You thought it was a real headline, didn’t you?
You thought for the first time in U.S. history, there was a story in the news about a woman beating her attacker senseless, instead of the other way around.
Sucker! It’s been how many years of print journalism, and how many years of TV news, and how many stories of men raping women, men beating women, men “sexually assaulting” (whatever that is) women, men strangling and mutilating women, etc.? And have you ever heard a news story where a man attempts to carjack a woman in a parking lot, and she turns around and kicks the crap out of him because she’s got some martial arts training? Or maybe she was a total dainty daisy, but managed to knock his head to right angles with his shoulders, using a purse filled with 75 pounds of cosmetics?
Or maybe she, you know, hauled out a gun and shot him dead and the D.A. is looking at the evidence right now to decide whether or not it was self-defense. I’ve been waiting my whole life to hear that one.
Where are these stories? I simply don’t believe they don’t happen. Maybe they just don’t get reported – at least here in the US. I don’t know about other nations – but I’d love to hear, if anyone feels like sharing a comment.
A lot of women have hand-to-hand training. A lot of women have guns. A lot of women have enough sense to take advantage of a situation if there is anything that could be a way out. Are we supposed to believe that all attackers are so skilled at picking victims who won’t be able to fight them off? That not even all those guys on “America’s Dumbest Criminals” run into a woman who can beat them at their own game? Weird, isn’t it? Unless, of course, that just supports your pre-existing belief that women always panic in a crisis.
Somehow, what we hear most often – particularly on TV – is about women pleading for their lives, or the lives of their children. We are shown only responses of fear and submission. Of women telling us “he was so strong, I couldn’t believe how strong he was”. Of women assuring us – on talk shows often hosted by women – “you think you’d rather fight and die than be raped, but then when it happens, you’ll do anything if he’ll just let you live”. I know women with experiences like this often feel that people think them weak: I want to make it clear that I don’t. I salute them for doing what it takes to survive, and I’m sorry they experienced the situation at all. But the fact is, it is statistically impossible to believe that there has never been an assault in which a woman found a way to fight off her attacker.
Occasionally, we hear stories where a woman fights a rapist and ends up murdered – though they are usually reported with vague phrases like “signs of struggle”, and you have to read between the lines to get the real gist. Still, that indicates to me that some women do fight back.
It’s just that the news only chooses to report about assaults that end badly for women. Now, seriously: what sort of a society does that?
When I was in high school in the eighties, my college friends were getting lectures from campus counselors on how it was preferable to submit to rape, because (they claimed) otherwise the physical damage would be more severe. This little theory lost steam after a couple of years because it’s patently absurd from both a biological and tactical standpoint, and because it was serving rapists so well in court – the argument being, if she submitted, it must have been consensual. But the fact that this sort of thinking ever entered mainstream education gives me the chills.
Combine it with TV news’ distinct bias toward reporting only assaults that end traumatically for women, and I start pricing quality tin-foil hats.
I’m sure the excuse TV networks would offer is that jeopardy gets high ratings and heroism doesn’t. After all, Lifetime TV, a network supposedly pandering to what women want to see, can’t seem to show enough “women in jep” (industry lingo for “women in jeopardy”, i.e., battered women, kidnapped women, raped women, women willing to submit to rape in order to save their kids, etc.) mini-series. What’s a TV news network to think?
And yet, every now and then, the local news likes to show a heartwarming story of a stranger who stopped a burglary and saved a shop owner’s life. Or the ever-popular “barely lingual child calls 911 and heroically saves Mommy’s life” schtick.
Oddly, the heroes in these stories are always men or children. Honestly, I can’t even remember a child hero story that involved a girl calling 911. It must be that women defending themselves is unladylike, and goodness, we can’t have that on TV.
This has everything to do with why I started this site, questioning the lack of fictional female heroes in TV and film – particularly U.S. network TV. I do believe someone’s trying to send us gals a message, possibly that it’s a woman’s lot in life to be a victim, and any attempt to deviate from that path will result in further abuse and degredation.
Be sure to read the COMMENTS on this entry – they really expand on this topic!