[A] thing that’s really unique about The Wizard of Oz to me is that all of the most heroic and wise and even villainous characters are female.
Now I started to notice this when I actually showed Star Wars to my daughter … At that point I also had a son. He was only three at the time. He was not invited to the screening. He was too young for that. But he was the second child, and the level of supervision had plummeted. So he wandered in, and it imprinted on him like a mommy duck does to its duckling, and I don’t think he understands what’s going on, but he is sure soaking in it.
And I wonder what he’s soaking in. Is he picking up on the themes of courage and perseverance and loyalty? Is he picking up on the fact that Luke joins an army to overthrow the government? Is he picking up on the fact that there are only boys in the universe except for Aunt Beru, and of course this princess, who’s really cool, but who kind of waits around through most of the movie so that she can award the hero with a medal and a wink to thank him for saving the universe, which he does by the magic that he was born with?
Compare this to 1939 with The Wizard of Oz. How does Dorothy win her movie? By making friends with everybody and being a leader. That’s kind of the world I’d rather raise my kids in — Oz, right? — and not the world of dudes fighting, which is where we kind of have to be. Why is there so much Force — capital F, Force — in the movies we have for our kids, and so little yellow brick road?
It’s important that we acknowledge that the growing movement of men in the United States — in a multicultural sense — and all around the world — in an international sense — the growing movement of men who are standing up and speaking out about men’s violence against women and going into parts of male culture that have historically been either apathetic about or openly hostile to women’s efforts to engage them. That movement of men is indebted to the leadership of women on a personal level, on a professional level, on a political level, on an intellectual level, on every level. Women built these movements, and these are movements that are affecting — in a positive way — everybody, not just women and girls, but also men and boys.
And oftentimes, men like myself get a lot of credit and public acclaim for doing the work that women have been doing for a long time.