Monday, March 8, 2010

Too Good To Be True, But It Is

In Which Enlightened College Intern Lowers Herself To Interact With Men

Sometimes, in these very trying days......we might attempt to discern why the main complaint of feminism today (that I hear about anyway) is "for fuck's sake we really need to split housework 50/50!"   Scanning the Interwebs and Twitterscapes to discover, why this seemingly odd choice for a Major Issue Of Our Time, I found no answers. However, the  Nettubes did manage to cough up this gem of  a blithering nonsensical voyage into self-righteousness brought on by a woman determined to buy pepper spray at any cost or affront to her dignity (and yes, damn the torpedoes).

Here's the actual title: Hypothetical Rape Scenarios Don't Sell Pepper Spray.  Anyway, enough dithering, let's follow this brave woman as she navigates the dangerous, shark-infested waters and perilous reefs of The Patriarchy.
In order to intern with NOW, I moved from rural upstate New York into the Maryland/D.C. area....I have struggled as a feminist [don't we all?]

with whether or not I needed to have some form of hand-held self-defense.

Remember that rural dwellers are never raped nor assaulted. Good to know.

I decided to educate myself about different items I could carry for self-protection by shopping at a local Army Navy store....

Best to deploy the Universal Bullshit Translator on this one: "Because, of course, where else in the D.C. area could you educate yourself about self-defense? If only there was some sort of way to obtain information in the year 2010, some sort of centralized repository of information, and then some way to access that repository--wait! The information could be stored in a decentralized fashion, and then accessed electronically with some sort of electronical contraption of some sort! I'll call it: The Remote Telegraph!Ah, just a pipe dream, perhaps by 3010..."

(Wait! It gets better!)

On the store counter the clerk put down different types of pepper spray and stabbing weapons. My friend stated that the stabbing weapon was probably the best option, while the sales clerk deferred to the pepper spray. I then listened in awe as the sales clerk stated that if I (that's right--me!) were being raped by a three hundred-pound man, the stabbing weapon wouldn't be effective, so I should get the pepper spray. Silence.

Now apparently, since there is no possible way to look for information by 'experts', as all libraries have been closed at this point, and the police no longer exist, and the only public safety information we can find nowadays are old bomb shelter direction signs, we have only two choices: Friends, and sales clerks whose job it is is to take money and give back any change and a receipt.

And of course, it's perfectly fine to suggest to a woman buying a self-defense product that she might need it to protect herself against an assailant, in case she were to be assaulted, stabbed, maimed, injured or gut-shot with a 12-gauge--but saying the r-word is going to far. (That's right, Seth McFarlane, it's their word)There's a line here, and we're all supposed to know what it is, whether we've been given a line-map or not. Let's just hope in the future, Army-Navy-Discount-Store Sales-Clerks get their consciousness raised from caring-not-fuck-all to mild-shit-giving-somewhat.

If only there were some way to buy items discreetly, such as some sort of company that sold items from some sort of "catalog" and then you could fill out an "order" and then receive the item in the "mail". Of course, none of those things exist in anymore--perhaps another possible use for my "Remote Telegraph"? Bah, I'm just a dewey-eyed optimist, I reckon.

Having just experienced a "primitive-caveman-protects-woman" experience, I silently walked out of the store with my purchase. I was furious.


We walked back across the street to the car,

If only there was some means to commandeer this horse-less carriage to a Target or WalMart! If such places existed, which they do not!

I asked the clerk who had just helped me if I could talk to him for a second. He complied, and I explained that putting any customer in a hypothetical rape situation should not be a tool used to sell his product. If women are coming in to purchase a weapon for their key ring, chances are it was because they had experienced some form of sexual assault, and it was not his job to trigger fear. I also told him his communication and focus should be on the customer, regardless of their gender. I thanked him for his time and left. I felt better.

Let's put this last bit into the Universal Smugness Translator and see what it spits out: "I was so grateful that he had afforded me this opportunity to not only look down on someone else, and to make me feel better about my place in the world by gently reminding him that he's an uncouth ignorant bastard. And how lucky was it that this experience in male oppression just happened to coincide with my new internship at a pro-feminist organization?"

However, I now had a personal vendetta against my new stabbing weapon. While holding a grudge against a piece of plastic seems silly, I couldn't help it.

"I had nothing better to think about."

It now somehow stood for everything that I wasn't, like I had somehow given in to society's patriarchal paradigm.

Exactly how I feel about the alphabet. Invented by men, most likely--and they use it like all the time. Same reason I don't use Roman numerals.

That fact that I had even gone through with the purchase made me feel guilty.

"Have I lived up to my crackpot ideals?"

I keep it on my key ring sometimes and more often not.

"It only sounds idiotic because it is. Okay?"

In trying to unpack my experience-

"You're probably amazed I can unpack a lunch without having to discuss the patriarchy with my 'sisters'."

I explained what had happened to other NOW interns to get some insight.

"Amazingly, my fellow interns at this intensely political organization validated my world-view."

After seeing the Kubotan in person, one said it looked like her sexual aid

"God knows she needs them, but of course I only that behind her back."

while another stated it could just as easily be used against me as the pepper spray.

"I couldn't have asked them about this before even though I stated that I had sought out their advice in the first paragraph--but hey, Feminism isn't about being consistently logical. It's about whatever we say it's about. We won't succumb to Reason--that would be fucking patriarchical. And we are not your bitches!"

How I choose to protect myself is all about personal empowerment and what makes me feel comfortable and safe.

It's not about what works. Self-defense is more like a really great bath oil.

Eventually I gave the Kubaton weapon away to a friend who felt empowered by having it with them as protection.

"I don't need a masturbation device but some women just aren't pretty enough."

I continue to research a form of protection that empowers me.

We shall all breathe a bit more easily, knowing you're out there fighting the good fight and sticking it to The Man.

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