A reader just tipped us off to an article about one of the stranger social events that I've heard of in a while: Taser parties. Yes, that's right. According to the Associated Press, Taser parties are replacing Tupperware parties (and, more recently, sex toy parties) as the most bizarre activities that could take place in your living room.
The parties weren't started by Taser -- though company executives are impressed by their success and plan to design a living room set at an upcoming trade show that's inspired by the soirées. Rather, they're the creation of Dana Shafman, a freelance construction consultant who has always had an interest in self-defense, says the AP. After moonlighting -- with little success -- as a door-to-door Taser saleswoman, she realized that women needed an opportunity to get over their Taser fears before they'd buy a stun gun for home use. So she started hosting parties. (She doesn't get paid by the company -- she buys them wholesale, sells them retail, and keeps the profit.)
To be clear, Shafman's Tasers are not the ones carried by law enforcement agents. She's marketing a Taser called C2, a version for civilian use that fits in a purse and comes in fun, feminine colors like pink. "It's a girl power thing," Shafer is quoted as saying. "You're kind of making a statement: I know I'm a woman. I know I'm the most sought after victim in regards to sexual assault, sexual abuse. So please stay away from me. If in the event you do come after me, I'm going to use my pink Taser to put you on the ground."
I did a little poking around on the Internet to find out more about the C2 and came up with some interesting stuff. Like, for example, this disturbing-yet-hysterical video from Popular Mechanics in which an editor volunteers to get Tasered. You'll have to watch it for yourself, but suffice it to say that the sex toy parties look like they'd be a lot more fun. Then I checked out Taser's own Web page and found out that C2s come not just in pink but in a leopard print. "Who says safety can't be stylish?" asks the page, under a headline that reads "Fashion With a Bite." To which I say, thank God -- I'd hate for my stun gun to clash with my stilettos.
Then there's the feminist pitch. Another headline, "I Will Control My Own Destiny," is followed up by a subhead that says, "In today's world, maintaining self confidence involves the need for self protection. For independent, self-reliant women, the TASER C2 is an effective protection device that fits any lifestyle." The accompanying Taser, shown next to a confident-looking businesswoman superimposed on a New York street scene, is pink. Girl power!
But perhaps the craziest of Taser's C2 products is this, a combination Taser holster and MP3 player. Not kidding. "The 1 GB TASER MPH Holster offers you both security and music while on the go," brags the Web site. Perfect, I guess, for those long, nighttime runs in Central Park.
I'm all for personal safety, but I don't like the idea of a consumer stun gun marketed as something sexy (or as an alternative to an iPod). I'm happy that Taser requires background checks before it releases activation codes, but nonetheless, a Taser by any other name (or in any other color) is still a Taser -- and I, at least, don't want one in my purse.