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5 Things You’re Getting Wrong About the “Dignity Stick”

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or studying for finals like a normal, functional adult (just kidding, we know none of us are actually doing that last one), you’ve probably heard about the “Dignity Stick,” a device meant to serve as a self-defense tool for women. Last Sunday – on International Women’s Day, no less – Dr. Pavan Kohli unveiled his prototype for the device, which is actually named Samiidha Bhavani. Among other features, the Dignity Stick includes a stun gun, penknife, mirror, vermillion and sewing kit.

Obviously people are finding fault with the last three items I listed, because, you know, it’s the Internet. People have claimed that it makes the whole device sexist, or that the inventor is reinforcing negative gender stereotypes. But before you get into an embarrassing argument with some rando in the comments section of a Facebook post, there are some things you need to consider.  

1. This isn’t some random guy trying to perpetuate antiquated stereotypes and sexist traditions in India. The Dignity Stick invention was spearheaded by a doctor in India, but according to the Wall Street Journal, he had some help; sports and martial arts experts from the United Kingdom, Singapore, Japan and Germany contributed to the product too. They genuinely considered the utility of each of the tool’s features so that users would be able to protect themselves effectively. 

2. Vermillion is for married women in India. It shouldn’t be too surprising that one of the tool’s features is aimed specifically toward women in India. It is, after all, where Dr. Kohli is from. For those of you who don’t know, Vermillion is used by married women in India, either on the part on their hair or on their forehead, to signify marriage. When you think about it, it’s really not too different from wearing a wedding ring in other countries. 

3. The sewing kit and mirror really aren’t that sexist. Really – they aren’t. As horrible as it is, apparently aggressive groping is fairly common in India. Obviously this can lead to tears in clothing, which would necessitate repairs and a sewing kit. The mirror isn’t really sexist either. I mean, yeah it’s good to have if you want to check your teeth or do your hair, but it can also be used to check your surroundings without being obvious about it.

4. We should be spending more money to educate people instead of developing tools like this.Yeah, it would be really great if we could teach people not to attack each other, but can you really blame a woman (or a man) for wanting to buy something like this for self-defense, or at the very least, peace of mind?  

5. Bad PR gave it a bad rep. A lot of people were really upset about the Dignity Stick at first, but more and more people are coming forward and saying it isn’t so bad after all. Remember that news outlets shouldn’t dictate how you feel about something; it should give you the information you need to formulate your own opinions. 

Nikki is a senior at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, where her parents think she's on track to graduate early with degrees in both Finance and French. She is -- kind of -- but she currently functions under the delusion that graduation, much like the limit, does not actually exist. In wake of this recent quarter-life crisis, Nikki plans to live out her final days as an undergrad nursing her giant ego, making Mean Girls references, and advocating for the continued use of the Oxford comma. She prefers her dog and s'mores Poptarts over most things, and survives on a delicate combination of iced coffee and cookie dough. In her free time, Nikki enjoys binge watching Modern Family, embarrassing herself in front of cute boys, and making empty promises to go to the gym. Hate mail and Mindy Kaling gifs can be tweeted to her anytime at @nikkikontiki.
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