Writing for a Post-progressive Era

In a world that lives in the past while technology has brought the future to the present, times have changed. The United States and Germany, for instance, are two powerful nations who have not had a white privileged male in charge for years. We still have -isms galore, but laws have changed as have perceptions of what is acceptable behaviour.Once upon a time, a celebrity outing herself would have ended her career. These days, her wedding gets on the cover of mainstream magazines with the same treacle fawning her heterosexual counterpart would receive, yet it is still real danger for a mundane person to be a victim of a hate crime.

Ceilings and barriers have broken as the world intermingles and interconnects.

We are no longer a Progressive society, but a Post-Progressive one.

It is still not complete in many regards, yet the shift has been real, making the old ways glare in comparison. However, if progressives honestly thought all it took was entrenching equality for all and everything would work out for itself for the best, they were sadly mistaken.

Once upon a time, progressives were the fringe, but now, they are the Establishment, changing the dynamics of the world radically with many unforeseen consequences.

As grains shift, they can also clash and everyone has a tale of woe. The United States is defined by its complicated history between European and African Americans, but these days, we must also consider the status of women, other races, religions, sexual orientation and indenting, the homeless, disabled, and a whole slew of other groups who have been oppressed.

Everyone has a voice and a story to tell, yet we forget that often, while we may be the hero in our own story or even the victim, we may be the villain in someone else's story.

The White Male is often the symbol of someone who is never victimized, yet modern terrorists have captured, imprisoned, tortured, and then publicly slaughtered that group with hatred and ease. September 11 was a direct attack on that group. There is no doubt or question that there is not a group in existence that hasn't been a victim, hero, and villain at one point of their history, often being all three at once.

Yet many groups deny their darker moments, beliefs, and cultural practices. A Post-War Germany was one of the few groups who owned up to their villainy. The question is why are people, as individuals and collectives, blind to their more disturbing acts against others?

Patriarchal Storytelling is a hunter's structure of focus where a single narrative and point of view dominates. It can fuel delusions and fantasies if left unchecked, and it allows for questionable behaviour to be reinterpreted as noble.

The Patriarchal can suffer from a logical flaw called the Confirmation Bias: we are given only the facts that confirm the hero theory of the protagonist while spinning evidence that points to villainy. It can also encourage readers to Appeal to Authority: if the narrator or protagonist says this character is a hero, then it is accepted as an absolute truism.

In a world that is seeing rapid transformation and transmutation, the Patriarchal can come up short. We do not have characters who are complex enough to be seen truthfully: we either deify or demonize characters without considering people can be faceted. We do not know how to see people as they are: we deny the bad completely or begin to make excuses as we justify it. We can also deny someone who has wronged us may have made real contributions and does have humanity. We think it is all or none: we can either cheer someone as we ignore their wickedness or destroy someone's good deeds just because they stooped to bad ones.

The Patriarchal does a great disservice with it single focus in times such as these, but with the Matriarchal, we can expand the focus to see interactions over time and space to make a more accurate assessment of characters. No longer is a Manichean dichotomy accepted at face value: now we can take a step back and see how the whole shifts by examining the sum of its parts.

We can see the progression when characters are blind to what they do to others, and how generations are shaped over time. We can begin to ask the hard questions as no group is ignored or given a free pass. 

When I began A Dangerous Woman, this aspect of storytelling excited me greatly and I could finally explore interconnectedness in a real way. For example, there is one international cabal called La Nuit du bas that makes trouble in several series, from The World's Most Dangerous Woman to I Am Jane Doe to The Doyenne Assassin to Chaser, and have made appearances in both Danni's Wall and Miss Holly Lake. It is an evil organization that targets the city-state of Queen's Heights and it is easy to see why citizens are extremely distrustful of the group.

However, through the stories, we learn that not everyone in the group is evil: some were tricked into joining, while others were forced. Miss Magnus Lyme's job is to help those who wish to escape membership get out: and her epiphany came when she infiltrated the group thinking they were all alike before meeting someone who proved her own theory wrong.

But Miss Lyme had the sensitivity and good sense to see the truth and reflect on its significance from that moment on.

Her mission changed from destroying to creating an alternative. She proves that fear is the prison that ceases to exist the moment we embrace both love and truth. She gets to know people around her as she stands up to tyranny, and it is this method that helps countless people atone for their mistakes as they learn to live a better way. Yes, she stands up to the bad guys and puts them in their place, but she also does her best to ensure they have a way to get out should they cease to push away their emotions and embrace their humanity once again.

The Matriarchal is a storytelling structure that is in tune with the changing times: we can ride the wavelengths of others as we also ride the waves of progress. It is not about reimagining yourself as being infallible; it is about owning up to both your flaws and your triumphs as you learn to deal and atone with the former as you hone the latter to put them to good use.