Ladies, We’re Apocalypse Ready
When I chat to my brothers about the good old days of bar-hopping and pub-crawling, my stories have a very different tune than theirs. Theirs are adventurous tales of freedom and mischief which make my experiences pale in comparison. Mine were of being wary, never walking alone at night, and tiptoeing around in order to protect myself, because I am a woman. But these moments, the relentless ways in which women have different experiences to men, only mean one thing in my book – we’re already apocalypse ready.
There are many things women have already mastered that will help us rule in an apocalyptic world. Below I look at a few of the skills I’ve picked up in our world that will supercharge my survival chances if we ever go full apocalypse on Planet Earth.
1. The Weaponry
My mother taught me as a teenager to use my house keys as a weapon. The message back then that most teenage girls heard was that men were dangerous and we must arm ourselves when going out after dark, along with keeping our wits about us. Women are also routinely encouraged to partake in self-defense classes to defend against potential attackers – I did this too.
In the apocalypse of my imagining, this can only arm us with the know-how we need to escape tricky situations and come out on top. Imagine you’ve collected a large amount of life-saving supplies. Others will want that, others will fight for that. Our experiences of the world as a woman not only give us the strength and cunning to ward off potential attacks, but will make us naturally more cautious of others.
In the comic book series and now popular TV show “The Walking Dead,” it is revealed that Michonne Hawthorne, katana-wielding woman and most kick-ass of all the characters, studied fencing in college, hence her spectacular talent with a sword, or any object she can wield. It’s these seemingly simple life lessons that women have that make us formidable and adaptable in a tight squeeze. Michonne would certainly be able to kill the bad guy with a set of house keys.
2. The Code Word
When having a night out or on a date, it was custom in my college days to assign a code word in case someone was bothering me. This use of coded words gifts us gals with the foresight to have an escape route if things got tricky, and a way to communicate without further antagonizing the situation.
This use of language would prove invaluable in an apocalyptic world. In a stand-off, what better way to communicate the fight or flight response than with a coded message? We are used to using messages and codes to initiate a rescue or communicate that things are fine, from letting our friends know we got home safe, to texting for a phone call to get out of a bad date. It’s something we’ve done all our lives and will utilize in the apocalypse.
3. The Poison
As is common on a night out, the first rule for women is to never leave their drinks unattended. Unfortunately in England and Wales, reports of drink spiking have risen, with an overwhelming 72% of victims being women.
But how will this make us kick-ass in an apocalypse? Well, natural poisons are common. In the UK, you can find deadly nightshade, hemlock and natural sources of cyanide in your backyard (I’m talking that beautiful hydrangea that was already in your garden when you moved in). Poisoning will continue beyond our manufactured drugs running out, and our experiences guarding drinks at bars will give us the cautiousness we need to be wary of deceitful poisoning from a foe.
4. The Others
We don’t know what will cause the downfall of humankind. Coronavirus has come pretty close to giving us a taste of a society broken, but in the apocalypse of my imagining, it’s more likely that humans will revert to a dog-eat-dog world, and it won’t be for twenty packs of toilet roll.
Many women can’t walk down the street without unwanted attention. We have to keep our heads down, pretend we don’t hear wolf whistles or goading from men, much like avoiding other dangerous survivors on the road in an apocalyptic world.
The relentless caterwauling from men for some women has instilled a natural cautiousness in us when simply navigating our world. I, for one, cross the road to avoid groups of men – not because I’m making assumptions about their nature, but because of my experiences as a woman. These moments will be very familiar to some women, but how will this benefit us in the case of a total worldwide meltdown?
Experiences feed our perceptions, and perception of others is a very keen skill to have when dealing with rival groups of survivors. We will have more awareness of keeping our heads down in dangerous areas, and around dangerous people. The character of the Widow in “Into the Badlands” shows us this. In a dystopian world where seven barons rule the land, and with a particular type of supply chain, your fighting skill determines your rank. The Widow is the most formidable amongst them all. The baron of oil, she uses her past experiences of abuse to rise stronger than any of the other barons and rule her corner of the apocalypse with her perception.
5. The Commodity
A popular trope in apocalyptic fiction is the use of commodity and value. We see this in the fantastic portrayal of Gilead in The Handmaid’s Tale and Testaments. In this world of Atwood’s creation, women are literally commodities packaged in the right colors for their use. Handmaids wear red, Marthas wear a dull beige, and Wives wear teal. These colors are designed to tell the patriarchal society what purpose the woman has. Handmaids in red represent fertility, with their white head garments symbolizing purity. Marthas in their beige represent domesticity, and the teal of Wives represent subservience.
Women’s fashion has always been far more diverse than men’s fashion, and yet the most popular designers are men. I see it as a metaphor for packaging women up as objects or commodities, but in an apocalyptic world, we will know our value, and we know how to use that to our advantage. Damsel in dis-dress – more like danger in disguise.
This awareness of how the world saw us before the end will give us the cunning to use our femininity and lessons learned to position us powerfully. No longer will we be seen as the weaker sex; instead we will use the various intelligence we’ve learned over the course of living in this world to boss it in the apocalypse.