Self-Defense and Scarves


Self-Defense and Scarves

I was just outside, soaking in the sun while it’s still bearable, and I came up with an idea that may or may not be legal.

On campus a lot of the time, I feel unsafe, as do many people that attend my school, regardless of their gender. I was thinking about practical self-defense mechanisms, and I have been reflecting on an NPR feature from last week that retold the story of David and Goliath, this time acknowledging that David was basically the equivalent of a mercenary, as his sling would have been much closer to a rifle in modern day logistics than a child’s play thing. The feature focused on the specific properties of the extra dense rocks David chose, how many revolutions he would have been rotating his swing above his head per second (sickeningly fast), and how Goliath was a sitting duck, and probably had gigantism as a health condition. It was a fascinating story.

But bringing that back to my life, something about the image of the sling going around David’s head that fast stuck in my brain. Which gave me this idea.

The basic concept is that many people cannot physically defend themselves, yet many common objects can be used for self-defense. Earlier today, my mother sent me an article from an Alabama school in which the teacher had decided to hold a food drive in the name of security, collecting aluminum canned goods so that, if the school is taken hostage by a terrorist, children could curl cans at the assailant.

Which is both brilliant and the most terrible thing I’ve ever heard. But now that school shootings are common in the United States and apart from ruffling parents’ feathers, it may not be such a bad idea, given how heavy cans are.

But on my campus, there is a general feeling of unsafety sometimes, especially if you are a woman or on the LGBTQIA spectrum, especially if it is late or dark, despite the fact that many people have class later at night, and despite as many street lights and call systems campus administrators would like to install. Furthermore, now that its winter, fewer people are going to be out for fun or walking around, because it’s cold as hell. Now, in terms of safety, and knowing that the anecdotes of people getting attacked in parking garages, in the parking lots of residence halls, and despite the time of day or alcohol content of their bloodstream, what exactly is a girl to do?

Well, I have no idea, except one.

Scarves are an accessory that many women wear and own, regardless of your nationality or ethnicity. They can be a headscarf, a layer of extra insulation around your neck, a pillow, a cover up when swimming, and buckets of other things when traveling, including a way to breastfeed discretely, according to the internet. Given how David used the momentum of his swing to protect his people and himself, I was curious if that couldn’t be put to the test in terms of self-defense and winter accessories.

As it turns out, it can, and it’s easy. The idea would basically be to twist up a scarf and knot one end several times, after folding the scarf in on itself lengthwise. If you can generate a certain amount of strength from your arm and send it around a couple times quickly, while holding the scarf loosely about a foot and a half down from the knot, you can pack a blow strong enough to stun someone and smash objects into pieces.

Now, I don’t believe in violence, and I’m not saying this is a viable solution, but it’s certainly a thought, given how many ladies on my campus wear scarves for warmth in the cold weather, and lately, men too. If you have a decent sense of aim, notice someone is following you, and can tie a couple knots under pressure, you could be a serious threat. If nothing else, you could shock someone long enough to drop the stupid scarf and run the opposite direction away. If someone actually got tackled you and meant to hurt you, clearly this wouldn’t work. But don’t tell me someone swinging the knotted end of a scarf at arms-length, extremely fast, parallel to the ground wouldn’t make you consider leaving them alone. I may be wrong, but to me that would be terrifying, especially if I could find easier prey elsewhere. I’m not sure how fast you could make this and where health risks happen, but it is enough to leave bruises and if you hit someone in the head, you could maybe even knock them to the ground or unconscious, leaving you room to get away. The whole thing is fabric, so it’s not like you are out for blood. But it could seriously hurt and it’s the kind of hurt that doesn’t fade quickly and bruises.

On my own, I wouldn’t feel comfortable punching someone, just because I know I probably wouldn’t do it very well. But making a sling out of a scarf and using my good aim and arm strength to hit someone upside the head? I can figure that out in just a few minutes.

Just to reiterate; this isn’t to break the law but to keep a person safe. David may have known a thing or two.


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I am a teacher-to-be who loves people. I am not afraid of many things. I like to explain my thoughts logically on a very birds-eye view level--I was born thinking that way. I follow Jesus Christ, and I accept only that label to describe my identity--that I am a child of God, as are infinite others, regardless of their other identities. Christ is my one thing.

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