Putting Women in Their Place When the SHTF

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I was reading articles from another survival blog the other day and I came across one that dealt primarily with taking care of women if we have to go through some type of SHTF moment or time period. The author seemed to be concerned with protecting his wife and daughters to keep them safe from bad things or bad men. I agree this is a concern of mine as well and would probably be doing the same things they mention, but the article made me think about how we collectively talk about women in times like this.

Who is this “We” I am talking about? Mainly it is men, myself included who make up a higher percentage of the survival type blogs or bloggers out there. There are several notable exceptions like Gaye over at Backdoor Survival and Jamie at Prepared Housewives and of course Lisa at Survival Mom. I know there are others, but I think it’s safe to say the overwhelming majority of preparedness bloggers and in my experience, the people who comment on the pages of our blogs (mine anyway) seem to be mostly male. In making this point I am only trying to illustrate what I believe is a larger percentage of voices of the male persuasion when it comes to talking about how we will protect our women or how we will need to defend our families. I know that the metrics of my visitors are different than other sites but just from the Prepper Journal’s perspective, men visit our pages 3 times more than females.

I’ll be the first to admit that in my writings on Prepping I have positioned myself as a leader in my family and as that leader I assume responsibility for the members of my family. My immediate family as luck would have it leaves me as the sole male and I do make some stereotypical generalizations about my family from time to time. In normal everyday life this is OK and is usually seen with the humor I intended it to be delivered with. Even the dog is a female so in a lot of ways I am outnumbered although I know just as well how lucky I am.

What are women good at?

Getting back to the subject of this post, I was thinking about how we easily choose roles for the women in our lives when it comes to prepping. I talk about how we will bug out if needed and the concessions I need to make for the packs of each of my children and wife. I talk about gardening and canning and raising chickens and they all feature prominently in posts where I have written about those subjects. My wife has actually written several articles for this site too and these subjects seem to be the ones she is more comfortable with and knowledgeable of so that makes sense.

What you don’t ever hear me talking about really is putting my daughter on guard duty or expecting my wife to be in a gun fight beside me. I will never mention her driving the family tank through a blockade or sending her out on a patrol mission at night. Why is that?

Well obviously I am a sexist pig, right? No, it’s because I have this vision of my wife living as normally as possible if the grid goes down because of the preparations we have been able to make together. I know it may sound foolish, but I like to believe that in some, but not all disasters we can survive and live a life that is similar at least in family responsibilities to what we have grown used to our whole lives.

Don’t get me wrong, I fully expect a SHTF world to be completely different; dirty, full of pain, sacrifice and hard work but I guess mentally I acknowledge that, while not ever really playing the movie reel in my head of what it would look like. My wife would still the one who primarily owned washing clothes, although I might be helping more and the mode of spin might look a lot more like wringing sheets in the back yard. My children would still be learning their school subjects although field trips would have a different meaning. I would still be “working”, but my job would be to provide food and protection more so than a paycheck.

I think about these things as an almost ideal grid-down scenario and I imagine, but don’t dwell on the more Mad Max vision for my family as much as myself . My family is very capable of doing anything they would need to do as long as they had the proper time, instruction and motivation. Could my wife sit there and kill bad guys along with me? Sure. Could she drive the family tank through the road-block and rescue the captured neighbors? Why not? Could my kids fend off a gang of thugs’ intent on getting into the house to them? I think they could with a lot of luck.

What is a woman’s place?

I don’t write or think about them in those roles though because like I said, I don’t really ever want to see that future for them, although I know if the tragedy were bad enough the reality they could find themselves in could be worse than my simple examples above. It doesn’t mean I don’t believe they are capable, but I know that wouldn’t be their preference. I know for a fact my wife wouldn’t want to go out into the dark and check on the noise in the back behind our shed. I know for a fact my children wouldn’t want to think about anyone trying to get into our home, much less go through that themselves but I am not the one telling any of them how or what to do. They simply expect and now willingly make me do those things.

I know women who are more fierce than a mountain lion. I know women who can shoot better than me and wouldn’t hesitate to run out to guard duty or a firefight with their AR slung over their chest. Some women would much rather be patrolling the dark looking for bad guys than taking care of a garden or cooking but that isn’t for me to decide and I don’t think anyone else should assume we men will have to take care of all women. It could just as easily be some women who are taking care of some men.

This has nothing to do with Political Correctness or gender equality and I am not trying to change traditional roles of men and women. I have a very conservative view of marriage and family and most things in life. I am not one for sending women to war or anywhere really they don’t want to be. I value the natural strengths of women and rely on those strengths in my own marriage but I am not saying that all women should be counted on to tend the garden, wash clothes and cook the meals. If the SHTF we will all be required to chip in. We will all, men and women, be needed to do whatever is necessary to survive. We shouldn’t think that any role is beneath us or meant for someone else nor assume that women will want to do one thing or another.

My point is that each person is different and they all bring different fears, strengths, weaknesses and skills to every situation they are in. You might discover that your wife is a champion if you are forced to go through a house fire –  taking care of everyone calmly and without hesitation but that same woman might go to pieces if their child gets a big cut on their hand. She should be able to let you know what she wants to do, what her role should be and you should be open to listening to her. Maybe we shouldn’t decide right now what they are going to be doing and instead only focus on what will need to be done, by someone.

A woman’s place in my opinion is wherever she wants to be and feels comfortable and can contribute to your team. If that is in the garden and the kitchen, so be it. If that is hunting deer, great! I also wouldn’t mind if it was beside me in full combat gear preparing to defend our home.  My place isn’t to tell my wife what her role will be in a SHTF scenario, it will be hers,  and I hope I am wise enough to remember that if the time comes. Will you?

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Kevin
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Kevin

We are a team. We prepare together, i am nothing without my spouse. Remember, one is none!

Pat Henry
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I know what you mean Kevin. It’s the same with our family.

Jaguwar
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Jaguwar

This is a tricky one. I think in survival mode, it’s easy to fall back on old stereotypes, because the ways we are still wired have nothing to do with social mores. I personally have no problem with that, because I recognize that most men still see themselves as both provider and protector. I can easily imagine that kicking into high gear in bad situations. The trick is not to waste time arguing about it when SHTF. In the end, adaptability is nearly as important as prep. So make sure EVERYONE is as prepared and trained as they can be.… Read more »

Pat Henry
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Thanks for your comments Jaguwar.

I agree we will fall into patterns that are comfortable and that is what I am counting on really. I was just thinking about our assumptions and how that might not work with everyone.

Pat

Jon R
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Jon R

I’ve been thinking about this topic for months now! My wife is reluctant to prep, to learn to shoot, to learn self defense. She doesn’t even know how to drive a car nor ride a bicycle. And she doesn’t want to learn any of it. It’s frustrating. I’m basically getting everything ready myself.

What role will she play? If SHTF tonight, she’d be a major liability to be honest with you. I’m going to sit her down again tonight and try and convince her to take things more seriously.

Pat Henry
Guest

Spouses are tough Jon and I can appreciate what you are going through. I wrote another post on that subject specifically about a year ago that might be more applicable or may give you some other ideas. Good Luck!

http://www.theprepperjournal.com/2013/04/26/how-to-convince-someone-about-prepping/

Pat

ras3199
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ras3199

You better teach them all to defend themselves. Something may happen to you where you won’t be around when they need you.

Pat Henry
Guest

I agree with you completely. Everyone in my family knows how to use weapons and there are enough to go around.

bubblesoulbaby
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bubblesoulbaby

Men, you need to discuss your roles with your wives. Discuss different scenerios. You cant force a woman to be comfortable with a gun. So you need to know what each of you expect of eachother in different situations. Like someone said before, there will be no time to waste arguing. And forcing a woman to shoot untrained could be a bad deal for everyone. Women, my husband is very protective of me. He may ask me not to drive into the city by myself at night. And i respect his wishes because i trust his judgement and do not… Read more »

Pat Henry
Guest

Good points and that was pretty much my intent with the article. Thanks for commenting!

trackback

[…] a fellow prepper, I encourage everyone to pick up new skills or expand upon existing ones, andbreak out of gender molds. If you’re a man, although it might seem like “women’s work,” you may be surprised at how […]

Wellie the Well-Prepared Witch
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Wellie the Well-Prepared Witch

I think a lot of it depends on your relationship, your interests, and skills prior to a crisis. Times of major stress are bad times to try and switch roles around or learn additional paradigms. Someone (male or female) who is happiest and most skilled focusing in the home or who doesn’t feel comfortable handling weapons isn’t the person to send out on patrol and/or hunting. It’s nice to see someone thinking about how they look at the question, though!

Pat Henry
Guest

Thanks for your comments!

Moe
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Moe

Great article! I am retired Army and a prepper, and a woman. I agree with you opinions of women and in my opinion men shouldvand can take whatever roles they want in a SHTF situation….or whichever they are good at and can stand. I think as long as anyone has a strong community/groupbor family, the roles don’t matter as long as things are getting done and done correctly. Thanks for sharing!

Neiskha
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Neiskha

This definitely’s an interesting read… I’m stepping into my next saga in life post 20 years of law enforcement duty and 10 of those with an overlapping military role having similar responsibilities. Over the past 2 decades (holy cow – that’s almost forever), I’ve personally had to hold my own ground on numerous calls for service and truly can not count the “chivalrous” response from my guy co-workers you speak of in your article. Further, I probably knock them out if I knew that’s why they came to the call. With that in mind, I have seen gals truly step… Read more »

Madgie
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Madgie

Naturally being a strong woman and the “leader” of a preparedness group since 1992, I am not your typical “little woman”. When I read the title to your article my radar was up and ready. You made perfect sense to me. We should definitely find our own roles in a prepper community as that is where we are most comfortable and work most effectively. My husband and I work together as a team, as does our group. Gender specific is not relevant, but Survival is. Thanks Madgie

Travis Bishop
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Travis Bishop

I am retired from the U.S. Army, 1979 to 2013. 34 years. My career was widely varied in regards to postings, but they consistently comprised of my being in nasty, dirty, dangerous places with some pretty nasty people trying to kill me. My experiences taught me many valuable lessons. Primarily, the world is filled with people who can be unpleasant under the best of circumstances and downright disagreeable under less than ideal said circumstances. I never married. I don’t trust females enough to expose myself to the liabilities they present. All too often, I witnessed troops dealing with the general… Read more »