Read of the Day: “The Lady, or the Tire Iron?”
6:00 pm, September 5th | by Colette McIntyre
Today’s Read of the Day is Susan Schorn’s newest piece for “Bitchslap,” her McSweeney’s column about women and fighting.
Last month at a summer training camp hosted by the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation, I took an entire class on defending against attacks in and around cars. I was interested in the topic because, while the self defense classes I usually teach are built around skills like assertive body posture, voice, and eye contact, I have noticed that what many of my students really want to know is what to do if they find themselves locked in the trunk of a car.
Never mind the spectacular odds against them ever-ending up there. Fewer than ten thousand American adults, and a similar number of children, will be reported involuntarily missing for any reason in a given year. That means maybe a hundredth of a percentage point of the population, and most of them won’t go missing in classic snatch-and drive kidnappings. To put this in perspective, UFO researchers routinely claim that a full 2% of the population—that would be almost 5 million adults—have been abducted by actual space aliens.
And never mind the question of how someone might end up locked in the trunk of a car, which I personally find much more interesting to puzzle over, and also more likely to lead to productive conversation. If we imagine the events leading up to me being locked in a car trunk, we can see many more ways that I could avoid or disrupt the process. Whereas once I’m in the trunk, we’re limited to boring logistical questions, like “Am I unconscious?” and “How strong is duct tape, really?” (I’ll give you the short answer on that one: Duct tape always fails. ALWAYS.)
But for some reason when we think about these situations, the film clip always starts in media res: The woman is in the trunk. That’s sort of her natural habitat, in the fevered world of self-defense scenarios. We don’t question the logic of her being there; we don’t want to clutter up the narrative by asking how or who or why. We just follow along with the story, and this is how the story is supposed to start: Once upon a time, a woman was bound and gagged and locked in the trunk of a car.
I’m not immune from the tendency to embrace this cliché and obsess about worst-case scenarios. I’ve probably spent more time thinking about ways I might be assaulted than I spent planning my wedding. A couple of months ago, for instance, I got into a detailed technical discussion of kidnapping with a very nice couple who drove me back to my hotel after a book reading. The wife remarked that, all things considered, she would much rather be locked in the trunk of a car than trapped in the back of a windowless van, because at least in the trunk, her kidnapper wouldn’t be able to reach her directly. I said if I could choose, I’d opt for the van, because it would give me more opportunities to deal with my abductor while he was driving and distracted, whereas in the trunk I’d have to wait until he stopped the car and came to get me out. We went back and forth on this, not unlike two beer aficionados debating the merits of a Baltic Porter versus an Oatmeal Stout.
To read the full article, click here.