Jul 16, 2014
My favorite female role model
I consider myself a feminist, and when I declare myself as such, I always clarify that I’m not a man hater, but that I’m not moderate in my –ism either: I believe that women should have equal opportunities whilst considering our biological impairments, and I believe that women should pursue all they want to pursue, and not be judged for how they see and represent themselves. Every woman is different.
On that basis, whilst procrastinating my troubles away through an IMDB poll I came across one of the women I’ve considered my role model the longest. Most people, those that consider themselves sane, would not agree to this woman being a role model. I read in a post that if she is a role model, Barbie should be considered one, which is quite a coincidence for me, because I named my first doll after this character. This role model who has lived with me the longest, is called Scarlett O’Hara, and I strive every day to be like her.
Now here’s where I defend my statement; first of all I’m not particularly a femme fatale, nor flirtatious, nor very successful with men, nor in any way a gold-digger of any kind, and yet I identify with Scarlett, more than any other woman on the planet, real or fictional, dead or alive, and here’s why: Scarlett is a flawed but strong woman, who does not ask for forgiveness for who she is. She grows as a character from the beginning of the film (or book, but I haven’t read the book), but she still never loses her core. She never apologizes for her flaws, and she does not get defeated by her own mistakes.
Apart from being as played by Vivien Leigh, the most charming little thing anyone had ever met, she was as smart as a whip, as selfish as the most spoiled rich brat, and as cruel as any man. Scarlett is such a wonderful character because she’s a survivor who takes matters at her own hands. She’s stronger than her female and male counterparts alike, because she knows what needs to be done to survive, and she does what needs to be done. In today’s society Scarlett wouldn’t have to marry a man to achieve wealth, but let’s not forget she didn’t live in an era where women are 75% equal to men (referring to the whole unequal pay business, we’re actually even less empowered than that on a global level). In her circumstances she’s not the naïve, moral one, she’s the strong one who transforms a curtain into a fancy dress and hides her roughed up hands in a desperate attempt to get out from her unfortunate situation. She’s so strong that despite her upbringing she manages to turn ashes to food, and feed her family. She’s so inventive and charming that she manages to become rich again. And as for men, she never really belongs to anyone, not even Rhett. When her child dies she doesn’t cease to exist. Some may even consider her a bad mother and bad human being for her ability to move on, but she’s essentially a survivor, and I admire her for that. And in the end she never lets herself cry, pitying herself, but she gets herself up, believing that the morrow is another day, and she will find another way to turn things around.
There’s no happy ending in Gone with the Wind, and yet I love that film more than any other film or book, because it’s just as realistic as life. Scarlett loses her child, she loses the man she realizes she loves, and she’s left alone, but she doesn’t despair, because she knows that like always, she will always find a way to survive, and to make fate turn in her favor. To some she’s selfish, spoiled, deceptive, greedy and immoral. To me, she’s a real woman, with flaws as women have, and with merits as women have. I hate female characters that are too perfect, because they portray the unrealistic demands men, other women, and even the media have of us. We are not the perfect mothers, the perfect housewives, the perfect leaders, the perfect employees, the heroes, the villains. Just as Alanis Morissettes’s song lyrics say “I'm a bitch, I'm a lover, I'm a child, I'm a mother/ I'm a sinner, I'm a saint, I do not feel ashamed/ I'm your hell, I'm your dream, I'm nothing in between”, that’s what we women are, all of that. There are so many expectations of women to do it all, and be perfect, and so many expectations to aspire to these perfect models. If men are flawed, it’s ok, but if we are flawed we don’t deserve that promotion, that perfect boyfriend, that perfect dress, or that great salary. Lose weight, wear makeup, dress up nicely, be sweet, be nice, be quiet, be elegant, be smart, be strong, be fearless, be intelligent, be modest, be nurturing, be dominant, be thin, be curvy, be normal looking, be white, be dark, be flirtatious, be a doll, be all of those things that magazines and our mothers and our fathers and our partners expect of us. Scarlett O’Hara reminds me that it’s ok to make mistakes, it’s ok to be flawed, and if I am flawed and if I make mistakes, I still deserve to want and pursue the things I want. Every little girl should watch Gone with the Wind and through Scarlett O’Hara realize that whoever they decide to be in their lives, the only person they should care about first is themselves. It’s ok to be selfish just like men. We all are selfish, and is by taking ourselves less seriously, and by taking our desires more seriously that we can survive and live to live another day.
Scarlett is the perfect role model because she doesn’t ask for forgiveness for who she is and what she wants, because she doesn’t let her flaws and her mistakes put her down, and because she’s never second to men, other women, or the society’s expectations of her. She always puts herself first, and in the worst moment in her life, she stops crying, she gets herself up and she promises herself that she will think about how to solve her problem tomorrow. And that is why, I’ve always wanted to be like her, and I always will aspire to be like her.