Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Super Role Models

A recent video decried the fact that only two of the thirty super hero movies that will be released in
the next five years feature female super heroes (Black Widow and Wonder Woman). The video went on to show the lack of female super hero dolls on the market. It then implied that Disney princesses seemed to be the main role model that was being pushed on girls.
Although I agree there is an inequity happening, the whole video began to strike me as rather strange. And the character of Black Widow is one of the things that made me question the video’s entire premise.
Perhaps there is a deeper question we need to ask. Are super heroes the best role models for girls, or for any children? Super heroes are physically perfect specimens that never grow old, and whatever anyone says, in the end they usually solve problems by violent means.
Are the only choices of role models for girls spoiled Disney princesses who are waiting for the right man to come along, or, a deceptive sociopathic killer for hire (Black Widow) or a woman that dresses like a stripper and comes from an island of women that hate men, and think them all evil or irrelevant (Wonder Woman)?
Perhaps there are other role models from literature, and yes, perhaps even real life, to which girls can turn. Following is a list of a just a few actual people, whom you can look up and read about if you are unfamiliar with their resplendent lives.
Amelia Earhart, Harriet Tubman, Hedy Lamarr, Malala Yousifazi, Eleanor Roosevelt, Hypatia, Aung San Suu Kyi, Audrey Hepburn, Serena Williams, Margaret Cavendish, Mae Jemison, Michelle Bachelet, Elizabeth Garret Anderson, Elizabeth Warren...
I also feel that despite what I will assume is the video maker’s good intent, the video strikes me as wonderful propaganda for a consumer culture. If I were an advertising company, I could not imagine a better marketing ploy in preparation for the release of a huge line of female super hero dolls.
If we really want to empower girls (and boys) to become great human beings that contribute something meaningful to the world, don’t give them more choices for plastic dolls. Give them a telescope, a drawing pad and pencil and paint, a starter chemistry set, some dancing shoes, a musical instrument, a nice journal in which to write, some challenging board games, building blocks, help them plant their own garden, etc. Heck, just going into the backyard to play they will discover incredible worlds of wonder more fabulous than anything on a video screen or created by the writers of comic books.
Although, as a former comic book fan and collector, I can see the appeal in some of the characters as positive images or archetypes, it is far more likely that children who look to super heroes as their heroes will simply grow up as very good consumers, buying books, movies, comic books, games, and all related media connected to that character.
Growing up, The X-Men and Spider-Man were my favorite comic books. And I admired the way The X-Men were people who had difficulty getting along and all came from different countries and ethnicities. And I related to Spider-Man as the outsider who did not fit in at school. Certainly, there were times when I related to these characters. But becoming a quality human being happens mostly from interacting with the natural world, reading books containing true wisdom and knowledge, and especially by modeling ourselves from real people who accomplish things as humans do, without flying or punching through walls or shooting beams from their eyes. They show us how to make a difference in the world, even with all of the mortal human weaknesses we all have, weaknesses that we must learn to cope with and integrate every day to give our lives meaning for ourselves and those around us. They teach us how, without super powers or eternal youth or fancy costumes, we can still be real super heroes.

No comments:

Post a Comment