Friday, May 10, 2019

Defining Heroism by @SatinRussell #RomanceGems

Many women lined up, one woman in a superhero costume.
Heroes and She-roes:
Ordinary people doing extraordinary things.
Happy May, romance readers!

In my neck of New England, May is a month of warming temperatures and brilliant flowers, as well as celebrating both Mother’s Day and Memorial Day. Hence, this month’s theme of “Heroes and She-roes” on the Romance Gems blog.

On the surface, heroes and she-roes can seem like a fairly straightforward topic. The obvious idea being that veterans, first-responders, and mothers alike could all be firmly placed under that heading.

While I don’t disagree, the more I thought about this topic, the more examples I came up with. Teachers who make a difference every day in the lives of children, for instance. Or that person who helps someone quietly, without the promise of accolades or fanfare. A person who answers a phone call and talks a friend off a ledge - literally or figuratively.

It got me thinking about HOW we establish the meaning of heroism. What degree does context matter? Would the definition change depending on which society or culture is defining it? How does the perception of heroism change over the course of time?

Of course, as a writer, one of the first things I did when contemplating this topic was to do some research. According to Google, a hero is “a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Example: a war hero."

Part of me questions why we’re always equating heroism with war. I’d like to think we can equally refer to “peace heroes.” People who choose conflict resolution over violence, but that’s probably another topic for another day.

Additionally, a “shero” is a woman admired or idealized for her courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities; a heroine. (Fun fact: Apparently the term “shero” has been used since 1836 in relation to the suffragette movement. However, the word experienced a resurgence when Maya Angelou used it in her famous quote, “How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes.")

Writing Heroism

Cover of Secret Hunger
If we choose to use a broader definition of the word hero, then I’m proud to say that my first book, Secret Hunger, features two heroic characters.

Mason Clark is the stereotypical definition of a hero; a Boston police detective who regularly puts his life on the line in order to save others. Even after experiencing a tragic incident on the job, he’s eager to recuperate and get back to work catching the ‘bad guys.’

Perhaps less obvious is Olivia Harper’s heroism – or “shero-ism.” When her parents die in a car crash, she chooses to leave culinary school and return home to take care of her two younger sisters. She shows up and does what’s right, despite the perceived cost to her own dreams or goals.

We may not all have the opportunity to be a first-responder, veteran, or mother, but most of us will have an opportunity to do what’s right at some point in our lives. We can all choose to show up when needed and be heroic - which is something worth celebrating long past the month of May!

What about you? How do you define heroism? Is there a hero or she-ro in your life? How have they inspired you?
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  1. I've always thought a hero ( or shero) is someone who does things, that may or may not be outside of their comfort zone, to help others without any thought of getting anything from it, notoriety, money, rewards...
    So, mothers, teachers, nurses, firefighters, police, military, and just even good friends are definitely all heroes in my book!!

  2. Kari said it better than I ever could have. Society would be a very sad place without our heroes and she-roes.

  3. Based on word-play, she-roes reminds me of She-ra! The cartoon superhero (related to He-man) made popular in the mid-late 1980s. And then I always made sure not to confuse heroine with heroin...

    Either way, I think we should expand the definition of "hero" to include more than just war...

  4. I love reading books with She-roes! Especially the ones who fly below everyone's radar.

  5. Great post as always, Satin. I agree, heroism in both genders should be about more than war.

  6. It is strange that war defines a hero in a dictionary or google. I've always had a broader perspective. Perhaps we need to contact Merriam Webster!

  7. I loved the post, and I love the "broader perspective."

  8. Well said, Satin. Wonderful post. One doesn't have to be on the front lines in a war to qualify.


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