Tuesday, February 7, 2012

His and Hers Stories

Girl Power movies or stories are “about a female character who starts off without any acceptance—be it social, intellectual, physical, economic, romantic or political—and spends the rest of the movie gaining it.”[1] It would seem that we don’t have boy power stories. Girl Power stories often make the claim that girls, at least the girl in the story, can do whatever the boys can do, only better because she can do it with makeup on. I don’t imagine there would be much interest in a story that showed a boy doing girl stuff. This is partly because guys already believe they could do the girl stuff, if they really wanted to, so they don’t need a story to tell them they can.

The male counterpart to the Girl Power story is the Coming of Age story. Remember Karate Kid? Of course we remember great lines like “wax on, wax off”, but when we look at the journey of the character, it is not one of gaining acceptance but gaining strength. In a Girl Power story, the female character already has as much strength as she is ever going to have, but no one believes she has it. But in Karate Kid the main character begins from a position of weakness and stupidity, but ends with great strength and wisdom. The same is true of Star Wars, in which Luke Skywalker begins as a farm boy who would rather hang out with his friends than do anything important, but ends with him being the leader of men.

I find the differences between the two types of stories interesting. I believe they reflect the values that the writers believe girls and boys should learn. With girls, the statement seems to be “you have inner strength, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” With boys, the statement seems to be “you are nothing, but you can achieve greatness if you will take charge.” You might ask why girls are not encouraged to gain strength and take charge or why boys are not encouraged to see their inner strength. Some people won’t like hearing this, but I believe it has to do with the difference in the way God designed boys and girls. Girls are more prone to self-deprecation. Boys don't have as much need for someone to remind them how strong they are. If anything, they need someone to warn them not to do some of the things they’re willing to try. That’s where the need for wisdom comes in. For boys to become men, they need to develop the strength they already believe they have and they need the wisdom to know how to use it. But once they do that, they become natural leaders.