Peppered in Pink

Written by Regan Hofmann on . Posted in News Our Town Downtown, Our Town Downtown.


The dubious feminizing of self-defense products

Pink dresses, pink razors, pink tasers—oh my! It’s every woman’s dream come true. Now she can defend herself and look feminine at the same time. Because nothing says “Get back!” like a cute hot-pink can of pepper spray.

Self-defense is no longer only a precaution, but increasingly a fashion statement too. Companies target women with girly pink tasers, stun guns and pepper sprays. Though miniaturizing these items might serve some practical purpose, decorating them only belittles the seriousness they imply.

Self-defense isn’t about looking cute, or having the hottest lipstick stun gun in several classy colors, or concealing perfume pepper spray in a limited-time pink camouflage pouch. This type of marketing only serves to demean women and their reasons for wanting a weapon in the first place.

These dainty, though arguably powerful, weapons make a mockery of women seeking protection when, the truth is, women’s safety is still an issue. According to the National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, one out of five women reports being involved in some form of sexual assault. A woman’s personal safety isn’t a joke, though it is, admittedly, hard to take seriously when confronted with female safety mascots like Pinky Sparkadero.

Pinky, a hot-pink robot who wears a pink miniskirt and crop top, is a character on the blog DefendThyself.com that presents the best in “girl-themed” self-defense products. While sporting lip gloss and a six-pack, Pinky looks anything but serious. She’s girly but macho and, on top of that, she’s not even real: She’s a robot; a fantasy and a joke. Though well-intentioned, Pinky sounds about as foolish as she looks.

She says things like “I may be pink and girly, but don’t let my appearance fool you—I can bring a big, strong man to his knees! There is no thrill greater than blasting a punk in the face with hot pepper spray. They may even cry like a little girl!”

Not only does she degrade women by portraying men as being more powerful, but she also uses the comparison to a girl as an insult. Her entire attitude serves to raise men and defame women.

Carrying a weapon is about creating a sense of security and control. It’s a serious affair and should be marketed as such; not dumbed down and accessorized. Women aren’t children, and these items aren’t toys; portraying them in this light sends the wrong message to attackers and women alike. The gimmicks and pink coloring depict women as weak and girly when the effect should be the opposite. Carrying a weapon should make a woman feel safe and empowered, not trendy.

It would be nice to argue that these types of items are irrelevant, bedazzled or not, but sadly, in a big city like New York, that isn’t the case. Whether it’s knowing not to leave drinks unattended or learning krav maga, knowing how to defend oneself is important. Carrying pepper spray may be a smart preemptive move on a woman’s part, but dyeing it pink isn’t helpful to anyone.

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