I’ve written a good couple of times about my kiddos and how I so want to be a good parent to them. I want to be a role model to them. I want to help lead them into a life where they can live and thrive. I want them to be strong, confident, independent, self thinkers, and most importantly (and this is my nightly prayer with them) that they are strong followers of Jesus (hey, this is Spiritual Musclehead). As I look around pop culture and at all the things that are around that my kiddos see and take in (consciously and unconsciously) I wonder what sticks and what doesn’t.
I try to teach them to think through things, to analyze things and ask how what message are people trying to convey to them and what can they learn from this. I do this after each movie we watch. I do this with TV shows we watch. I do this with songs we listen to from time to time. I want them to discern and learn and know what they are taking in.
And so it’s hard when I look around at the things my kiddos love (and a lot of it comes from my influence, I’ll admit) and see a disparaging disproportional influence of role models. Especially geeky ones from sci-fi and comics and what not. And my kiddos being kids, they like having the clothing, accessories, and action figures (they are not toys, they are action figurines) that come with these geeky things.
There are many strong (and usually greatly flawed) male superhero and sci-fi adventurer role models that I try to teach my son to glean the good from and learn about. But for my daughter, there aren’t that many. Or at least, not that many that are available for her to truly. I spent a good couple of hours looking for Star Wars and Marvel clothing for my daughter for her birthday coming up, nothing on Disney or Marvel’s website (though The Mary Sue did suggest Her Universe…though I don’t fully endorse them, they have some good stuff for geeky women/girls)
Just like my son, I want my daughter to learn and grow to become strong and confident in herself (since she’s been very young, I’ve taught her and my son how to head butt…always with the waist, never with the neck). To tell the truth, the only man I want my daughter to be dependant upon and find her identity in is Jesus. The only one I want her to have as her main interest is God. All else is secondary. I want her to know she doesn’t need to dress to impress others but instead find her own style and personality and let that shine through (same thing with my son, it’s just that options out there for him are a lot greater than for my daughter).
I look at the women role models out there in the media, and there are so many princesses who wait upon a guy to help them, or if the woman is a strong woman it’s due to some horrific issue in her past that makes her strong but bitter.
When my daughter plays Star Wars, she’s Ahsoka from The Clone Wars. Other times she plays Avatar (the cool one by Nick, not the weird Dances with Wolves meets Who Framed Roger Rabbit? by the dude who made Titanic) she’s the Avatar. Not Katara, not Korra, but her own Avatar that she makes up. She’s heard my wife and talk about Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy and she likes the idea of such a hero (yet there are no or limited toys or shirts with Gamora…why?).
She likes My Little Pony for the ponies and likes Twilight Sparkle because she’s an academic. Yet Twilight Sparkle is often put down and told that she should get her nose out of her books and have more fun. My daughter’s a fan of Tinker Bell who is adventurous, imaginative, and a problem solver, yet her inventions tend to cause havoc and is reigned in by her friends not to go overboard.
So I try to point my daughter to the likes of Deborah and Jael from the book of Judges who defeated Jabin king of Canaan. The Israelite general Barak was told to go fight and defeat the dude, but he refused to, so God used these two bada…awesome women to do it instead. Other women throughout the Bible do awesome things like Lydia in Acts who is the first convert in Philippi and start a church in her own hone despite social conventions. There’s Mary who defies convention and sits at Jesus’ feet to learn and be a disciple.
In fact Paul writes
“So in Christ Jesus you are all children of God through faith, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:26-28
There have been strong women in the Christian church over the years that people sometimes we forget like Perpetua and Felicity, one of the oldest writings documenting the martyrdom of believers, and they were strong women believers in Jesus.
I’m not trying to be an all out knock down feminist here or do gender studies on the Bible or what not (though I did take women’s history in college and aced it). But why can’t my daughter have the same role models in pop culture that my son can have. Why does there always need to be the damsel in distress who needs saving. Why can’t there be the kick-butt heroine instead (Gammora, Black Widow, Ms. Marvel/Captain Marvel) who has their own t-shirts and toy lines?
So I do my best to teach my daughter that her identity shouldn’t’ be in the need to be rescued. The only man that she needs to trust in to be rescued by is Jesus and he’s already done that and she knows it. She can be a solid, strong, confident woman of God and follower of Jesus without being “bitchy” (yes I said that) or seen as a feminist.
I want my daughter to have the same opportunities to have good geeky role models that my son has and be able to wear their t-shirts. Is that too much to ask for? Though in the end, the ultimate role model for his is Jesus, whom I try to model for her (and sometimes fail epically) each day.