Portraying Villains in Matriarchal Storytelling 

In a Patriarchal Storytelling style, good and evil are easy to spot. The good guys are nice, often to the point of being brainless, and the bad guys are the brilliant, but flawed visionaries whose grand plans proved they are smart to the point of being heartless.Villains want to take over the world as they laugh manically at all the trouble they cause others. They are all future-focussed. They have goals in mind. They seek revenge for slights, too.

They have their scripts of how everything will play out and are convinced winning their game will show their superiority.

They are not nice people. They are filled with hate, jealousy, and rage.

As readers, we don't have to understand the bad guys to enjoy or comprehend the story. Villains are a plot device used to compare their rotten disposition to the piety and coolness of the hero. Once the hero defeats them, they have lost and have served their purpose until the next instalment where they rise again to seek vengeance against the hero.

The Matriarchal style differs in many ways: villains are bad, but they are not always rotten to the core. Sometimes they may be heroes to one group of people, but at the expense of another group who rightly see their villainous side.

As a journalist, I saw the dynamic too many times to count. One group cheered their hero who made them prosper at the expense of making another group destitute. There was always an excuse, "They had it coming."

When I pointed out that many of those people did not have it coming, particularly children, it did not matter. The hero's group got the spoils because they thought they deserved it.

Some villains I have encountered in my own personal journeys saw themselves as *victims* to the point of excessive self-pity. Everyone owed them something, even the monks in Tibet.

Some villains thought they were heroes because they did nice things for people. What they did was enable crooks and exploiters at the expense of kind and competent people, securing employment for do-nothing fake friends, while qualified people who could keep the company viable were shut out.

Other villains thought they were martyrs: they stayed in bad relationships even as the exit door was completely unblocked. They thought they were sexual social workers, trying to help a manipulator and thug, going so far as to reproduce with the person and dooming innocent children to a miserable life with a skewed life theory.

None of those people would have thought they were villains. They would have howled at the accusation.

Yet they were villains. They were absolute villains who messed up lives of innocent people with their every action, refusing to see their faults, objectively and honestly assess the consequences of their actions, or change their ways.

But they weren't heartless. They weren't devoid of feelings such as love, loyalty, or gratitude. For some, the problem was they had too much of those filters, but not filters of truth, confidence, or self-respect. They thought if they just coasted on benevolence, they could avoid that proverbial eternal stint in Hell, forgetting that is the precise way the road to Hell was paved.

If you enable bad behaviours, you are cultivating a garden of evil. You are the architect of misery.

In Matriarchal Storytelling, characters are nuanced. We can feel sympathy for villains. We can hope that they see the error of their ways and change for the better before they pay the price -- and then hope the punishment isn't worse than the crime.

We can view the villains less smugly with the Matriarchal style: we see where their faulty thinking will take them, and often there is only a single grain of difference separating the noble impulse from a villainous one. We can't just rest on memorizing rules, forgetting to balance our world views, or think that too much of a good thing can't lead us astray.

In the Patriarchal style, only the heroes get to learn, change, or grow. The villains are thrown in the discard pile when the hero breaks them into submission. In the Matriarchal style, the villains can also change and grow along with the hero. Not all, but there is redemption. Sometimes the villain will do it on his own, and sometimes we can have the unlikeliest of friendships as the villain and hero bond (think of the film Enemy Mine), and more interestingly, share insights and wisdom. There is no need for a pecking order. We can explore the concepts of forgiveness, rebirth, gratitude, bravery, friendship, learning, empathy, understanding, inclusion, morality, and restitution fully here.

As the villain comes to grips with the fact that he or she *was* a villain, a new world opens: we discover the roles are fluid entities and a truly remorseful villain has the chance to start again as he or she sheds the old designation. The climb may be difficult, but reaching a new place becomes a different sort of triumph.

We can root for the hero, but we can also root when a villain has the courage to become another hero. One hero becomes two and we have double the reasons to celebrate.

No one has to be stuck in a holding pattern, but that doesn't mean that every villain is willing to learn that lesson, yet the motives can still be explored so we understand the mindset of someone who made a wrong turn, destroying everything and everyone in the name of protecting them.

We can understand toxic thought patterns without *excusing* them. We see the theories of villains, and the hero's role is to show their faults. The villain may be logical and even present good arguments, but the hero is the scientist who tests those theories and show why they are harming everyone, including the villain.

A villain who grew up in poverty may take dark turns because of the trauma and shame of being stigmatized in their youth. We can understand why the villain has that fear, but when he uses the words of other villains to become one himself, the reader can understand the pain, but still hold the villain accountable for not breaking a dangerous cycle.

The author gains enormous freedom with the Matriarchal style: the storyteller can turn over the rules of conventional storytelling, to provide new insights and plot twists as they explore human interaction and why we do the enigmatic things that we do.