Who says I can’t be Spock?

Spunky only applies to the underdog, I think

Hello blogiverse. I am going to re-direct my book-reviewing soapbox for just a moment here and share some thoughts on a topic that only tangentially aligns with books. Firstly, a hat-tip to Alyssa at Think Progress for finally catalyzing me to share my spock-aspirations with y’all, in Action Princesses and Making the Hero’s Journey Available to Everyone | ThinkProgress.

Why so much emphasis on “girls need female role-models”?

Don’t get me wrong: as a female reader I’ve always enjoyed encountering a female character who carries out her/my goals with larger-than-life success. No question, that’s excellent.

But, seriously: is there a species-wide gender-restriction on aspirations? I must not have gotten the memo. “Despite” the dearth of female characters, when I was ten years old I loved watching re-runs of the original Star Trek say 1979. Gender ratios not unlike undergraduate Computer Science at MIT, come to think of it. But anyhow, I looked at all the characters there and decided that… I wanted to be Spock. Why not Uhura – she’s female, right? Well, kudos for getting a spot on the bridge, but simply reporting what others say… boooo-ring.  Being a nurse? Meh, not my thing. I grabbed onto the idea of being able to lay the facts and logic out there, raise an eyebrow, and ‘poof’ the indisputable truth of one’s statements just kicks ass. (Yah, no, I know logic doesn’t win that way IRL all the time. That doesn’t stop me from trying 🙂 )

Be Scotty, Be Janeway

So, perhaps what parents, teachers, and mentors should be doing is: ditch the gender-categories in the lists and promote all the  role models for everyone. Encourage your little boy to be a starship captain: just like Kathryn Janeway. Cheer for your little girl to be an engineer like Scotty. Of course it’s possible.

[update] – I forgot to hat-tip the following blog article that I read during my multi-month think-period leading to this post.  In “I never wanted to be a boy” Culturally Disoriented pays tribute to many (female) writers who provide strong (female) role models.  I agree, there is lots to enjoy in those books – I love those authors.   But still, don’t limit your aspirations to what others have already accomplished. Practice your “warrior” fighting!

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  1. #1 by redhead on August 12, 2012 - 10:00 am

    Thank you, thank for you this. Because I feel the same way. My role models growing up were strong, smart, fast-thinkers who did the right thing (or tried to at least) when push came to shove. I don’t need my rolemodels to share the same gender as me, I need them to share the same values as me. When I say I want to grow up to be Indiana Jones, I’m not saying I want to grow up to be a smelly sweaty guy who gets shot at every five minutes, I’m saying I want to grow up to be someone shares his values – adventure, knowledge, fearlessness (but no aliens. that was just stupid).

    • #2 by Randall on December 2, 2012 - 6:09 pm

      I totally agree with you redhead.

  2. #3 by Sandy M. on August 15, 2012 - 6:51 pm

    !!! Indiana Jones! Raiders was my very first movie obsession, but I don’t think it was completely/only a crush on Indy. I too wanted to grow up to be Indy.

    But now that I am far more gender-sensitized, Marian was an awesome heroine. Nonetheless, would rather be Indy.

  3. #4 by Tadi on May 31, 2013 - 11:38 am

    Wonderful blog! And you’re so right! We don’t need female role-models. I grew up with Harry Potter, got lost in Star trek and went on crazy adventures with Indiana Jones. My role-models are strong, smart and totally awesome! I do not care about the gender!
    Btw.. Mind checking out my new blog: readandlovebooks.blogspot.com?
    Thanks♥

  4. #5 by Iscah on June 14, 2013 - 1:32 am

    This is why my nephew telling me he wants to “be Twilight” from My Little Pony doesn’t bother me. He doesn’t want to be a girl, just smart and magical.

  5. #6 by Kerry Alan Denney on February 21, 2014 - 1:27 pm

    I LOVE Kaylee the ship’s engineer from Firefly: sweet, very attractive, wholesome, yet determined, knowledgeable, and full of style. I write with LOTS of female protagonists, all of whom are strong-hearted, willful, and relentless in pursuit of their goals.

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