Far too often, in Survival / Prepper communities, women are dismissed as weak, inferior, and even useless for reasons other than procreation.

Women are often referred to as “in need of protection” or “baggage” that slows men down. The “masculine” (read: “macho) perspective of what “surviving” means is often touted as the “correct” way. In fact, according to statistics from the Rabbit Hole, 70% of SHTF peppers are men.

Male peppers tend to group themselves into either “Lone Wolf,” “Offensive,” “Militaristic,” or “Kill or be Killed” categories and focus primarily on the provider / protector aspects of prepping. While there is nothing inherently “wrong” with that line of thought, women, by comparison are focused on the daily necessities like cleaning, cooking, and basic hygiene.

Truth be told, women are actually physically better at handling stress. A study found that women are better equipped to use both sides of their brain – both the analytical and the intuitive. In other words, “Men could be wired to take action while women may tend to be better suited to carefully analyze a problem.”

So, yes. We do lose copious amounts of blood and live to tell about it. Yes. We do carry an entire human being from conception to birth within us, then give birth through unspeakable pain (9 times higher than the maximum amount of pain a man’s body is able to withstand) and we recover within hours, and often nourish the child for at least another year with our own bodies.

Women. Are. Badasses.

Instead of jumping right into the period/pregnancy/childbirth topics, let’s begin with what I feel is the most important skill to master right now:

Mental Preparedness

My time in the military was short and several years ago. But, the one lesson that has never left me is practicing mental preparation.

In my opinion, military.com says it best: “The brain is the strongest muscle in the body. You’ve heard stories of how combat soldiers have been shot repeatedly but were not aware of it until the fight was over. These stories are true, and the power to do such things comes from the mind and can be tapped into by practicing mental preparation. This practice can allow you to far exceed your physical limitations. Just as you train other muscles, you can train the brain with mentalpreparedness exercises — and you don’t need to go to the gym to do it! It’s an exercise you can do anywhere. I can’t stress enough how important mental preparedness is for surviving and enduring any life-threatening situation that you could encounter.”

“Battle-proofing” or “battle inoculation” – If the brain imagines something in deep and vivid detail, it will become part of a person’s “experience files.” This visualization exercise will actually fool the brain into believing that you have already experienced this event. You can tap into these files at will by hitting the play button that starts the “movie” of what you have already visualized and planned. It will seem more or less familiar if ever you are confronted with a similar experience. This internal battle-proofing gives you an incredible advantage.

Get this lifesaving information about surviving when doctors, pharmacies and hospitals are shut down!

Memorize the Situational Awareness Checklist:

• Try to guess what individuals around you are thinking or doing.
• Look for odd behavior or things that seem out of place.
• Determine where you’d go if you had to seek immediate cover from an explosion or gunshots.
• Find the two closest exits.
• Determine whether someone is following you or taking an unusual interest in you.

After you feel confident you are mentally prepared, you’re ready to prepare for those female specific issues.

So, how do we tend to feminine hygiene and care in a SHTF scenario? We prepare, of course – and not just with tampons – although, you’ll thank us when we show you the many uses of the Swiss army tampon.

Let’s start with the basics

Your Period: You’ve probably already stockpiled maxi pads and tampons, which is great. But if you’ve used them all for bullet wounds, bandages, fire kindling, water filtering, blow dart fletching, waterproofing, fishing, cordage, or wick (see Swiss Army Tampon, above), you’re probably ready to try the Diva or Instead cup. These cups are worn internally for up to 12 hours. Instead cups are worn just beneath your cervix, behind your pubic bone, while Diva cups are worn lower, more similar to a tampon. In SHTF scenarios, the Diva Cup is going to be your best period option because you can wash and reuse them, so you don’t need to stockpile them. The KEY here is to remember to wash them with soap and sterilized, boiled water to prevent infection.

Another option is homemade or pre-made reusable cotton pads. Usually, they are thin, so you can add or subtract layers as needed and wash them with soap and boiled water in a SHTF scenario.

Pregnancy Prevention: Condoms remain the most effective barrier method of birth control, and that isn’t likely to change even if SHTF. Stockpiling condoms are absolutely necessary if you will be sexually active, and when those run out, a diaphragm is your next best choice. Keep in mind that diaphragms are not as effective as condoms, however, and are usually best (between 84% and 94%) when used with spermicide. No birth control method is 100% safe, so if your reproductive organs are still in working order, there’s no better time than the present to learn the absolute most you can about the next topic: Emergency Childbirth.

Emergency Childbirth: In a SHTF scenario, emergency childbirth is not going to be easy. It may be nearly impossible to find sanitary conditions and proper supplies. In his book Emergency Birth, Dr. Gregory White, says, “When in doubt, do nothing.” This is the best advice available. Remember to remain calm and do what needs to be done to stay safe. There are countless “worst case scenarios” that can happen in this situation, so if the possibility of delivering a baby in a disaster situation could be in your future, you NEED to learn how to handle anything that happens.

At the very least, you’re going to need a lot of sterilized water, absorbent pads, clean sheets and blankets, and anti-bacterial creams, like Betadine.

Avoiding Forced Prostitution / Rape: Seriously, I cringe as I write this, but the sad fact is, in a SHTF scenario, most people will find themselves considering and even saying and doing things they never imagined they would ever have to consider before. When things get really bad, I probably don’t have to tell you, people can also get pretty bad.

While it’s nice to imagine that the offer of sex as barter will be one where you’re given a choice in the matter, it’s much more likely that rape and terror will be used as a weapon by the kind of characters who are only out to help themselves.

It goes without saying, you’ll need to be ready when the time comes to run and hide, fight, or offer some other barter. My advice? Keep a weapon on you at all times. Stockpile pepper spray to ward off the wild animals of both the four legged and two legged variety. If the pepper spray stockpile runs out, make sure you have backup weapons. Research how to make compact weapons that fit in your pocket or shoe and are easy to conceal.

Learn to be Alone: Typically, if you’re a woman reading up on survival / SHTF checklists, you’re going to find content written mostly by men who have put you in a box and decided what they’re going to “let” you do, as though every woman is assumed to have a man in her life.

Let’s be real. It’s 2019 and that mentality is simply not relevant anymore. If SHTF, there will be plenty of single women. There will also be plenty of women who put their trust in a man who gets picked off by a stray bullet the first day. So, learn to be alone and own it! Read all you can. Learn all you can. Practice all you can. Teach other women and form a support network of women preppers. You never know, so always be ready.

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Written by

Tennille Shelly is an award winning, published author from Orlando, FL. A former US Army Soldier, for the better part of two decades, she enjoys crafting words tailored specifically for the audience her clients want to reach. Using succinct, yet thorough content, she strives to convey each article in an understandable, digestible way. With a passion for conversation, communication, coffee, and the written word, she places personal value on each client's needs.

Latest comments
  • Wonderful article! Thank you for the encouragement. I am now a middle-aged healthy female and have a preparedness mindset. I wont list all Ive prepared for our family and neighbors, but just wanted to comment specifically on practicing skills necessary to survive including learning how to use a chainsaw and axe for heat and cooking etc, shooting a rifle and handgun, and sharpening all your senses so that you can spot (hopefully early on) potential threats Ive also worked in healthcare my entire life so I want to be sure I have a skillset useful to a group and of course my own family. I teach myself about 3 new skills per year-definitely doable! Thank you for your service and encouragement! Blessings, CH

  • Lol OF COURSE this was written by a chick.

  • Rather light on content/links/solid info. Good to be aware of but please, just stating that women handle stress better is somewhat useless.
    Suggest practical division of labor with respect to who is better suited to what task?
    Rape and forced prostitution? OMG Sexist much? It is termed the oldest profession for a reason.
    Long term sucess will require co-operation and mutual dependency: everyone has to sleep sometime; but someone’s always gotta be on watch too.

  • Sorry, Steve Dude, but that’s still the truth of the matter. My husband was a very strong guy, but he broke down after three weeks at 45°F or colder when we were caught without aid after an ice storm that isolated us from the rest of the world. We lost our electricity but was fortunate enough to not have to deal with below-zero weather because we had access to natural gas and kept the burners on our gas stove on to heat the house. (We had an indoor pool that acted like a hot water bottle, and that had access to limitless natural gas, but that’s another story.) Guess who broke first? Him.

    I’m a physician specializing in wilderness medicine and have lived north of the Arctic Circle in Alaska. Yes, Alaska would have weeded out the weak (both male and female), so I was seeing a ton more successfully surviving guys, but down south? Men usually tapped out first despite what they said later. I was there to see it all.

    I’m a little pissed off that guys think they’re the only ones that can be the hunters during an emergency situation. In these cases, being the gatherer/preparer may be the best thing to do in situations like that because the first thing you want to do is NOT become a liability. I see that a lot in guys who are hunters (but only with all their fancy equipment) but really haven’t considered what all it takes to survive emergencies. Egos get in the way. (Even I saw this on Naked and Afraid XL when the guys found themselves, for whatever reasons, separated from the females, and they were surprised about all the things they now had to do to survive while the women found themselves taking a vacation from dealing with egos and assumptions. I still laugh when the guys were stymied that there wasn’t anyone waiting for them with sanitized water when they returned to their temporary camp!) Egos should be the first thing to go (in women and men) in cases of emergencies. My husband was surprised at the food stock I had hidden in my many (!) pantries that were MRE’s (amazing what Chef Boyardee can do!). It just never entered his mind to prepare like that. I always do. I came from farming stock where you might live out of a pantry for several weeks or more.

    From a physiological standpoint, women do live longer and better in emergency settings, assuming they aren’t compromised to begin with. They handle shock prevention better (with and without alcohol being involved). I’ve seen that on the field and in my emergency room. Maybe it’s the extra fat we carry. Maybe it’s how we inherently deal with stress in the first place. (You must admit that we deal with many stressors every day as a norm in our lives.) We always look at how to survive an emergency without expending too much energy. We usually know how to be patient and wait for a better opportunity than it is to forcibly make one appear, be it for the better or worse. In the long run. Oh, I’m sure we al would love a protector, but keep in mind that we have always had to be some other weaker person’s protector on a regular basis and will automatically inventory such individuals who need our help in the face of disaster.

    If you want proof, just google, guy. You’ll get all the references you require for your analytical mind. This article wasn’t meant to be a research paper or dissertation.

  • Women handle stress better? Maybe for a short time, but my experience indicates otherwise for anything extending past short term. That’s why women are more prone to panic attacks and anxiety issues. It’s a biology thing. If you want to know more, do some research in appropriately sourced and explained articles.

    Don’t get me wrong, there are certainly exception women out there and they are to be respected and valued for their exceptionalism. Women are to be respected and valued for their differences…yes differences. They exist, and ignoring them is yet another PC mistake.

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