Matriarchal Storytelling’s Fiat Lux, and Why Women in Fiction Matter
Patriarchal storytelling is a narrative in the dark ages because so many portrayals of women leave too much to be desired. We have princesses who need rescuing as their father’s bribe men with crowns to marry them, all while the princess thinks she is so perfect, she never needs to grow, change, or be well-rounded. Her entire purpose in life is to get married and live Happily Ever After.
Or, she must be a queen bee who can never share a spotlight or be happy for any other women who has successes, too.
She is a damsel-in-distress, a second banana, arm candy, trophy, evil step-mother, husband-hunter, bitter spinster, man-stealer, or even cannon fodder, but because the patriarchal is all about a single hero who must save everyone from themselves, female characters get the short end of the narrative stick.
Male characters get the perks of gravitas, respect, eccentricity, and can even be weird jerks who will still get top billing. Male characters get all the perks and their characters change and evolve, but often at the expense of the female characters. Oh well, that’s the nature of the patriarchal structure; so just roll with the punches and make do.
Of course, the idea that a rig must be kept in place is more than just silly; it is obnoxious. What is wrong with outrageous women with quirks and gravitas? No wonder publishing is in a big mess: it is in the dark about what women want and need.
And they want to be unleashed as they roar their own Fiat Lux!
Women have been held back for far too long because they are expected to sacrifice themselves for the Greater Good, except there is one catch…
You cannot achieve the Greater Good if you sacrifice women. That is truth and that is reality. Women matter. Women matter as much as men. Women are not supposed to just be resigned to be denied, and then just take it. Women are not immortal beings who can afford to waste a century or two. They are brilliant and hard-working, just like men, but we never get to know the true potential because the system of Patriarchal narratives does not entertain the fact that perhaps there is more to a woman than to be used as a plot devise to make the male character look good.
For years, getting stories out about diverse female characters was a challenge because the literary rig made it hard to do it properly. It was masculine rig that favoured male characters from the get-go. It is tune with their wants and needs. The narrative works in its favour: a maverick comes in from nowhere, challenges the status quo with his swagger, he uses strategy to get what he wants, and he wins all with a gorgeous babe on his arm.
That is Patriarchal storytelling.
The Matriarchal has other ideas.
And on the top of the list is that women are frustrated because they are always held back in some unnatural way, and her challenge is to remove those rigs, confines, and barriers as she lets every grain of her being push forward.
She can do it alone, but more make it a fun and fantastic party with a purpose.
How does the Matriarchal do that?
It does it in several critical ways: first, because we can explore multiple characters, a protagonist has a strong supporting cast who all shine in various ways. We can even have two characters shine in the same way: we see it is not a competition or rivalry, but why not double the resources as both go at the same problem from two different angles or ways? It is not always a dynamic where everyone has to be completely different [think of The Monkees: The Smart One (Mike), The Cute One (Davy), The Funny One (Mickey), and the Naive One (Peter)]. The underlying assumption is no two characters can step on each other because there will be rivalry, friction, or redundancy, which is absolutely silly and unjustified.
We can explore personality better as we can see how very different personalities can get along to achieve a common goal. We can have two smart and strong personalities cooperate and not try to dominate others, and tell the other what to do or how to think. The Matriarchal is about freedom and the power and strength freedom gives us. Your strength does not come from being a tyrant: it comes from working with the energy of others as you share your energy. Idealism is not a childish or impossible concept; in fact, it is the most important quality to have if you wish to have a progressive life that evolves, expands, strengthens, changes, learns, gives, and grows.
But the Matriarchal has another purpose, and that is to show benevolent strategy: I often find there is a black hole when it comes to having strategies for women that are in tune with a woman’s reality, truth, experience, biology, and mindset. We have manuals such as The Art of War, for example, but they aren’t the same for a woman’s life where she finds herself in a cutthroat situation and things are stacked against her: she doesn’t have the experience of strategy as her male counterparts, she doesn’t have the same backing support, connections, or clout — plus she has relatives to look after who don’t understand that she needs focus in her career and she must divide that focus as she is in her daily gladiatorial arena.
The Matriarchal thrives in creating the maps for all kinds of strategies, but it is not all about being a destroyer, but a creator who builds worlds. It is all about that fiat lux, but one that enlightens the world about what women want, need — and can do when she does not have to be distracted by a patriarchal narrative that wants her to run to a hero when she could have just as easily done the job herself.
With the Matriarchal, men can still be heroes — but so can women. There is no divine or natural rule that says women cannot be heroes in the same stories as men. For too long, we have gone in with the assumption that the Patriarchal was the only way to tell a story. The structure made a lot of damage, and it is time that we demand Matriarchal stories.
We need a structure that shows us that we can be wonderful heroes in life without entertaining the notion that others must play second fiddle to us. We need stories that show us the power and beauty of finding our places as we make the most of the time we have here on Earth. We need stories to show us new strategies of coming up against bullies and manipulators that give us energies and results, not drain us as it seemingly breaks our spirit when we hold back and it appears not to make a difference.
Storytelling is a calling like no other because it is a profession of creation: storytellers build. They entertain as they inspire and teach. They are the needle that sews people across time and space together to make an ever-growing cloth.
But we must insist on exploring different structures to tell stories. The Patriarchal model has now hit a wall, but that wall is one that the Matriarchal can get through to the other side that requires women to be free as they create, inspire, invent, and grow as they make this a place of kindness that is tune with their hearts that is filled with a mighty light that shines its brightest when it creates.
Because women matter -- in fiction, and in real life. Keeping one half of the population back means society, at the most, can only be half-functional. Stories are the maps that show us how to be successful, but when we have stories that pretend half a victory is a full one, it is a lie that harms us all in the long run.
And storytelling is too beautiful a profession to be poisoned like that.