Rehabilitating Snow White

1572.jpgIE Focus, September 2008 | By Celia de Anca, Professor of Diversity Management at IE Business School.

Our idea of a heroine has changed since the days when princesses waited in their towers to be rescued. Todayâ??s heroine is all action, a feminine version of a masculine hero. Therein lies the mistake.

The psychologist Carl Jung argued that by eliminating any element that wasnâ??t strictly rational, the western world transferred a series of stereotypes that were deep-rooted in our primitive collective conscious to our subconscious. Thus man´s relationship with nature, the supernatural or tribal functions became part of our subconscious world, resurfacing in the form of dreams, symbols or myths (1).

Enter the classic hero with a thousand and one faces, as described by Joseph Campbell. However, all heroes share certain features that changed very little since the existence of the subconscious was first acknowledged. Indiana Jones is perhaps one of our most widely known modern-day heroes and, like his forerunners, he demonstrates courage and determination in pursuing his ideals, even if those ideals are somewhat more tangible as a result of changing times.

The heroine, meanwhile, has undergone radical change. She is no longer the princess that waits impatiently to be rescued from her tower. She is an intrepid and independent adventurer who competes with the hero in terms of courage and strength. Although it must be said that it is still the hero who usually saves her from the cliff edge or from perishing in the fire. It seems that the 21st century heroine has become something of an imitation of the male hero, but perhaps a weaker version?

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