Sunday, November 27, 2011
Prior to Thanksgiving Break, I received a pamphlet in my mailbox concerning campus safety. There have been a string of attacks near campus lately, attacking lone walkers for money, computers, wallets, etc. The pamphlet outlined a few pieces of advice: try to walk in groups, be aware of your surroundings particularly in the evening, and use the escort service any time after 6pm by calling the campus hotline.
Further down, it recommended a series of self-defense videos. Finally, it concluded with the warning to women in particular: if you must walk alone late at night, grip your keys between your fingers so that you can swipe at any potential attacker and apparently do enough harm to incapacitate the person while you run away.
This final piece of advice made me laugh out loud.
Has anyone done this? Does anyone think that if you are attacked, getting the person in the face with your keys will be enough to knock the person down and allow you to escape? I'm not talking about the advice about being aware or walking in groups -- sound advice, that -- but encouraging that someone fight back with a half-cocked "weapon" of keys seems really irresponsible. Especially if the current spree is non-violent and property-based (wouldn't attacking turn it into a violence situation?).
(And why address only women in particular? Wouldn't men need to be aware as well? The publicized attacks have, after all, targeted men.)
Whether you are a man or a woman, please tell me: do you walk alone at night? If you don't, is this because of your gender? If you do, do you curl your keys into your fingers and prepare to strike another person? Have you ever been attacked and successfully fended off the criminal with quarters rolled up in your hand?
Is this just one of those urban myths that we tell each other that has no grounding in real life?