My ten-year-old daughter recently returned from her first overseas church trip. She spent the week in a new culture, trying new foods, and serving the children of friends. Before she left, I gave her a bracelet that reads “Be Brave.” We talked the week before about brave women in the Bible, such as Miriam, Deborah, and Priscilla. We read their stories and learned about how God put them in positions to serve others, gifting them with the courage, strength, and wisdom for the task at hand.
Since she returned last week, our family schedule has prevented me from getting to spend extended time with her and hear about her trip. I decided a daddy-daughter outing was in order.
So, on Monday afternoon, we set out to see Captain Marvel, the latest installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), notable for being Marvel Studios’ first superhero film with a female lead.
Naturally, I wondered what message the film would send my daughter about what it means to be a woman. Would Captain Marvel be Elle Woods from Legally Blonde, only with a cape and superpowers? Would Carol Danvers be a snarling feminist, out to erase and flatten all distinctions between men and women? Or would my daughter see a woman who stewards her gifts, strength, and opportunities to help others, to do good, and to inspire those around her?
In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that I am no expert in the MCU or superhero movies by any stretch of the imagination. I entered this film almost entirely ignorant of the Captain Marvel character and her backstory. So, what did I find?
It calls men to something better than misogyny, bullying, sexual harassment, and the objectifying of women. It encourages men to use their strength and influence to protect the weak, to treat other human beings with dignity and value, and to hold one another accountable. It admits that not all men are bullies and misogynists, and it praises the virtuous acts of those doing the right things.
Nevertheless, the ad has generated a conflicted response from the public.
I hadn’t seen the ad. I wouldn’t have except the social media uproar prodding me to what all the to-do was about. I watched it. I loved it. (I love it with one exception: Gillette products are used to prevent beard growth, which is an abomination.)
I understand there are various reasons that people take issue with it: It attacks masculinity in general. It conflates “toxic masculinity” with all masculinity. It stereotypes all men.
I don’t see those things in the ad. I won’t address them.
There is one criticism that I want to address—namely, that Gilette is being opportunistic, seeking to build a customer base and make a quick buck by pandering to the social issues of the day. In other words, they are acting with insincere motives.
Several years ago, I went for a long walk in my wife’s hometown while staying there on vacation. As I looked down the sidewalk, I noticed a well-to-do looking woman walking toward me. As she reached the intersection a block ahead, she crossed the street. Then she continued to walk in the same direction. I assumed she lived on that side of the street. At the end of the block, I glanced back. Once past me, she crossed back to my side of the street and continued on her way.
I wondered for a moment at her action. Why had she crossed the street? There was no mud or broken sidewalk or dogs to avoid. Then it dawned on me—she crossed the street to avoid me.
I wondered at that for a moment. Why did this woman want to avoid me?