Women have come up with all sorts of creative methods to keep harassment at bay — hairy leg stockings, self-defense weapons on their keychains, anti-rape undergarments, and even nail polish that can detect date rape drugs in your drink. The lengths we'll go to in order to feel safe when we're alone know no bounds, so what I'm about to tell you might not be all that surprising: women in China are carrying flame throwers to help protect them against harassment, and sales have seen a huge spike as of late.
The devices look like a cigarette lighter and have a small lock on the side, so that you don't accidentally set it off in your purse. They're not meant to be lethal; but some of them can get as hot as 3,300 degrees and shoot flames almost 20 feet. The "flame throwers" are technically illegal, according to police, and are not allowed to be shipped to customers through the postal service; but according to reports, that hasn't done much to stop them. They sell for anywhere from $13 to $40 online, and some stores are selling up to 300 a month — a sharp increase that coincides with the increase in harassment that is common for the summer months.
Any man would be in for quite the (painful) surprise if he were to mess with a woman carrying one of these bad boys in her purse; and I'm sure we can all appreciate the efforts to continue making self-defense easy, fast, and safe for women who need the protection. But like most discussions of self-defense, this one wouldn't be complete without acknowledging that we're still missing the most important part: when will the talk surrounding harassment shift from how women can fight it off, to how we stop it from happening in the first place — i.e. teaching people not to harass others? The former works with rape culture; the latter tries to destroy it. Harassment happens every day, all over the world — at work, on the street, online, and anywhere else human beings go. Are women (and men — yes, men too) forever doomed to have to employ the buddy system after a night out because it's not safe to walk to their car alone?
There is still much to be done here; but in the meantime, women in China have their own solution.