Article & Photo By: Alice Brookston
As any young woman can tell you, being out in the world can often be intimidating. With the number of sexual assault and rape cases that grow each day, many women live in fear of the possibility of the same happening to them when they are out in public, particularly when they are alone in an unsafe area of town or out at night.
Recently, there has been an increasing amount of traction concerning ways that a woman can protect herself from potential situations of danger, such as taking self-defense classes. Lately, self-defense keychains, in particular, have become quite popular. Some items that these disguisable keychains often contain are flashlights, sound alarms, pocket knives, a sharp cat-shaped contraption that mimics brass knuckles, window breakers and pepper spray.
While many women do feel much safer having even just one of these items, there are some legality issues at hand concerning self-defense items in the state of California. The “kitty-cat” items are often considered to be brass knuckles, and are not legal in the state of California.
Most of these other items, on the other hand, appear very normal on a keychain and are generally legal, but in most cases, it depends on whether or not the item can be accurately stated as a weapon or not. Along with that, some items, such as pepper spray, are not legal for a minor to purchase.
It should be noted, though, that I am in fact not a lawyer and my research is based on what I have learned through various sources online, and before purchasing said defense items, I would advise that you do some of your own research as well because the law surrounding self-defense in California can often be a bit unclear, and in general, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
Amy Genolio, a junior at Santa Rosa High School, recounts an event when she felt unsafe in public, which encouraged her to find a method of self-defense for the future. Genolio said, “I was going on a walk, and I walked to Slater because they have a big field and track there, and I was running around the track a few times. I was doing laps, and I noticed a middle-aged man sort of staring at me from the other side of the field. At first, I thought he was staring at my dog, Lola, but after some time, I realized he was continuing to stare at me. I got a little weirded out, so I started to walk farther away from him, and he followed me. I was pretty freaked out, so I grabbed Lola and started to head for home, but he continued to follow. Once I got close to my house, I sprinted back and lost him. A week later, I went back to that field and was talking to another woman there and brought up the story, to which she claimed that the same had happened to her. After that event, my mom ordered me a pepper spray for runners that straps onto my wrist, so now I feel much safer and more prepared in case an event like that occurs again.”
I think the idea of a woman being able to protect herself is ideal, and while admittedly some women do not feel the need for self-defense, others who do tend to be on the more paranoid side when out in public might want to consider the idea of providing themselves with some methods to help them feel safer.
Many small self-defense items can be purchased for relatively cheap amounts on websites such as Amazon, but full-fledged self-defense keychains can be purchased on sites such as Etsy for generally $20-40 dollars a keychain.
I think it’s best that a woman evaluates her options and decides what will make her feel safest when out in the world; because in most cases, it never hurts to be prepared for any and all situations, and if that means purchasing an item that can prevent a potentially traumatizing experience, then I think it’s a liable and responsible option.