Following the Aurora shooting we get the inevitable silliness from a feminist troubled by the disproportion between men shielding their girlfriends from bullets and women shielding their boyfriends from bullets.
I admire the self-refuting nature of her presentation. She advances both of these propositions:
(1) Heroism has never had a gender: just tell that to Harriet Tubman, Clara Barton, or any of the female soldiers who risk their lives daily in our military;
and, following a mention of the United 93 action on 9/11,
(2) We just know it feels good to have heroes and it feels good to sit down on an airplane and think, “Maybe there is someone like Todd Beamer on this flight.”
Do men really sit and hope that someone else will be Todd Beamer? My impression is that we aspire to be Todd Beamer, if situationally appropriate. As to women's aspirations, well, the author just described hers. Which is fine - if she is 120 pounds of coiled literary angst, she may not be the best choice to grapple with a trained terrorist anyway.
As to her point - if "heroism" includes moral courage, as it should, then women are well represented by examples from history. If heroism is limited to brief displays of physical courage, there are surely many more examples involving men. That seems to follow from both cultural norms and basic biology, since the average guy is bigger and stronger than the average women.
That said, absolutely no one is surprised when a mother is physically fierce in protecting her children, as exemplified by Patricia Legarreta, who rallied her two young ones out of the Aurora theater (with help from a young man!) after her boyfriend cut and ran.
And Todd Beamer had help from the stewardesses on United 93. But let's read about some of the guys who took the lead in the scuffling:
This much we know, they were big guys: Bingham was a 6-foot-4 rugby player; Glick, also a rugby player and judo champion; Beamer was 6 foot 1 and 200 pounds, and Nacke was a 5-foot-9, 200-pound weightlifter with a "Superman" tattoo on his shoulder.
Logic, biology and cultural norms all pointed to letting the men lead the way on United 93, and in many other moments of sudden physical peril.