I’ve just watched ‘to the bone’. It’s a movie about eating disorders, and I really liked it. It was a realistic depiction of what it’s like to struggle with anorexia, and although some parts were hard to watch, it was not harder than what it must be like for those who live with the disorder everyday. The movie shows that sometimes you have to hit rock bottom before you can climb up again, and I think that rings true for many who seek help with their issues. ‘Ellie’ could not control her condition and came close to death. In other words, the movie was extreme. Many are able to change before they get that deep into water, but there are many ways to die. When we don’t live the life we long for, that’s death too. It’s losing minutes, days, years of our lives.
When anxiety keeps you in the house, when you stop trying, when you withdraw from the world, you starve your soul. Many of my patients live with this every day. They don’t feed themselves with love and compassion. They even blame themselves for not doing what they want, not seeing how hard it is.
Sometimes I think anxiety underlies most of the problems one can have. It drowns courage, it suffocated us. It deprives us of joy, and it covers up our real selves. It’s the opposite of moving towards something, it stifles us. But fear is not dangerous. It can’t really harm us if we remember that it will pass. We must remember how great it is to conquer fear. When you’ve hit rock bottom and climb up again, the view is even more spectacular.
So are you ready to look into your mirror? Look fear in the eye, truly face it? You are stronger than you think, and when you look beyond fear, there is beauty and life.
I met several new people through this blog. One of the wonderful people I`ve met, has already left us (the sound of crying across the universe). I`m saddened by this, but I still want to meet and keep contact with others I met through the blog (Elle, Ashana, rudy, Monty, Jede a, «Awax», Jen, David, Judy, Robert, (give up never), Sally May, Rosie (annarosemeeds), «Suzie» and many others). One of the people I really like and appreciate is Monty. We have emailed for a time, and I do feel I found a real friend I`ll probably try to keep contact with for a long time.
My thanks to Monty
I have known Monty for some time now, and have had the pleasure of reading some of his post. I already know the author as an intelligent and creative man. He applies his own thoughts on his psychological knowledge, and the result is an exciting new view of things. He has said I have inspired him in this post, and I hope it`s not the worst of the archetypes presented (I hope I`m the person in Breaking Bad).
I hope you like it as much as me.
My previous article was about male archetypes, while the article was a little vague with only one real example, it was an important part of what I am currently working on. If you had read the previous article, you would see I am trying to create a new scale to define both male and female archetypes. It is a work in progress so this is where the lack of detail comes from.
The reason why I decided to do this was because I had noticed a big shift (by my standards any way, for most people the difference may not even be noticeable) in the roles played by both males and females over the last few years. This scale was an attempt at creating a system that was more accurate at measuring these differences than the previous well documented archetypes.
In the last few years, the old archetypes have become tired cliches, the anti-hero and the femme fatale are all overdone. In recent years, thanks to postmodernism, these character traits have become a sort of mix and match in an attempt to create something original.
While the original categories still serve a purpose, and it’s not my intention to challenge these roles. Instead I have tried to create a new system, which makes it easier to see which areas have been overdone, and where something could be different.
This article isn’t so much about explaining my scale, its more about why I found the need to create a different scale to begin with. After a few years of doing this I have found that the more the creator tests these established roles (in a calculated way) the more likely their work is to succeed.
The scale is by no means complete, I am yet to find some more appropriate names for each of these new definitions. In my previous article I describe the male scale, which is almost identical to the female scale
The only difference being that instead of the “father ” scale I would use the “mother” scale. These are more maternal traits or characteristics that are commonly seen in people that are parents, there is no need for the character to actually be a parent. The term fatherly/motherly figure would be the best way of explaining this.
One thing that I have found really interesting while doing this, is using another method which I will explain in detail in a future post, I have been measuring what could be considered female traits in male characters, and vice-versa.
The idea for doing this came about when I started to realize that most male writers struggled to create female roles that didn’t fit in to a set criteria. This isn’t something that I just came up with, there is a a lot of already created information that supports this belief and the reasons behind it.
It seems that there is a simple connection when people write, that certain characteristics can be attributed to males, and other attributes we consider them to be effeminate and therefore attribute them to women. This phenomena relates a lot to my overall research which is the relation of feeling and thoughts.
If I was to describe to you certain personality traits without telling you the gender of this person, you imagination would most likely (not always) either imagine a male or a female based on the traits that I describe.
It seems that we will automatically associate these traits to the different genders accordingly, but in recent years as I have been explaining above there is a need to challenge this perception.
This has actually become a sigh of relief for me, I was growing tired of the lack of female roles that challenged this perception. I believe this problem is not so much attributed to society as it can be attribute to how our mind process information and this infamous relation between thoughts and feelings that I keep on going on about.
This subject of female roles is becoming increasingly popular, as a whole the roles of women in society are being questioned and reconsidered. Every day I read articles about how companies and governments are changing the rules to allow women equal representation, so it stands to reason that this effect will also be noticeable in the media.
Now getting to the subject of my article I am going to draw some attention to some interesting examples of female roles I have seen recently.
This film was quite good, and it is reflected in the very high ratings this film is receiving across the board. It’s actually very uncommon for a film to receive a high rating on both Rotten tomatoes and IMDB but it seems that this film did accomplish that.
Generally speaking films that are popular on Rotten tomatoes are films that challenges our perception on just about anything, they may not be masterpieces in a traditional sense, but the defy current standards in some way.
This film seems to be able to accomplish this will being a film aimed at general audiences. In a way I would consider this film to be a great showcase for the scale I use, it’s quite accurate.
If you haven’t seen this film, its best that you don’t read any further as there is a few spoilers in here. If you have already seen it, that is great because you will know exactly what I am talking about.
The first thing I found really interesting was Jake Gylenhaal’s character, Detective Loki. If you did read my previous article about male archetypes you will see that I talked about the character trait that I had nick named “Lucifer” or “God disgruntled son” (again I am working on the names).
What I found interestingly is that in Norse mythology the god Loki which this character is named after would be the equivalent of Lucifer in the christian mythology. But given he isn’t all bad, he would also equally fit under the other end of the spectrum.
A sometimes faithful character to god, and sometimes an opposing force, a sort of love-hate relationship. This is why this character was so interesting to me because he really is a more accurate representation of what this side of the spectrum equates to.
The character is disgruntled in his own way, but faithful and does his job regardless. While I used the character Trevor from the video game series GTA V, this was only an example of the pure negative characteristics, while this character embodies film the positive attributes.
This continued throughout the film, especially with the male father roles, and also the son of Hugh Jackman’s character which was a great representation of the character traits of “God redeeming son” or the “Jesus” spectrum as I call it.
The characters where combinations of multiple traits that using a traditional scale would be quite hard to measure. But using my scale they become they are perfect examples of the emotional spectrums on the scale I developed.
I think for clarification that I should explain once again that the use of the term “God” is not a representation of a supernatural higher being, rather that “God” on my scale is the lead role, which can be either male or female. The characters around the lead role or “God”) then serve as a point of comparison.
Getting back to the film, what caught my attention the most, was the role of the aunt of the accused, Holly Jones played by Melissa Leo. She appears to be your average female supporting role; maternal, caring, and the kind of supporting female role you have come to see in countless films before.
What grab my attention as nothing could have been further from the truth, this role was anything but average. The person who was responsible for kidnapping and killing children was in fact this humble character. She was a true psychopath that even I didn’t see coming until the very end.
Her motives where simple yet equally chilling, she did it to challenge the faith of the parents of the children that she kidnapped. She enjoyed destroying the faith and their belief in God (this film had a lot of religious undertones) and that was her soul motive for doing this.
While this would be a negative representation of a female character, it shows that not only positive positive representations of females are needed. Showing women as evil, and allowing them to be bad role models (while also being able to be maternal) is just as important in destroying the already well established representations.
While it stands to reason that this character was a psychopath, and her motives where nothing more than despicable, the fact that it was so uncommon is what I believe makes this film so popular on original. It suggests that there is a lot of willingness from the viewer (or spectator) to see a change in the roles we have gotten used to seeing in your average Hollywood film.
As an interesting side note the director did part of his studies in a scientific field, I wonder if his experiences in scientific procedures are what gave him the perfect skill set to do this film. He challenged the existing perception in an incremental way.
Putting this aside, the acting in this film was great, the male roles were also exceptional and overall this was a really captivating film putting a lot of not so done ideas forward. This is the only problem with postmodernism, while we have probably seen this before, its about finding what hasn’t been done enough and what is most accurate of our current society.
Some other creations that have really stood out recently, are mostly in television, some of them I have covered already but I will revisit them here.
Skyler White from the show Breaking Bad.
This character had really caught my attention over the last few years. It seems to be a common thing with AMC shows that the leading females are never very liked (Lori from the walking dead and Mad Men in general). Some feminist even say that the hatred of Skyler white amounts to modern day misogyny.
This character is very interesting because it proves that there is actually a positive to the very entrenched roles that females usually server, even if most people don’t actively realize it.
While it is widely considered a very tired cliche that men protect the women they love, very little thought is given to the idea that women also protect the men they love. It is Skyler Whites questioning of Walts actions that makes her a very important female role.
Skyler does both, and well. On one hand at times she is seen validating Walts role as a male, which is interesting that even the most sociopathic behavior by a male can be pardoned or justified provided it is validated by a female (especially if she loves him).
But at the same time she has her own perception on his actions, most of the time she doesn’t agree with them. This disagreement is important and a subject that deserves more attention than it receives, Because this is how women protect men. There is something special about the perceived “bitch”-like character traits as describe in male circles.
These characteristics need to be embraced a little more, while Skyler was allowed to be both supportive and opposing of her husbands behavior, which was positive in its own way. The times when she was in opposition, if Walt had of listened, he probably would have survived the show (regardless of the fact he probably would have died from cancer).
I felt that Skyler White was such a good character because in a lot of ways she was independent, and not subject to the kind of thinking that states men can do anything while women have to be the reserved ones. With that said she still fulfilled her role as the reserved one, and demonstrated the positive characteristics of her very female characteristic, her intuition.
Tara Knowles from Sons of Anarchy.
I am probably going to get a lot of mixed opinions about relating anything to do with the show Sons of Anarchy and female archetypes. The truth is that the show is a very male orientated production that is incredibly sexist, there is no point trying to hide that fact.
But in this extreme form of sexism, it actually creates a rare opportunity for a female role to challenge the boundaries. In the show Tara is an educed Doctor, who is able to commit crimes and use violence to her favor, she both validates and opposes her husband delinquent behavior.
She is at times a strong mother, and at other times she boarders on the insane and insecure. Her role isn’t anything to revolutionary, but at the same time there are aspects that really challenge existing perceptions of female roles. Her moral conflicts have become increasingly interesting in the last two seasons.
As a side comment, it interesting that Charlie Hannam who plays Tara Knowles husband in the show was cast to play Christian Gray in the 50 shades of gray film adaption. He eventually pulled out as he became increasingly worried by the attention he was getting from female fans of the book.
It’s just ironic, he acts like such a tough guy that is scared of nothing in the show, but it turns out he is scared of one thing, the female fans of 50 shades of gray.
American Horror Story: Coven.
The american Horror story series are rapidly becoming one of my favorite shows to watch. Especially the most recent female centered series. It has created an opportunity to challenge a lot of perceptions, while proving that challenging these perceptions creates very intriguing and interesting story line.
Their is no male lead in this series, and the cast is predominantly women, who are essentially witches and the out casts of society. I could probably write an entire article about this series alone and what makes it so important. It’s probably best that you just watch it, and enjoy the horror format translated in to a television series.
Under the Dome.
The plot line of this show is best described as Steven King. It follows a familiar format that you see in a lot of his productions, however the TV production is really well made. The reason why I am drawing attention to this is the female roles, they are actually a little more realistic and fresh when compared to other TV shows.
The lesbian couple who are parents of one of the other female characters was realistic for a change, and not serialized, its something that you don’t see often. A lot of the major roles are played by other women, and the show in a way focuses on the relationships between men and women.
Again this show isn’t to revolutionary, however its a step in a right direction. I am enjoying seeing more and more shows that put female acting talent over looks and go in the opposite direction of objectification, something that is becoming more and more common.
To finish this off, I wanted to talk about a new rating system that has been launched in Sweden recently. This rating system is called the Bechdel rating system, and it rates a film according to 3 guidelines which attempt to distinguish a more feminist films from other not-so feminist films.
The 3 guidelines are:
- There must be at least two women with names in the film.
- At least two women must talk to each other at some point.
- The women must talk to each other about something other than a man.
The problem with this system, the guidelines really don’t add anything to the idea of furthering women roles in films, they cover concepts that could easily be manipulated, and while I feel the idea is a step forward, the implementation of the system is a bit of a fail from the get go.
Using a great example is a film that apparently fails by the this standard, this is the Harry Potter series. The author, who is known for being a feminist, wanted to create a female role (Hermione) that really challenged these previous standards that had been set by male writers over the last few centuries.
She did this quite well in my opinion, Hermonie didn’t end up with the “Hero” of the story, she was intelligent and often as heroic as her male counterpart. She wasn’t there to validate the male lead, rather she was her own person and respected for her own accomplishments.
However on the scale put forward by the Swedes this series fails and gets a really low rating. Which is why I feel the scale has little perspective on the problem as a whole. These challenges to the perceived norm happen in small increments.
Each one of these films needs to be assessed individually, and compared to other films to see if it is legitimately is a step forward. I believe that it becomes hard for male writers who want to challenge these perceptions, as the truth is only women can put forward the idea of how they wish to be defined.
In order for this to happen we need more and more women creators which is slowly happening.
But I would like to see more work put in to this rating system, the idea of my scale is to help create a more logical and systematic approach to doing this, a more scientific method of measuring these differences and assessing what needs the most work.
I will be writing more on this subject when ever I see any stops forward, and highlighting them on this blog.
I would really appreciate comments from my readers (especially the female readers) of roles that you have seen in the past few years that challenge the norm, and represent women in the way you wish to be represented. This would be a great help in making this scale more accurate
In “TV shows”
The origin of names.
- Female archetypes (Archetypes part 2) (syntheticorder.wordpress.com)
- Male archetypes (archetypes part 1). (syntheticorder.wordpress.com)
- Evoking the archetypes of Carl Jung (patricktay.wordpress.com)
- Archetypes Development (bhillustration.wordpress.com)
- Inspiration: Women…. feminine vs feminist (linaway.com)
- Sex and Gender (spiritualfriendship.org)
- Psychology in Writing: The Collective Unconscious – Writing Process (wtjowett.wordpress.com)
After reading this post about the movie “Dangerous Minds” I will without doubt see the movie one more time. When I saw it the first time, I probably did not understand the implications and importance of it, and I did not even know it was based on a true stories. I have been very interested in true, inspirational stories the last two years, since it gives me so much energy to read them. Maybe that is the way I survive as a psychologist, hearing tough stories all the time? Somehow, I need to counteract it with good, to feel more balanced inside.