They've been cast as some of the most disturbing and frightening villains in history. They’re viewed as cunning, deceitful, driven, and deadly. I say BS! These women have gotten a bad rap. We can learn a lot from these ladies and these are the top 10 lessons to take heed.
1. Fight for Equality – The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once said he had a dream that his children would one day be judged by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin. No one understood this desire for equal treatment more than X-Men’s Mystique. They say that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but the problem is even though different eyes like different things, the majority dictate what is "normal" and "beautiful." Mystique could take the easy way out and just use her shape shifting power to be all things beautiful to all people. But that wouldn't have been fair to the rest of us “normal” folks. Mystique doesn't want to take the easy way out. She understands it's wrong to judge people just by their looks. She fights for equality and justice. She stands up for the historically disenfranchised. She fights for those who cannot fight for themselves. This is a strong woman with an admirable conviction to ensure there is equality for all. Can you say the same? What do you fight for? Do you stand for anything other than yourself? Or do you stay quiet because it’s easier to fit in rather than stand out?
2. Don’t Be a Doormat – It takes a special kind of courage to stand up for yourself and take charge of your destiny. Selina Kyle could have just lain there on the cold concrete and died after being pushed out of the high rise building she worked in. But noooooo. She refused to lay there and take any more crap. She courageously took charge of her destiny and gave rise to Batman’s most enduring love, Catwoman. She is the “purrrrrfect” role model for the rest of us ladies. Like Mystique, she stands for a bigger purpose. While it’s great to stand up for others, sometimes you gotta stand up for yourself. Are you more like Selina, the walking doormat? Or will you take charge like Catwoman, and have the courage to create your own destiny?
3. Faithfulness and Loyalty – If you ask me, the Wicked Witch of the West really got the short end of the stick. I mean, wouldn't you be pissed too if someone landed a house on your sister? Whether sweet Dorothy meant to or not is not the point. But because of this unfortunate incident, and everyone’s preoccupation with cheering for Dorothy to make it to the Emerald City, most miss out on some of the more admirable traits that the Witch does indeed possess. Luckily, you have me to point this out to you. Her most admirable trait? Loyalty! Think about it. This poor woman was actually only trying to avenge the wrongful death of her sister whose only sin (as far as we know) was standing in the wrong place at the wrong time. How many of you would idly stand by as your loved one was crushed to death while everyone around you celebrated the fact that your loved one was crushed to death and then do nothing about it? The Wicked Witch shows us that even when it’s the unpopular thing to do, she remains loyal to her loved ones. The Witch has shown us that if anything, she’d have our backs. Wouldn't it be nice to have that kind of trust in your relationships? Could you be that loyal?
4. Determination and Fortitude – Poor Annie Wilkes. Sure she’s a little mentally unstable. Sure she probably should have taken Paul Sheldon to the hospital right away. But if you ask me, Mr. Sheldon could have shown a little more appreciation for what this woman did for him. At the end of the day, despite the circumstances, she did save his life. Annie shows us what it’s like to have true grit. How many of you could crawl down a steep embankment to retrieve an unconscious person and drag him back uphill to your own vehicle in a freezing snowstorm? Now that's determination. She was damn sure not going to look the other way while he froze to death. Yes, she wanted to save him so that she could keep him all to herself, but that’s beside the point. How many times have you talked about your wants and desires? How often do you think about what you could have done with your life? What you should have done? At the end of the day, Annie didn't just dream about being Paul Sheldon's number one fan. She lived it. She worked at it. She got up and put herself in the position to be in the same places she knew he would be. Being his number one fan and all, she wasn't going to let little things like blizzards and roadblocks get in the way of her hopes and dreams of one day being with her favorite author. How many times have you used the roadblocks in life as your excuse for not achieving your hopes and dreams? Or, would you rather be like Annie and go after them, roadblocks be damned?
5. Desire and Passion – Just like the Wicked Witch, Bellatrix Lastrange shows us what faithfulness and loyalty is all about. She is definitely loyal to her boss, Lord Voldemort. But she has other traits that are equally as important. She truly and genuinely enjoys her job. She doesn't just like it; she loves her job. It brings her pleasure. Whether she is torturing Aurors, killing house-elves, or chasing young witches and wizards, she goes about her daily business with a happiness to complete her tasks that few others ever experienced. When you get up in the morning to get ready for work, do you do so with a smile? Or are you like countless others getting ready for work with a scowl instead? Bellatrix enjoys working so much that she even escaped prison so that she could continue working. Would you do the same? Or do you feel your work is your prison? If so, it is probably time for a change and finally do something that you love.
6. Sense of Humor – Who doesn't love a gal who can deliver a great punch line with an infectious smile? Harley Quinn knows how to see the silver lining in any noxious cloud the Joker can create. We all need that someone who can bring a smile to our face and the Joker is no different. Do you have that person who can make you smile even during the darkest of your days? Are you that person for someone else? If not, you should try it out. Making other people happy is good for the soul. Smile when it’s unexpected. Laugh when it’s inappropriate. Tell a joke when your loved one’s plans for world domination falls through. The power of laughter should not be underestimated. Besides, research has shown that laughing does in fact bring the blood pressure down. It burns calories too and this is always a good thing. And did you know that Harley is immune to poisons and toxins? We should strive to also be immune – to others’ poisonous and toxic bad attitudes.
7. Lead by Example – Not to take anything from Snow White, but is it necessary to always depend on others to get you through the bad times? I mean really Snow. You depend on the Huntsman to have mercy on your soul, the Seven Dwarves to provide you food and shelter, and the Prince to save you from eternal sleep. Being able to depend on those around you is cool and all, but the so-called “evil” Queen is the true hero in this story. Yes, she delegates tasks as necessary. She has to. She can’t be everywhere at all times. But she shows her minions that she can also take care of things herself. And she proves this by taking care of Snow White herself. This is the mark of a true leader. She is not going to ask anyone else to do something she is not willing and capable of doing herself. She doesn't just lead through fear and intimidation. She leads by example. Can you say that you do the same? Or are you more of the do as I say and not as I do type?
8. Cleverness and Cunning – Only someone as intelligent as The White Queen could make Aslan disappear so that she could plunge Narnia into an unending winter wonderland. It takes a real strategist to lead a dark army of Narnians to victory; cunning to trick a brother into betraying his siblings; shrewdness to force Aslan’s paw so that he has to surrender his life to save the lives of the so-called “kings” and “queens.” How did The White Queen become so clever? She studied her opponents of course. She patiently watched and learned the habits of her enemies. She knew the landscape and became a master of the dark magic. One is not born a master of chess. It takes years of study and a lifelong love of learning. Do you continue to strive for knowledge? Do you have a love of learning? Or are you making the mistake of thinking you already know everything?
9. Cool, Calm, and Collected – The other (male) cyborgs just couldn't get the job done. The first Terminator to travel through time in order to assassinate John Connor couldn't adapt to his surroundings. Sure he was a muscle-bound, leather-clad, sunglasses-wearing, motorcycle-riding hottie. But clearly looks are not everything. The second Terminator was more adaptable with his ability to change shapes and all, but he just melted when the competition got too hot to handle. So, in steps T-X. By round three, Skynet finally got with the program and sent a woman cyborg to do the job. And this chick put the “awe” in awesome. No matter the arsenal or resistance that’s thrown her way, she stays cool under pressure. And they say women are too emotional. T-X says different. Do you stay calm when things get rough? Do you dig in your (high) heels to meet your objective? Like T-X, are you seen as the go-to gal? Or do you give up at the first sign of trouble?
10. Confidence is Sexy! – What do all of these villainous vixens have in common? I mean, besides being “hot.” They all exude confidence. And confidence is sexy. What does being sexy have to do with a life lesson? Well first of all, who doesn't want to be sexy? But besides that, have you noticed that those who are viewed as the most popular, the most trustworthy, the most influential, the most successful, are the ones who are viewed as “confident?” And confidence has nothing to do with the costume you put on in the morning. It has nothing to do with looks at all. It’s much deeper than that. It’s being comfortable with and liking who you are. It’s being proud of what you stand for. It’s the ability to look others straight in the eye and being a person of your word. It’s knowing that others are counting on you to complete the task and having the confidence in yourself that you can accomplish your goals. At the end of the day, your confidence in yourself is really all that matters.
Jennifer Furlong has 25 years’ experience in the communication field and teaches communication and public speaking courses in the Savannah area. She earned a B.A. and M.A. in Communication from George Mason University in Fairfax, Va. She currently resides in Richmond Hill, Ga. with her family of canines, felines, and humans. Let's be social! Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter. Just look for Professor SpeechLady. See you in cyberspace.
Get my new book available on Amazon!