This point in world history marks a moment where everything changed. Maybe it ‘s a result of social media, or maybe it is because the hero needs a more interesting companion story. Or maybe, we are tired of devaluing the feminine and we are curious about a different world where both the masculine and feminine are valued. Women feel the change. They are saying #MeToo world-wide. Women are rejecting the victim culture. Many men are responding by saying this behaviour is unacceptable. The question is, are we calling out evil to destroy it, or are we being called to grow as a society? Or both?
This is interesting because it highlights two very different roles the Victim plays. If we are all about destroying evil, the Victim character has gained the power to rally the hero’s effort to right a wrong, or provide the needed resources to get life back on track. The downside is she must remain wounded throughout the story to keep the hero motivated. Can you imagine heading into a battle and facing death when the Victim you are standing up for says, “I’m feeling much better now.”
Female super-heroes are often prime examples of the need for the Victim to remain wounded. Jessica Jones carries a Victim energy from her past and uses it as a driving force for her heroic behaviour. This is why Wonder Woman was quite interesting. Diana didn’t come from a wounded place. She came from a homeland of strong awareness of their inner world and a high degree of connection to her sense of self and to her fellow citizens. The same could be said for Black Panther. The masculine is preserving and protecting the highly valued feminine aspects of their societies. This is the refreshing twist.
So, we have perpetual victims that motivate the hero and we see people who come from mythical lands where they have always known their personal value. What we are becoming interested in is how a person moves from one state to the other.
I call this second character the Virgin archetype because it is about knowing you are of value for being yourself, like a Virgin forest. The new protagonist is on the compelling journey from Victim to Virgin. It is strange to me how English has so few words for this state of mind. And the one we have has been reduced to a measurable moment of sexual activity. This external world perspective is in high contrast to the Virgin story of awakening to her capacity for joy and a new level of connection to who she is, often marked by a sexual experience.
There is a profound shift in mindset when we move from the masculine world of heroes, with their focus on the external world, to people who find themselves needing to understand their interior world. They quest to answer questions like “Who am I?” and “What is my purpose in life?” and “Where do I have a place of belonging?” This is a way more interesting a story than being perpetually and increasingly wounded. This protagonist is becoming conscious of her places of disconnection and willing to do what it takes to reconnect.
Victims play radically different roles in Hero as compared to Virgin stories. In hero stories, the damage to the Victim’s person and soul rallies the masculine to rise up, overcome fear, and right a wrong by fighting the good fight. The problem for the victim is that the wound must be sustained to keep the heroes motivated. These victims don’t grow, which makes them lousy protagonists.
In a Virgin story, it is all about growth. Our behaviour is driven by the messages we carry about our value and our values. This story keeps awakening us to who we are, and who we want to be, by caring about the meaning behind the events of our life.
I was siting in the theatre watching 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. It was an interesting who-done-it story (hero story). Then suddenly the story switched to the internal world of the sheriff. Compelled to see the meaning in life because he was facing a terminal disease he entered a world driven by love in the broadest sense – a desire to make connection. Suddenly all the victims in the story started to grow in a chain reaction from his inspiration.
I sat up in my seat. This was such a profound and sudden shift from one world to another. The writers were challenging us to keep up. The characters stopped driving themselves to find out who-done-it or get ahead in their careers. Instead they let love guide their actions. They took action that was meaningful, they healed their relationships with people they felt disconnected from, they forgave themselves and looked for what was good and meaningful in the moment they were in.
I heard several people say this was an unrealistic change. Maybe it is for this world. But it wouldn’t be unrealistic in the world Diana and the Black Panther came from. Just kidding – I know these aren’t real worlds. I suggest they are imagined because we know it is part of our human capacity to live in two worlds; one driven by fear and one driven by love – we are just really unfamiliar with what a world driven by love would realistically look like. This is what the new protagonist is here to show us. The journey from Victim to Virgin.