Friday, December 3, 2010

My Heels and I

I recently got the following email:

"This might sound serious, but I have been sent a slightly silly question and want to do my best to answer it. The question is: If you were wearing high-heeled, pointy-toe boots, would they be a help or hinderance in defending yourself?"

I've struggled with this question lots. As a matter of fact, since the cold weather has once again hit the northeastern U.S., it has become my dilemma each time I am about to step out the door for my journalism classes and have to decide what to put on my feet. My running shoes would work best, of course, but that doesn't really speak "professionalism" in the land of academia. So I zip up those ankle or to-the-knee boots and question that decision all the way from my car as my boots click-click-click across the campus cobblestones. Since the first rule of self-defense is awareness, I'm aware of how difficult a time I might have moving around in those boots if a "situation" went down or if I actually had to run away. And with the second rule of self-defense being avoidance, that I've spent a whole lot more years running around an oval than learning self-defense combinations would probably make trying to get the heck out of Dodge quickly my first inclination. Any kind of heel - for clumsy me, anyway - would most likely prevent me from doing that very effectively.

So, yeah, my first impulse was to answer the email question with hinderance - with a capital "H."

With that being said though, I do know that being aware and trying to avoid won't necessarily keep you out of harm's way. Crazy happens to good people all the time, whether by happenstance, poor planning or missed warning signals. Maybe the question the emailer really wanted an answer to was "How could you use those boots if you're already aware that trouble is eminent and avoidance isn't a real possibility?"

In that case, those shoes might totally help you do whatever it is you'd have to do.

Every self-defense seminar I've ever sat in on has been consistent with one message: much of the stuff you already do/have at the ready can be your best weapons if you need them to be - like your house and car keys carried in your hand instead of in the bottom of your pocket or purse, or the little voice in your head insisting that something isn't quite right, or even the knowledge that the pointy parts of your elbows (or boots!) shoved into any soft spot on an attacker (inner thigh, calf, gonads - you get the point - and the pun is most certainly intended) could net enough incapacitation for you to get away. Just remember to make some noise while you're doing your thing, as doing what you have to do is not the time to be dainty and lady-like. If you have to take off that boot and pound someone with it, well...

The reality is that when the crazy begins, there are no rules.


  1. Hi Felicia! I think you make a great suggestion using what you have with you. Many years ago, a co-worker was attacked in a parking garage during the day. She had her keys ready and a person approached her as she reached her vehicle. In addition to making noise, she used her briefcase to strike the attacker. He ran away.

  2. Hi, Michele. I remember a post you did a little while back about how to carry those keys, LOL. Glad your co-worker was able to get away (whew!)!

  3. Hi Felicia, I received the same e-mail and my initial response was similar to yours. This was my reply:
    " gut feeling is that high heeled boots would be more of a hindrance than a help. Okay, you could kick someone hard with them but no harder than you could kick them with low heeled shoes or trainers. The downside is that it is harder to run in high heels (and trying to escape should be your first line of defence), you are also very unbalanced with your weight pushed forward on your toes, so it would be easy to topple yourself forward if you tried to punch. I think the lack of mobility, abnormal gait and loss of balance that is experienced when wearing high heels renders them pretty dangerous in a self defence situation. Most experts advise girls to change into comfortable shoes to get to and from their destination if they are concerned about their safety."

    Was that good or bad advice? I agree with you that you should try and turn everyday objects you might have on you into weapons if attacked but somehow I think high heeled boots have too many disadvantages to become an effective weapon.

  4. I agree to a certain extent, Sue, but when the crap starts to fly and you're on your way to or from a heel-wearing event, your options for what you SHOULD have worn on your feet aren't there anymore and you hafta do what you hafta do. Sure it would be hard to run away or kick, but not impossible - especially when your well-being may be at stake.

    I have MA friends that wear heels all the time. They know how to run in those shoes or kick those things off in a hurry if they hafta. That comes with the territory, I think. It's impractical, I think, to wear flats everywhere (I'm 6'2" and don't wear 3" pumps much, but I do wear kitten heels to dressy functions and to class all the time), so I think it's important to recognize that ugly things can happen when you're in your "girl" shoes (but they can, too, when your hands are full or your young child is with you). Knowing what to do when the crap starts to fly is necessary - that's all I was trying to point out.