Knapsacking Up: Heroes

I Am Male… I have easily accessible heroes.

Growing up, I never had a shortage of heroes. First, when I was really young and determined to be a farmer, it was my dad. When I was introduced to sports, they became athletes like David Robinson, Shane Mack, and Sammy Sosa. Later, when I discovered history, I was drawn towards World War II heroes like Raymond Spruance, Ernest Evans, and Winston Churchill.

We’re in a feminist series, so I won’t insult you by explaining what they all have in common. (Cool first names? You’re not very good at this, are you, nonexistent reader?) I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a woman growing up at the same time. Where, other than my own life, would I have been able to find childhood heroes?

It wouldn’t have been in sports. The Williams Sisters? Yeah, nothing like tennis talk around the classroom water cooler. Jackie Joyner Kersey? Yay! A hero every four years! Rebecca Lobo? Cool, but it’s not like there’s some sort of women’s version of the NBA in which she can play after college.

It wouldn’t have been in history. What important contributions to history by women are studied in elementary or middle school, other than, perhaps, the requisite Rosa Parks lesson in February? Not to demean the courage or heroism of Mrs. Parks, but her inclusion is much more about tokenism than a genuine exploration of women’s roles in history or the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

It wouldn’t have been in politics. I would imagine little girls were about as interested in growing up to be Madeleine Albright as much as I wanted to be the next James Baker III. Although, to be fair, Dean Acheson’s mustache is something to which every young man should ascribe.

Secretary of State references!

Secretary of State references!

It wouldn’t have been television, where the only strong pre-Buffy leads were… ummmm… (/Wikipedias “90’s television female leads.” No results except “Who searches Wikipedia like that?”) You get the idea.

Hell, there weren’t even great female heroes in comics. You, know? The place that HAS NOTHING BUT HEROES! I suppose Wonder Woman was alright, but she was about it unless you wanted Superman with boobs and a skirt or Batman with boobs and really sensible footwear for a thief.

I’m sure female heroes existed in some obscure comics or television programs that lasted all of a season before cancellation. But you had to work to find them. I didn’t to find any of mine.

You know what? I liked Buffy too.

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7 thoughts on “Knapsacking Up: Heroes

  1. Even if someone can look them up and find them, there’s still the fact that anybody could name famous male political, sports, or comic book heroes off the top of their heads, but naming female ones takes effort and a search engine. Even then, it seems like there’s an undercurrent that what makes it so inspiring is that the women are good despite being women. Or at least that’s the sense I get of things.

    • If I’m reading you right, I would definitely agree. That last sentence reminds me a lot of what Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “twice as good and half as black” stuff. No shortage of comparisons between gender equality and racial equality…

  2. I’m really enjoying reading through these more recent posts. Teachers that I have rarely bring things like this up, regardless of gender. Privilege is only a thing that I find discussed on select corners of the internet, and more often than not, the whole idea of it is mocked rather than just acknowledged. As a former student of yours, I have to say, this only makes me respect you even more. I look forward to future posts.

    • I’m glad of two things: 1) That you enjoyed it and 2) That only former students have figured this place out. As soon as it becomes current students, it’s gonna have to get shut down. Thanks for the kind words!

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