A friend whose opinion I value recently expressed that he’s tired of girl power stories. To be honest, I hadn’t noticed that they were prolific. But after he mentioned it, I took a look at my favorite books and movies and saw a definite trend. Girls are standing up for themselves all over the place. Even defeating bad guys without the help of a man. (Shocking. I know.)
And it doesn’t bother me. In fact, it makes me very, very happy.
|For a blog post about abuses of girl power, click here:
His concern, if I understand correctly, is that these stories are saying women don’t need men. Although he didn’t put it in this many words, I gathered that he fears these stories are contributing to the breakdown of the family and trends toward single motherhood and the feeling that fathers- and men in general- are expendable. Perhaps even hatred and abuse of men.
These aren’t the messages I’m getting at all. I see the proliferation of girls power stories as a backlash against thousands of years of women being told they can’t survive without men, that they are weak, incompetent, and should submit to whatever men want– even if that means abuse. I see the swords and strength as representations of girls taking charge of their own lives and refusing to be abused any longer.
Let’s look at Frozen— Disney’s retelling of The Snow Queen, by Hans Christian Anderson. (Hans, Kristoff, Anna, Sven. Get it? Thanks to Bethany for pointing out where their names probably came from. Not sure what’s up with Elsa.)
If you haven’t watched the movie and want to be surprised- read no further. Until after you see it, of course. Then hustle back on over here and finish reading. =)
I love this story for several reasons. First off– the marriage proposal that happens toward the beginning between Anna and Hans is so classic Disney, and so absurd. They meet, they hit it off, sing a song together, and get engaged. That same day. Ridiculous, right? Except that… I did pretty much the same thing at age 18. I met a guy, we hit it off, and within two weeks, we were engaged. Not quite in one day– but close enough. And like Hans, the guy I married turned out to be the bad guy. (“Oh Anna. If only there was someone who loved you.”) This part of Frozen felt real to me– bad guys posing as good guys, sweeping girls off their feet only to drop them on their butts in the snow when they don’t get what they want.
On the other hand, I really, really like Kristoff. He’s not perfect, unlike Hans who appears perfect at first. He works for a living, has a very strange “family,” and is appropriately shocked that Anna got engaged to a guy she just met that day. Even better– he’s honest with her about how shocked he is. He calls her out for being an idiot. Not in a rude way, just in a down-to-earth, you-have-got-to-be-kidding-me way. He sticks with her when she asks him to do seemingly irrational things. (A trait that makes me, personally, swoon. Not that I would ever do anything that seems irrational.) And when she’s better than him at some things (not at everything), he’s not offended, showing that his own feeling of self-worth is not so tenuous as to be knocked over by a girl’s competence.
Finally, the act of true love rings true for the first time in a Disney movie ever. It wasn’t a kiss– which as we all know can be faked. It wasn’t even romantic love– which can be true love, but can also be fueled by passion like gasoline and burn out quickly. This was a sister’s love for her sister. Something that had been growing in harsh conditions for years. A love that had been tried in storms and still held true. And the act was not something Anna needed someone else to do to her. It was something she did. It was her own love for her sister that saved her, saved her sister, and saved the entire kingdom.
Which sends the message…
We don’t need to wait for someone else to come and bail us out. We can make a difference by loving those around us. Even our own family members. Even when they have been pushing us away out of fear, even when they have hurt us. Selfless sacrifice and love can save the day. Even if you’re a girl.
Does this mean girls don’t need guys? Not at all. But maybe we don’t need them to save us. Maybe we are strong enough to make a difference on our own. Powerful enough to fight for what we need– sometimes with a sword, sometimes with selfless acts of love. Whichever it takes.
So what about Superman?
I don’t know a single girl who doesn’t want to be swept off her feet by a powerful, kind man who will protect her and love her to the end. Even when we’re being irrational. Even when we act tough and say we don’t need a man in our lives. Whether we cry when the bad guys show up or pull out our swords and jump into the battle. Or do both. We’re all waiting for Superman.
Heaven knows, the world needs more super men.
But while we wait, we can pick ourselves up after abusive or failed relationships, dust the snow off our butts, grab a sword and make the world a better place.