The sword or the shield?

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Following up on my last post, I’d like to offer kudos to both John Carter and The Avengers for offering youngsters this summer images of strong, competent women working among men, rather than the usual damsels-in-need-of-rescue or evil harpies.  Everything from the solid characterizations to the cinematography to the costume designs support this.

I did a lot of thinking about the weapons and defenses that women use against their unique antagonistic forces: general social pressure, sexploitation, workplace depowerment, double standards, domestic responsibilities, and so on.  Without launching an extended analysis today, I’d like to offer just a snippet or two from the above-named films:

Black Widow: Doctor, we need you.

Bruce Banner (the Hulk): And if I refuse?

Black Widow: I’ll persuade you.

Similarly, at top we see Dejah Thoris attempting to get war-weary John Carter to abandon his selfish quest for a “cave of gold” in order to defend the community.  One thing is immediately clear, here:  for men, it’s “I,” and for women, it’s “we.”  So right at square one, women have the additional need to sell others on the welfare of the group, rather than the individual.  And this cannot be accomplished by the point of a spear.

I came to see that my woman-hero’s best weapon, like Captain America’s, was not a phallic sword (arrow, hammer, power-beams, fist, bullets,) but a shield.  I tried to form this aegis into many different shapes–it can take a near-infinite number of them–so I will only say for now that one of them is her baby itself.  Inasmuch as the she defends and saves the baby, it saves her.

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