shero – noun (plural: sheroes)
As soon as we say shero, we think of the word hero. Men come into the picture.
This week, Barbie released 14 new Shero dolls, including ones based on “Wonder Woman” director Patty Jenkins and US snowboarder Chloe Kim.
There is the hero, of course, and then there is the heroine: the main female character in a book, play, film; or a woman who does something brave or extraordinary; or simply a woman who deserves admiration. But now there's a new term: shero. So what is a shero, and how if at all does she differ from a heroine? or from a hero, for that matter, given that it is perfectly possibly to refer to a woman as a hero and many do.
It will not surprise you to learn that opinions on the subject are divided. While the few dictionaries that define shero are in no doubt that it simply means a female hero and is a synonym for heroine, some commentators have taken issue with the fact that a perfectly good word for describing a female hero - heroine - is being replaced by one that suggests she is just a female version of the equivalent male.
For other users of the term, shero has a particular slant. While heroine carries many different connotations, a shero is straightforwardly heroic, even superheroic, the female equivalent of Superman or Spiderman. I think the jury is out on this one: we will have to wait and see if shero sticks around or fades into oblivion like so many other words that come into the limelight.
You would be forgiven for thinking that shero is a new coinage, the product of 4th wave feminism or 21st century ideas about gender. You would be wrong. According to Merriam Webster Dictionary the word is all of 126 years old, having first been used in 1892. It has only recently moved into the mainstream, however.