Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Messages from kids’ movies: Girls Rule and Boys Drool?


I was raised in a Christian home, but I was still allowed to watch some tv and movies. There weren’t nearly as many kids movies out on the market then, but there was one children’s movie I was not allowed to see: The Little Mermaid.

I was upset that I couldn’t see the movie, especially when I got a Little Mermaid outfit from a friend for my 5th birthday. Everyone else got to see it, so why not me?

My mom sat me down and explained calmly to me that the reason we don’t watch movies like that is because the storyline is not Biblically sound. The mermaid disobeys her father and is then rewarded for her disobedience by getting feet and marrying a prince. In the end it is her father who pays the price of her disobedience and she gets rewarded. My mom did not think that was a good message to send her children, so we were not allowed to watch that movie.

After seeing the Little Mermaid for the first time in high school, I realized my parents were right. The movie is very wishy-washy on the topic of obedience, and I don’t like that.

Since I was a child, kid’s movies have really exploded. And you may have noticed that many of them are crossing the line into more adult content. I think about the Alvin and the Chipmunk movies which recently came out. My sister has an 8 year old son and would not allow him to see them. She said “how is a movie about boy chipmunks chasing sexy girl chipmunks helpful to my son’s character?” And although the movie was quite funny, Shrek had a ton of cheeky humor and even swear words. I think of the time Shrek yells to the donkey “don’t be an a**”. The play on words is clever but still, do you want your children yelling that kind of stuff? Is that helpful to their Christian character?

The newest movie I want to address is the latest in theaters: Brave. The story of a fiery, independent spirited Scottish princess who defies her parents’ wishes for her to marry and ends up cursing her mother. When I saw the previews for this movie, I thought it looked great! I thought it looked funny and clever, and who doesn’t love a female heroine? 

Princess Merida from Brave

But as I read more about the movie and saw more of the previews, I saw that this movie sends another message I am not a fan of: girls rule, boys drool. There is a part where the Princess beats all of her dim-witted would-be suitors in an archery contest. Again, girls rule, boys drool. This Princess, and any woman out there for that matter, doesn’t need a man! I think the Bible calls for women to be strong, but modern society has twisted this concept by making women strong at the expense of men.

We know that the Bible calls for men and women to fill different roles. This does not make men and women unequal, but makes us different. You have only to look at the average woman to see that we are different from men. We tend to desire different things, relate to others differently, and even think a bit differently from men. That is not a bad thing! That is God-designed, and I believe we do ourselves a disservice when we tell ourselves we can do anything a man can do. Sure we probably can do many of those things, but what we should be telling ourselves and telling our daughters is “God made you and designed you to be a woman, and that is a special and wonderful thing.” We are designed to be wives, mothers, keepers of our homes, and to fulfill everything that Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 talk about. I do not think this necessarily means women cannot work, however I think this means that our roles as wives, mothers, and keepers of the home come first and foremost.

By telling ourselves and our daughters that we can and should do everything a man can do, we are telling them to fulfill their own innate desire to be a wife, mother, and homemaker, but then we are also telling them to fulfill the innate desires of men to provide. Only then will they be “fulfilled”.

First of all, we know that a relationship with the Lord is the only thing that will truly fulfill us. So telling our daughters that they will be fulfilled only when they are a wife, mother, housekeeper, and CEO is telling them that they will be fulfilled by something other than a relationship with God. It is also telling our daughters that they are to spread themselves thin and be superwoman.

I can tell you this from experience. My desire growing up was to be an Oncologist (a cancer doctor). My true desire was to save lives and help people, not necessarily become a doctor. I decided after entering college that I wanted to get my PhD in History and teach at a university. I held this desire until just over a year ago. It was only a year ago, when I was studying to take my GRE exams to enter graduate school that I realized how much of my life would have to be devoted to graduate school and subsequently to my career. There is no way I could take time off to be a stay-at-home mother. And if that is the case, who would be teaching my children morals and how to have a heart for Christ all day while I am working? Children in daycare may gain “social skills” but they are also picking up all sorts of habits and ideas from children who are probably not being raised with the morals your children are. For more on this topic, see THIS POST.

The more I prayed for God to show me his way for me, the more I realized that I want to be a wife and full-time truly invested mother more than I ever want to teach history. I decided against graduate school and decided to pursue this track of life.

The most difficult part of this decision was feeling like I had to justify myself to other women around me. They were the ones pushing me to “be more”, “fulfill myself”, and become the super woman that every woman is “supposed” to be. But I realized through prayer and a Biblical womanhood Bible study that God doesn’t need for me to fulfill myself and be superwoman. Instead, I need to pursue Biblical womanhood. To serve the Lord, serve my community, serve my family, and serve my children (whenever the Lord chooses to give them to me). I need to stop trying to fulfill myself and instead try to fulfill God’s purpose for me.

Movies like Brave, and many other “female empowerment” movies out there teach our society, boys and girls alike, that women are to fulfill themselves and not be tied down by a man or their children. They are to pursue their own lives and own interests. The result is a generation of women pursuing anything but their God-given roles, and a generation of weak-willed men who have been beaten into submission. Weak-willed men cannot fulfill their God-given roles either: to provide for and protect their families, to be the Christian leaders of their homes, and to love and nurture their wives. Instead women have taught men to be passive. So now we have a generation of women frustrated with their husbands for being passive.

I encourage all of your to think again about the movies you show your daughters, your sons, and yourself. Encourage your daughters to pursue God and pursue the goals he has set into their hearts. Encourage your sons to pursue God and the Biblical goals laid out for him. Movie like Brave may look fun and entertaining, but they may damage your children’s spirit and send them a message contrary to the message of God.

Modern society has an “it’s no big deal” attitude toward everything. Toddlers in mini-skirts? Why not! Kids swearing? Why not! Sexual lyrics to songs? Why not! This world is beginning to become all gray. Nothing is right or wrong, everything is “why not”. But God’s way is definitely black and white, right and wrong. We need to fight those subtle “why not” messages and show our kids the right and wrong of God’s way, and teach them to evaluate the world, even their movies, by those standards. 

If this post causes you indignation, and you are thinking of the centuries of suppression women faced with at the hands of men, I encourage you to read this Bible study book. It’s 8 weeks and will give you a very interesting Bible-based perspective on how SIN was the cause of such suppression, not God’s design for men and women.

10 comments:

  1. Amen. I really dislike the historical revisionism and anachronism in this type of movie too.
    As if it's 'strong' to do what you want rather than what is expected of you.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Beautiful Beautiful post! I completely agree. And it's not just movies either! i nannied for a family during my undergraduate years and I was blown away by the messages that were being sent via kid-focused tv shows and channels - messages that focus on outer beauty, make it okay and the norm to disobey and disrespect adults, sexual jokes and innuendoes, and glorifying superficial boyfriend/girlfriend relationships at a super young age!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh, and I just remembered the message of The Little Mermaid that my parents didn't like- that she had was using her beauty to make a man fall in love with her. Do you remember the lyrics to 'Kiss the Girl'? They're horrible.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lauren I completely forgot about that song until you brought it up. Now I remember and you are very right!

      Delete
  4. This post really made me think. We don't have kids yet but I think about different msgs we send kids all the time and yet if a movie didn't have *bad words I just accepted it as ok.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Love your post!

    A Few years back, It was my goal to major in Occupational therapy in Grad school but as I grew in Christ my plans had change. I am currently 9 classes away from my Bachelor ( will graduate next year) . However, I was working for a family as a nanny and both parents lead a very busy life and were never home. They worked all day and I would have her from morning to night. She was old enough to know about Christ but it wasn't a priority in her family. She would act up by biting,kicking,choking other kids, and cutting to get her parent's attention. It was really sad! This was a eye opener for me and it was around this time when I learn the term “homemaker”. It was put in my heart and no doubt in my mind this is the plan that the Lord has for me. Since I will be graduating next year a lot of people are asking my plans and when I tell them “homemaker”, oh boy! They say all types of things, but the four top comments are:

    Why would you do that?
    It is not human nature to be without adult conversation that long!
    six weeks maternity leave is ENOUGH!
    I love my baby( I really do ) but I cannot stand to be around her that long.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Good for you! I also am a college graduate and often people around me have made me feel that my education is a waste if I stay home with my kids (when I have them someday). It is encouraging to know there are other people like me out there!

      Thanks for Sharing!

      Delete
  6. Hi! I like your post, but I don't get how a girl kicking butt in an archery contest against boys sends a "girls rule, boys drool" message. One of my close friends is an excellent archer. . .because she practiced and worked really hard and it, and I bet she could beat lots of boys. . .doesn't mean she rules and they drool . . .it just means she's better at that one thing. and the whole girls rule boys drool is a thing kids do. . and grow out of . . .usually. Most feminists (I mean I don't know any of the other sort), just want equality, the freedom to be just as apart of society as boys, nothing more. Feminists who take it too far are simply misguided. For me, feminism is all about choosing, and being free to choose what you want to do, whether it is stay home and raise your kids and help your husband, or to have a career AND raise your kids and help your husband, both are equally valid in TRUE feminism. choosing what you want to do.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do agree with the comment post above because there are movies out there where " boys rules and girls drool" but yet no one says anything. In the movie " Brave " , no one thinks womens have the ability to skilled in archery. That is Not fair. Question for Amy if you are playing checkers with your husband and you are willing , will you pretend to lose so that your husband can "Rule"?

      Delete
    2. Thank you for your comments, ladies. I wrote a post in response to your comments to elaborate on the views God has laid on my heart. I am not asking you to agree with me, but I hope you will take time to research your views in the Bible and see what God has to say about these topics. I pray the holy spirit will work in you to show you his way.

      I never said anything about wanting my husband to "rule" over me. I happen to beat him all the time at some games, although I admit he beats me more often than not.

      Delete

I love to fellowship with others and hear what they have to say. I would ask, however, that you be mindful of what you write and try to be uplifting and respectful. Thank you for sharing!