02/11/2014 03:04 pm ET Updated Apr 13, 2014

Whimpering Women in Distress (Not Every Woman)

I plan to spend the rest of my life in mind-numbing, pointless, time-wasting, enervating research on the vocal scripting of Whimpering Women in Distress in contemporary movies and television.

My premise is founded on acute aural impressions made from my new smart TV set, recently acquired for this project, and on accidental or anecdotal reportage on other such phenomena.

My assertion is this: Whimpering Women in Distress lose all their cognitive, physical, or communicative skills, as well as their personhood, and have only one way to signal their misery, i.e. they must whimper and make other helpless sounds.

I will also present an analysis on the varieties of sounds made by these creatures according to type, volume, and purpose.

I will conduct an exhaustive survey of the depictions of persons and situations in which these vocals occur.

I make no claim of authority on this subject as I have only occasionally heard these sounds and glanced at the screen as I sit reading on my couch in the living room while my husband watches cops and robbers shows and screw 'em and shoot 'em movies on our new TV. By the way, he does this on purpose to make me mad, literally.

But, before I embark on this very significant scholarly study, I will engage in a rant. Rants are very popular these days and I have been remiss in my participation.


Why in the name of all that is worthwhile, artistic, or engaging in the entertainment world are women found in the categories mentioned above inevitably helpless and hapless? Why are they, also inevitably, captured, imprisoned, tortured, killed or worse by some bad guy? Most importantly, why do they all whimper?

This whimpering motif drives me crazy. Here is a beautiful young woman, long hair drifting about her face, clothes torn just enough so that her breasts are somewhat exposed and her legs and the rest of her body twisted provocatively, hands tied behind her, chained to something or other, and the lady whimpers! Somewhere nearby a really good looking tough dude smiles smugly at his prey. The viewing audience swoons. They are anticipating a really good scene of violence.

Meanwhile the victim is squirming under her restraints and making hardly audible, weak sounds of distress. This includes a lot of heavy breathing, panting, sighing, gasping, catching her breath, and squealing, all the while looking absolutely gorgeous. She cannot get free. She also, needless to say, whimpers. I learn from this that a woman in distress is powerless and absolutely cannot formulate an intelligent word, or even a recognizable vowel sound. This is an excellent role model for our young women.

As far as I can tell, none of these women can speak, or even scream, or shout. They are helpless victims of the strong, muscular men who have captured them. The frequency of appearances of the damsel in distress makes me realize that the people who write and produce these shows are extremely limited in their artistic repertoires, imagination, and vocabulary. They seem to have one job description for the female star and it includes beauty and vocal sounds, especially the whimper. It must suit them, please them and pay them well to rescript the Woman in Distress role over and over again. It does help them to avoid learning any new words. It keeps them from portraying actual female human beings as well.

Good for them. I have just thrown my copy of The Oxford English Dictionary at my brand new TV set.