Day 2 Take 2: Dog Names Part 2
There’s a yellow lab/pit bull mix laying on the couch behind me waiting for me to be done typing this thing so we can go outside and play.
Her name is Eowyn. She’s obnoxious. But also the best dog in the world. You pet owners out there get it.
As I mentioned in Dog Names Part 1 I got her name from Lord of the Rings. Eowyn is niece of the king of Rohan, land of the horse lords of the race of man.
Man. Yeah, that word becomes important in her story.
The book character’s. Not my dog’s.
The climax of the character arc of Eowyn (spoilers coming) is her defeat of the Witch King of Angmar. The level of badassery displayed levels up from first disobeying her uncle (the King of Rohan) and riding off to battle with the Rohirrim (men) to finally outdueling an undead manifestation of greed and evil reanimated by the dark lord Sauron himself.
I’m getting a bit fast and loose with the lore there, but in principal it checks out.
Anyway, most of you will have seen the movie rather than read the book, but in The Return of the King the Witch King of Angmar prepares to strike Eowyn down and taunts her:
“You fool. No man can kill me. Die now.”
To which she responds: “Lol nah”
She removes her helmet, prepares the killing blow, and says:
“I am no man.”
Boom. Dead witch king. Tide turned in the battle.
And one of my heroes is born.
Which brings us to my actual point –
Eowyn is one of my literary heroes. Full stop. Not one of female literary heroes.
Wohoo pat on the back for the white guy, right?
I know, it’s a seemingly insignificant distinction and probably annoying to read, but here’s the point:
I have inherent prejudices. Some that I’m aware of; some that I’m not.
It’s commonplace, especially for middle class white guys like me who check all of the “privilege” boxes, to make claims that we don’t have these prejudices.
“I’m not racist.”
“I support women’s empowerment.”
“I believe the LGBTQ+ community should have the same rights I do as a straight person.”
But when it comes to making decisions which prop those ideals up, we often swing and miss horribly or just don’t realize the moment altogether.
It’s never my intent that any of those claims are lies. However, I know that my inherent ignorance causes me to fall short in word and deed on each of these things. That’s a sobering and a pretty gut-wrenching thought.
So saying I’m not prejudiced over and over again won’t make it true, as much as I’d love for it to. Then what can help?
It’s important for me to say that the character Eowyn is a hero of mine instead of a female hero because it reminds me that I want to be the type of person who regards females and other gender identifications in as high of regard as males. Alone it’s a simple and probably an annoyingly insignificant distinction, but the hope is that it, along with other actions, help to build muscle memory which helps me to be subconsciously more apt to say and do things which are female-empowering.
When I helped write invitations and thank you notes for our wedding I addressed the recipients’ female member first, and signed my wife’s name ahead of mine. Small. Insignificant. But habit-building and mind-forming.
I want to build REAL habits which help me develop into a person who actually is the things I claim to want to be. And sometimes that takes getting the smallest things right to get and keep you on that path.
I am a privileged class. Straight, white, male. Instead of pretending that doesn’t bring with it ignorance and prejudice, I want to do the work to break that ignorance and those prejudices down.
That way, when it comes to decisions of real consequence, I’ll have the right mind more well formed. I’ll be more ready to say and do the right things. I’ll be more able to be the person I wish I could be. Empowering others and holding up less privileged classes.
It’s a tall order, and I’m sure more often than not I suck at it. But I want to keep working to learn and get better.
Onward and upward,