Critical Objects Midterm: The Female Companion
THE FEMALE COMPANION
TOPIC: Rape culture
The Female Companion is an ergonomic safety device for women. It offers three safety features: a siren alarm to alert bystanders, two super-bright LEDs to temporary blind an attacker, and a durable metallic casing that can be used as a weapon. Roughly the shape of a mobile phone, The Female Companion fits easily into jacket pockets and purses.
One in five women in the United States will be the victim of sexual violence. The internet is flooded with articles advising women to take self-defense classes and buy keychain weapons, and women from across the world have shared reasons they don’t feel safe walking alone at night and the steps they take to counteract that fear. The Female Companion is a response to the rape culture we live in, and a physical reminder of the lengths women must go to to feel safe in the world.
Future iterations of The Female Companion would include recording capabilities and the ability to call 9-1-1, and the siren alarm would instead be a loud screaming sound.
In last week’s pin-up session, I presented my idea for a line of “Witness” products— 1) The Fob, which played on the common trope of women carrying their keys in their fist as a self-defense weapon; it was an accessory for key rings that allows women to record their attackers. It would have a solid design [concrete?] that let it be used as a physical weapon, and 2) The Cell, which appears to be any other android phone, but is actually a video camera and microphone housed in durable casing. Recordings would be saved to an SD card, which can later be uploaded to secure sites, protecting the recorder’s privacy. There were many topics involved in the brainstorming of these products: recording policy brutality, rape culture, data privacy, the need for anonymity when reporting, etc.
Responding to feedback from the class, I decided to narrow down my focus to one topic, rape culture / the patriarchy, and put energy into making a product that would meet the specific needs of a person contending with the realities of that culture. Thus, I devised The Female Companion, with the focus of providing women ( + female identifying folks) with a sense of security when walking alone.