Monday, September 04, 2006

"Rescue" Metaphors: Man on a White Horse

Q. and A. with Stasi Eldredge:

Q: "Wild at Heart says every man wants a beauty to rescue. And in Captivating, it says that little girls often play games about being rescued. Some feminists are against the idea of passive women who want to be rescued. What is your response?"

A: "I think there are days when every woman on the planet Earth would love to have a man come up on a white horse and whisk her away. But that’s not the reality of our lives, and women are not victims. We’re not weak women saying, 'Rescue me, I can’t handle my life.'"

Now I don't blame Stasi personally for borrowing one of culture's highest currency phrases. But can we stop using such awful figurative language to stand in for being rescued? Furthermore, I am allergic to horses.

I also hold a deep aversion to being "whisked" some place by "a" man, whose name and occupation and connection to my person is always unidentified in the phrase "a man on a white horse." No, no--one may argue--the man is sometimes identified as "princely," and ascribed a trait such as "charm."

Random definitions of "Charm" from Merriam Webster: 1. a trait that fascinates, allures, or delights. 2. a practice or expression believed to have magic power.

Implicit in the whisking scene is the woman's utter givenness to the charm of this anonymous man (or prince), as if somehow he indeed practiced an incantation over her, bewitching her heart so that he might more easily "move or convey [her] briskly" (def. of "whisk"). And even if he has not bewitched her with spells, his legal status as a prince most likely gives him the right to convey her anywhere he damn well pleases. (Off with her head if she resists?)

Here again, in this commonly used metaphor, the woman is not the subject of her own story. The story belongs to the prince, who carts a woman around like an extra saddle.

Next time I'm in need of rescue, I'll call the husband or a girlfriend; I'll seek out the help myself--because God knows we all need a little help. I'll use a phone, or email.

And no, I don't have days when I want a stranger to throw me on the back of a smelly horse and cart me off to God-knows-where. If it ever comes down to me needing a horse and a stranger, I'll climb on myself thank you very much. And I'll require a written itinerary before we get moving.

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