anonymous and the monomyth

I would venture to guess that Anon, who wrote so many poems without signing them, was often a woman. -Virginia Woolf

It’s called the Monomyth, also known as the Hero’s Journey. If you’ve seen Star Wars, you know what it is. George Lucas was a big follower of Joseph Campbell, who wrote Hero of a Thousand Faces to outline how this same story has repeated itself throughout history.

Homer’s lliadBeowulf, King Arthur and Luke Skywalker all are doing that thing. That’s a big swath of history for one basic story to cover.

We know this story. I breathe this story. I read the hero stories–fantasy like Lord of the Rings. And when I watch movies, I pick the comic book hero movies.

This is how I like to see my life. Conquering adversity, be it a dragon or a self-serving government, and rescuing myself and my people.

Those stories have something else in common. They all have male protagonists. Where are the women?

What is it about women? Why aren’t we as frequently in the hero’s role?

Dorothy? When she went to Oz? Her return to her home was as uneventful as it comes. In the sequels to the first book, she is even treated for being insane for her journey.

That’s not a great example.

Alice following the white rabbit to Wonderland? Her journey was equally uneventful, in the book she wakes up in her companions lap, with the whole journey dismissed as a dream.

Why are the storytellers finding it so hard to see a female in this role? I don’t have a problem picturing myself as Frodo, travelling against all odds.

How much does it matter?

I believe it does. Because when I walk through the door, my shape and gender declare themselves as NOT the one who solves the problem no matter what.

Other people will assume that I am meant for saying safely at home to care for family and children.

Because it’s the other people, the ones who I am NOT, that are the heroes and the problem solvers.

I’ve been racking my brain for weeks. I finally thought of one:

The nightmare world of The Hunger Games introduced us to Katniss, who is a hero(ine) to rival Achilles. In a horrible dystopia she fights, first for her sister and her special knowledge spreads to bring salvation to everyone.


Can you think of a female hero?

Woolf had a point. Anonymous has had a big impact on our world. I wish she would come out of the closet. We need her help now.