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Dec 17 2010

Who’s the Hero?

So you’ve seen that some guy with a grudge and a gun shot up a school board meeting before killing himself. If you haven’t seen the video (and the standard macho posturing about how the guy had to be a horrid shot because he missed all the people and some dumbass blog commenters can hit a paper target while under no stress whatsoever), check out Greg’s post on the event.

Checking out the news coverage, I was struck a bit oddly by all the articles referring to school security chief Mike Jones as a hero.

Don’t get me wrong. The guy did his job and did it well from what’s being reported. He held off firing his gun until the board members were in more danger from the hostage taker than they would be from his bullets flying around the room. He kept his head and his aim and managed to fire at another human being, which is (and should be) much harder than gun nuts generally give credit for. He lived up to his training and his responsibilities.

However, there is also Ginger Littleton:

Ginger Littleton took about 30 seconds to decide she was going to use her hand-me-down purse to try to knock a gun out of the hands of the man threatening her colleagues on Tuesday.

In the hours afterward, she’d concede it probably wasn’t the best idea. But at the time, she worried she was the only person in position to stop a slaughter at the Bay District School Board meeting in Panama City, Florida.

So Littleton — the one board member the gunman had released, because she was a woman — re-entered the room, sneaked up from behind and swung.

This. This is heroism. Stopping and turning around to go back, totally unprepared, because you’re the only person in a position to make a difference. Taking action despite the risks. Doing what you can because you must.

Yet Littleton is only rarely being touted as a hero, while Jones is everywhere. Sure, Jones is what we’ve been told a hero is. He is male and armed and was generally successful. One of those is a good thing generally, but it does not a hero make.

So why isn’t Littleton being hailed as the hero she is?

4 comments

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  1. 1
    Heather M. Rosa

    Because it was a second-hand purse. Those just aren't heroic. Now if she'd risked a genuine Gucci bag…

  2. 2
    godwillbegod

    Heather's got a great point above. :-)Sadly, it's because he was more or less successful, and she was more or less not successful.Not only do we have two standards (still) when it comes to gender, but unfair standards when it comes to labels like 'hero'.

  3. 3
    daedalus2u

    Because she is a woman. Doing dangerous life-threatening things is only heroic for males because it is one of the criteria that male leaders use to allocate kudos and allow less powerful males to move up the social hierarchy so they can join the elite males at the top and have access to the females that those elite males control. A female derives no benefit from being heroic, so in the eyes of those who dole out heroic kudos, she can't be. The reason male leaders allocate heroic kudos this way is so that there will always be plenty of cannon fodder for the wars that they use for self-enrichment via war profiteering and through plunder.

  4. 4
    george.w

    It was a really gutsy move. If a man had done it people would be calling him a hero.

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