Monday, September 2, 2013

Gods above and below...please don't let me be weak!!

I am a woman. I do not usually like to draw attention to this fact on my blog, as it rarely seems pertinent to what I am discussing. This time, however, though it oughtn't to make a difference, it does.

I am beginning to wonder if many women now are … stupid. Why would I write something like this? And why would my own sex matter?

To answer the second question first, my sex matters because if I were a male, my words would be dismissed as those of a misogynist – and that without taking into consideration if I might have a point. Were I a man, my words would be dismissed unheard because of my sex. Ironic?

You have facial hair. Your argument is invalid.

As for why I would write this, it is because after one “maverick” heroine too many, I burst out in this diatribe. The heroines I see in fiction today are what make me suspect the stupidity of women. Not because the heroines themselves are stupid – they never are – but because of the attitudes held not only by the characters but presumably also by the readers who continue to purchase the books.

These heroines are always supposedly both “strong” and “independent”, needing no one's approval and doing exactly as they please. This is, also supposedly, what makes them “strong”. However, there is always one thing that the heroines seem to dread above all others: being perceived as weak. Surely that is all right, though?

Not exactly. Fearing being thought weak is … weak. If I care whether or not I am thought “weak”, if I adjust my behavior to avoid being thought weak by others, then I am weak, altering my actions to take account of others' opinions.

You're welcome.

This is without taking account of the definition of “strong” as “doing what I please”. Really? It's strong to do what I feel like doing? To seek my own desire ahead of anything else? Is that not the default of humans? Being selfish is not the same as being strong, and oftentimes the more difficult action, the one that would require more strength, is the sacrificial one, the one that places another ahead of oneself. But because selflessness has been accounted, rightly or wrongly, a feminine quality, it is now equally dismissed as “weak”. (This opens another whole issue, that of why feminine=weak in the minds of women, but that is a blog for another day.)

I cannot get away from the fact that fearing others' opinions, even if the opinion one fears is that of being considered weak, is weak. How is that the women reading these stories do not see this? What quality in their minds prevents them from seeing what is otherwise so evident?

However, in fairness, I must acknowledge that I don't know if men notice this, either. I dread the conclusions I must draw if no one can actually see an inherent contradiction.

“Just as one generation could prevent the very existence of the next generation, by all entering a monastery or jumping into the sea, so one set of thinkers can in some degree prevent further thinking by teaching the next generation that there is no validity in any human thought.” – G.K. Chesterton

Have we gone so far as this?

(mrs)

4 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  2. I agree that what is shown in many modern heroines is not strength but selfishness. Strength is doing what is necessary despite of any difficulties that may cause, in effect NOT doing what one desires is true strength.

    You asked, "How is that the women reading these stories do not see this? What quality in their minds prevents them from seeing what is otherwise so evident?"

    I would answer that the audience wants to see themselves in their heroines (and heroes) and a large segment of the audience sees the ability to do what ever you want as a virtue. Perhaps it's a negative consequence of the American myth of independence and self-reliance, but it is seen as a measure of strength by many. It's a "cowboy" mentality taken to extremes.

    So the problem is not that that audience fails to see a contradiction in their view, it is that writers and movie producers take the easy road in defining for us what "strength" means in a modern sense. It's much easier to romanticize a heroine who 'isn't tied down to anyone or anything and does what ever she wants' then it is to craft a story where dutiful actions and stoic behavior are admired as strong.

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    Replies
    1. But even by their own "maverick"standards, they are weak. They have to be able to do whatever they want without regard for anyone else's opinions -- but they are terrified of being thought of as weak, thus failing to be strong even by their own incorrect standard.

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  3. Well, bad or lazy writing I suppose?

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