This past Rites of Spring I joined a women’s group that I’m very excited about! Without giving away too much, I’ll just say we were asked to pick 3 heroine/archetype figures and give our reasons why. I thought it would be fun to share what mine were.
I chose Bayonetta for my first archetype. For those of you who don’t know, Bayonetta is the title character from a video game. She’s a witch who kills angels during her quest to regain her memories. Her dialogues showcase her clever, sexually-driven innuendos and she is very graceful, like a flying dancer, when she mutilates the enemies. Although not exactly a “heroine”, she is not necessarily a villain, either. She picks no side so she’s not afraid to be selfish, but finds time to occasionally save innocent lives. So why did I pick her? Well, besides all of the above, I would say mainly because I strongly identify with her as a feminine, cis-gender female. She has hardly any fear and couldn’t give a rat’s ass about what people think of her. She is a very powerful, femme woman who wears her heart on her sleeve and embraces her sexuality by having fun with it. Despite having all of this supernatural power, she still enjoys simple, carnal pleasures and very comfortably shifts from the hell and heaven realms to the earth realm. She’s a hybrid of a metaphysical being and an earthly being. Bayonetta is truly a sexy–WITCH!
Please enjoy this artist’s rendering of Bayonetta summoning a demon through her hair. ^_^
My second archetype was a little harder to choose, but I went with Artemis. I’m sure you probably already know who that is but, just in case you don’t, I’ll provide a brief background. Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, the wild, virginity and (ironically) childbirth. Her Roman name is Diana. She lends her name to a branch of female-centered paganism known as Dianic Wicca. She’s often depicted with a bow and arrow and accompanied by a deer, which is considered sacred to her. Not one to be outdone, she has a habit of killing people who brag about being better than her or her relatives. She is very protective of her hunting companions (usually female) and is considered a guardian deity for all women in times of needed protection. I chose Artemis largely because she has almost nothing to do with men. Other than having a twin brother, Apollo, fellow hunting deity, and the occasional male hunting companion, the only other associations she has with men is when she’s fighting them off as they try to “lay with” her (trying to keep it PG) or her female hunting friends. To me, she’s a symbol of a woman never touched or conquered by a man, though many have tried. Despite her own virginity and preferring her female friends to remain as such, she does help women during childbirth to ease their labor pains. This shows that regardless of her own sexual choices and beliefs, she is still on the side of women and does not scorn them for choosing to fulfill their procreative function. Artemis is the purest original feminist icon and a genuine threat to the patriarchy by rejecting it completely. She has no need and little desire for men and even provides for herself by hunting, usually a skill taken up by men. And finally, I’m a Sagittarius with a brother very close to my age…So I think it’s cool that she’s an archer and has a twin brother, kinda like me. 😉
I found this picture on DeviantArt. This is the most accurate representation of how I envision Artemis/Diana with her faithful deer.
For my final heroine archetype I chose the little mermaid. Yes, there a bunch of reasons why she could be construed as lovesick and changed herself for a man and got royally screwed over because of it (in the original version, anyway). But…for some reason, I don’t think that makes her a weakling. In both the fairytale and the Disney movie, she rescued the man, sacrificed a lot and went through hell to be with him. Isn’t it usually the other way around in many stories? The little mermaid was a dreamer, a doer and after everything, still not bitter about what happened to her. The reason I picked her is because she symbolizes something much more socially acceptable (and unfortunately, often exploited) in women: Vulnerability. I think this is a real power in women. We become stronger by owning our vulnerability. It’s in everything surrounding femininity! The way we dance, the way we talk, the way we stand, dress, sing, write, eat! Yes, this is a sweeping generalization as not all men and women are a certain way, however, on the other hand vulnerability does not necessarily mean weakness. It just means open and susceptible. It means no weapons, no armor, no wall, no guard, no judgment, no dominance–just naked! Emotionally, physically and verbally. Vulnerability is what the little mermaid was made of. She had no judgment, no guard up, no preconceived notions, no suit of armor or mighty swords, not even a damn condom; hell she made herself even MORE vulnerable by leaving a world she knew nothing about and being given tools she didn’t know how to use (legs) in exchange for a tool that she wielded very well (her voice) just to be with someone she loved! Maybe this prince gave her a sense of purpose besides swimmin’ with the fishies all day, I don’t know. I don’t think the point is WHY she did what she did but that SHE WAS BRAVE ENOUGH TO DO IT! She went through a lot just to make someone happy…and by making them happy, she would make herself happy. She was giving. She was empathetic and there is a lot of power in that.
Below is a side-by-side of Ariel from the Disney film, and the statue of the fairy tale character in Denmark (home of the author). And yes—Disney did that on purpose as tribute to the statue.