Female Action Heroes

photo of megan fox pictures photos pics
Lisbeth Salander, Columbiana, Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, The Tourist, and Salt, and Jennifer Lawrence in Hunger Games … girls are kicking butt lately! Some say it’s the fourth wave of feminism coming; people are rushing to see girls kick butt and they’re becoming inspired by it, too.

Women are the new action heroes, assassins, spies, hired guns, and even defenders against the occult in today’s films. And unless you’ve been under a rock, this is a pretty big cultural shift in the way we view gender roles. Some may say is a marketing shift – “girls are hot when they’re tough” – but even so: that’s another point for feminism. The days of “speak when spoken to” and “your opinion doesn’t matter because you’re not as good as a man” are gone. These girls can take most men out with a single punch.

And there’s more to it than just being tough – these girls are also extremely smart. In most action movies, the guys fight their way out of a problem, or they call the smart guy sitting at a laptop to navigate them out. These girls don’t need the guy at the laptop: they’ll figure it out themselves and if it comes down to it they’re not afraid to get their hands dirty.

It’s a really awesome step forward for feminism and for Hollywood because let’s be honest, as bad as Jonah Hex was, it’s still better to see Megan Fox kicking butt than it was to see Josh Brolin.

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My Foray Into a Man’s World

Photo of cigar humidor
As a lifelong New Englander, lots of my memories are tied to sports events.  Many of them involve epic, longstanding, ultimately fruitless journeys (professional athletic teams have a tendency to choke in my neck of the woods … Google “1986 Bill Buckner Boston Red Sox” to get some idea).

That being said, though, along with actually having “Ayuh” and “Wicked pissah”" in our regional vernacular, we never give up.  And, when the chance for glory is at our fingertips, we go all out.

Which is how I ended up watching the Super Bowl at a cigar bar.

When I was a teenager, my parents and their best friends had memorable events each Super Bowl where they cooked a themed dinner.  I can remember eating Jambalaya when the New Orleans Saints were playing,  Manhattan Clam Chowder when the Giants played (not this go-round, obv), and of course lobster newburg whenever the Pats made it.  Good times.

The last Super Bowl I spent with my parents, though, was in 2004, when the Pats won it all.  My stepfather was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer a couple of months later.  That was sadly his last NFL championship, and I consequently lost my taste for the game with the exception of the annual Super Bowl festivities.

The 2012 Super Bowl seemed especially fortuitious, as the Pats were back … and the invitations to do cool stuff with many and varied groups of friends and family members rolled in.

How I ended up at a cigar bar is kind of a funny story.

My ex-husband was really into making decisions (I’m trying to avoid phrasing like “anal-retentive” or “control freak”), and unfortunately I’m still feeling repercussions despite the fact that we’ve been divorced now for years.  In other words, I don’t do decisions.  Tell me where to go, and I’ll go (this is the character trait that drives my boyfriend crazy …

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Winterguard: Sport or Hobby?

Photo of Winter Guard Member
The “is it a sport or not?” debate vis a vis everything from women’s skiing to cheerleading has been ongoing for some time now … and there’s pretty much universal support for the fact that it is, at least when you’re considering teams that compete, not just shake pom poms around at a football game or something.

Which leads me to winterguard, a primarily female activity that’s become increasingly popular both in American high schools and at a competitive level.

When my daughter announced to me last year that, as a high school junior, she wanted to join her school’s winterguard team, I was pretty flummoxed.  For one thing, I had only the haziest idea of what winterguard was … namely, girls dressed in odd-looking costumes waving flags around.

I soon learned that it was more than that.  Much more.

For one thing, it entailed three hour practices two nights a week, daylong practices on weekends, and eventually competitions every weekend.  Oh, and countless hours spent in the backyard practicing flag tosses.

The end result of all that practice, the concussions and chipped teeth and bumps and bruises collected by this team, looked something like this.

I was blown away every time I watched that show, and on a personal level, watching my daughter, who has a tendency not to try something if she’s not going to quickly and easily excel at it, blossom into a confident performer through an activity that was incredibly challenging both physically and emotionally was powerful beyond words.

She also dropped something like twenty pounds over the course of last year’s season, and she wasn’t a big girl to start with. The physical demands of winterguard left her not just bruised and battered, but buff as well.

But does that make it a sport?

Well, what exactly constitutes the word “sport”?  According to an English teacher I know who specializes in …

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Lego my … Legos?

Picture of Lego Toy for Girl Currently Under Fire
I might well be the only person alive who hates Legos.  Like, I deplore those little plastic demon-infested things.  I was the kid who could never get the damn pieces of plastic the right way, the one who was always in search of the big red three-topper that my brother always seemed to be using.

And while Lego’s have a solid (and undoubtedly well-deserved) reputation as good learning toys, my own personal experience was marred by two factors.

First, I have a spatial disability.  It was painful for me to attempt to figure out whether the right-bending Lego’s would mesh with the left-benders or vice versa.  It gave me a freaking headache and made what was supposed to be playtime absolutely torturous.

I am pretty much textbook ADHD.  In other words, I struggled for a long time with finishing anything I started.  If I got a Lego kit, I either threw it against the wall or gave it to one of my siblings.  The prospect of actually putting together a Lego World … absolutely impossible for me.

But I have not allowed my Lego prejudices to interfere with my children’s enjoyment of them.  Both of my daughters went through extensive Lego phases, the younger one in particular (her father is a statistician who is all about everything going in its right place).

They’re a toy.  A childhood staple, really, kind of on par with Tonka trucks and Barbie dolls, only not as gender-specific … which was, of course, part of what made them so appealing to me as a parent.

But I guess all things must come to an end.

From Time HealthLand:

The classic playtime favorite is typically gender-neutral, but the new Lego Friends line is catered to girls with a Butterfly Beauty Shop and a Fashion Designer Workshop. Promotions for the line showcase stylish and slimmer figures instead of the usual blocky characters.

Carolyn Costin, an eating disorders specialist …

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