Hidden Figures and NT-type Women

Contrary to popular belief, INTJs have emotions. They also express them, though not always to the person they’re having feelings about (for example, an INTJ might tell his best friend he likes a girl, but not tell the girl. Or an INTJ might tell her husband she hates a coworker, but never give the coworker a hint). INTJs tend to compartmentalize their feelings and process them internally, and they hate expressing deep emotions casually or to people they don’t know well.

hidden_ntIf you’re very observant, though, and get to know the INTJs in your life, you’ll start to realize there’s a remarkable depth to their feelings. They’ll even do things, like cry at movies, that are typically associated with Feeling personality types. They might scorn the things that are “supposed” to make you cry (e.g. I’m sniffling at a Pixar film and my INTJ sister laughs out loud in the theater). But then I’ll look over and notice moisture leaking from the corners of her eyes at the end of Hidden Figures (I’ve been informed it was not crying).

Hidden Figures (2016) is a fantastic film about “a team of African-American women mathematicians who served a vital role in NASA during the early years of the US space program. ” They were among the first African-Americans and the first women to work in such prestigious technical roles. My sister, about to graduate with a degree in Chemical Engineering, gave me one explanation for her emotional response to the film: “these women and others like them made it possible for me to be an engineer.”

As the character Mary Jackson tells a judge, someone always has to be first. These women proved it’s possible for women to be taken seriously and make important contributions as mathematicians and engineers. But I suspect my sister’s words go deeper than referring to breaking down gender stereotypes about the kind of work women can do. It also has to do with people’s expectations for what women should be like.

hidden_nt_2Only 24-35% of women have a personality type that relies on Thinking as their primary or secondary mental process (according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type). INTJ and INTP women are tied for rarest at 1-3% of the female population. ENTJs come in a close third at 1-4%. ENTPs tie with ESTPs with 2-4%, just slightly more common than ISTPs at 2-3%. The STJ types aren’t nearly as rare, with ESTJs making up 6-8% and ISTJs 7-10% of the female population.

I’m not going to type the women in Hidden Figures, but having seen the film I think it’s safe to say Katherine G. Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson are Thinking types. Their minds are naturally wired to excel at processing facts, figures, and data — a hall-mark of the fact-checking, analytical Thinking functions that use “impersonal criteria to make decisions.” I’d say Katherine at least is probably an Intuitive type as well, pairing pattern-recognition and possibility-seeking with her Thinking side.

That means she wasn’t just a rarity at NASA (an African-American woman working in a highly technical position). She’s also a rarity in society (a woman using both Intuition and Thinking as her most comfortable mental processes). Thinking traits are so strongly stereotyped as masculine that NT women often don’t fit cultural expectations for femininity. One of the many things I loved about Hidden Figures is that these three women seemed to have figured out a way to balance being wives and mothers with working as groundbreakingly successful mathematicians. They’re also portrayed as real people who are admired and respected for who they are instead of as the bitchy, controlling, or cold stereotype we often get when presented with Thinking female characters (take Sandra Bullock’s character in The Proposal as an example). And the men they’re in relationships with aren’t scared of them or trying to fit them back in boxes.

It was really wonderful to see characters that embraced femininity on their own terms. While I do believe God created the two genders to be different and complementary in the roles we fill, I also think there are stereotypes in our culture that do both genders a disservice. One of those is that women are or “should” be more emotion-driven than analytically-minded. There’s room for both. And, as Hidden Figures reminds us, we would do ourselves a terrible disservice if we tried to keep these women hidden.click to read article, "Hidden Figures and NT-type Women" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

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Personality Types in Star Wars Rebels

Star Wars Rebels is my new favorite TV show. It’s been around since 2014, but I just started watching it last month. Now I’m caught up and eagerly awaiting the rest of season 3. Being an Myers-Briggs enthusiast as well as a Star Wars fan, my thoughts naturally turned toward analyzing the main characters’ personality types and updating my Star Wars MBTI chart.

Like The Clone Wars, Rebels is an animated series set in the Star Wars universe. While I enjoyed The Clone Wars (especially Ahsoka’s story line and Anakin’s character development), there are plenty of filler episodes, most of the humor is aimed at a young audience, and it’s a bit daunting at 121 episodes. Rebels, on the other hand, has a much tighter story arc and it’s aimed at a more mature audience (still a kids show, but fewer things that will have adults wincing or rolling their eyes).

click to read article, "Personality Types in Star Wars Rebels" | marissabaker.wordpress.com

After The Force Awakens came out last year I published a Star Wars MBTI Chart, which I present again here with Rebels characters added. For this post, I’m focusing on the Ghost‘s crew with one recurring character thrown in (Ahsoka also appears in Rebels, but she’s already been typed). I’d love to include Grand Admiral Thrawn, but I think I’ll wait until his new in-canon novel is released later this year.

Hera Syndulla – ESFJ

Hera Syndulla - ESFJ. Visit marissabaker.wordpress.com for more Star Wars Rebels personality typesHera is a fantastic example of an SFJ type. She has that Si-Fe blend of prioritizing other people’s good while working to maintain social order. As an extrovert, she’s a talkative, people-focused character who teaches Ezra “if all you do is fight for your own life then your life is worth nothing.” It’s a belief she lives by as well.

SFJ characters are stereotyped at the “mother” figure and we get to see why in the way Hera leads and cares for her crew, especially in the first two seasons. As is typical of a dominant Extroverted Feeling type, she puts extra effort into maintaining harmony among her crew (such as sending Zeb and Ezra on a wild meiloorun chase so they can bond in S1E2).

After Hera’s rebels become more involved with the rebellion, we see that she’s the only one who’s really concerned with working in a larger movement. If you read A New Dawn, you see her focus from the very beginning has been on working to save the entire galaxy. This is partly an SJ’s commitment to order, partly an Fe type’s concern for people. But I think it’s also a little bit of her tertiary Extroverted Intuition looking at the larger picture and future implications of their actions. Continue reading

Becoming “Noble Harry”

Check out this article I wrote for Femnista’s Shakespeare issue (and perhaps a few of their other articles while you’re at it)! It’s always a pleasure to write for and read this online magazine/blog.

I have no trouble answering the question, “What’s your favorite Shakespeare play?” (though it sadly isn’t asked very often). My answer has been Henry V since I first read it in high school. I grew up immersed in classical tales of adventure and heroism–stories by Robert Louis Stevenson and Jules Verne, legends about Robin Hood and King Arthur. In that context, my affection for Henry V comes as no surprise.

“Noble Harry,” as Shakespeare dubs the character, is the quintessential heroic figure. He’s a man of action, a brilliant soldier, a king committed to justice only where he cannot show mercy, a believer in God’s sovereignty, and a romantic figure in his wooing of Kathrine. Shakespeare is far too talented a storyteller to leave even his heroic figures one-dimensional, though. There’s much more to Henry’s character than being a perfect king.

Continue Reading: Becoming “Noble Harry”

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Fictional MBTI – James “Bucky” Barns (ESTP)

It always intrigues me how certain characters attract so much investment from viewers. Browsing Pinterest lately, it seems like Bucky is the new Loki — the Marvel fandom’s dark, mistreated character who just needs a hug because we love him soooooo much. In Bucky’s case, the reasons why we find his character compelling aren’t too hard to find. He’s a good man who was forced to do terrible things and is now constantly fighting a battle to be himself. Sebastian Stan’s portrayal allows audiences to glimpse Bucky’s human side under the soldier persona he wears and the assassin role he’s forced to adopt, and audiences are drawn in by a realistic, sensitive portrayal of a compelling character.

Fictional MBTI - James "Bucky" Barns (ESTP)

Most people type James “Bucky” Buchanan Barns as an ESTP, and I’m inclined to agree with them. Operating under the assumption that MBTI type doesn’t change, when we see him as Bucky in Captain America: First Avenger he’s a healthy, stable version of his MBTI type. The version of Bucky we see later in Captain America: The Winter Soldier is a severely stressed and traumatized man of the same MBTI type. Bucky in Captain America: Civil War is still dealing with the fall-out of all he went through, but he’s more recognizable as an ESTP. Continue reading

The Essence of Star Trek

A couple days ago, we finally got a new trailer for Star Trek: Beyond that felt a bit more like “real Star Trek.” Now, there are Trekkies who will say none of the new films are “real Trek,” but I’m not one of them. Though parts of Star Trek (2009) and Star Trek: Into Darkness (2013) irritated me as a life-long Trekkie, overall I thought they were good stories and I’m nothing but pleased with the cast’s performances of my favorite characters (especially Karl Urban as Doctor McCoy).

The Essence of Star Trek | marissabaker.wordpress.com

image credit: my screenshot from Star Trek Online

I did, however, feel these films were missing a focus that has always been core to the idea of Star Trek. Star Trek’s mission is about exploration, science, new cultures, and ideas. It’s not a space-battle heavy type of science fiction nor was it a “crisis of the week” type of show. It’s much more thoughtful than that. The new movies engaged with ideas of this nature to a certain extent, but they were also fast-paced, explosion-heavy, and largely earth-centric blockbuster films. The first trailer for Star Trek: Beyond made it look like the new film took that to an extreme. It was so bad that Simon Peg admitted he “didn’t love it” and told Trek fans “hang in there, be patient.”

In this new trailer we get discussion about Kirk’s motivation and character. We finally see hints of exploring new worlds, engaging with different cultures, and wrestling with tough ideas. This makes me happy because, at its core, Star Trek is about people trying to do the right thing in complicated situations. Trek should engage with current cultural topics in a unique way. It should support the idea that “good” and “right” are a real things rather than abstract concepts while also acknowledging it’s not always easy to know what’s the good and right thing to do.

Here’s some examples of what I’m talking about. I could list many others (the TNG episode “Measure of a Man,” for one), but for the sake of space I limited it to three episodes. *Spoilers for all episodes below*

TOS: City on the Edge of Forever

Written by science fiction legend Harlan Ellison, “City on the Edge of Forever” is regarded by many as hands-down the finest episode in the Original Series and perhaps all of Star Trek. After Doctor McCoy inadvertently alters earth’s history, Kirk and Spock travel back to the 1930s to repair the time-line, at which point Kirk (predictably) falls for a woman who needs to die for history to play-out as it should. Edith Keeler is a social-worker who runs a soup kitchen and seeks peace for the entire planet. In the correct timeline, she dies in a car accident. If Doctor McCoy saves her life, her peace movement delays U.S. involvement in World War II.

Kirk is the product of a society with the type of peaceful, one-world government Edith dreams of and fights for. He agrees with her ideologically, but he also knows that if she lives Germany’s victory prevents the formation of his unified future-earth. The whole episode grapples with the ideas of responsibility and accountability. Letting someone die is wrong, but letting a planet’s future die would also be wrong. Which is the lesser evil? Can we allow one personal tragedy in order to prevent a global catastrophe? Those are questions we’re still wrestling with today.

DS9: In The Pale Moonlight

While not one of my favorite episodes, “In the Pale Moonlight” is a good example of what we’re talking about today. The story is set during the Dominion War, and the Federation is losing. To borrow from Memory Alpha’s description, “Captain Sisko enlists Garak’s help to ‘persuade’ the Romulans to join the Federation/Klingon alliance to win the war. Sisko unwittingly learns that to save the Federation, he may have to sell his soul and the values Starfleet stands for.” Sisko, and the audience, wrestle with the question of how far the “good guys” can or should go to win a war. He begins with “good intentions,” but they’re the sort that proverbially pave a road to hell.

As the plan becomes ever more complex, he moves from spying, to fabricating false evidence, to paying off dangerous criminals with the ingredients for biogenic weapons, and finally he becomes complicit in an assassination. But Sisko hasn’t gone off the deep end — he simply came up with a plan, received approval, and kept moving forward with sanction from the Federation. Though the assassination wasn’t part of the original plan, there aren’t any repercussions for it. Romulus declares war and the Alpha quadrant is saved. Mission accomplished. But not without great moral wrestling. The episode ends with Sisko staring into the camera ending his personal log with the words, “So I will learn to live with it…Because I can live with it…I can live with it.”

STC: Lolani

Star Trek Continues really feels like a 4th season of the Original Series, and it continues Star Trek’s rich history of dealing with complicated ethical questions and current cultural issues. In this episode (click to watch), the Enterprise rescues a frightened Orion slave girl from a damaged ship. Having been taken from her family and enslaved, Lolani’s situation is very much akin to trafficked victims here on earth. You might think freeing her is the obvious, moral thing to do, but Star Trek is never simple. The episode wrestles with other issues as well, such as whether or not Lolani’s victimization can excuse her crimes and to what extent Kirk and his people can legally help her.

Since the Orion system isn’t part of the Federation and their law demands any slaves found revert to Orion control, the Federation insists Kirk return Lolani rather than risk an international incident. Kirk initially complies, then chooses to rescue her in violation of Starfleet orders. Before he can, Lolani kills herself and her master by destroying the ship. It’s too late for his change of heart to help; for his moral core to over-ride his nation’s law. That saves the Federation from war with the Orions, but what does it do to Kirk’s soul?

I’m hoping Star Trek: Beyond and the new series coming next year continue Trek’s history of tackling complex ideas, pushing us outside our cultural comfort zones, and looking at issues and ideas from multiple angles. I want more stories that make us think while they’re entertaining us.

Wrestling With Faith: Religion in Marvel’s Daredevil

Before Daredevil premiered on Netflix in April of last year, the closest Marvel’s Cinematic Universe came to portraying a superhero of faith was Captain America’s line, “There’s only one God, ma’am, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that” in The Avengers three years earlier. As much as I like and admire Steve Rogers as a character, however, I’m not sure I’d describe him as a man of faith. Certainly he’s a moral man who believes in God, but his faith doesn’t play a major role that we can see on-screen.

Matt Murdock (played by Charlie Cox), on the other hand, is a character defined by his faith. The way he’s portrayed in the Netflix series leaves no doubt that Matt is a staunch Catholic and that his faith influences every decision he makes. The religious elements don’t make Daredevil any less violent (this is not a show for children or squeamish adults), but the series’ engagement with religious themes does make it one of the most intriguing things on screen right now.

Wrestling With Faith: Religion in Marvel's Daredevil | marissabaker.wordpress.com

It’s rare to see a character portrayed as unabashedly Christian in today’s culture, at least outside of films produced by a faith-based group such as Sherwood Pictures. It’s even rarer to see a man of faith cast as the hero of a gritty drama. Yet Matt Murdock is a practicing Catholic who proclaims his belief on-screen, as well as a seriously impressive superhero.

Quick note: I’ll be honest, I don’t know all that much about Catholicism. I’ve known Catholics and counted several my friends, read a few books written by Catholic authors (both fiction and non-fiction), and encountered some facts about Catholicism in studying British history, but I wouldn’t really consider myself knowledgeable on the subject. If you’re reading this as a Catholic and I say something stupid, please correct me with love in the comments 🙂

Quicker note: this article contains spoilers for both seasons of Daredevil. Spoilers for Season 2 will be clearly noted.

To Kill, or Not To Kill

Everything about Matt’s choices is influenced by his Catholicism. He won’t kill because he firmly believes it is morally wrong. That is explored strongly in the first season, when we learn Matt refuses to kill his enemies and tries his best to prevent others, including his allies, from killing as well. It’s back again in the second season when

SPOILER WARNING

we learn in flashbacks that Matt’s college romance with Electra ended after she asked him to kill the man who murdered his father. A few episodes later, we find out that she has a mission to pull Matt away from the faith that was, in part,why he’s not still fighting alongside Stick. It didn’t work. Matt wasn’t a perfect enough Christian to say no to premarital sex or to leave Electra when she was stealing cars and breaking into people’s houses, but his faith runs too deep for the possibility of murder to not act as a wake-up call.

(end spoilers)

Unlike Batman, who doesn’t (typically) kill because it’s part of his crime-fighting code, Daredevil doesn’t kill because it’s part of his faith. The only way he would consider breaking the law of God that prohibits murder is if he thinks sacrificing his soul would save enough people to make it worthwhile. That’s why he considers killing Wilson Fisk near the end of Season 1. “I know my soul is damned if I take his life,” Matthew says, “But if I stand idle” people “will suffer and die.”

Wrestling With Faith: Religion in Marvel's Daredevil | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Daredevil S1, E9

For most action heroes, there wouldn’t even be a question of what to do — you just go out and kill the bad guys. Matt, however, cares about what taking another person’s life says about him. He doesn’t take this question to his bartender or girlfriend though (as an equally introspective but less religious character might). He takes it to his faith in the form of his priest, Father Lantom, who reminds him, “There is a wide gulf between inaction and murder, Matthew. Another man’s evil does not make you good. … the question you have to ask yourself is are you struggling with the fact that you don’t want to kill this man, but have to? Or that you don’t have to kill him, but want to?”

A Question of Motive

In the same conversation where Father Lantom talks with Matt about whether or not Matt should kill Fisk, he also says, “Few things are absolute, Matthew. Even Lucifer was once an angel. It’s why judgment and vengeance… are best left to God. Especially when murder is not in your heart.” When Matt asks how Lantom can know what’s in his heart, the priest responds, “You’re here, aren’t you?” The fact that Matt wrestles with how his faith fits into his mission to fight for justice is one thing that proves he’s a good man. Our motivations matter.

Matt works as a lawyer by day trying to right wrongs within the system, then goes out at night as Daredevil trying to bring justice to the people who were overlooked by the law. In the first episode of Season 2, Matt tells Foggy that the woman they helped as lawyers by recommending a battered women’s shelter would have been murdered by her husband before her escape if Daredevil hadn’t put the man in a hospital. Daredevil goes around fixing the problems that Matt Murdock can’t.

An article that appeared on Slade.com last year said Netflix’s Daredevil understands that Matt’s religion is “essential to his identity … which is what makes the show work.” The article continues, “Murdock’s brutal justice is more than his way of taking personal responsibility for the sins of others; it’s his way of atoning for his own. Murdock’s real superpower, and also his biggest foe, is his Catholicism” (from “Daredevil’s Greatest Superpower Is His Catholicism“). Matt’s religion is what drives him to fight for justice, yet it’s also what makes him question himself at every turn.

Guilt and Redemption

Throughout his crusade, Matt punishes himself as much as the people he’s after. In “Daredevil, Catholicism, and the Marvel Moral Universe,” Leah Schnelbach connects this with “mortification of the flesh.”While Matt Murdock does qualify as a powered-person in the MCU, his powers don’t give him fast healing or make him invincible. To fight evil, “He has to keep getting hit, keep getting wounded. Over the course of the show, we see this process–old wounds reopen, cuts heal slowly, bruises linger, and each fight seems more labored. … The point is that he keeps going anyway” (click here to read the full article). Matt’s only partly joking when he responds to Claire describing him as “blind vigilante who … can take an unbelievable amount of punishment without one damn complaint” by saying, “The last part’s the Catholicism.”

Wrestling With Faith: Religion in Marvel's Daredevil | marissabaker.wordpress.com

Daredevil S2, E10

Mortification of the flesh is a concept very much tied to penance in the Catholic version of Christianity. It’s referenced even more clearly into Daredevil in Season 2, again by Claire (mild spoiler warning). Matt’s beating himself up (metaphorically, this time) for not saving a group of people soon enough. She suggest he take off his “hair shirt” and “start thinking about climbing down off that cross of yours and spending some time with us normal people for a change.” The idea of Matt martyring himself is a theme throughout both seasons.

MAJOR SPOILER WARNING

One of the aspects of Season 2 I found most interesting was the association of Matt with Jesus Christ. He’s not portrayed as a “Christ-figure” per say, but there’s more going on here than just Claire’s overt reference to Matt crucifying himself. Much like I argued when talking about Luke and Vader in Star Wars, we can compare Matt’s insistence that redemption is possible for Electra to God “not wishing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9, ASV). While Matt is willing to die for her, what’s more poignant is that he’s willing to sacrifice himself by living for her.

I struggled with this scene in the final episode. Why would Matt give up everything he’s working for in Hell’s Kitchen to run away with such a morally dark character as Electra? Upon further reflection, I realized he didn’t intend to abandon his faith by offering to take this action. While being with Electra does bring out the “devil” side of him, he’s not offering to run off with Electra just so he can be free of responsibility or guilt. He wants to do this because of his stated reason — that she “gets” the part of him that no one else understands — and because of the redemption theme running through this season. He has to believe Electra can be good and he’ll give up his own life to help make that possible.

(end spoilers)

Matt’s not a perfect Christian or a perfect Catholic. Some might even question whether or not he qualifies as a “good man” after putting so many people (criminals, yes, but still people) in the hospital. Where do we draw the line? and what is the responsibility of a moral man confronted with evils that he can fight, but isn’t sure at what cost? Those are the sort of questions that Marvel’s Daredevil offers for our consideration. It’s not interested in a sanitized version of Christianity that focuses on faultless people living lives of bliss and, quite frankly, I’m not either. And neither’s the Bible, if the struggles of David, Peter, Paul and so many others are any indication. God never tells us our walk with Him will be without wrestling. It’s how we respond to the crises of faith — the moments where we wonder if all this is worth it — that count.