The Heroes of Women’s History Month

When I think of heroic women I think of them as heroes, not heroines.

For one thing, the name Hero has been a woman’s name far longer than the English language has been around. And for another, any time a word that means a single thing is divided up in spellings to denote sex or gender there is a danger of making the word mean less when applied to women. Or even worse, it might tell women they can’t be heroes at all and better look to men for the heroism.

Both are reason enough to use the word “hero” for women and men both. That way you can recognize a hero when you see one no matter what she or he might look like.

To illustrate, I made this:

HeroSo if you’re wondering what a hero might look like, there she is.

Happy Women’s History Month. I plan to celebrate by reading a bunch of articles about heroic women over the next 31 days. Here are a couple to start you off:

Harriet Tubman

Molly Pitcher (Mary Ludwig Hays)

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7 Responses to The Heroes of Women’s History Month

  1. Aimee Byrd says:

    I’ve been reading the series on Women of the Reformation by Roland Bainton. It’s both encouraging and sad! Definitely enlightening.

    • Tim says:

      I’m reading a book called Theological Fitness right now, by someone named Aimee Byrd. She’s one of my heroes of the faith!

  2. Jeannie says:

    I totally agree about the use of the word “hero,” Tim. Adding a suffix to denote women almost always makes it sound like the women are lesser. Just last night I heard a sports announcer mention some varsity games that were coming up: the “Gaels” (that’s our local university teams’ nickname) would be playing on one night, and the “lady Gaels” would be playing on another night. Referring to the sex only in relation to the women makes it sound like men are the standard and women can only use the name provided they have “lady” tacked on.

    I actually didn’t know it was Women’s History Month — I’ll have to do some reading on some of my own heroes who are women. Thanks!

    • Tim says:

      That practice of adding “Lady” before the team name strikes me the same way, Jeannie. Yet there are women’s teams that are much more accomplished than the men’s counterpart at some schools.

  3. Laura Droege says:

    The only time I can think of where “heroine” might be appropriate would be if, say, a literary agent were describing the type of romances she/he is seeking: “I love romances where the hero rescues the prince in distress” sounds far different than “I love romances where the heroine rescues the prince in distress.” For clarity’s sake (and assuming the agent is seeking straight romances, not same-sex ones), “heroine” might be appropriate. (I ran across this concept recently on an agent’s website.) Of course, the agent could use the term “female protagonist” but that doesn’t convey the idea of “romance novel” to me, more “women’s fiction” or “chick lit.”

    Otherwise, I agree. And the “lady mascot” term irks me. (Why not “lord mascot” for the male teams?!) As does the lack of news coverage of female sports. Rrrrrr.

    • Tim says:

      I can see what that agent was getting at, although I would recast the sentence myself. As for sports teams, I think it’s a not so subtle indication they hold women athletes in lower regard than men.

      • Laura Droege says:

        Our Christian school is known for its excellent sports program. Last week, both varsity basketball teams went to State, and while the elementary students got to watch the varsity boys’ game, they didn’t get to watch the varsity girls’ game. Both of my daughters, ages 13 and 8, were irritated.

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