We’re informed – men, especially – “society” is truly terrified of “this” woman:
And why? Because, we’re also informed, we never see her. Other women dominate the silver screen:
….You know exactly what sort of leading lady I’m talking about: the damaged damsel in distress who’s tragically tethered to the tree of danger, and is patiently awaiting a sweepingly powerful (masculine) energy to find her in the thick of the forest, cut the ropes with his bare hands, rescue her and wrap up her tiny body in his big, burly arms.
OR it’s the doe-eyed, heartbreakingly self-destructive waif who hates herself with a fervent relentlessness and we watch, teary-eyed, as she spirals into the harrowing vortex of addiction and self-abuse — until the earth shattering moment an authoritative male figure magically appears in her life, by absolute happenstance, and an instant falls in love with her and peels her off the ground, saving her from the cell of herself….
As one who creates and writes many women characters, that assertion made me sit up and take notice. It’s certainly not unreasonable on some levels. But it’s also a massive over-generalization.
Think about it: Are nearly ALL women characters really portrayed only one of those two ways on screen?
Of course not. Two hardly obscure examples of others immediately popped into my mind. Jane Austen’s “Elizabeth Bennet” would fall into neither one, and has been portrayed numerous times in film and on television. (In the end, “Mr. Darcy” is putty in her hands.) Recently, Charlize Theron played a character in a new Mad Max who was evidently tougher than even “Max” himself. (I’ve not seen it, but reportedly she steals the film.) The list could go on.
That writer notes as well:
….every pop culture song on the radio is a bubble gum blonde singing about how much she not only wants, but needs the boy….
Again, on the surface, there’s truth there, too. Yet, one wonders also, are male singers whose lyrics go on and on about “needing” the girl therefore not “independent” either? George Harrison composed a Beatles song entitled, “I Need You.” Bryan Adams “needs somebody.” Once more, the list could go on for miles.
She uses films and music to attempt to support her wider contention on fear of the “independent woman,” although she does not succinctly define what “independent” actually entails. (I can’t blame her: I’m unsure how I would define it.) However, she does provide a list of particular traits – and some further explanation for each one – that she believes makes up an “independent woman”:
- Because she doesn’t ask for permission
- Because she’s not afraid to have an opinion
- Because she doesn’t need your validation
- Because she’s not afraid to bask in her own glory
- Because she’s intimidating, not intimidated
- Because she doesn’t need you, in general
- Because she doesn’t need you to like her
I sat back and thought on that list. How admirable really are those traits? Perhaps we are right to be concerned if we bump into anyone – man or woman – possessing them?
Indeed replace “she”/”her” with “he”/”him,” and what have we got? We started with entertainment, so consider “James Bond.” Perhaps the epitome of the manly male who “needs” no one, he well-fits into those categories. He’s also cold, hyper-self-confident, and willing to use most any woman for his own “007” ends. He especially prefers married women precisely because he feels they aren’t “needy” and won’t crave a real relationship.
I also have the impression that above list could well-describe one “Christian Grey,” too.
Are those fictional men “role models” for what we desire real young men to be?
Most relevantly of all perhaps, that writer argues:
….An independent woman is so scary to the masses, because she really doesn’t need anyone. Our society frightens women into needing it, as a means to control them.
While an independent woman soulfully craves the arms of love as much as the next girl, she doesn’t need require (sic) affection to sustain her.
The beautiful part is this: If you fall in love with an independent woman, and she loves you back, it’s because she wants you — not because she needs you. And that is the purest love of all….
Re-read those paragraphs. We’re told “she’s” scary because “she” doesn’t need anyone, but “she” craves love like the next girl, but “she” also doesn’t need affection either. Her “independent” woman sounds all over the place. If “she” falls for you, and you “she,” uh, best of luck to you.
Whenever we venture down paths like these, we have to be exceedingly careful about not muddying the waters. Being unafraid to have an opinion, proud of one’s contributions, and appreciating one’s intrinsic self-worth, are one thing. A superiority complex, arrogance, and haughty, self-absorption are decidedly something else.
I’m always keenly aware of how I write characters – especially (being a man) women. All we real humans are, in fact, masses of emotional inconsistencies. One moment, we’re “strong,” feeling “empowered,” climbing figurative Mt. Everests and behaving as if we don’t give a damn what “the masses” think of us. The next, though, we may be blubbering messes desperately “needing” a friend or lover to lean on.
If you imagine you don’t “need” anyone because a fictional heroine or hero is concocted that way in a film, or in a book? Relationships are a two-way street. So don’t be surprised if you also eventually discover yourself standing very much alone in the real world and wondering, “Where the hell is everybody?”
Hope you’re having a good weekend. 🙂