OK Google, the definition of 'hero' isn't just for men anymore

Image: Press Association via AP Images

Halloween season is upon us, and everyone is dressing up as their favorite monster, sexy plumber and, of course, comic book hero. But if you take a quick look at Google’s definition of “hero,” you might be surprised that, in 2016, it still defines a hero as a man.

I stumbled upon this while looking for cool comic book hero costume images. Here’s the definition Google returned when I typed the word in on Saturday: 

“a person, typically a man, who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities.”

That’s right. In 2016, in a time when we have our first woman presidential candidate running in the U.S., and big budget films are being devoted to comic book heroes like Wonder Woman and a female Captain Marvel, and Iron Man and Thor have become women in print, the word hero is still, somehow, just for men. 

And yes, I know the word “heroine” exists. But when was the last time you heard a courageous woman in fiction or real life referred as a “heroine”? I regularly call my mother and my grandmother heroes — heroine never crossed my mind. 

Just last year, women in the Army and Marines were finally allowed to serve in front line combat posts. And after they do, they’ll likely be called heroes, not heroines. 

Nope. They’re “heroes,” just like us dudes. Disagree? Well, the online versions of the Merriam-Webster and Oxford dictionaries get it right. 

Merriam-Webster:
Hero: A person who is admired for great or brave acts or fine qualities.

Oxford:
Hero: A person who is admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. 

(In a later entry, Oxford does describe hero as “the chief male character,” but, again, that’s not the first definition you see.)

Some of this is definitely down to real world usage trends versus traditional written definitions. But if we can add words like “selfie” and “twerk” to official dictionaries, an adjustment to such a powerful word like “hero” on Google shouldn’t be a problem.

Google’s sourcing for this dictionary info has changed over the years, so it’s not clear where it’s getting its current definitions. (Google didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.) But the good news is, if you think the definition of “hero” should include women in Google’s definition, you can leave feedback related to the definition via a link right below the box. 

Google is still an incredible search engine, and the detailed definition feature is one of my favorite tools. It just needs a tweak now and then. #DefineHero


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