The power of stories is the ability to slip into our subconscious. Like a dream unfolding, we are spellbound, raptured, and quietly programmed to view the world through the lens of the protagonist. Heroes and villains teach us good from evil. We know to be afraid of wolves, not go into the forest alone, and don’t “cry wolf” to get attention. On a deep level, fairy tales and fables have shaped how we view the world through cultural lessons passed down--generation to generation--for centuries.
The tropes of the patriarchy have been ingrained in us since the start of the Piscean Age. The underlying theme: Men rule and should conquer everything in their path, including the women. The Romans and Greeks gave us myths like Medusa, a beautiful woman targeted by a lecherous god (Poseidon). She runs into the Temple of Athena expecting protection and instead is raped in the Temple, blamed for defiling the Temple, and cursed to never know love. Her gaze turned men to stone.
Hardly fair. But the lesson is passed on, the man is allowed to conquer and plunder and the fault lies with those too weak to protect themselves.
Fairy tales, from originals to Disney clean, continue the cycle. Women have value when they are young. Once the woman reaches a stage of adulthood, she is shown to be either evil, dead, or just powerless. We do not hear from the Queen, the mother of Cinderella’s husband-to-be. Only his father who pronounces that he must get married. Did the Little Mermaid have a mother? We hear only from her father and her sisters. Cinderella and Snow White mothers die early, replaced by the evil step-mother who will chase these heroines into the arms of their waiting princes.
On a subconscious level, we are taught women can express themselves only when they are young. Because young and untamed, they can propel themselves forward to risk all for love. Once married to their prince, they become Mrs. Prince Charming and cease to have an input in the story.
Even our religious stories pass down the lessons of patriarchal rule. The Book of Genesis gives us an early tale of victim-shaming at its best. Because Eve was not more cunning than the Fallen Archangel on a mission to bring about the destruction of humanity, women bear the responsibility for humans being evicted from the Garden of Eden. Huh? Maybe her fig leaf was too short.
The 60’s and early 70’s gave us Technicolor stories representing black and brown people as gangsters, murderers, and all-around “bad hombres.” The connection between evil doing and skin color has become so cemented that today we see assumptions of wrong doing because of skin color with hotel guests using the swimming pool, families barbequing in the park, and homeowners moving in, moving out, or using chalk on their front yard.
Be wary of what you consume. Today’s most rapturous stories can be found on our 24-hr. cycle of news. 15,000 in a peaceful protest. 6 blocks away someone does graffiti and starts a fire. Focus the camera there and label the protesters as violent. Not accurate, just a “better” story.