Monday, April 18, 2016

Dear Mr. Nathan




Dear Mr. Nathan,
I've read your article (http://warhornmedia.com/2016/03/07/an-open-letter-to-rey-from-star-wars/) no less than five times, examining it from various viewpoints, and I have a few things I'd like to say in response.

I think that what you intended to point out was that there are too many warrior-type women portrayed in movies and not enough wives and mothers who are just as awesome raising kids and running homes.  And also that not being a warrior type does not devalue them.  But the way you communicated that, if in fact that is what you were trying to say, came across as arrogant, rude, dismissive and condescending.

I understand that you men are weak, too.  You need something for which to fight.  It's the way you were created, inherent with its own set of weaknesses.  God created women to walk alongside you and compensate for your weaknesses in the same way He created you to compensate for our weaknesses.  I understand that a lot of you men are feeling useless, because feminism has taught our culture that being a woman means we don't need a man and therefore, there is no purpose for you to fill.  I understand all of that and I'm sorry it's left you with a lot of cultural baggage to cut through, just as it has left many of us women with cultural baggage to battle.

I agree with you that the media portrayal of women is unfairly skewed.  We are shown a lot of fighters and not enough women who are 'just' raising kids and managing homes, which is every bit as valuable as fighting off hordes of undead.  And as a friend of mine pointed out yesterday, many females AREN'T the warrior women types and they get tired of only having warrior women in media.  I understand this.

That said, I'm going to point out a few things.  Your article was logically flawed because you incorrectly used examples of fictional female characters who were not, in fact, 'needlessly' fighting.  Each of them had a specific reason for fighting and it's because there weren't any men around to do it.  You're right, we do need more of other types of women portrayed in media.  But, please, don't use these specific female characters as examples of the /wrong/ way to behave, because that's incorrect.

I'm not just defending characters I happen to like and identify with.  I'm pointing out that by using these examples, your premise was damaged, because these examples aren't those of 'needless warrior women types trying to prove they can fight as well as a man'.  Nor am I just 'quibbling over details', because details are what make or break communication.  Your premise might be terrific, but if your details are incorrect, everyone is going to doubt your premise because once something is found to be incorrect, it automatically creates doubt that anything else in the article is correct.  Each of these five examples was not fighting because they didn't need a man, because they were as tough and as strong as men.  It's because there was no man around OR they were fighting /alongside/ men.

Princess Leia
In a galaxy where evil oppressed all- both men and women- she was doing her job of being a senator, and when caught by men, she fought back to protect herself and to protect the people she had vowed to represent.  She was, incidentally, rescued by two men.  Then she, as the only one with knowledge others in the Rebel Alliance (most of them men) needed in order to do their job, became a general to help direct the fight.

Black Widow
She was severely brainwashed into becoming a weapon.  The very men who should have protected her were the ones who used her, hurt her, and molded her into something that took her years and years to break free from.  Incidentally, she was /also/ rescued by a man, when Hawkeye refused to kill her and instead showed her a better way.  She fought alongside the Avengers not because she was trying to be as good as the men, but as a way to atone for her crimes in the past and as the only way she knew how to fight her inner demons.

Katniss
Katniss wasn't even a warrior at all, initially.  She wanted a better life, she wanted kids and love.  She was forced to become a warrior because she lived in a twisted society in which if a child was chosen, they were forced to fight to the death.  She fought this fight alongside men (and boys), and when it was all over, she did become a wife and mother.  The point of her story isn't that she didn't need a man, it was to show what a society can become when they disregard that all life is sacred, and also to point out that when confronted with a society that is wrong, a few people standing up against it can make a difference.

Tauriel
She's an elf.  Not even a human.  Elven society is different from human society.  The 'proper' places of males and females were different, because even though Tolkien portrayed them as having been created by God, they were a different race with different rules.  (And yes, I'm well aware that Peter Jackson is the one who created the character of Tauriel, not Tolkien, but having read much of Tolkien's work, I believe she adheres to the precedents Tolkien set for some female elves.)  She didn't fight because she wanted to prove she was just as good as a male.  She was trained as a guard.  Then later, she fought because at first none of the males were stepping up to do what was right.  When Legolas joined her, they fought side by side. 

Rey
Rey was a survivor.  She fought because she had to learn how in order to protect herself and stay alive.  Plus, she's strong in the Force, which definitely affects how good you are at fighting and your strength.  There weren't any men around to protect her and once that mode of thinking had become habit, it isn't going to disappear because some men show up to protect her or help her.  Not to mention that she then fought to protect her new friends, and because once again, they were all under attack and therefore, if she didn't fight, she'd probably die.

I haven't seen any of the other examples you alluded to, so maybe some of those warriors were needlessly jumping into a place where other people were already doing the work or were just doing it to prove they were as good at fighting as a man.  I don't know, so I won't comment on them, but if you're trying to point out that feminism is a problem, please don't use examples that don't illustrate feminism, but merely show women fighting when confronted with evil.

"What I’m getting sick of is the men that think it’s cool and sexy to make you be the way you are. The men who refuse to tell stories that encourage and ennoble other men to protect and care for the weak ones, the vulnerable ones, the hurting ones—the women and the children, the widows and the orphans."
Again, I agree that there is some of this in media.  But, using the examples you cited... wait a minute.  Refuse to portray men defending weak and vulnerable and hurting people?  I can't help but ask if you actually watched the Avengers?  Because it was about one woman and five men protecting the weak, vulnerable and hurting.

"But a hard, mean, manly woman is difficult for a real man to care for."
Princess Leia, Black Widow, Rey, and Tauriel were none of them 'hard, mean, manly' women.  They were strong, beautiful, feminine, soft women whose main strength came from their compassion and love for people which led them to fight the battle in front of them.  They weren't trying to be just like men.  They were stepping up when men stepped down and/or when there was a fight in front of them which needed them to fight alongside men.

You challenged us women to give you something to fight for.  In return, I challenge you men to do a little more searching about what the Bible actually says about the role of women.  Research the words used in their original languages.  Oh, and please, climb down from the arrogant high horses to look us in the eye and walk next to us.  We appreciate it more than I have time to describe right now.


10 comments:

  1. This is great. I really like how you brought about a different kind of viewpoint that was both well thought out (of course XD) and well presented.
    <3

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  2. AAAAAmen. This is the perfect reply to his article. Not feminism, simply beautiful womanhood in differing situations. Thank you for taking the time to write this. It blessed my soul. :)

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    1. You're very welcome, Beth and thank /you/ for leaving a comment!

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  3. Having read the article you're countering, I have to agree that some of his premises are flawed, especially in light of your explanations of the characters he's writing to/about. There do seem to be too many warrior women in today's media who distort the Biblical role of women, and therefore rob real, truly Godly men of their purpose--to be defenders and protectors.(And I had to smile inwardly at his comment about Tauriel's "garbage love story with a Dwarf"--UGH.)

    I'm kinda surprised he didn't include Éowyn in his little warrior-woman-bashing-session. She refused to listen to the men around her when they advised her to stay at Edoras and help protect the people--the women who weren't handy with a blade, the children and old men who were too weak to defend themselves--and sneaked off to Pelanor with the soldiers and nearly got herself killed. To be fair, it was partly in fulfillment of prophecy that "no man" could kill the Witch King...but still. She failed to see that the men around her weren't saying "stay home" simply because she was a woman; it was because they loved her too much to let her go into a horrible, messy, traumatic situation (which all war is, in spite of all its glorification). And it's not like Théoden was going to shove her into some overcrowded shelter to cower with the rest of the women (as the movie version of TTT portrayed to some degree); he made her protector of his people until his return (I think he even gave her a sword...but it's been a while since I read the books, so feel free to correct me here).
    And this is coming from someone who used to identify with Éowyn almost 100% back when the movies first came out, but I believe God has balanced out my perspective of women fighting over the years.

    And what about Padmé? Are we going to condemn her for joining the efforts to abolish the oppressive machinations of the Trade Federation on her Was she somehow "sinning" or thwarting her God-ordained role as a woman to fight alongside Anakin and Obi-Wan when all their lives were at stake?

    I like what you said about the women he cited (and you featured in more detail) fighting because they had to, not because they wanted to or were trying to prove a point. If you're home alone, and suddenly a swarm of carpenter ants marches through your house, you don't just sit around and wait for Hubby Dearest (or Daddy/Brother, if you're single) to get home from work; you get out the ant spray and deal with the problem before it becomes serious. And based on your explanations, that's more or less what these women were trying to do in their situations. Sorta. I'm actually only familiar with Princess Leia (who, while not exactly a "hard, mean, manly woman," is a bit of a snot at times :-P), but I don't see her role as being purely feministic--she was simply doing her job, using the skills and training she had to help a cause she believed in (like Padmé).

    So yeah, let's tone down all the violent, just-as-good-as-men warrior women and balance them out with brave, strong, feminine wives, mothers and daughters--women who aren't ashamed of the role God created them for, but who also aren't afraid to stand up for their convictions in ways that don't involve a lot of hack-and-slash.

    Sorry this ended up so long, and virtual cookies to anyone who actually read it all. :-P This is a subject I've wrestled with (erm, no pun intended) over the years as a fantasy writer, so this post was encouraging. Thank you, m'dear. :-)

    God bless, and Happy (Godly) Writing,
    ~R~

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    1. And, having mulled it over some more....

      This fellow's article is really rather odd, if you think about it. For one thing, he's writing to fictional characters as if they were real. OK, granted, he's trying to be clever. I can understand that. But then he starts talking about how "God created men this way," and "God made women such-and-such a way," and mentions the Biblical roles of men and women. Ummm...correct me if I'm wrong, but the movies these characters are from (and the source material--books, comics, whatever) don't even acknowledge God. And then he says that, "I'm sure you ladies are capable of reading your Bibles." UMMM...again...there are no Bibles in these movies. (Although, to be fair, of all the examples he--and Melody--gave, I've only seen the Classic Star Wars Trilogy, so I can't speak for the others.)

      He has some good points, but they're almost nullified by his assumption that fictional characters from essentially Godless movies would own a Bible and know the Biblical principles God set out for men and women. Mr. Nathan, with due respect, get your facts straight.

      ~RRG~

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    2. You are welcome and thank you for chiming in.

      I agree that he's expecting too much out of movies made by non-Christians, or Christians who don't share his standards.

      [We need to talk LOTR sometime. I can't believe we haven't in-depth discussed it yet.]

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  4. "Because it was about one woman and five men protecting the weak, vulnerable and hurting." That part had me laughing, oh my word!! Your answers were great, by the way. :D

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