stickler about nipping stupid Internet rumors in the bud. He's the one who taught me to stop and "snope." People, what part of www.snopes.com do you not understand?
The Internet is a trash bin of misinformation, as well as being a treasure trove of knowledge unfathomable by previous generations. Don't add to the trash: at the very least, "snope" the dire email warning you get before you forward it, to see if the information is a hoax. A good way to tell if something is bogus? If it breathlessly exhorts the reader to "send this to everyone you know!" Snopes.com is the web's premiere source of reliable information about Internet hoaxes and urban legends, and it's so easy to use... so use it! Don't needlessly scare people.