|Pollyanna is more the adorkable optimist than|
|the empathizer. Still, one can't help but worry|
|that Pollyanna will grow up to hand over|
|thousands of dollars to real estate fraudsters.|
There is some (minor) truth to this dichotomy. Generally speaking, more women than men tend to enter people-oriented professions. Ponder-worthy enough, women also move more easily between fact or "thing"-based jobs and people-based jobs while men tend to excel at one particular type of job. So men tend to rise to the tops of certain professions but they don't always prove as flexible as women when it comes to changing careers/roles.
|Troi, on the other hand, is definitely an empathizer.|
My focus here: the compassionate heroine who shows up to remind all the non-nice people how important it is to be nice. She is not ALWAYS awful (I will bring up some positive examples at a later date). Still, I often cringe a little when this heroine appears for the same reason that I cringe a little at church when people talk about women being more service-oriented than men because they "care" more about people's problems. I know exactly how service-oriented I am, and it rarely involves me wanting to climb inside people's personal lives and learn all about and/or fix their deep, dark secrets. (I often think, "Why can't we women be like the men and just clean people's garages?")
Which is why I have to give ultra kudos to Lucy Liu as Joan Watson.
Joan Watson's character on Elementary is people-oriented (as is Sherlock in a different way). She is also compassionate, empathetic, and more than ready to remind Sherlock of the importance of those attributes.
And yet, she is one tough cookie.
I hate to admit this, considering I was raised Christian, but Joan Watson's character is honestly the first time I have seen female compassion for others as a strength, not a weakness.
Yup, I'll admit that emotionally--not necessarily intellectually--I have almost always perceived compassion as something women should do/practice even though other people will take advantage. Don't get me wrong: the older I get, the more important I think compassion is though I still tend to prefer ordinary civility to "I feel your pain" empathy. Still, as AI philosophers and neurologists point out, emotion is part of the decision-making process, and empathy plays an important role in that (macro) process--that is, human beings differ but the human race requires some type of trend towards projected insight/feeling to survive. (To clarify, "compassion" is to feel sorrow and/or want what is best for someone; "empathy" is to see things from that person's point of view; "magnanimity" is to extend compassion to someone despite that person's poor behavior. For the purposes of this post, I've conflated these terms.)
Yet Joan Watson manages to help/care about people without leaving the impression that she is going to get conned into buying a condo somewhere to help somebody earn enough money to pay for that very important operation without which his or her child/mother/aunt/grandpa will die.
|Joan's compassion extends to Sherlock. In Season 2,|
|she sets aside his "debt" to his father to concentrate|
|on what is best for Sherlock: to stay in New York.|
I'm not sure that Hollywood or television realizes how powerful this type of woman is to other women. When I was still watching NCIS (I tend to give up on shows that last more than 7 seasons), I was surprised and impressed by how many female viewers liked the show precisely because of Ziva's character. I've mentioned elsewhere that this was because she was a tomboy, which I think is true. But Ziva is also quite feminine and compassionate. And yet, like Joan Waston, she retains the ability to say, "Okay, I feel for you. Yet I'm going to arrest you. I'm also not going to give you my stuff or let you take over my life."
Which is very, very cool.