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Princesses, Martyrs and Harlots

I was thinking about female role models today. Who are the women we look up to, and why? And are there any we can really model our lives after. I know there are real women, mothers, sisters, relatives, and friends who are definitely worthy of role model status in our lives. But I was thinking more about women from history, literature, movies, and of course, that would include women from the Bible. In many instances the characters, or knowledge about the real women, is so one-dimensional that they are no more than a female stereotype. There is the innocent virgin and her arch-nemesis, the harlot. There’s the old maid, and the dumb blond. And of course, we can’t forget the princess and the wicked step-mother.

Those stereotypes are so shallow that we could never begin to model our lives after any of them. In fact, I would guess there’s already a little of each of them in all of us. Even in my post about the princess,Sleeping Beauty, she was described with five words that we wouldn’t necessarily expect to see together: lovely, modest, sweet, and kind and clever. We don’t always see women, especially modern characters, who are both modest and clever, or lovely and kind.

Contrasting characteristics in the same woman seems to produce so much inner conflict, yet we all have them. Like Joan of Arc, pictured above. She was both innocent and fierce (violent, even), and many other contrasts as well. The contrasts were so irreconcilable that her life couldn’t even contain them all. Martyrdom seems the natural resolution for her personality. But I don’t believe God sees it that way. I think those are just the role models we’ve become familiar with. I think God sees the qualities that seem incompatible to us, as working in perfect harmony to make us the woman He created us to be. And I believe if we could fully tap into the person He created us to be, we could better fulfill the purposes He has for us.

I know at times some people call me sweet. And other people, seeing a different side of me, in a different situation, will call me wise. Sweet makes be think of young, innocent, and naive…which doesn’t describe me at all. Wise makes me think of old, judgmental, and stuffy…which I hope doesn’t describe me too closely. The two things just don’t seem to go together to me. But I know they’re both part of who I am.

I think part of the “which one is not like the other” feeling comes from a lack of well-rounded role models, where I could see those two characteristic working together instead of in opposition to each other.

What parts of your personality just don’t seem to go together? And what are some of your favorite characters or role models with distinctive qualities that we don’t normally see in the same person?

One Response to “Princesses, Martyrs and Harlots”

  1. Karla Lewis February 7, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    You always think up such wise, though provoking things Loralea. I love reading your blogs…I’ll have to think on this one!

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