Inspire · Memoir · Mom'ing

Soldiers and Shield Maidens

swords-1255504I’ve noticed a trend in pop culture. I don’t know maybe it’s not a trend, maybe I’m just paying attention to it for the first time. I turn on the radio and hear a fight song, flip on the TV and see Shield Maidens and Mother’s of Dragons. In the bookstore there are girls with swords and huntresses with crossbows. Everywhere I look there are warriors, Katniss’ and Khaleesi’s.

As if pop-culture is screaming “I am woman! Hear me roar!”
In Christian music female vocalists are singing “Make Me Brave” and female authors like Sarah Bessey and Lisa Bevere are penning titles like Jesus Feminist and Lioness Arising.
I look at this trend, and again, maybe it’s been here longer than I realized, maybe I’m late to the party, but nevertheless, I look at this trend and think, “well, it’s about time.”
It’s about time that women openly talk about their strength a value, not just from a worldly perspective but also an eternal. We are living in a day in age where convicted rapists can walk away with a 6-month sentence, whereas in some states non-violent criminals are serving a life-sentence for their third offense. We live in a day in age where people are being trafficked, where women and children are being sold as a commodity, where every single young woman I know has at least one story of being assaulted, aggressed, or at very least been the recipient of unwanted advances. I have friends that have been raped, attacked, and stalked.
I go down my own list:
The time a stranger grabbed my butt as I walked through a bookstore.
The flasher that waited in the stairwell as I made my way to work revealing himself to me and my female colleagues.
The stalker that left notes on my car and front door.
The creeper that photographed me changing out of my wetsuit at the beach.
The man that rubbed pizza all over my car for reasons beyond my comprehension.
My “assaults” aren’t even that bad in comparison to the stories I’ve heard and keep hearing. And I’m raising a daughter in this world!?! I hate thinking that I need to prepare her for this. I hate knowing that someone someday will call her a slut or worse.  It makes me sick to think that someday someone will probably try to take advantage of her.
When I was a teenager I used to have this reoccurring dream. I’ve being chased, hunted. I’m in a forest, I’m keeping low, paying attention to the snapping of twigs and the sounds on footsteps. I look at my hands and they are tightly gripping a sword. I step out of the thicket and meet my foe head on.
I like this dream. It makes me feel strong, stronger than my 5’2″ frame really is, stronger in a way of thinking, strength of heart; Lion-hearted. The dream gives me solace when in doubt, when struggling with fear that can so easily entangle me, when my heart is pounding, when I hear those thumps in the night. I think of the Lion-hearted girl  in my dreams.
I’d like to think that we are becoming more civilized. That race and gender equality is just a given. That we are ALL equal and valuable. Amid all the black lives matter, blue lives matter, gay lives matter, there is the more important ALL lives matter. If you are alive, if there is air in your lungs and a beat in your heart you matter, you are precious, you are valuable, you deserve love, you deserve compassion.
I keep waiting to see this practiced and played-out. The importance of love and equality are talked about a lot, but you need not look much further than a political rally too see just how nasty we can get. So I can’t help but beg the question, are we improving? Or is sexism, racism, elitism just as bad as ever, but hiding under the surface of polished smiles and suburban life, for fear of not being PC.
As I prepare my children for the world, I recognize the probability that my daughter will need to protect herself with the ferocity of a shield maiden, I recognize that my son too will need to be lion-hearted. I pray that they will both have the fortitude to stand up for the oppressed, the stare inequality head on and say “not on my watch”, that they will be strong and yet compassionate and kind. Come what may, I hope and pray they are prepared, that I am prepared.
Come what may.

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