What We Can Learn from the Movies

The topic coming down the List-serve for RAD Instructors this week was about using video clips to support what we teach in class. One instructor suggested showing a scene from Taken, in which 2 young women traveling together reveal too much information to a friendly stranger, and subsequently are kidnapped and terrorized.

Another instructor likes her students to view the training scene in Enough, because the Jennifer Lopez character executes many of the defensive moves RAD teaches.

I think showing movie clips like these is a great idea. I’ve ordered some videos, and will be incorporating them into my classes. They’ll provide a short break from all the physical skills that we do, and add another dimension of learning.

However, one thing I won’t be showing is a rape scene–although some RAD Instructors might. Again, the reason for playing this kind of clip is to show the students either common mistakes that women might make and how to correct them–such as not telling someone that you’ll be staying alone in a house, and then giving him that address (as in Taken), or seeing self-defense moves in action (like in Enough.)

Not a fan of rape scenes to begin with, I tried to be open-minded about their possible teaching value. So, I researched films involving such storylines, read the synopses, and even watched several online. It turns out that Hollywood’s idea of this crime has little bearing on fact. In film after film, this is what I saw:

  1. rapes are committed by multiple attackers or one attacker armed with a weapon
  2. the women being attacked don’t fight back, or fight back weakly and ineffectively
  3. the women get scared, and scream, cry, whimper, or beg.

Here’s what’s true: 85% of rapes are perpetrated by a single, unarmed attacker. Read that again: 85% by a single, unarmed attacker. Women can and do fight back successfully, and studies have shown that when they do, their attackers are less likely to complete the rape.

What can we learn from what we see on the big screen? That Hollywood doesn’t know squat about the reality of rape. They deal with fiction and stereotypes. If you let yourself believe what you see in the movies, you’ll train yourself not to fight back. You’ll buy into some movie-maker’s standard that a woman is simply too weak to protect herself against a big, strong, angry man; that she better just hope that she never finds herself in such a dangerous situation, because the only way for her to react is with paralyzing fear, and all she can do is scream, cry, whimper, and beg–and allow herself to be raped.

This is… how can I put it nicely? This is garbage. The women in my classes may come in feeling a little timid, unsure of how they would handle themselves in a life-or-death situation. But by the time they leave, they know how strong they are and how, if they need to, they can direct that strength into targeted, lifesaving power.

Don’t believe the garbage Hollywood spews out about how weak women are in the face of an assault. You’re stronger than you realize–and definitely stronger than an attacker realizes. If you just don’t know exactly where and how to aim that strength, sign up for a good Women’s Self-Defense class. I, or one of my colleagues, will be happy to show you. Popcorn is optional.

6 Responses to “What We Can Learn from the Movies”

  1. props bmx says:

    Thanks for the great Post – very COOL!!!

  2. Street Bmx says:

    One word.. Great! Two words.. Very awesome! Three words.. I love it!

  3. Good article.Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom.

  4. Evow says:

    I can only repeat the other comments above mine. Great content and i think im not alone when i ask: do you plan to add some more images about this topic by any chance? It would make this page more enjoyable. Just a thought, i hope you dont mind 🙂 Thanks for the useful post, Jennifer

  5. I can see that you are an expert at your field! Thanks for all your help and wishing you all the success in your business.

  6. You make a lot of good points on this blog. Keep up the great work.

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