What Kind of Woman Do I Want to Be?

10 Mar

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Are you the kind of person who could save someone’s life?

I’ve been asking myself this lately as it relates to my future. If the time came, could I fend off a gun-toting villain, could I give someone CPR, could I steer a speeding car out of harm’s way?

Some people believe that everyone has it in them to act heroically when it becomes a matter of life or death; your primal instinct to survive kicks in and your responses become automatic.

I don’t know that I believe that because it suggests that being a hero isn’t a choice – it’s just part of being human. I’d like to think we have a choice in the matter. I’d like to think that the heroic part of it is the choice. True heroes try to save the world, or even just one person, even if they’re not sure how it will end.

These questions all popped up because I’ve been seriously considering what I’m doing with my life. Now that I finally feel established in Denver, it is perhaps time to consider my motivations and long-term goals. In between that, I’ve been procrastinating making any decisions by watching the Kill Bill movies and the Netflix series “Jessica Jones” that feature female heroes. Totally inspired by the courage and tenacity of these hard-core women, I started questioning whether or not I had it in me to live in a similar way. Is there a reason I was never drawn to a career as an EMT, surgeon, police officer or member of the military? Was it because in my heart, I knew I couldn’t do it and didn’t want to do it? Or was it because I was too scared to see if I could?

But wouldn’t it be cool if the result of my moving to Denver is that I changed a life, or several? Wouldn’t it be cool if all this nonsense about a guy was the impetus for me becoming the kind of person who could help the world in a really important way?

Kill Bill is a revenge story, where Uma Thurman’s character, The Bride, searches the globe for the man who tried to kill her, and for anyone who helped. We watch her travel to Japan and learn to use a Samurai sword; we watch her demolish entire gangs of killers with her badass martial arts moves. She’s tough and singular in her vision. She learns new skills and stops at nothing to seek a justified revenge and save her life.

Jessica Jones is a graphic novel superhero, who at first chooses to use her wit to help others rather than use her superpowers. Jessica is unapologetically unpolished and dysfunctional, but also brave, smart, strong and compassionate. She takes tremendous risks and makes personal sacrifices to save others’ lives. She is one of the most inspirational superheroes I’ve seen on the screen.

With the exception of perhaps Wonder Woman, it seems to me a relatively new concept to portray a woman as a traditionally masculine hero. What I mean is that her being a woman does not change the way she fights evil. She uses physical strength and intelligence to save the day, without any caveats from the storyteller.

We’re lucky we live in a time that this portrayal is becoming more popular. We’re lucky we live in a country where women have the choice to be this kind of hero. And I’m lucky I have the luxury to discover who I really am and how I can really contribute to the world.

I want to be the kind of woman who devotes her life to saving others’ lives. What does that look like? Does it mean I have to wear hole-y jeans, combat boots and a leather jacket, or a yellow tracksuit? Or can I still be Audrey Hepburn chic in my trench coat and still save the day?

So I come back to the question: am I someone who could do that? Do I have it in me to be like The Bride or Jessica Jones? Is that what this International Woman of Mystery thing is all about? Would I make the choice to be heroic, even in the face of uncertainty, if the opportunity presented itself?

Perhaps it’s time I figure this out.

-Jennifer

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One Response to “What Kind of Woman Do I Want to Be?”

  1. Lunar 03/11/2016 at 10:13 AM #

    I LOVED Jessica Jones. She’s an amazing character to have on television because she doesn’t just portray the “strong female character” trope – she reveals and occasionally succumbs to her own vulnerabilities and tragedies too. We are not always our best self and Jessica Jones reminds us that while we are strong and capable and powerful, we are also allowed to be vulnerable and weak and have emotions, too. I will never get enough of that show. We need more shows like it on TV.

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