It’s no secret that in a post-SHTF situation, most women will be at a distinct disadvantage. Men are perceived as stronger, more prone to violence, and naturally more intimidating than women. The only thing women can do to combat this is to use this perception to their advantage when becoming a gray woman.
We notice and remember people because they draw our attention. It could be they seem threatening, overly large, or intimidating. It could be they are dressed differently, walking faster or slower than others in the crowd or acting calmly when everyone else is in panic mode.
Whatever the difference, even if not consciously identified, their image stays in our mind and is easily recalled later. Women don’t naturally stand out for these reasons, and that’s what becoming a gray woman is about, going unnoticed, staying off the radar of others, being “hidden” even when you have to be out in the open.
Invisible but Not Weak
As a woman in most crowds and especially post-SHTF, appearing overly alert and tuned in will actually make you stand out. You need to be alert and aware without looking like you are. If you appear to be too weak, you will stand out as an easy target. On the other hand, if you appear to be too strong or aggressive, too in control of yourself and your surroundings, you will draw attention and be seen as a threat which could draw an attack.
If you’ve ever ridden an elevator with a woman who was wearing a particularly strong perfume, you understand how scent can draw attention unintentionally. In a post-SHTF situation, women need to forgo the use of perfumes and strong smelling soaps and shampoos, even if you have them stockpiled, because it will cause you to be noticed and possibly remembered by those you encounter. Scent can also be a dead give-away if you do find yourself in a situation where the only option is to hide out of sight.
One area women overlook when becoming a gray woman is their appearance. Men have been conditioned to notice and remember how women visually look and dress. Pay particular attention to this fact, forgo the make-up, and try to dress so as not to attract unwanted attention from men in the crowd. Don’t go overboard and look mannish because that can draw attention as well. Wear jeans and khakis, and stick to colors that are plain such as blue, gray, green, tan, brown, and other earth tones.
Feminine Hygiene Needs
Go for reusable rather than the synthetic ones that can be bought and stockpiled. In a post-SHTF scenario, getting rid of any kind of trash will be tough. There won’t be garbage pick-up and accumulating trash is not only a health hazard but it’s a dead give-away to looters that someone is in the area. Food scraps can be fed to animals or buried to hide them and paper can be burned.
So, when it comes to feminine hygiene you’re going to have to consider going all natural or at least reusable. If you are handy with a needle and thread you can find patterns for pads on the Internet. You can make your own reusable pads out of just about any type of material but cotton and flannel are ideal because of their absorbency.
The other reusable option that comes to mind is called a silicon menstrual cup, sometimes called a moon cup or diva cup. This device can be bought online in advance and stockpiled. Each cup can be washed and reused safely for up for up to one year, possibly longer if you had no other option. For most women it’s not more uncomfortable than a tampon so the only inconvenience is washing it after each use.
Although cooking during a post-SHTF situation may not be solely the responsibility of women, this is an area where women can cultivate their expertise and take a lead role. Learn how to cook outdoors over an open fire, over a camp stove, or even just hot coals. Learn what herbs and other additives you can use to enhance taste but that won’t linger in the air during cooking or long after the meal is served.
The thing that catches most people off guard is the element of surprise that often comes with dangerous situations, especially an attack, assault, or riot. Following a natural disaster or in a post-SHTF situation, the most important thing a woman can have to help her survive is situational awareness. This means being aware of your surroundings on a daily basis so that you are instantly alert to anything that is out of the ordinary and anything that could indicate danger is about to rear its head.
Situational awareness is about training yourself to be alert. It’s honing your observation skills including not only what you see, but what you smell, and what you hear so that you can be acutely aware of what’s happening or about to happen even outside of your vision field.
When you enter a building, any building, pay attention so that in an emergency situation you can act instinctively. This means take note of where the exits are, the location of fire alarm pulls, vending machines, a first aid kit, or if there is a vent system big enough to crawl through if you needed to stay hidden.
If you’re a mom, you are probably already somewhat aware of how to tune into what you hear that is out of sight. Most moms are able to listen to their kids playing in another room and “know” by their tone of voice, the sounds they hear or don’t hear, whether something is amiss. Hone that skill to tune into to other sounds as well. Pay attention to what the birds sound like on a normal day outside your home and how that changes when they feel threatened. Birds and even barking dogs can give you early warning of trouble if you pay attention to them.
The next time you go shopping with your family, practice observing things that are outside of your normal range of vision. Can you observe people walking behind you by glancing in storefront windows? When you stop for lunch, sit with your back to the wall and watch people as they enter. Then close your eyes and try to recall what they were wearing, carrying, or other distinct features about them.
Practice memorizing things quickly. Glance at the table when you sit down for lunch then turn away and try to write down everything that is on the table without looking at it. You can do this with license plates, drivers of cars that you pass, phone numbers, and even billboard signs.
Know Your Way Around
Make it a point to know the area that you are going to be in, whether it’s where you live, work, or visit. Take time to learn your way around your bug out location as well. When things get chaotic, your knowledge of the streets, alleys, and businesses around you could be the difference between life and death for you and possibly for your family. Make sure you have and carry updated topographical maps as well as maps of any underground routes such as subways or utility tunnels.
At the moment that you are able to escape a dangerous confrontation, knowing your way around the area when your opponent does not could just be the thing that saves your life.
Watch for Signs
Signs of trouble can be all around us if we are paying attention. If someone enters the bank in the heat of summer wearing a jacket, it could be a sign the bank is about to be robbed. If you hear an argument beginning behind you in the check-out line at the grocery store, it could be a sign that things are about to get out of hand. A slight change in the weather could indicate a fierce storm or tornado is brewing. If you learn to pay attention to the little things that most people take for granted, you’ll be alerted early to possible danger. Having even just a few moments notice of trouble can give you the time you need to get out of harm’s way.
Get Enough Sleep
One thing that is crucial, especially for women, is to get enough sleep. This is difficult during “normal” times but it is so important to being able to stay alert and healthy. In reality, you could be living your typical life one day and running for your life with your family in tow the next day. You won’t be at your best, you won’t be on high alert and ready to protect your family from danger if you are running on two hours sleep. With that in mind, getting the right amount of sleep every night is one way that you keep yourself prepared for whatever may come tomorrow.
One way to develop situational awareness and to stay alert to what may be happening around you is to just avoid distractions such as cell phones, music iPods, or other electronic devices. When you are moving through town, whether on foot or by car, make sure you are paying attention to others around you. Is traffic moving normally? Is there someone in the crowd around you that is acting suspiciously? You definitely won’t notice these things if you are distracted by your phone.
The more you practice the skills above, the better you will get at blending in to your surroundings and going unnoticed. You will also develop increased situational awareness and “instinctively” know what is happening around you. You will be able to move about without being noticed by others when you want to and your Spidey sense will be activated automatically when danger is brewing. You will avoid becoming a target and will have extra time to take action to get out of the area in advance of danger.