I've let the ladies weigh in so far, but now that penguins4me has spoken up, I will too.
The advice to take some instruction is very good. So is the advice to try out rentals, to find what fits you. Many ranges have "Ladies' Night", where you can learn from (and with) other gals. You might have to leave RI and go to CT, MA, or NH to find a range that lets you try a variety of handguns. Your call whether that's worth it if you can't find a good rental range with instruction in RI.
I dont think I want a revolver, too much to fuss with in a time of extreme need? Loading 6 bullets vs changing switching an empty mag?
The time of "extreme need" isn't when you're reloading. It's when you're unloading, bullets first. On that point, revolvers win, hands down. They're the original "point and click interface".
Revolvers also win when it comes to stoppages. There is no "failure to fire" drill with a revolver; if it doesn't fire because of bad ammo, you just pull the trigger again. Compare that to the "tap-rack-bang" drill required if a semi-auto doesn't fire.
Revolvers never* have "failure to feed" or "failure to extract" problems. No jams or stovepiping.
My wife isn't a "gun person", although she likes shooting and believes in having guns for self-defense. Her first pistol was a Makarov, which is a very finely made semi-auto. First shot is double action; following shots are single action. It has a safety/decocker. She learned to shoot it, but was never comfortable with it; it's fairly complex for a newbie. Then I bought her a 2", five-shot, .38 Special revolver. She loves it! There is nothing to remember: point and pull the trigger.
The vast majority of defensive gun uses are successful without a single shot fired. Just the appearance of the gun makes most Bad Guys remember that they have a pressing engagement elsewhere at that exact moment, which they'd forgotten until you reminded them. Those DGUs with shots fired are almost always settled in 1-3 rounds, sometimes 5. They almost never involve reloading. Engagements where multiple magazines are emptied are limited mostly to cops, who have a notoriously low hit ratio, and a much higher ratio of shooting innocent bystanders.
Remember the first rule of gunfighting: have a gun. (Actually, that's second; the real first rule is to be somewhere else when the gunfight happens. Sadly, we can't always pick the time and place.)
Meeting Rule One means having a gun you're comfortable having with you at all times, one you're confident you could use. If you're not a devoted shooter spending lots of hours on the range, the best bet is a double action revolver, followed by a double-action only semi like a Glock or Springfield XD.
Do they come in Pink? Purple swirls with a glittery grip?? Im guessing no, But i think I am having too much fun with this!
Actually, colors are available. In lightweight titanium or aluminum framed guns, anodized colors are common, especially in those models marketed towards ladies.
See if any of these ring your bell:
And remember, unless your gun is a polymer-framed semi-auto, the grips can always be changed out for something more appealing, in a wide variety of exotic woods or synthetics.
Welcome to the Underground, and good luck with picking a gun of your own!
*Disclaimer: revolvers almost
never jam. Some ultra-lightweight .357 Magnums, made of Scandium or Titanium, have such harsh recoil that the bullets can "back out" from the case, causing unfired rounds to jam the cylinder and stop it from turning. This is very rare, but when a revolver does jam up, it becomes a rock and/or club. Sticking to .38 Special will ensure this doesn't happen. From a 2" barrel, the .38 will perform almost as well as the .357, but without the vicious recoil and huge fireball.