In the last 24 hours, reports of something called the “angel shot” have gone viral. What’s an angel shot, you ask? Essentially, it’s a new scheme to help women escape a seemingly shady date. All she has to do is ask the bartender for an angel shot, which is code for needing help to get out of an uneasy situation. The bartender can then offer to walk her to her car, call her an Uber or even call the police. The phenomenon is supposedly a riff on a trend circulating around London: Women can “ask for Angela” at a bar or restaurant to safely communicate that they feel threatened while on a date.
Although some women’s magazines and websites have reported that the trend is “sweeping” bars throughout the country, the truth is that so far, only one bar has picked up on the idea: Iberian Restaurant in St. Petersburg, Florida. The restaurant posted a sign in the ladies bathroom that reads, “Is your Tinder date not who they said they were on their profile? Do you feel unsafe or even just a tad bit weird?” The poster then instructs women to order an angel shot so that a staff member can help them make an emergency exit. According to Snopes, though, patrons have yet to take advantage of the offer.
Of course, there are a few minor flaws with this concept. First, it seems like more work for a woman to involve a third party who’s on the clock serving other customers. If the woman in question is out of her date’s hearing range, she could always just ask the bartender to call the police or have him removed. She could just as easily excuse herself to the bathroom, call an Uber and sneak out of the bar.
But we know it’s sometimes not that simple: maybe the man is following her or won’t let her out of his sight. Maybe she’s too embarrassed or ashamed to ask for help, or doesn’t want to admit that she can’t figure out how to get rid of the guy of her own. A code word gives women the opportunity to discreetly get out of bad situation without drawing too much attention to herself, and that’s a good thing.
The biggest hump of this concept spreading, though, seems to be that the code depends on every staff member being informed about the new policy and undergoing training on how to respond correctly to potentially dangerous situations. But even a shaky plan is better than the alternative—which is to offer no help at all.
The best news is that this concept means that people are becoming more aware that women risk walking into predatory behavior whenever they step outside their doors. Well-intentioned projects like the angel shot (and remember that anti-date rape drug nail polish that came out a few months ago?) are trying to give back women their own safety. But these are short-term solutions that don’t address fixing the real problem: men who have poor judgment or no self-control. Women shouldn’t have to use coded language as though they’re in a James Bond movie to prevent sexual harassment. Despite its clever packaging, the angel shot is another signal from our society that women are still expected to bear weight of responsibility for their own rapes and assaults.