We have all heard the children’s rhyme “girls go to college to get more knowledge. boys go to Jupiter to get more stupider” and vice versa.
When hearing the term feminine, my mind thinks of Athena – the Greek goddess of wisdom and strategic war – and Aphrodite – the goddess of love and beauty. Athena stands for feminism and Aphrodite is feminine. When hearing the term masculine, my mind wanders to Zeus – the god of gods – and Ares – the god of war.
Athena is a more independent goddess. She was born out of Zeus’s head shouting and holding her spear. Virgin goddess – goddesses are not dependent on men – are self-motivated, self-directed and focused. Athena is one of the three (Artemis and Hestia being the other two) and she is very goal-oriented. She tends towards independence and autonomy rather than a partnership-orientated marriage. Though she is independent, Athena is very much compassionate and active against suffering and injustice. Her archetype psychologically is essentially youthful and ideally committed to a higher purpose.
Athenian archetype women can be primarily seen in the feminists of the 1970s. They are independent and tend to reject marriage or dependence in general. Athena’s gift to the world, which is seen by these feminists, is empowerment. She gives women the power contribute to the political, creative and intellectual life of the world. This elevates the integrity and quality of civilization by surfacing the feminine traits that have long been suppressed by the patriarchal dominance.
In another sense, the Athena archetype can be seen through the modern Disney princesses, preferably Tiana (The Princess and the Frog) and Merida (Brave). They are independent, hard-working, focused on their goals and find they don’t need a man. Now, for those of you who have seen The Princess and the Frog, yes Tiana does find love in the end but in the start of the film she is seen as she does not need marriage to a man to escalate her dreams plus she remains independent throughout.
Aphrodite is older than Time itself. She represents the beauty of creation and the destruction of it, desire in terms of love and obsession, creativity and fertility. She was born out of the foam of the ocean waves as a gorgeous full-grown woman, approaching land on a shell. Her own beauty is one of absolute perfection. She holds aspects from both the virgin goddesses and the “vulnerable” goddesses (Demeter, Perspephone, Hera) – goddesses who have suffered from a man’s unwanted passion for them. Aphrodite is independent (for the most part) but this independence does not preclude emotional involvement with others.
Aphrodite women express warmth, charm and empathy due to their friendly extroverted interest in other people. Social activities and having a social life are important to these types of women. They tend to be hopeless romantics and desire relationships with heart rather than logic. As a young girl and adolescent, they are girly-girls and charming. They hope to be the center of attention, love playing dress-up, and have very busy calendars filled with social events.
These type of women remind of Victorian-era women. They used layers and corsets and all these types of clothing to make themselves look like the “ideal woman” with a small waist, perfect hair and pretty eyes. They busied themselves with social events and played matchmaker for their daughters so they can marry powerful rich men and live lavish lifestyles. Though fictional, Elizabeth Bennet (Pride & Prejudice) reminds me a bit of Aphrodite in terms of charm and independence but with an emotional relationship to Mr. Darcy.
In terms of Disney princesses, the latter of them such as Ariel (The Little Mermaid) and Rapunzel (Tangled) have more Aphrodite qualities. Ariel is independent but still needs a man to get what she wants and that is to be human. She is a hopeless romantic after she meets Prince Eric. Rapunzel holds the girly-girl qualities and also uses a man to get what she wants (to see the lanterns). Her independence towards outsiders is clearly shown by her use of a frying pan. They are both beautiful and creative. They have a compassionate nature to their character and love the idea of love.
Zeus is the God of Greek Gods. He saved his brothers and sisters they were eaten by their father Kronos. He is associated with his multiple affairs and the lightening bolt.
Zeus’s appearance was strong and imposing. He has crazy muscles and often time, long curly hair. His personality is very much carefree and he lived, in our modern terms, a YOLO life. He was just, merciful and had perfect knowledge. However, he was unpredictable with the decisions he made.
Zeus is the image men want to be. Again, Zeus is strong and knowledgable. He asserts his dominance everywhere but in a justly manner. Masculinity is more than just how strong a man is but also how merciful and smart he is.
Ares is not respected by the Olympian gods for his attitude and actions. He is unpredictable, brutal and seen as a primitive savage. He has a quick temper and did things before thinking things through. He is also seen as the symbol of destruction.
However, when Ares and Aphrodite join, they create this union to form Eros, or attraction. Not just a sexual attraction but all kinds: attraction to faith, love, a subject, etc. Without Aphrodite, Ares causes destruction. Without a woman, man cannot progress. Likewise, without Ares, Aphrodite causes destruction. Or, to make matters worse, when both are in destructive moods, expect an explosion or two.