One of my facebook friends was questioning the right of Katniss Everdeen, of Hunger Games fame, to serve as a female role model. She felt like Katniss's choices, which in the first book of the series, were brave and admirable, became exceedlingly less so as the series progressed.
Her comment came the day after my daughter and I went to see Pixar's latest release: Brave. The movie tells the story of Merida, a fiesty, fiery, red-headed princess who does not want to be betrothed. She likes to ride horses, shoot arrows, and climb mountains. She abhors needlepoint and wearing restrictive queenly costumes.
I couldn't help but note the similarities between Merida, the pixelized heroine of Brave, and the flesh and blood portrayal of Katniss Everdeen.
- Both of them have adoring, if sometimes misguided, mothers.
- Both of them are experts at archery.
- Both of them prefer male to female companionship.
- Both of them are fighting for the right to their own destiny.
For Katniss, her destiny is being controlled politically. She must fight - even at the expense of her own morality - for the survival of herself and her family. For Merida, her destiny means being able to NOT choose one of the three strangest male suitors ever to be portrayed in cartoons. It also means being able to be a queen and a woman in her own way.
While I agree that no girl should ever take a fictional character as a role model, I do believe that there are some basic lessons that most girls can take from these two characters.
1) Learn to shoot a bow and arrow (just kidding!).
2) Find and learn to trust your own instincts.
3) Don't settle for what is expected of you by your parents or by society.
4) Refuse to be limited by the stereotypes of what a girl should be.
5) Realize that marriage and men are not solutions to life's problems - in fact, in The Hunger Games, they complicate everything.
5) Aim for excellence (that's the bow and arrow part).
Now, I must go and sign up for archery lessons...