Conforming to the warrior / wuss roles

As you can see, this terrible patriarchal myth is deliberately polarized because it’s designed to alienate. Therefore, this narrative depends upon stereotypes, extremes, literalness, and rigidity.  The warrior versus another (typified as weak, feminized, and foreign) permeates patriarchal hero myths.

Hercules & Hydra
Hercules & Hydra

The hero theme in myth has been a integral part of patriarchal societies for a very long time—possibly from the beginning. I believe hero myths are essential to patriarchies because it effectively assists in pushing a destructive agenda toward anyone who is not part of the upper echelon.

Further, within the history of mythology, heroes in myths became deliberately designated as “favored by the gods,” “semi-divine,” or “chosen by the gods.” This literal “entitlement” was designed to give mythic characters who conformed to patriarchal norms the aura of being lucky, fortunate, even holy. It is the ancient form of celebrity.

Hercules, pictured above, is a perfect example. He is a murderous character who excels in power struggles, and conquest. He’s actually quite despicable and doesn’t hesitate to do terrible crimes. However, then and now, he was held up as a hero, someone to emulate and widely praise.

Current sociological studies regarding men (such as the Development of the Conformity of Masculine Norms Inventory by James R. Mahalik et al) highlight both the warrior role and the conformity patriarchy demands for this role, They highlight the role because warrior attributes are the patriarchal gender  norms for males:

  • winning
  • emotional control
  • risk-taking
  • violence
  • dominance
  • sexual dilettante (a player)
  • self-reliance
  • primacy of work
  • power over women
  • disdain for homosexuals
  • and pursuit of status.

If these masculine norms sound like a recipe for our mythic hero-warrior role, that’s absolutely true! These are the cultural ingredients for a patriarchal hero. This role costs all of us a great deal.  As psychologist Aaron Kipniss declares,

“It is obvious that there are significant problems with the dominant model of masculinity as it is currently imagined. Many men report feeling alienated, remote from the world, disconnected from their families, and the community at large.”