My Top 5 Female Heroes

The Rockford Peaches, 1944

I love A League of their Own. It’s brilliantly told, and who can’t love underdogs who carry each other through tough times and win big? WWII was a time of facing enormous obstacles in the quest for victory over an enemy, something these women are all too familiar with. They deal with personal, interpersonal, psychological, emotional, even physical turmoil and pain. The character development is perhaps the strongest of the film’s many qualities. It’s one of those movies that makes you want to talk with other viewers about which character you liked best. Thinking of this led me to an idea. These women were laudable heroes considering all that they had to face at this time of their lives. Why not identify my biggest heroes who are of the female persuasion? (I’ve never totally understood why gender is referred to as a ‘persuasion.’)

Here they are. My top 5 female heroes:

5. Ronda Rousey — This woman is a force! There is no one like her in the world, and unless we dust off some history books and find an unknown gem, I’d say there hasn’t been anyone like her before. Even if there was, they probably wore armour. Not Ronda. And she had some choice words for people who criticized her for being “butch” as well as for Playboy and their lucrative offer to have her pose for them. I won’t repeat what she said, but essentially she gave them a lesson in the dignity and worth of women. She marches to no one’s drum but her own.

4. Benazir Bhutto — Bhutto for me was merely a news item I saw one day of a woman I knew nothing about. Unfortunately the news item was about her assassination. What I learned about her immediately after was nothing short of inspiring. Years prior, Bhutto’s father had become head of the Pakistani People’s Party, which stood for the pro-democracy and pro-civil rights principles he believed in, and was elected Prime Minister. Many in that country, particularly those of the Taliban, hated this and they killed him for it while he was still in office. Though she mourned her father’s death, Bhutto was unshaken. She bravely followed in her father’s footsteps and became Prime Minister herself, despite the misogynist culture within her homeland that equally feared and loathed democracy. I wish I could say I’d be as brave as she was.

3. Corrie Ten Boom — There are so many people who lived through the Holocaust and who are heroes, but not many inspire me as much as Corrie Ten Boom. For this Dutch woman (and her family) to help Jews escape the Nazis, get imprisoned for it, and still show forgiveness to those who persecuted her and other innocent, defenceless people is simply staggering. And I’m not talking forgiveness in the philosophical, rhetorical sense. She literally met, forgave, and shook the hand of a former concentration camp guard. Now that’s what I call superhuman strength.

2. Harriet Tubman — When it comes to the fight for abolishing slavery I often think of Harriet Beecher Stowe whose writings, according to Abraham Lincoln himself, were inspirational and instrumental in the Emancipation Proclamation coming to be. However, Harriet Tubman is an even bigger hero for me. Even though I love people who changed the world with their writing, Tubman was physically active in saving lives in the Underground Railroad movement. She was born into slavery, so if caught she would be in much more trouble than any of her white partners. I’ve always been proud that Canada was a part of this movement. Of course, slavery was happening here too, and I don’t see the US as an enemy in the story. I just feel proud that people seeking freedom, safety and life were able to find it in my homeland. Tubman survived and later became an activist for women’s suffrage. Tubman is a symbol herself of courage, sacrifice, and love for humankind.

1. Malala Yousafzai — Similar to Bhutto, Yousafzai had to live in fear of the Taliban. She and her family are activists for female education in Pakistan. When she was just 11 years old she started writing a blog for the BBC in England about life under Taliban occupation. Then when she turned 15, while riding a bus to school, a gunman singled her out, asked for her name, pointed a gun at her face and shot. And not just a single bullet. He fired three times. She literally got shot in the head at close range, lived to tell about it, and continues to do what led to the shooting in the first place: speak out publicly in support of education for girls. She continues to be an active advocate for education and civil rights and is to date the youngest receiver of the Nobel Peace Prize. I loved what she said to Jon Stewart on The Daily Show when describing how she prepared herself after hearing the Taliban were targeting her, a pre-teen girl. She asked herself what she would do, and in spite of her first thought of taking off her shoe and throwing it at whoever came after her, she said, “I told myself, if you hit a Talib with your shoe, then there will be no difference between you and the Talib. You must not treat others with cruelty and harshly. You must fight others, but through peace and through dialogue and through education. And then I said (to myself), I will tell him how important education is and that I even want education for (his) children as well. And I will tell him, ‘That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want.’”

I have many others, but I give a big salute to these top 5 heroes. May I become just a little more like each one of them each day of my life.

Congratulations A League of Their Own. This is your week.

And the Oscar goes to…

Best Actress: Madonna in ALOTO. She’s not the best actress of all her peers in that film, but she was the big surprise everyone was talking about after its showing.

Best Actor: Many say he has a whiny voice, but Kevin Costner (who I like very much) definitely deserves best actor this week. And he fit the part in Field of Dreams so well.

Best Quote:
James suggested “There’s no crying in baseball!” from ALOTO. This is one of my favourite movie quotes of all time. And here’s another great one, and fitting considering the subject of this post:
“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” — “The Babe” in The Sandlot.

I did only speak of famous heroes, though I have many non-famous heroes in my life. Special shout outs to my wife, mom, both grandmothers, both daughters, Mom Whitehouse and Nannie. Thanks to you all. For everything.



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