Seriously, do rape whistles work? At all? I think they are a lousy public health intervention and we can do better.
As a female runner who is often out there by myself ( or sometimes with a cowardly, four-legged fluff-ball in tow), I’ve blown my rape whistle for practice, and here’s what happens:
A terrified squirrel stops cold on a tree branch. (Is this what a squirrel heart attack looks like?) My fluff-ball’s, Barnaby’s, head tilts sideways and his ears perk up (Does this mean a treat is coming?) The cars on the nearby road keep going and none of the drivers nor passengers look at me. ( Perhaps they think I’m an obnoxious traffic cop.) The leaves continue rustling, the breeze keeps blowing, the clouds stay where they are, and zero humans or superheroes show up to hypothetically keep me from getting raped. (Et tu, Superman?) That’s what I would call a Rape Whistle Fail. You might as well just call the damn thing a whistle.
I suppose a potential rapist may get spooked by a loud, shrill noise… like the squirrel? Yet I have a feeling that if a guy is intent on raping a woman, he wouldn’t be afraid of grabbing her rape whistle and tossing it aside, thus rendering it useless. Here’s more of my feelings on Rape Whistles:
Beyond my rape-whistle complaints in the video, I think the next great step in “public health” technology is a bracelet you wear with multiple buttons for specific emergencies. When you press the button, it will “sound off” your emergency in a very loud voice. Ideally you’d have a button that literally yells, “RAPE!”; a button for “MEDICAL!”; a button for “MURDER!”; or even have the capability to program each button for your perceived most-likely emergencies. Such a technology would take the guess work out of “rape whistles” and put a dent in the natural human response to ignore all calls for help ( not just whistled ones) and avoid all drama. If someone ignore a “whistle,” that’s one thing, but if someone ignores a really loud “RAPE!!!” he/she will be branded an asshole for the rest of his/her life if he/she chooses not to respond. Most people don’t want to be known as a “forever asshole,” so he/she will respond.
Until then, it’s a fully-charged phone on ready, mace, NON-noise-cancelling headphones, Krav Maga lessons and good ol’ fashioned common sense.