I dreamt of lions last night. They moved around the edge of my subconscious, yellow backs parting tall grass. I could hear their chuffy cat breaths and the cracking of dry stalks under their paws. I never really saw them out in the open, but I knew they were there. Large entities of dun color and measured sound circling my field of dreamground.
I wasn’t afraid of the lions. (They’re not spiders or bears, after all.) Maybe it’s because I’m a Leo. Or maybe it’s because of Meryl Streep.
Remember Out of Africa? I barely do. I saw that movie the year it came out (1985). Was it really 30 years ago? While most of this movie is gone to oblivion for me, there is one scene in particular that has stayed me with through everything: a woman fighting a lion to protect what is hers.
I know what some people will say. “Oh, that’s just a movie. Those were tame lions.” And my response to those people are you’re missing the point and I’d bet money you’re probably are the least interesting person in any situation to talk to. I digress. The amazing thing about this clip for me is that here is a woman on a huge screen being pretty fucking heroic against a ferocious animal that would turn all us to jelly.
Ms Streep has a whip. That’s it. There’s no super sexy movie-kung fu going on here designed to crotch-shot the camera with every kick. (We know what you’re doing, Hollywood.) No tight pants or exposed cleavage. No close up of a snarling lip-linered red lip or menacing mascara clubbed eye. Just one of the finest actors of our age experiencing a moment of sheer adrenaline and power.
I was just out of high school when I saw Out of Africa. I think of myself as I was then seeing that scene, my young self learning the lesson: if you’re going to fight lions, run right at them. You’ve got as much to lose as they do and that makes you equal.
I have to admit this wasn’t my first lesson in lion fighting. I was probably five, maybe younger, the first time I saw Dorothy put The Cowardly Lion in his place. Dorothy is a very proper lion fighter. Her secret weapon was a killer pair of shoes.
To this day, Wizard of Oz remains my favorite movie because it’s about courage and friendship and shoes and a spunky little dog. Just think, if we all had the courage to slap the bully’s nose and yell “Shame on you!” Dorothy was so fearless! I was not.
Not yet, anyway.
Dorothy and Ms. Streep were known to me. But this morning, it being International Women’s Day, I wondered if there were anymore women lion fighters out there. Turns out, there are a few. I googled the phrase “women fighting lions.” That brought some interesting things to light, as google searches usually do.
There is a real lion-woman on youtube, and presumably in Africa who walks among them fearlessly. I watch this young woman and her lions and wonder what it must feel like to lean back against the shoulder of a lion like that, or lean your own head against that massive feline forehead. I have no idea who this lion-woman is, or why she’s hanging out with lions. I don’t care. Maybe in the future, I’ll find out they ate her. Again, don’t care. That’s between her and the lions. For right now, there is a video out there titled “Most bravest and daring woman in history fighting lions.” I love that.
(Note: She’s actually sort of fighting cheetahs in this clip, not lions. Still, teeth are teeth.)
Below are some of the other images that came up when you google women fighting lions. Take a look and see if they bring up the same questions for you that they did for me:
- Where are their clothes?
- Why do they have popeye arms?
Good luck fighting your lions today. I hope you wear clothes to avoid nasty scratches.
And Happy International Women’s Day.