Art of Woman

Hero rescues girl

Over the weekend, I hired a DVD, "Howl's castle". It is a fun animated fantasy. I found the meeting between Sofi and Howl interesting.

A summary of the plot of Howl’s Moving Castle.

Sofi had gone for a walk and a couple of soldiers were harassing her. She repeatedly said "No" to them but they persisted in harassing her. Howl appeared and spirited her off out of danger.

I know this incident is not the main plot of the story, but the theme of a hero rescuing a damsel in distress in common in mythology. In this case the men did not accept "No" from Sofi. They did not stop harassing Sofi until a stronger man, with magic no less! came and rescued her!

What does this incident teach our young girls? That men do not accept a "No" from them? That whatever they say, their demands will be ignored? That they are not safe unless with a boyfriend to defend them? That a single woman has no reason to refuse male company? That a woman can expect to be harassed if she goes out unaccompanied?

When Howl spirited Sofi off, he did not ask her where she wanted to go or what she wanted to do, he simply assumed that she would go with him. How much choice did Sofi really have during this incident? She was required to trust a complete stranger. And pretty strange and magical he was too!! I prefer to teach my children to be wary and skeptical of strangers who want to spirit them off.

Maybe I am taking this all way too seriously, but myths do affect the way we interpret the world and real people's actions. Many men want to be heros for their wives and girlfriends and that is a noble thing. Many women want their husbands and boyfriends to support their causes, and they should be appreciative of what men do for them. But does a hero require that women have no say in what happens to them?