A Female Hero’s Journey?

Why can’t I get behind this promise of a female hero’s journey

First, the source of this whole Hero’s Journey way of understanding the stories we tell one another is Joseph Campbell, created from his life of study and love of mythologies.  His is a fantastic contribution to our understanding of ourselves through the stories we’ve created across cultures and time in order to, as Campbell puts it, “reconcile the harsh realities of life.”

For a quick Wikipedia dip, check out Campbell’s Hero’s Journey or go to the page on  The Hero with a Thousand Faces

If you’ve got however many hours two DVDs hold, Campbell and Bill Moyers can take you on a complete journey through “monomythology” with Joseph Campbell and the Power of Myth I remember being carried away by the idea of living in myth when I first watched this way back in 1988.

Most likely it’s this word “hero”.  Problematic from my perspective.  Its meanings rooted in the single, exceptional man questing away through gorgons and whatnot to self discovery and then returning with this self knowledge to save the rest of us, presumably all the while sitting on our hands desperate with our needy desire for his one solution. 

My thinking is that ours is not a solo journey.  Yes, we are each locked into our individual being, the most determined, least burdened of us perhaps trying to be responsible for who we are.  But we are I think, and here’s the forgiveness, equally held by and responsible to the whole of us.  This whole, unable to be saved by any single human, is our journey of the collective effort.  There’s comfort in the company, each self doing the arduous work of consciousness while keeping an eye on the greater good.  Symbiosis.

Additionally, (and you knew this was coming!) some part of me resists the narrative morphology of the Hero Quest as in service first and foremost to the spiritual evolution of men.  Which is fine.  I’m all for whatever helps.  But it leaves women dangling, forced to contort ourselves to be allowed to come along, be one of the boys, cause that’s where the adventure’s been.  In Heroworld woman as a conduit of life shapeshifts to the all too real tether, or to a neutered symbol in simmering float above it all, a reason for male action. Decidedly not our own.  And decidedly other than our eros incarnate selves searching away, oft messy, here on daytoday earth.  Our living through and out of this physicality, tenuous and impermanent, yes, is precisely the comprehension women have gained from what questing we’ve done, subterranean as it may still be, and what we have returned with to offer.

The era of one settled Truth shifts to our time of multiple, competing truths.  A being in relativity.  Can we live with, gain sustenance even, from the float?

    • Maurice Harris
    • July 18th, 2011

    Very much appreciate your posting and your writing on gender and the hero’s journey.

  1. Fastidious answer back in return of this issue with solid arguments and explaining everything on the topic of that.

  2. My spouse and I absolutely love your blog and find almost all of your post’s to be just what I’m
    looking for. can you offer guest writers to write content for you?
    I wouldn’t mind creating a post or elaborating on most of the subjects you write about here. Again, awesome web log!

  3. Thank you for your compliment, and am glad you find here some of what your are looking for. I am not currently adding new writing to this project, at the moment being preoccupied with making a film that I hope will participate in this “narrative otherways.” But your idea of guest writers is a tempting one, and perhaps when I come round again to another digital publishing project, that would be the way to go, including/inviting other writers. In the meantime, I think it would be lovely and so please feel free to elaborate on any subject here that has a comment option. You can go on for quite a while I think.

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