About Good Girl & Strong Man: Questioning Gender Expectations in Myth

This project started as an offshoot of my Unveiling Aphrodite project: as I explored my own experience in romantic love, and psychological theory discussing a woman’s approach to and expectations in romantic love, I discovered an archetype that I named the “Good Girl.” She is based on the traditional fairytale princess, as seen in the Disney versions: renowned for her beauty, sweetness and not much else. She sleeps, dies, or literally gives up her voice in order to attain and retain romantic love (see The Little Mermaid , Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, or Sleeping Beauty).

While my thesis for Unveiling Aphrodite focused primarily on the Good Girl’s role in romantic love and intimate relationship, the Good Girl & Strong Man project expands in scope: here, I will be looking at women’s and men’s portrayal in myths, fairy tales, and contemporary media and how they contribute to gendered expectations. Too often, women in myths and media are portrayed as being one thing: nice, sweet, and good versus evil, whore, and bitch. Men are required to be tough, distant islands; surrender to an emotion, and he’s “a woman.”

Through examining myths and fairy tales, some popular and some lesser known, I will discuss the authentic complexity of women and how one might discover her own authenticity through embodied practice. I will also explore writings from the mythopoetic men’s movement, a social movement that questions traditional definitions of masculinity as portrayed through myths and fairy tales.

This project is linked to the workshop Beyond the Good Girl: Discovering Authentic Voice, a writing workshop available for hosting with different age groups.

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