The AP reported January 7, 2008, on one woman's sales innovation.
Before she lets them shoot her little pink stun gun, Dana Shafman ushers her new friends to the living room sofa for a serious chat about the fears she believes they all share.
"The worst nightmare for me is, while I'm sleeping, someone coming in my home," Shafman says, drawing a few solemn nods from the gathered women.
Shafman, 34, of Phoenix, says she knows how they feel. She says she used to stash knives under her pillow for protection.
Welcome, she says, to the Taser party.
On the coffee table, Shafman spreads out Taser's C2 "personal protector" weapons that the company is marketing to the public. It doesn't take long before the women are lined up in the hallway, whooping as they take turns blasting at a metallic target.
This is such a great idea. Actually, two great ideas. First, that Taser is making a personal model. And second, that Shafman is selling it in parties. There's nothing like a little hands-on practice when you're thinking of buying a defensive weapon.
I really would have loved one of these when I was first divorced. I had been accustomed to having a man around the house for 18 years, whose job was to get up and investigate any scary noises in the middle of the night, while I got to stay under the covers listening for any telltale sounds of a scuffle. I'm not sure what I would have done if I'd heard them.
Suddenly on my own, though, having to deal with ominous sounds in the night myself, a nice pink Taser would have felt comforting. Or maybe the purple or leopard-print model. As it was, without a defensive weapon in the house beyond a baseball bat somewhere downstairs, I prayed each night before going to bed for God to put a hedge of protection around my house and post His angels out there too.
Prayer helped me sleep better, but it's also good to have something tangible. Which is why Shafman is doing so well with her parties.
As a single woman who lives alone, Shafman says she's the perfect pitchwoman for Taser as it makes a renewed push to sell weapons to families.
The company agrees. Taser officials like Shafman's homespun sales tactics so much that they plan to build a living room set at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and have Shafman hold a Taser party for buyers and dealers.
The CES, which runs from Jan. 7-10, is the world's largest tech trade show.
The only people who seem to be against the idea are the folks at Amnesty International.
Officials with the human rights organization say the weapons are frequently used in excess by trained police, and they're likely to be abused by the public as well.
Mona Cadena, Amnesty International's Western Regional director, says there are already reports of domestic violence using Tasers and other energy weapons.
"Of course, we want to stop violence against women like Dana's saying," she says. "But we also want to ensure that Tasers don't end up causing it too."
Sheesh! If people want to be violent against a woman, they'll use whatever they find. A gun. A Taser. A knife. A baseball bat. Anything. And if they can't manage to find a weapon to use, they'll use their fists. So, unless Amnesty International wants to remove all the fists from anyone who has the potential to commit violence against a woman, I'd suggest they just keep their mouths shut about the C2, which has greater potential to protect women than hurt them.