Inside the Weird World of Lady Survivalists

by:   |   Jan 26 2015

Having lived through a heaping handful of disasters (9/11, the 2011 earthquake in Japan, Hurricane Sandy, Britney’s 2007 VMAs performance), I like to think I know something about handling emergencies. But compared to the lady “preppers” and survivalists online, I’m basically a shaky baby fawn, about to be devoured by the lion of LIFE. That’s super-obvious after reading The Survival Mom, Prepper Chicks, or Prepared Housewives, simply titled sites where catastrophe-obsessed ladies meet to chat about supplies, compare solar-powered ovens, and warn about all the dire consequences of letting your guard down. They’ve even got a whole lingo all their own: a “bug-out bag” is the kit you need when SHTF (Shit Hits the Fan) and you need to plan an “urban evacuation.”

The posts on these sites are alternatingly informative, terrifying, and totally hilarious. There’s the bizarrely titled, “I Survived…Did You?” (well, I’m reading your blog post, so…), and a fascinating list of Depression-era meals we might all have to force down our throats in the near future. For a dose of creepiness, check out this quote from a piece that clarifies the difference between “looting” and “scavenging” in a disaster situation: “Scavenging is entering a business or home that is by all accounts vacant and taking baby formula for your infant daughter when there is no other way for you to feed her and keep her alive because basic societal infrastructure has fallen apart to the point that you have no idea when or where you can reach safety.” I don’t know what I find tougher to cope with: the hideous scenario she’s describing or that sentence’s brutal lack of commas.

Doomsday fear and religion go together like cocaine and the ’80s, and even though these sites claim to be secular, their posts are studded with references to faith. In more than one post, the Bible’s listed as a must-have item for an emergency kit, alongside batteries and Power Bars. In general, the authors of these sites definitely read like Fox News fans—there are tons of tips on home-schooling your kids and *so* many references to gun ownership. In her bio, one of TSM’s writers says she “loves a round of competitive target practice.” Suffice it to say, if shit goes down, I would not want to be caught trespassing on the lawns of these Second Amendment superfans.

Lefty weirdos like me usually see this whole realm of the Internet as a safe haven for paranoid tinfoil-hat wearers. And I’ll admit that I approached these sites with the same skepticism I usually reserve for people who try to talk to me about juice “cleanses.” But after reading, I realized that there’s something spunky and inspiring about the DIY, back-to-the-land, drink-your-own-pee lifestyle they’re promoting. If you can look past the panic and the Jesus references, much of what these survivalist ladies recommend is pure common sense. I mean, having some non-perishable food on hand is handy in a lot of situations (a crazy snowstorm, being too hungover to go to the bodega), not just scenarios in which our currency collapses and we’re burning our back issues of US Weekly just to stay warm.

Sure, I probably won’t be carrying a concealed weapon out on the town, like one prepper mom advises. (“If you’re going to carry, then carry concealed, and for heaven’s sake, try to blend in!”) Still, I suppose it wouldn’t hurt to stash a few gallons water and some double-A batteries in my apartment, just in case worse comes to worst and ZDMB: Zombies Devour My Boyfriend.

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The Co-Founder and Ed-in-Chief of G.A.L.