Sunday, September 15, 2013

Female archetypes of the 21st Century?

I was intrigued by a remark made by a fellow author in a review of a mystery novel (not one of mine, though).

She said:

"In our twenty-first century American culture, we have a dearth of female archetypes. I have heard it said that we have only the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene."

I'm not sure I agree with that at all. I suppose you could amend it to say, "ADMIRABLE female HEROINE archetypes," and I could agree a bit more. But I think there are many female role models/archetypes around today. We aren't constrained by the gender roles of the 1950s/60s and before. In the "olden days," the ultimate achievement for a female was to be the prettiest so that she could marry the rich boy and make babies, like Cinderella. Even Madame Marie Curie is never mentioned without strong discussion of the love of her life, Pierre, who helped her in her work but was not the rescuing Prince by any means. But now we have Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Wonder Woman, Roseanne, and all those other strong women who model independent womanhood. (LOL!) Seriously, we must have examples of the Domineering Little Old Lady With Wisdom (commonly termed the Crone) and Middle Manager Mama and so forth that we would instantly recognize.

Who are the female archetypes of this century, do you think? I don't mean that you need to come up with people who are of the stature of the Virgin Mary and Mary Magdalene, but really . . . Mother Teresa? And to get away from the religious perspective, haven't there been others like . . . I don't know, Rosa Parks, Hillary Clinton (however you may feel about her, she has broken through the glass ceiling in many senses), Sandra Day O'Connor?

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