So often in female-centric stories, it all about competition: for a male, a title, popularity, or a job. So much jealousy pettiness stems from the idea the heroine the Lone Princess who is the superlative in the land. Her friends must all be second bananas to her, and if they are not all mindlessly cheering her on, then they are crazy, evil, and jealous villains out to get Princess Perfect.
Mary Sues dominate so much of female-centric tales for the mere fact these are told in a Patriarchal style that always deals with One rather than the Infinite. We can only have one hero, one true love, and one paper crown. The One who gets all the Ones is the hero. The end.
The Matriarchal is not limited. You can have stories with a supporting cast as vibrant as the protagonist. You can have multiple choices of a mate: all wonderful, but the one you pick to be with works well for you, but the ones who did not find happiness with someone who loves them just as much as the protagonist’s love adores them. There is no Queen Bee around because everyone can shine in their own way, and branch into other titles.
We can have multiple characters excel at the same thing, but get together to inspire one another, creating new schools of thought, new industries, new eras, and new innovations. It is cooperation over competition. If resources are limited, then we get together to find out why and tackle the problem until we find plenty. Sometimes it requires a single leader for a spell, but there is enough to go around as all of us focus on tomorrow.
We can examine ideas of greed, hoarding, hogging, bullying, leeching, sabotaging, and the drive to control others and everything else in Matriarchal stories. It is not as if we cannot challenge those who leech off the essence and resources of others, but the Matriarchal allows us to see the breakdowns by comparing different people, places, groups, and times.
Yet we can also focus on the positive. We can construct tales with tension, conflicting goals, and obstacles without painting detractors as villains. Antagonists and protagonists may be equally good and genuine people, but how they will resolve their differences and conflicts is the point of the story. We can root for them both equally. In fact, both can share the spotlight in the same story as two heroes on separate quests coming together.
For stories that inadvertently encourage insecurity by insisting there can be only the One, they can finally be challenged by the Infinite-centric ways of the Matriarchal. We can inspire young women not to feel threatened by competition. Barriers can be broken to build bigger spaces and find new paths. Collaboration brings new industries and schools of work. We don’t pine if someone does not turn out to be our One. We move on as we learn, build, grow, and evolved until the day we stumble upon another One.
It is not about being the best in the Matriarchal, but it is all about being our best in our endeavours as well connect to others and blossom.