The damsel in distress – part 2
Now I get to oversimplify some plots a little bit, and provide a broad stroke for you of what I am calling The Hero’s Progress. I am naming this after the famous Eighteenth Century works, The Pilgrim’s Progress, the Harlot’s Progress, and the Rake’s Progress. I lack the artistic skills to make images for you to match them, however. Maybe one of you can do so.
- Something precious is taken (our Damsel, perhaps)
- Show up to save it, and find out you are outclassed by the Villain or situation
- Find a teacher or Master to train and lead you
- Journey around and train up against increasingly difficult situations
- The Master is lost or dies
- The Hero surpasses the master, kicks butt, and saves the day
So that’s my take on parts that we seem to see a lot in the Hero’s progression, in leveling up, in game story telling, in super hero stories, in a lot of things. It’s certainly the sort of overall story we see with a Damsel in Distress.
Holly argued yesterday about how the Damsel in Distress is problematic because it seems to always be a weak woman and strong man having to save her. From a feminist standpoint, this is absolutely the case. You have a female character who, in the story outline I have here in the Hero’s Progress, shows up basically towards the beginning and then right towards the end.
I am going to take a storytelling approach to the problems here, however. In terms of motivation, we have several problematic aspects to this Hero’s Progress, and ways that they do not match reality – meaning that this story progression ends up making us feel like this is how things should be, without them actually being this way. Like Holly said, if a woman sits around waiting to be rescued, or a man feels he is worthless if he is not the one making more money, we have a problem. And it doesn’t match the reality in front of you then.
So, I am going to mainly deal with the first two aspects of the Hero’s Progress, because that is where there is overlap the most with Holly’s argument – and, as you see from my points, it makes the later stuff kind of moot. Continue reading