The other day, I caught an old episode of Gidget, a short-lived TV series from the ’60s, which starred a young Sally Field as the title character. In this episode, Gidget enrolls in her school’s auto shop class so she can learn car maintenance and buy a fancy hearse from a guy at the beach.
She was convinced she could be just as good with cars as the guys were. At the urging of Gidget’s father, the guys in her auto shop class treated her exactly like one of the guys – no special treatment, and she folded under the pressure. She gave up on auto shop and decided that she much more preferred being a girly girl in a pretty dress. When she and her date experienced car problems at the end of the episode, she took care of it – not by wielding a wrench or tire iron but by using her feminine wiles. While her date was unable to fix the car, she used her femininity to stop a passing motorist who then fixed the car for them.
Gidget ended the episode with these words of advice for the audience: “No woman is helpless as long as there’s a man around! And as long as she remembers she’s a woman!”
Call me feminist if you will, but this quote made me regret the half hour spent watching Gidget. It also made me realize how much more awesome Mulan is than Gidget.
1. Mulan wanted to be one of the guys – not to buy and maintain her own car – but to keep her aging and ailing father from going to war.
2. Mulan’s (super hot) army general and fellow warriors treat her exactly like one of the guys (if not worse) – not because her father wants to trick Mulan into giving up and going home – but because they have no idea she’s a girl.
3. Even when military training gets difficult and almost physically impossible, Mulan doesn’t trade in her armor for a dress. She persists with the “strength of a raging fire” and retrieves that arrow from the top of the wooden pole!
4. Even when Mulan is revealed to be a woman and is abandoned by the army on a snowy mountaintop – SPOILER ALERT – she SAVES CHINA.
If Mulan ever came face to face with Gidget… “Girl, please!”