September 01, 2015
Giving The Hero A Rest
We were all raised to believe in the Hero, a caped man, woman, or dog even, who swoops in to save the day. We see strength and altruism in this archetype and we want to emulate it. Every kid has stuffed a towel in their shirt and run around the living room, jumping off chairs in an attempt to fly like Superman. We pretend to have superpower strengths as we slay the most daunting of monsters. As we grew up many of us continue to play out these roles in our adult lives.
Men, especially, have traditionally been charged with the task of being the hero of their families. They have been the go-to person to fix all that goes awry in the household, and until relatively recently, have provided the lion’s share of the income. They’ve kept the roof from leaking, the cupboards full, and they’ve protected the premises from intruders. We have asked them to be our heroes and we have asked them to be our warriors. These roles, however, demand a certain amount of emotional distance. A hero doesn’t cry, and someone sensitive to another’s pain, does not a good warrior make. In fact, we have trained our young boys to deny their feelings so they can step up and “be a man.” There is no analogous role for a woman. There are traits we expect a woman to have but no equivalent pressure to “be a woman.” Many women in our culture even choose to adapt themselves to these same standards, because they are so highly emphasized.