Monday, 30 March 2009

Holding out for a Hero?

So, I spent my Sunday evening lolling about on my sofa with the Loyal Hound snoring gently on my foot. The fire was crackling away and I decided to watch the film Signs with Joaquim Phoenix and Mel Gibson.

Now, the merits of the film (or lack of them) aside, I found myself pondering something deep and meaningful. This is most unlike me and gave me rather a shock. Then I realised it wasn't actually that deep and meaningful rather flippant and irrelevant which made me feel a little more at home. Despite pondering this for a full lap of my concentratcion span (a good thirty seconds then) I came to no decisive conclusion so I have decided to share my hypothetical dilemma with you and gather your thoughts on the matter.

Here goes:

Are men naturally more 'heroic' than women? Is their natural instinct to protect and defend or is that just what they think they should do? This thought came about because Signs is a predominantly male cast. Without any token women to protect it addresses much more the question of how brave men might be on their own without the stimulus of protecting 'the little woman' and rescuing her from the proverbial dragon (or aliens in this case).

All our lives, the literature and stereotypes that we are fed show us girls being rescued in the nick of time by the tall handsome hero. Films and television perpetuate this myth more often than not. I must be honest here. I don't find this to be particularly true in real life but as I am very rarely carried off by Godzilla or King Kong and left stranded in improbable places and in need of a Bruce Willis style rescue it is hard to judge. Perhaps this happens to you all the time though?

I am also handicapped by the fact that I have never been in a situation where I have not had to sort the monster under the bed out on my own. I've not been given the opportunity to see hero man in action. Also, being a tall person, men don't tend to view me as being in need of much protection. I shall be honest and admit that sometimes I wish this was not so because somehow the sense that I can look after myself makes me feel less feminine. Less like a heroine. Consequently I behave less like one. It's a self perpetuating thing.

Opportunities to be a screaming heroine in need of rescue are scarce though and in my case, futile. If a mouse runs across th kitchen I could leap on a chair and scream but what would be the point? I'd still have to deal with it myself so that is what I do. Deal with it. Would I do things differently if there was man to rope in to deal with it though? Would having a man around make me less brave and does it force him into a position of having to be heroic even if he didn't want to be?

Being on my own does not make me heroic though. I mean, if there is a noise downstairs in the night I choose to ignore it on the basis that I don't want to meet a burglar (so far I am happy to report that it is the mice or the wind). My decision to stay in bed is self preservation rather than bravery. Going downstairs to investigate is asking for trouble. Why would I want to do that? What I don't know is if I was lying in bed with somebody, would he insist on going to investigate? What's more I don't know WHY he might want to go and investigate? Is it stupidity, bravery or foolhardiness?

So here are some questions that I have and that you might be able to answer?

Ladeeez- do you feel safer if there is a man in the house? Why?
Big Strong Men- if you are on your own would you hide from the proverbial burglar in the night?
Ladeeez- if you are home alone and there is a noise in the night do you hide or grab your handy hair straighteners and go and investigate? In other words are you braver when you are on your own?
Big Strong Men- Would your answer to the first question have been different if you were with someone? Why? Do you feel obliged to be a reluctant hero or is it some instinctive reaction to defend those that you love that sends you hurtling into the arms of danger?

Enlighten me. Please.


notSupermum said...

Ooooh, big question! Men are expected to 'take care' of us women, although I have yet to meet one who has actually done so. Seriously.

I'm a single mum, so my main motivation is to protect my babies, so if I heard a noise downstairs I would ring the police first (phone by bed, very important when you are on your own) and then take steps to keep my girls safe.

I'd love to have someone else with me and I think it would make me feel safer (safety in numbers) but as it is, I can look after myself pretty well.

Welsh Girl said...

It's a dilemma isn't it. I mean, you know you can look after yourself as a girl but not in a 'heroic' way, just in a practical way. But there is a sense that men might be 'heroes' in a crisis. Why is that?

I agree about sometimes liking the idea of having somebody there though. As much as anything - someone to wake up and say 'did you hear that?????'

Anonymous said...

These days it is I who goes to investigate a noise, but I am mostly checking that my spawn are not unhinging the screen and making their escape.

Back in the days when my hubby and I were still together, I remember one such night when I kept seeing a weird light flash on the wall, and I was petrified that someone was in our yard shining a light in the window. It took me a good twenty minutes to convinve him to go have a look see, but it was ONLY AFTER I said "forget, I will go look!" That he eventually volunteered.

For now I will stick to me, myself and my trust hair straightener!!

justme said...

I think I just feel safer if there is someone else, be it man or woman there! When I am on my own, I do tend to go and investigate noises, if only because I know they are usually nothing and yet I won't go back to sleep if I do.
Thinking about this a bit more, I don't think men are actually more 'heroic' just that we are all conditioned to expect them to be so. I guess if The Boy was staying over and I heard a noise, I might kick him out to investigate rather than go myself...but as he sleeps like a log, maybe not!

katyboo1 said...

In our family it is always the women who are strong in a crisis. The men generally fall apart going cluck cluck gibber gibber.

If I hear a noise downstairs I lie awake sweating for a bit. If I can't hear any more noises I ignore it. If I am really bothered I get up and have a look.

I will wake Jason up to have a look if he is in the house with me! This is because he is bigger and beefier than me and I reckon he would be better at wrestling burglars than me. I would give it my best shot but I have all the skill and physical dexterity of a dying fish, so I'd rather not get into the line of fire unless I have to.

I would fight to the death to protect the kids though. In fact I have had to be held back one or two times by the more pacifistic males of my acquaintance.

The Singlutionary said...

I don't feel safer when there is a man in the house. I used to think that way but then I realized that men are just as scared as I am. I am hyper alert to noises, etc but most of them I recognize. Also, I have a dog and I think she would do a better job of keeping away bad guys than I man would.

Most noises in the house I recognize because I am always listening. And I don't live alone. If the dog was barking like crazy and I heard a big noise (like someone breaking in) I would stay put and call the cops.

I gave up on being the "damsel in distress" a long time ago when I realized that the men I was around were far less capable than I anyways.

But in the end, I do want a partner that is as capable as me and not a total wimp. So he would be a hero in his own right.

Anonymous said...

I am totally with you on that. If something happens - scary noise, mouse, crisis - I have to deal with it. I too live on my own and am single so there really isn't any point getting my knickers in a twist because there isn't anyone else to sort it out!

But I ahve to admit feeling less than feminine sometimes compared to my trembling friends.

Strawberry Blonde, Actually said...

The man with whom I live leaves me with no option but to be a hero. He is petrified of birds, spiders and all manner of flying things. He sends me out to the garden to investigate foxes/noises/weird dark shapes/whatever. We used to live in a flat, but have moved to a house, which gives rise to a range of noises and things that go bump in the night, and guess what??? I always check what they are.

elizabethm said...

I would always go and check a noise myself, am not bothered by spiders and mice and am quite comfortable being here on my own. But I do admit to liking the fact that my husband is tall and strong and capable and can fix things and sort things out in a traditionally manly way. Does that count as heroism on his part? I think I would find it quite difficult being married to someone who wasn't practically competent now - I have got very used to it.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with justme, who wrote: "Thinking about this a bit more, I don't think men are actually more 'heroic' just that we are all conditioned to expect them to be so."

The men I have been with have all been too heavy of sleepers to notice the things I notice at night. And then I have the nuisance of waking them up (and annoying them) to ask them if they heard anything.

But I am scared shitless of strange noises. And I, like you, hide underneath my covers and hope it won't come in my bedroom!

-- L

Rob-bear said...

Never thought of myself as a hero. But one night there were strange noises. So I quietly went downstairs -- then turned on the light. I surprised the intruder, who was off like a shot. Police, even with a dog, couldn't find him -- he probably had a car parked fairly close by.

All in a night's life.

bonnie-ann black said...

i've always been the sort of woman who "did for myself"... my parents strongly believed women should be able to look out for themselves. i have been attacked in the park and fought him off on my own; i've been mugged and chased them for blocks while i screamed my head off )in fury) and had a half dozen women come to my rescue, as well as a half dozen men.

if i met an overly protective man, he would just annoy me. on the other hand, i'd like one who would fight back to back with me.

The Singlutionary said...

This conversation has been really fun to read. I love all these comment. Bonnie-Ann: Your story reminds me of a friend of mine who is my personal hero. Some guy tried to mug her and she fought him off got him on the ground and then got on top of him and was beating him with her purse until the cops came. Somewhere in there she managed to say to him: "That's not the way you treat a lady!"

I am pretty sure she did this while wearing cute shoes and a cute little outfit.

That is the best story I've ever heard!

I too would prefer a man who fight with me, not for me.

lunarossa said...

Since my children were born I feel more afraid for them but I also know that I'd anything to protect them. I feel safer when my husband is around but not because he's a man, mainly because we will be two of us to protect our kids. I have a pani button near my bed and a baseball bat under it which I wouldn't hesitate to use against an intruder. Keep safe. Ciao. A.

Welsh Girl said...

This is all so fascinating. It definitely seems to show that fiction does not seep into reality. I love the idea of Katyboo being as dextrous as a dying fish, Bonnie Anne chasing muggers around the city shrieking like a banshee, Strawberry Blonde's other half quivering in the corner whilst she goes and slays the dragon and Rob-bear scaring burglars in the night. Oh, and so many more of the things you have all mentioned.

Ultimately it seems that the overall thing we all want is somebody to fight with us, not for us.

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