Some Tips for TV Ladies (and all others) Who Want to Go On Living

TW: violence against women, violent images, violent self defense suggestions

So you know that thing you do when you yell at the TV? And of course the TV doesn’t listen to you? Well here it is, on the epic fail of women on to defend themselves in TV land, my living room rant, brought to you. Welcome to my head.

Luther. Guilty of fail. every. single. time.

Season 1. Episode 4 (untitled as far as I can tell)

A woman unwittingly enters the home of serial killer. She has received a phone call from no less than the police telling her she is in danger. She locks herself in the bathroom (with a DEAD BODY, in case she was in doubt). The killer pounds a hole in the door, sticks his head in and laughs manically:

BBC One, image from Luther, season 1, episode 4

And she:

BBC One, image from Luther, season 1, episode 4

Cowers. Now don’t get me wrong. This is a SCARY situation. The adrenaline and the terror must be overwhelming and probably almost paralyzing. But her life is AT STAKE. And she is in a bathroom where there are many DANGEROUS POINTY THINGS. After the kitchen, she probably has chosen the best room in the house (if she couldn’t get out the front door that is) to lock herself into.

He is unable to reach her because the hole is too SMALL.

This is what she could use as a weapon based, on my own bathroom:

Toilet bowl brush — good for stabbing right down his throat (which would choke off his maniac laughter), into his eyes (if he can’t see, it’s harder for him to hit her) or into his windpipe (ditto, if he can’t breathe). Also he seemed pretty fastidious, as many TV serial killers are, so waving the business end in his face would probably freak him out. But in self defense it’s best to injure with the intent to neutralize the threat.

Deodorant spray — I imagine this would hurt a lot if sprayed in the eyes. Also is this stuff flammable like hairspray? I don’t have hairspray, but I totally remember making hairspray flamethrowers in high school (what, you didn’t do that?). Light it up. MAJOR DAMAGE.

Free-standing toilet paper holder, shelving, metal garbage can, hair dryer, etc. — all that adrenaline could be used to batter the shit out of this guy, and from a little bit of distance too

Scissors — by the time he’s close enough for her to use these, he’s awfully close. Still, last ditch effort because it’s her LIFE. Stab hands, eyes, throat, ears, etc.

Shower curtain — if it weren’t wrapped around the dead guy she could wrap it around the killer’s head and/or body to suffocate him/limit his movement (I don’t actually recommend this one, but it’s got to be better than nothing, right?)

Shoes — she’s wearing pointy heeled shoes. If she nailed one of those suckers in his eye or throat she’d do some serious damage.

Lastly, her fists, the palm of her hands, the edges of her hands, her feet, her head — everyone can use their own body as a weapon, not just the bad guys. TRY SOMETHING. IT  CAN’T BE WORSE THAN WHAT HE HAS PLANNED because he’s a sexual predator/serial killer!

His throat and eyes, two of the main areas you should concentrate on in self defense are exposed and vulnerable. She could gouge out his eyes. She could punch him in the throat with either a fist or the V of her hand between her thumb and the rest of her fingers. Any of these things could incapacitate him enough to prevent him from harming her. Since his head is so exposed, she could try hitting him in the temple. You can kill someone like that.

If he got in the bathroom, she should kick his knees to break/dislocate them, stomp on his feet to break the little bones there and aim for all the other vulnerable places already mentioned.

Instead, she waits for the police to come rescue her. And she’s lucky, they DO. But I was PISSED, because if this wasn’t the moment, with an immobilized killer with a door between them, for self defense, I don’t know what is. Another missed opportunity for a TV lady to act like a real person. Sigh.

In the search for some crumbs to make me feel better about watching TV, here are the things she did right:

She listened to her instincts/the phone call from the police and got as far away from him as possible
I think at least once she screamed for help. She knows the police are on the way, she should be giving them and anyone around a clue to where she is
She put a locked door between him and her. While a small room with no other exits is NOT the best plan, she might not have made it to the front door, so it might have been her best option.

Sooo, that was Luther. I could probably do this for every episode. Hell, episode 3 literally had a woman in a refrigerator. Instead, next time, I’ll do something a little lighter, less violent, physically or psychologically, maybe even a little family friendly: Once Upon A Time.

Serious part here. I am not a self defense expert. I have taken three different kinds of self defense classes as well as karate in my life, which I think were of differing usefulness. One of places I took self defense, the Center for Anti-Violence Education, teaches self defense to kids. One of the things they teach the kids is that EVERYONE has the skills to protect themselves, either by avoiding a dangerous situation, getting out of a dangerous situation or telling someone about a bad thing someone they are supposed to trust is doing to them.

Women can protect themselves, but we are socialized not to trust our instincts and into victimhood by the depiction of passivity in the media (among lots of other things). If all you see on TV and movies are either women as victims or women as superheroes (ala Buffy, which we can’t possibly imitate), why would you believe you could? If you never take a self defense class or a martial arts, why would you believe you could?