On Being “Safe!”

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I saw posts about “Safe!” at Shakespeare’s Sister and Feministing. According to this article:

[Safe! is] a police magazine [that is] advising women planning a drunken night out to ensure they had waxed and were “wearing nice pants” in case they collapsed.

Suffolk Police’s Safe! magazine carries a reminder for readers “intent on getting ratted”, alongside a picture of a scantily-clad woman on the floor with the caption “if you’ve got it don’t flaunt it”.

It reads: “If you fall over or pass out, remember your skirt or dress may ride up. You could show off more than you intended – for all our sakes, please make sure you’re wearing nice pants and that you’ve recently had a wax. Better still, eat before you go out, think about how much you’re drinking, pace yourself and drink plenty of water in between bevvies or better still, don’t get in this sorry state – it’s not nice.”

This article says similar things, noting:

Readers are also told to stick with friends, book a taxi home and watch the amount they drink.

Police said the Safe! magazine’s gossipy, tongue-in-cheek style was designed to alert young women to the dangers they could face if they get drunk during a night out.

“We need to raise their awareness of potential problems,” said Chief Superintendent David McDonnell. “They become more vulnerable whilst under the influence of alcohol.”

The whole Safe! concept sounds appalllingly patronizing, and stupidly sexist as well, no question. However, it is also true that women who get very drunk in social situations often attract, and are victimized by, sexual predators. Is there a way to try to communicate this to younger women without being patronizing and sexist? Surely one can do better than Safe! But it is a difficult line to walk.

–Ann Bartow

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