This story has been making the rounds. Two women were closing up the sex shop where they work, when a man with a gun came in and tried to rob them. One of the women said something to the effect of “I don’t have time for this” while the other woman began lobbing dildos at the would-be robber. He fled. There’s a decent photo of his face from the security camera, and I really hope he’s caught, both because I don’t want him to try and rob anyone else and also because I want him to be internet-famous for all time as the guy who was defeated in crime by two women hucking  dildos.

All humor aside, there are some great self-defense lessons to be drawn from this incident.

Lesson #1a: You don’t need to carry pepper spray, a gun, or a knife to defend yourself effectively. Often, in fact, a “real” weapon can be a liability. Imagine if the woman throwing the dildos had pepper spray hidden behind the counter, and thought of that as her primary line of defense. She’d be looking for it, pulling it out of its holster, and trying to get close enough to the robber to hit his face without also hitting her coworker. Weapons can be a valid option for self-defense, but it’s always valuable to first train yourself to use your voice, elbows, and knees, and also to start seeing opportunities for defensive weapons as you move through the world. Which brings us to . . .

Lesson #1b: Defensive weapons are everywhere. Literally. Here's a photo from when I walked the staff of a local bar through the place looking for improvised weapons. A bar is a freaking arsenal of improvised weapons. Coffee pot (throw, smash on the head, throw hot coffee in the face), hot sauce (improvised pepper spray!), bottles (used as a club, broken and used as a sharp weapon—dangerous, but an option), a hose in the back room (spray water in the face, spray water and soap on the floor of the doorway so the attacker slips when he walks through the door, use as a trip-wire in the doorway, use as a garrot, fire extinguisher . . . you get the idea. In this case, what was at hand was, apparently, a basket full of dildos.

 

Lesson #2: Flinch response. We all have one. It’s hard-wired. You can train to reduce it, but you cannot eliminate it and neither can the guy who’s attacking you. You can throw anything at someone’s face and it will buy you a split second—or maybe even more, depending on what you throw—for your next move.

Lesson #3: The element of surprise is almost always on your side when you are attacked. Hear me out. The attacker has surprise in their favor when they start the attack. But they have written themselves a script of what will happen next. Break that script, and you can turn the tables. I imagine this guy looked through the window and thought something like: “Great, two women in a sex shop. Easy peasy. Hold up the gun, hand them the bag, demand money, leave. What’re they gonna do? Hit me with a rubber penis?”

 

 

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