Despite the fact that women are harbingers of life into this world, men, and Hollywood, love the idea of the femme fatale. And nowhere is this fascination more physically embodied than in Hollywood film directors’ predilection for female fighting stunts to involve a woman wrapping her thighs around the neck of a man and snapping it. Or strangling him. Or just bringing him down to land the killing blow.
Essentially from Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow to Rebecca Ferguson’s Ilsa Faust in the recently released Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, women have been gratuitously toppling men with their thighs on screen for a few years now. The number of men seen using this largely showy rather than effective move is considerably smaller. (I am far from a movie buff so I hesitate to say you never see men pulling off that move.)
It might be because it’s a move that suits smaller people, but there’s plenty of other moves that suit smaller people too that are probably more efficient. What is more likely to be running through the mind of Hollywood film directors is that the move has obvious sexual connotations, a deadly outcome and thus will reel in the masses of men perversely titillated by the concept of the sexually adventurous and dangerous woman.
Just as the female weakness for a bad boy overrides Mother Nature’s wise nagging that he might not be the best father figure to any offspring, so men are found in lust with the idea of women with whom it might even by physically harmful to be involved. They are aroused by the antithesis of the kind, caring woman who bears children and looks after the home. Just look at the fact that society has been fascinated for centuries by the figure of Helen of Troy, the face that launched a thousand ships and effectively caused the death of many more men. (Homer neglected to mention whether her thighs were physically breaking any Greek necks but society’s demands for what a dangerous woman does have become more hardcore over time, clearly.)
Of course nobody actually wants to be killed by a woman’s thighs – men want to be the man who convinces that dangerous woman to wrap her thighs around him for a more enjoyable reason. Not just for the obvious benefit but because the kudos you’d earn would be great (if inherently sexist). For most people chance encounters with female assassins is as limited as their ability to rival James Bond in a fight so that is a scenario ultimately limited to fantasy, which coincidentally fuels its status further as the ultimate fantasy.
And, with Hollywood existing to exploit our desires, this naturally gets played out across movie screens regularly.
As the legs of Hollywood stunt women aptly illustrate, the relationship between sex and death is rather tangled up.