Friday, August 24, 2012

The Strong Woman vs. The Woman of Strength

Some years ago I was pitching a Young Adult SF series for boys to a book producer and thought I was doing well until I heard the ugly-egalitarian phrase, "Does it feature strong female characters?"

"Well, no," I admitted. "I am writing this for young boys. It's about them being squired by interglactic knights and..."

I need not have wasted another breath. Seems you can't have a book today that is not all-inclusive, even if your WRITING to encourage BOYS to be MEN of HONOR.


That said, I do indeed like strong female characters - my mother was a fiery Irish lass - but I like them more as Females with Strength of  Character, not as competitors in combat [who never lose, by the way]. Is that sexist? Maybe. I want to be the two hundred forty pound blocker for my lady, not she for me.

That said, I have written and will continue to explore the Amazonian myth [yes, I have female warrior characters], but at a later time. For now, I think it best to say we have had two excellent female leads in two fine superhero films this summer: Scarlett Johansson as The Black Widow in The Avengers and Anne Hathaway as Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.

In each film, they were just amazing. I loved how they did use their grace, charm and wits to disarm their opponents - so well, in fact, that in BOTH films I was stunned by their cunning, more than their acrobatic fight skills.

In The Avengers, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff showed us her courage under fire with vulnerability - you can WATCH her process the terror inside her and PUSH it aside to do the job before her. She is not 'all business' - she is clearly a human being who has a job as a spy and is a good one at that. She never whines nor cries and honestly brightens the screen every time she is shown - and NOT because she's 'a hottie' - thank God for that - but because she is always interacting with the HEART of the person she is talking to.

Don't skip over that. We men like brawls, to see who's the one who gets respect and who leads the pack. Women like "bawls" - the wounded soldier, the fragile mind, the one who cries in pain. We wound. They heal. It is a common grace that we see in so many women.

Is this exclusively a woman's ability? Of course not. But they are so good at it, we men like seeing them do it. Women understand hearts better than men and frankly, that can be a tool -even an effective weapon.

And in The Avengers, when the Black Widow gets Loki to reveal the cruelness of his heart -and by default, reveal his evil intentions by a single casual reference in his rant against her and her womanhood, we see her Help Her Crew because She Knows the Heart of Man [or in this case, a demi-god].

SCENE: SHIELD Helicarrier
Loki has conversed with the Black Widow until he explodes on her, mocking her need for redemption. He verbally abuses her, spitting and snarling at her weakness, her femininity.

Seemingly crushed, the Widow cries, "You're a monster..."

"Oh no," replies Loki. "You brought the monster with you!"

The Widow straightens, turns and says matter-of-factly, "So - Banner. That's your play."

Loki is dumbfounded.

So were we.

She played him -and she played him well.

[Watch Here on YouTube:]

I loved it.

It's this - and her scenes with Hulk, Hawkeye, Cap and the overconfident Russian general that make you love the Widow. She is smart and strong and kind [her dialogue with Hawkeye was touching, after he is freed from mind control].

Well, this blog is getting long. Next time, I'll talk about how awesome Anne Hathaway was as Catwoman.

Oh  - for a scriptural reference or two to women of faith who got through tough situations with God's help, read about Rahab and Esther.

For further encouragement, ladies please read Luke Easter's poem: A Strong Woman vs. A Woman of Strength.


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