Katniss - A Confident Girl. Inspiring Woman?
I have just returned from the NAPSG (National Association of Principals of Schools for Girls) Conference and had the privilege of hearing Dr. Elizabeth Kiss, an Ethics Professor at Agnes Scott College talk about the need to seek out examples of exemplary female leaders (fiction and non-fiction) for our girls to explore and emulate. She used Katniss as an example and referenced the Hunger Games as a "heightened version" of our own world where young people are bombarded with media messages, reality television that plays on human foibles, on-line networking leading to an increase in social conflicts, and an acceptance of an attitude that says "the ends justify the means".
In her presentation, Dr. Kiss spoke passionately about Katniss being an epic hero who struggles with some serious moral and ethical questions. In addition, Dr. Kiss describes Katniss as a strong female protagonist - she is bold, innovative, collaborative, and inventive, all the while being kind, compassionate, caring and committed to social justice.
This brought back memories while travelling on a service trip to Costa Rica last year with some of our students. The girls strongly encouraged me to read the Hunger Games - not just the first book but the whole Trilogy. Initially, my motive was to be aware of the types of books our girls were interested in reading. I even got caught up in the debate as to who was better suited for Katniss - Peeta or Gale! After listening to Dr. Kiss speak I was reminded, once again, of the conflicts presented in this series, both emotional as well as physical, and the further conversations that still need to be explored about the privileged versus the oppressed, the role of propaganda, power, and ethics as well as the meaning of love, hope, sacrifice and survival.
So my thoughts have shifted towards finding other ways our girls could think more broadly about their capabilities and possibilities and practice dealing with ethical dilemmas such as:
Truth versus Loyalty
Individual versus Collective
Short term versus Long term
Justice versus Mercy
In the end, we want to encourage our girls to act with integrity, be authentic, empathic, bold and to draw from their own personal strengths.