Mailvox: multiplying the implausible

The Other Nate points out a basic problem in combat education:

“And now we’ve reached rock bottom of our insultingly incapable heroes. This is a pretty cruel trick society played on the little girls of the world who saw these cartoons and played with the toys. While boys were taught that evil giant transforming robots could only be defeated with other giant transforming robots, girls were taught that evil could be defeated with the power of rainbows and flamboyant song and dance. Which one better prepared their audience for the real world? If you’d like to find out, go perform a choreographed song-and-dance number in the middle of the highway while a semi bears down on you. In your final moments of consciousness, imagine how much more terrifying this would all be if that semi was sentient.”

Anyway, something I wanted clarification on your take on women & combat:

1) Is the believability of the “warrior woman” motif for you dependent on the context? So, for instance, do you find Trinity of the Matrix series believable since most of her fighting is in a program where you’re only limited by your

2) What about pressure points & weak spots which any self-defense class should teach?

3) Follow up to #2. Is that then your problem with “fighting women” in current fiction – that they don’t fight “properly” for their size, weight class etc and instead fight like a 200+ pound linebacker?

1) Yes, completely. In fact, in my original post at the Black Gate, I specifically stated that if one wishes to utilize a kick-ass female character, there are any number of perfectly reasonable justifications, especially in fantasy. Making her a demigoddess, giving her a magical sword, or enchanting her with a spell are all eminently viable. But simply saying that she was really well trained is no more credible than a college linebacker who shows up with an additional 50 pounds of muscle gained over the summer and claims that it was the result of an intensive weightlifting program. Forget sex, would anyone have found Achilles’s near-complete imperviousness to blades convincing had Homer not taken the trouble to explain that his mother dipped him in the River Styx? Trinity is an excellent example of credible female kickassery.

2) Pressure points and “weak spots” are wildly overrated. They cause momentary pain that is easily overcome by an adrenaline rush. Unless you’re actually breaking significant bones, gouging out eyes, crushing windpipes, or knocking someone unconscious, you aren’t truly incapacitating an opponent. I’ve had my nose broken and taken a full-force sidekick to the groin without noticing either injury at the time. A few minutes later, yeah, I noticed a lot. But a few minutes later is too late.

3) No, it’s not just a matter of them not fighting properly, although that is indeed a problem. (Many authors seem to be under the mistaken impression that because women are smaller, they are quicker. They are not.) The main problem is postulating outcomes that are simply ridiculous, involving a slower, smaller, weaker, (and usually less-armored) individual easily defeating an extended series of faster, bigger, stronger, better-armored opponents without providing any reasonable justification for this multiplicity of implausibilities.