My eyes suck. They always have, since I was a little baby. I had my first set of glasses when I was two years old. My eyesight was so bad that even as a toddler, it was apparent to my parents that I had troubles. I started out life with a lazy eye that made me see double. Everywhere I went, I was given two choices on which way to go, and often time when that choice involved two doors, I’d walk through the wrong one and right into a wall. So I got glasses. My parents were a bit concerned about giving glasses to such a young child, but they remark to this day about how amazing it was when I put them on for the first time. The look on my face; the amazement apparent in being able to see the world clearly for the first time. They never worried about me losing or breaking my glasses from that day forward, because it was obvious to them that they were my most precious possession; the possession that allowed me to see; to properly function in a world where not having eyes is a huge disadvantage.
The lazy eye issue corrected itself over the years, as they often do, and now my only visual malady is near-sightedness. I am 20/250 without correction, which, if it wasn’t correctible, would make me legally blind. Thank God it is. I can generally get myself very close to 20/20 with corrective lenses. That being said, when I started having serious troubles with psoriasis later in life, my days of wearing glasses daily were over. Anything on or near my skin for an extended period of time will cause a psoriatic lesion to form, and glasses on the bridge of my nose and behind my ears would be no exception. In fact, I’ve got nasty lesions behind my ears now, as I type this, because I had to wear my glasses last week due to a bout with pinkeye keeping me from my contacts. Those will unfortunately be with me now, as they have been for the last 5 or 6 years now, for the next couple of years, minimum. Such is life.
Back to the point...
My vision sucks. So, as much as I absolutely love to read, I’ve stayed away from it for a few years now because, coupled with my almost constant computer use at work, the close-up focusing required to read taxes my eyes beyond their comfort zone and I get headaches.
As a result, I’ve taken to listening to audio books. In my line of work, I do a good bit of driving. Right now, I have two projects going that are a three hour one way drive from my office, and I go to them once a week, so I have ample time to listen to my books.
Right now, I’m listening to The Hunger Games, and so we get to the point, finally, of this posting.
I can think of no better role model for young women than Katniss Everdeen. She is an absolutely perfect person. She’s humble and hard working. She has a strong sense of family and devotion to her family. She is resourceful and intelligent, and physically capable. She is morally strong, having a set of morals that she lives by, and sticking to them no matter what. She sets goals and obtains them without fear or hesitation. She is the absolute perfect literary heroine, and I am very, very glad that this generation of young women has Katniss as a model to aspire to.
Katniss’s father died in a mining accident, leaving her family destitute and starving when she was only 11 years old. Her mother, stricken by grief, was incapable of doing for the family, so Katniss did. At great personal peril, she used her hunting and fishing and gathering skills to not only feed her family, but create enough reserve to trade in town for things that they needed. In the world in which Katniss lives, she could be shot for poaching or for going outside the fence to hunt, but she does it anyway, because it needs doing. The moral? Katniss will risk her own life to keep her family safe and secure.
Her little sister, Prim, is a delicate thing that doesn’t handle adversity well. So Katniss takes care of her, shielding her from the proverbial “slings and arrows” and nurturing her as she raises her. The moral? Katniss has a strong maternal instinct, and a strong bond to family, and she will do what it takes to care for her family, including taking on their burden as her own.
During the games, Katniss meets a little girl about Prim’s age who is alone and scared, with 23 other older, stronger kids trying to kill her. Katniss takes her in, and takes care of her, working with her together to make them stronger, as a pair, than they could ever be alone. When the girl is killed by another boy in the games, Katniss kills him in revenge. The moral? If you fuck with Katniss’s family, she will kill you.
I think the biggest thing that I see in Katniss is the qualities of strong womanhood to which feminism has turned up their noses. Devotion to family is too “female” for them, and so they reject it, and reject family, in general, in their general quest to destroy everything feminine and make women into men. Katniss is the perfect repudiation for their theory that a woman cannot be strong and self-sure, while still being a mother and a provider and decidedly feminine. Katniss is a bad-ass. The woodcraft I’ve built up as a hobby over my lifetime doesn’t compare to what she can do at 16 years old. I would never, ever want to go up against her in the arena, and yet, if I was good to her, and presented myself as an ally instead of a threat, I’d never have to. Like Peeta, I’d become part of her family and she’d die to protect me.
Katniss is the perfect repudiation for the core tenants of radical feminism. She flays them mercilessly, showing that a woman can be a good mother, a caretaker, and a selfless devotee to her family, while still being strong, accomplished, and bad-ass in every way.
Where feminism fails, and Katniss succeeds, is that feminism sees the family as a burden to hold a woman back, while Katniss sees them as the tide that lifts all vessels, and the reason to excel in the first place.
That, coupled with the strong message of the consequences of having too strong of a central government, give me hope that those lessons will sink in with today’s youth, and they’ll remember them a they grow older and begin to influence the political process in our country.
The Hunger Games is easily one of the best stories I’ve ever read. I’d originally thought it was tweener melodrama, and I was wrong. It is an excellent read, and I highly recommend it, even to you crotchety old farts out there.