I need a hero
"I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the end of the night
He’s gotta be strong
And he’s gotta be fast
And he’s gotta be fresh from the fight
I need a hero
I’m holding out for a hero ‘til the morning light
He’s gotta be sure
And it’s gotta be soon
And he’s gotta be larger than life"
Did you just sing it in your head? This song was released the year I was born. It's catchy, it sure is fun to sing playing sing star with a group of friends ... but the lyrics ... not so sure!
I think this song (and others!) reinforces a common misconception that women have about men and about their 'need' for men. (Interestingly the song was written by two men) It also reinforces misconceptions that some women have about themselves and their place in society and within a relationship. Many women have this desire to be swept off their feet by a man who is heroic and prince-like, someone who will rescue them from their struggles and save the day. It's reinforced by children's stories, rom-coms (admittedly I do like watching romcoms), action movies and comics.
Have you seen Disney's Avenger gender specific sexist T-Shirts that were released recently? The boy's version says; "be a hero" while the girl's version says; "I need a hero"
Thankfully because of an online petition the girls version were removed from the shelves. A friend shared with me how creating change through online petitions blows her mind; "Ridiculously easy, super effective!" I've been sceptical of online petitions in the past, and wondered about their effectiveness ... here is the proof they work.
Don't get me wrong; I'm not about to light a bonfire, to start burning my bras and all my children's Disney books. However I do feel that within society and within the church, many have bought into a lie that says women are a subordinate gender who requires rescuing.
For a period of time I believed it. I actually desired as a teenager and young adult to be swept off my feet and that I needed to wait for my knight in shining armour. Some of the books I'd read totally reinforced this. Case and point: "Captivating" which in summary pretty much says "Every woman was once a little girl. And every little girl holds in her heart her most precious dreams. She longs to be swept up into a romance, to play an irreplaceable role in a great adventure, to be the Beauty of the story." It's the companion book to "Wild at Heart" which says: "God designed men to be dangerous," It talks about how men long to be involved in adventure and desire a beauty to rescue. I'm not denying men and women are different, we are, but some differences are simply stereotypes that result from society. These books can certainly get some discussion going.
I think part of the reason we "long" for these things, is because these ideas are instilled into us from childhood ... Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Snow White etc etc etc ... They are nice stories with feel good happy endings, but we mustn't confuse fantasy with reality.
As an adult I'm able to make the distinction between fantasy and reality (hopefully), my children aren't. Little girls grow up thinking they are inferior beings in need of rescue, and boys grow up thinking they are superior, the hero who's responsibility it is to rescue. My responsibility to them as their parent to make sure they know they both have strength, courage and the ability to fight for the things that really matter. In fact just yesterday I had a conversation with my 3 year old son who was adamant that his sister couldn't be a hero because she was a girl, she had to be the princess ... (he hasn't got these ideas from me!) needless to say I emphasised that Evy could be a super hero in their game as well, he actually got quite heated about it, but eventually conceded.
If we're real and honest about it, the whole of humanity requires rescuing; our need for rescue is NOT gender specific. The fact is we (humanity) have been held captive by sin, which sin separates us from our Creator, and we are incapable of rescuing each other. God, who loves us fiercely and passionately, comes as a human to rescue us once and for all. Jesus sets us free from the bondage and captivity of sin. He pays the price on our head with his own life. He fought death and won, being raised to life and his victory is ours. He's a hero who has strength in love and power in forgiveness. And he calls us (both men and women, he makes no distinction) to join him in this adventurous life of rescue.
I don't expect my husband to be a hero! I love him so much, and he absolutely loves me. For me to expect him to be my hero, my rescuer is to place unfair, unrealistic expectations on him, and set him up to fail, despite what we are often told, it's not his responsibility to 'rescue' me.
Don't stereotype me because I'm a woman, I don't need rescuing, I have been rescued, and now I partner with my hero, my Saviour, Jesus, to see others rescued and set free, as do many of my male counterparts. As a woman who is married, I get to share this adventure with my husband, (but it's an adventure I'd still be participating in if I wasn't married!) This is reality not fantasy. In Christ we have been given the same commission and in him there is neither male nor female.
By Lieutenant Sammy Millar
P.S: If you are a parent of a little girl, you might find these websites helpful:
A Mighty Girl Website: empowering girls everywhere, this link takes you to a page full of books about princesses who do the rescuing instead of waiting to be rescued
Miss Representation: A website based on the film which explores how the media’s misrepresentations of women have led to the underrepresentation of women in positions of power and influence. Has some great resources to get involved and active