What is the Heroine’s Journey? (part XIX)
Why is the Journey that denotes active individualism and physical maturity always coded male? Why is the one that connotes life’s wisdom cooperatively rooted within relational community invariably gendered as female? Why can’t we bring ourselves to say what they really are: steps in the progress of an ultimately human life? If the first steps toward adulthood involve the so-called Hero’s Journey, and the culmination of the search for enlightenment is the so-called Heroine’s Journey, then we do ourselves a grave disservice in assigning gender to the various steps, as well as to the various emotional traits involved.
I’m starting to believe, in fact, that this insistence on assigning gender to everything is a bug, not a feature, in both Jungian psychology and today’s society. Campbell and Murdock may each have chosen only myths where the protagonist was of the gender they were discussing — which does not surprise me, considering they each doubtless wished to bolster their various arguments. However, through the span of time and cultures on our planet we can surely find many myths which demonstrate our sheer shared humanity, rather than attempting to assert this or that behavioral trait really belongs to women, or to men.
So what are we ultimately looking at here? Primarily, I think it is truly a journey — the journey of a life well-lived. The usual fruits of success, i.e. “return home and settle down with the little woman,” don’t really apply here, and would signify a heroic person whose story has played out and lost our interest. That makes sense to me, though; the quest for self-knowledge is one I believe is on-going throughout one’s life.
To live life as your own person; to be as good a person as you can learn how to be; to benefit both yourself and your community; to have beloveds who are peers and who love you in return; to face life with a sense of humor; and to have all the action and adventure you can comfortably handle — is this not the basis for a life well lived? It’s when you lose interest in learning and growing that you truly start to die, I think. I believe that is what the old myths and the new stories are trying to teach us: how to live well. They speak to us on a level deeper than simple entertainment.
That being said, I (or anyone who agrees with the above) should be able to study these categories and see where my life seems lacking — then seek out ways to find fulfilling endeavors in those categories, in order to live a better and more satisfying life. I know, of course, this is an on-going process, but that’s all right — that means life will be that much more fun and exciting as I search out the associated goals and their fulfillment for each category. If my ramblings encourage you too to seek to improve your life to your benefit, then we both win. May our lives grant good journeying to all.