Last week I examined the fairy-tale world of the perfect young man, who is portrayed as suave, witty, and handsome (“3 Terrible Male Role Models for Girls”).
Now let’s look at the role models our girls should be looking at when they begin to date. What kind of young man will prepare them best to navigate the stormy waters of modern relationships? I have a few suggestions from popular culture for great male role models for young women.
1) Ron Weasley from Harry Potter. Let’s call him “Mr. Nice Guy.”
Ron is a hot mess, both in the books and the movies. This teenage wizard is awkward, gaffe-tastic, and so bumbling that J.K. Rowling recently mentioned that she wondered if she should have put Ron and Hermione together. She shouldn’t wonder. Ron is tender and loving and he makes an excellent husband and father. He’s a nice guy.
But as a teenage boyfriend, he’s the best example of how mixed-up the dating life of a Mr. Nice can be. We grow up with Ron in the Harry Potter novels and movies and his generous and friendly personality becomes a disaster in his teen dating years.
Ron is pressured into a romance with fellow student Lavender Brown. She’s the worst nightmare of a girlfriend — possessive, overbearing, and infantile. She hangs on Ron in public, bestows sickly, sweet nicknames on him (Won-Won!), and has no time for conversation because she’s too busy trying to make out with him. Ron finds himself more and more trapped, unwilling to hurt her feelings but unable to bear her for another minute. He’s a classic Mr. Nice Guy.
This is a great male role model for girls. Lots of teenage boys don’t know how to navigate through relationships. They can find themselves trapped with a girl they’d rather not be with, and breaking up with someone like that is not easy. Hermione doesn’t reject Ron because he was with Lavender, even if her feelings were hurt while he was going out with her. A Mr. Nice Guy like Ron is worth the effort.
Finally, watching Lavender Brown act out her crazed romance is a healthy reminder to girls: Don’t be a Lavender Brown.