Rape Defense: The Skunk Method

A woman I know told me of how she was given a very strong-smelling chemical solution. This potent chemical was contained in a vial that she wore on her clothing, say on her blouse at the lapel. The idea was that if she were ever attacked by a would-be rapist, she would merely reach up and snap the vial, which would release the compound, that had such an overpowering stench that the rapist would be too sickened to attempt anything. (Of course, the drawback of this plan is that she would be sickened, too.)

She came home one night, turned off the lights, slipped off her clothes, and got into bed. Later that night her husband came into the room, and as he walked through the darkened room to the bed, she heard a cracking sound. It was the sound of her husband stepping onto the vial.

The room was immediately flooded with a horrifying, overpowering stench. Her eyes watered, and she tried not to vomit. She told me, “I tried not to panic.” How bad must a smell be that it would make you panic?

Her husband, though, panicked. He picked up her clothes and raced around wildly, trying to figure out how to get rid of them. The smell was more than he could stand, yet he was rushing around the house in the dark frantically trying to decide what to do with the clothes he held at arms’ length. He finally pitched them out the window.

The next day the neighbor who lived a quarter of a mile down the road complained of a putrid smell coming from my friend’s house.

She had been given a de-activator to neutralize the smell. What is amazing about the sheer malodorous power of the skunk-like anti-rape compound is that her husband had not broken the vial, but merely cracked it. Only a drop or two had oozed out from the vial. In his attempts to get rid of her foul-smelling clothes, the husband had merely spread the stench as he dashed from place to place in the house. It took her weeks with her nose to the floor, guided by putrid odors, to find and de-active the spills scattered throughout the house.

What is the moral of the story? To me, the moral is that there is no easy solution to violence. Like the “solution” to bear attacks is simply to avoid urinating on the trail, or to stay 100 feet away, the clean and easy solutions may not work. Other examples of clean and easy solutions to violence are:

  • just give them your wallet 

    Get Back! Or I'll Use This Koba-Jitsu Whistle Key Chain!

  • don’t argue with a rapist

  • carry a whistle and blow it if you’re attacked

  • pepper spray or mace

  • kick ’em in the groin

  • yell “Fire!”

  • tell the rapist you’re pregnant or have an STD

  • be alert

Sometimes these solutions work. But often they obscure the reality that violence has a horrifying face that we would like to pretend doesn’t exist. You may have to sweat, to train, to prepare yourself mentally to gouge a man’s eyes or shoot him. You may have to prepare yourself to die while fighting, choking a man to death as you bleed out.

I’m not saying this to be alarmist, but it is a survival mindset. As GM Giron used to say, “The more you sweat in peace, the less you bleed in war.” And wearing a stinky vial on your clothes may not prepare you for a hideous and brutal reality.

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