Why I Can’t Stand “Strong Female Characters”

 My siblings and I were watching a bonus feature on a TV recently (Avatar: The Last Airbender, if you must know), and it was titled “The Women of Avatar: The Last Airbender”. One thing I’ll point out first is that none of these “women” were over the age of eighteen, so in my mind they were all still children or very young adults. But as the creators, fans, and writers talked, and as the clips to back up the view that all these female characters were “strong” characters played, I noticed something.

Most of the time, these girls were yelling. Or beating up a couple grown men. Or challenging authority figures.

And I started thinking, since when did strength become synonymous with disrespect? Really. Think about all the Disney Princesses over the years. How many of them are what you would call well-mannered, respectful young women? Please understand, I am not “anti-women” and know that I am directing this post to a Christian audience. If you don’t believe and live under the authority of God’s Word, the Bible, this is all likely going to sound repulsive to you.

Young Christian women and girls, what are we told strength is? Where does it come from? What does it look like?

Is it challenging any and all authority at any time? Is it fighting against any sort of rule or regulation? Is it speaking up whenever we have something to say? Does strength come from our biology? Does it come from the fact that we are “liberated” and no longer in the “oppressive” society our grandparents lived in?

What is true strength? What does a truly strong woman look like?

I can tell you with certainty: she doesn’t look like Suki. She doesn’t look like Belle. Or Jasmine or Elsa. Not like Black Widow, or Mary Watson.

She looks like my mother, like so many of the mothers and wives I know. Like the elderly women at my church who gather to pray every single Tuesday morning. Like Mary. Like Martha. Like Ruth.

Would anyone deny that Jesus was a strong person? I doubt it. And yet He is most often described in Scripture as meek or humble. As obedient. Do you know what meekness is? It isn’t shyness. It isn’t flinching away. It isn’t cowardice.

It is strength.

Under control.

That, ladies, is what our “strong female characters” lack.

They lack control. They lack obedience. They lack humility. They lack, because they are of the world, Christ-likeness.

And sisters, is that Christ-likeness not our goal? Isn’t it what we are to be striving for? Not to the be the loudest voice or the stronger personality. But to be obedient to God and those whose authority He has, in His perfect will and plan, put us under.

Our husbands.

Our fathers.

Our church leaders.

Our teachers.

Our mothers.

None of us- male or female- will ever truly “be our own boss”. And you know what? That’s a good thing.

Jesus wasn’t exactly His own boss. He bowed the knee of obedience to His Father. Every day, in every situation, no matter what the culture around Him said, He obeyed God.

He took direction. He used His strength, His power, for God’s purposes. He was not loud or obnoxious or rude. He was not constantly trying to show up others. He was not yelling about His rights. He was quietly, contentedly, going about God’s work.

Am I? Are you?

The world tells us a strong woman doesn’t have to listen to anyone. It says that obedience is demeaning. It tells you, loudly, brightly, happily, that if you submit or obey that you are weak.

Ladies how much strength does it take to give in to your flesh?

Not. Much.

How much willpower does it take to snap irritably at someone? To roll your eyes at your dad’s face or his back? To talk back to your mother? To know that you know best?

None.

On the flipside, how much strength does it take to tell yourself “no.”? How much strength does it take to obey God?

He tells us to be grateful for those in authority over us, to pray for them. He tells us that a strong- a meek- daughter of His is obedient. That she finds pleasure and joy in obeying. He tells us quietly, honestly, lovingly, that obedience is the mark of His children. That it is a way we can thank Him for the marvelous gift of salvation.

How much strength does it take to smile and joyfully obey? To be still and speak later, in private, when you’re calmer? To take a deep breath and submit? To turn away from sin?

It takes more strength than we have.

We cannot be true strong women without Christ. We cannot be meek without learning how He was meek. We cannot be good ambassadors if we do not study, stand by, and practice, our King’s laws.

We have no hope of every having true meekness in our own power. It is through genuine prayer, repenting of disobedience, and studying Scripture that we become strong. All our strength is in Christ- we are nothing without Him.

So ladies, please. Let’s be cheering for the “meek females” in our lives Let’s honor them- not the sad, distorted shadows the world tries to tempt us with.

Let us make honoring God our priority and goal- not honoring our flesh.

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