For those whose ire might have been raised by last week’s post, please keep in mind that I am posing questions to stimulate thought and that I have settled on few, if any, answers to which I would care to commit. The questions I am raising have occurred to me in the course of observing the society and culture in which I live. I was noting an apparent increase in the acceptance of the goddess mentality since the 1960s. I am not referring to the appropriation of “goddess” as a term to deal with contemporary women’s issues. That is a matter of artistic and literary taste, and it can be quite clever. It also affords opportunity for the redefinition of the term.
I am referring to more overt examples from the world of fantasy. I have read that strong female characters in literature, comics, and movies can be empowering to girls and young women (not to mention their elders), so please allow me to repeat some questions and pose some more. Are women being let down by a version of feminism that isolates them from older societal protections, thus making them more vulnerable to male exploitation? Is the offering of such protections in itself demeaning or degrading? Is the adoption of exaggerated role models from fantasy also degrading in that it could represent weakness in real life? Since some protections can be used to restrict the freedom of women, and since I have advocated the use of fantasy as a perspective from which to address reality more effectively, I have no definitive answers to these questions. As with so many things, the efficacy of fantasy depends on how it is used.
One trend that has caused me some concern is the extolling of a feminine superhero ( in essence, a type of goddess or demigoddess) as “bad ass.” After all, what’s wrong with a female character who can kick a substantial amount of masculine derriere? Strictly for purposes of entertainment, I see nothing inherently wrong with this if it is done tastefully. When such imagery is employed as a sense of empowerment, however, things can get a bit more dicey. Perhaps whether or not this is healthy is a matter of degree.
Oh, well. I’ve basically exhausted my self-imposed quota for words this week. I think I can wrap this up with one more post. Typical male attitude, huh?