All too often our relationships fall victim to the laws of physics. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, and that’s not always a good thing. When someone does something uncalled for, our natural tendency is to swing right past the reasonable thing to do into the uncalled-for-zone on the other end of the spectrum. When someone wrongs us, we don’t want to restore peace and equilibrium, we want to take over and show them how it feels. It’s all a part of our sin nature, and it’s caused us trouble in relations with people of other races, other genders, other cultures, and other social standings to name just a few. We talk about equality, about meeting in the middle, but usually when someone notices an injustice and tries to bring “equality” they fly right past it and end up just as far away from equality but on the other side of the line.
Add another point to the growing list of things that I appreciate about My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic. There are a lot of things that I could discuss from yesterday’s episode, things that I’m sure other people are already discussing in great detail elsewhere, but there’s one thing that stood out to me that most other people have skipped over completely. The episode’s moral was very much aimed at girls, but another message ran in the background that I found very interesting – one that had everything to do with boys.
The main moral of the episode was that even those who seem weak because of their femininity are capable of handling themselves in tough situations, something that is very true and that girls need to hear. Unfortunately, however, many of the people who want to teach girls that they aren’t helpless also want to teach them that men are rude and incompetent and that the world would essentially be better off without men in the first place. “You don’t need a man to rescue you,” they say, “and if he tries then he’s being an outdated, chauvinistic fool.” That’s something that no one needs to hear, and something that the writers of the episode could easily have said. After all, Spike the dragon, one of the few recurring male cast members, played a prominent role. He assisted Rarity with a gem-gathering expedition for her work, and when she was kidnapped he tried his best to fight off her assailants. After the kidnapping, he pulled together the other main characters for a rescue attempt, sacrificed a gift that she had given him to gain access to the kidnappers’ lair, and led the charge to break down the door to the room where she was being kept. Of course, Spike and the ponies arrived to discover that Rarity had already essentially freed herself, but Spike still earned an “A” for effort.
The refreshing thing about this whole sequence of events is how Spike’s rescue attempts are portrayed. Never is his chivalry painted as foolish, and no one makes any condescending remarks about how unnecessary Spike’s efforts were or how silly he was for thinking that Rarity couldn’t handle herself. Instead, he is presented as brave, caring, and well-intentioned, someone who is willing to go to great lengths to defend and assist a lady in need – all things that a good man should be. Of course, since the show is aimed primarily at girls, Spike’s noble behavior isn’t directly addressed by the moral, but the attitude that the episode takes toward his gentlemanly conduct is noticeably positive. When the episode ended, it left me with a feeling of the balance and equality that many activists idolize and few attain. While women aren’t helpless and they can and should stand up for themselves, men are at the same time not useless and they can and should stand up for the women in their lives, and it’s nice to see a show that teaches the next generation getting that right. Men ought to be able to show nobility, loyalty, and courtesy without fear of women taking offense, and women can and should be as feminine and ladylike as they please without being seen as weak or incapable. Perhaps if we all stopped reacting from our pride and stubbornness and made a purposeful choice to act out of humility and kindness we could leave the extremes behind and start treating each other with the love and respect we all deserve. The world needs more real ladies and gentlemen. Will you be one?