Bravery is a Womanly Virtue

I dreamed this week that I was giving birth. This was shocking to me as I didn’t know I was pregnant. Surprise! I was in a hospital operating room, but no one was attending me. I was alternately pacing the floor and lying curled up on a table in the center of the room. Occasionally someone would step in and talk distractedly to me before leaving again. They were peripheral, though. The focus of the dream was 100% on my clenched abdomen. I was in so much pain, that I gave very little thought to anything around me. I did it by myself.

I had a baby. And woke up.

And then last week, I dreamed that we were at the zoo, my mom and a couple of my sisters and some of our children. We were sitting in a courtyard eating when someone started firing an assault rifle at people. I heard the rat-tat-tat of the shots, but didn’t actually see the shooter. I jumped up and picked up the round metal pedestal table where we sat. I ordered everyone to get behind the table with me, where I held it like a parasol over my shoulder. We hustled toward the exit, tightly packed together with the table behind us.

I wonder if these dreams are my subconscious wielding a highlighter; is this the way I inwardly view myself? In both dreams, I was under a great deal of pressure and I reacted swiftly and purposefully. Disturbing as these dreams were to me, I woke feeling capable and, strangely, feminine.

I’ve been thinking about what it means to be a woman, maybe because I live in this house with a strikingly male majority. I am the sole bastion of womanhood in a family of guys.

It seems I have some feminist angst because I freaked out when the summer blockbuster movie season descended, featuring superheroes and also more superheroes. Good luck finding a good date movie in the summer that didn’t involve highly sculpted men knocking down buildings as they fought the aliens/decepticons/bad guys. I was irate one Saturday while looking for a movie that didn’t involve tough guys fighting evil tough guys. Dutch took the brunt of it.

“I don’t want to see a movie where well-muscled men save the world! It’s like the film industry thinks the only thing that’s sexy is superheroes battling other-worldly villains, while Gwyneth sits around in her sports bra, waiting to be saved,” I ranted to my husband while shoving dirty dishes into the dishwasher.

“You know what nobody thinks is sexy?” I practically shouted at him. “My life!”

That escalated quickly. He gave me a neutral look and kept quiet.

Raising children, disabled and typical, isn’t as fast-paced as an action flick. But that doesn’t mean it’s boring. Yes, there are fewer exploding cars, which is okay with me.

But aren’t stories about family relationships compelling to most people, as we all have a family of some sort? And can’t we release a few more movies with strong female leads, and let them wear their clothes while they rescue themselves? Actually, there are some movies where this happens. Merida, Anna & Elsa, Katniss, and Tris do not sit around waiting for people to come to their rescue. But I was mid-rant and on a roll.

If you ask me who the real superheroes are (which nobody did, but whatever), it isn’t pretend comic book people with physical powers.

It’s parents.

It’s women who aren’t being rescued but who are saving themselves and the people around them.

It’s anyone living with a challenge bigger than they are.


  7 comments for “Bravery is a Womanly Virtue

  1. August 27, 2014 at 9:16 am

    I love this so much. You are a total superhero, Megan. I’m glad I know you.

  2. Jen
    August 27, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    1. I have the EXACT same feelings about the movie offerings this summer. I had a very similar conversation with Andy in which I asked, “When are they going to have something, nay ANYTHING, at the theater I actually want to watch?” Andy’s reply: “Christmas.” Which is probably true. But still. I NEEDED a good GIRL POWER movie this summer and there wasn’t one.
    2. I had a dream one night I was in labor. I literally dreamed for 7 or 8 hours that my uterus was contracting and that I was in horrible pain and couldn’t get any help for it. I woke up in drenched clothes and was exhausted, as if the whole thing had actually happened. I’d like to think it was a dream about proving to myself how strong I am. But really I think it was a dream about wanting someone to save me from my hideous pain!
    3. I don’t think there will be more/enough Brave Girl Power movies unless we write them ourselves.

  3. Laura
    August 27, 2014 at 7:27 pm

    I have had a few birthing dreams too and my thoughts in my dreams are always, “hey, that wasn’t so hard, I can do this.” We are awesome!

  4. Katrina
    August 28, 2014 at 7:26 am

    I love this. I also love that your husband ‘kept quiet’ — if only mine could learn that! 😉

    On a side, we came out of our sealing to our car full of smoke in the conference center parking. The contents of the trunk had lit on fire. And the adventure began! 🙂 (Not an explosion, but exciting all the same.)

    • Dutch
      August 31, 2014 at 3:37 pm

      Katrina, some men are content to sit back and watch the world burn, others revel in stoking the flames. I place myself in the former category, perhaps because I am a bit lazy.

      Best wishes in your ongoing flammable life journey.

  5. Melody
    September 1, 2014 at 3:29 am

    This is amazing. Wonderful post. Also, yes, women in media. . . exasperating. (I love Geena Davis for what she is doing about this problem.)

    P.S. I read through the last six or seven of your posts. As always, I love your writing and my heart weeps and rejoices with you. Just so you know. God bless.

    • Melody
      September 1, 2014 at 3:34 am

      Also, courage or bravery should be added to the YW values. Don’t get me started on why
      “virtue” is not a virtue and should never have been added to that list. Bravery, spunk, tenacity. That’s what I want my granddaughters reciting in their weekly mantras.

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