Have you ever seen the movie, Chocolat with Juliette Binoche, Dame Judy Dench, and Johnny Depp? It’s one of my favorites!
And not just because it features some of the most decadent ways to indulge in chocolate!
I rewatched the movie this weekend as part of a day long workshop entitled Beyond Patriarchy. Yep, we watched a movie about chocolate as a narrative to imagine our way out of the loop of relation between the Oppressor and the Oppressed. How awesome is that?
If you’ve not seen the movie, the basic run down is this:
The Wild Feminine (Binoche) comes to a town “whose people believed in tranquilite…tranquility” just in time for Lent, bringing her decadence, pleasure, and chocolate! The Mayor of the town, played by Alfred Molina, is particularly invested in keeping order. He does so through a number of different avenues of Oppression.
- He manipulates fear and presents himself as the keeper and savior to the town
- He watches, tests, and supervises (that’s the first scene in fact!)
- He’s the epitome of denying sensations and feelings!
The leaders of the workshop asked us to identify the Archetypes in The Oppressor within the movie, as well as the Archetypes of The Oppressed. It was pretty easy to do, the movie is quite straightfoward in portraying the Mayor as the Oppressor. And if the Oppressor is easy to recognize, that means characters of the Oppressed are also quite clearly depicted.
In Starhawk’s Architecture of Patriarchy, she identifies five Archetypes of the Patriarchy: The Judge, The Conquerer, The Orderer, The Master, and The Censor. By turns Alfred Molina’s character (and other characters in the town, to a lesser extent) hit on each category perfectly.
This movie would have been dreadfully wretched though, if the Mayor didn’t also show us in bits and pieces (and then in one glorious scene in the end) evidence that he too possessed characteristics of the oppressed: obsessed with good, bad, right, and wrong; seek to be superior; see enemies in anyone who is different; obsessed with control and possessed by concern for appearances.
Which character in Chocolat did I most identify with?
Why, Juliette Binoche’s Wild Feminine, of course! She’s the perfect antidote to the system of Patriarchy, shaking things up by refusing compliance and questioning authority! By reclaiming her and her daughter’s inherent worth. Building alliances across differences and experiencing the richness of humanity, evoking Life’s Mystery by affirming our wild, funny, ecstatic energies. Serving no masters…
She’s a well rounded character too. And so we see that she does actually serve the Master of her Mother’s Spirit – or the Inner Critic that tells her to leave when it gets too hard.
We also see her play The Oppressor role as she forces her daughter to pack up to leave the town in the middle of the night.
Do I see these traits in myself as well? Yep, sure do.
One of the biggest reasons I’m passionate about Dreamwork is that we have the chance to see ourselves in every single character and situation that shows up in our Dreams.
If Chocolat were my Dream, of course I would identify easily with Vianne (Binoche).
And having the courage to be willing to look at myself as the Mayor is the best way I know how to bring my Shadow Self – the parts I feel shame or regret about – into the open so I can integrate them into my Whole Self.
When I allow those Shadow Parts a recognized place in my Self, I can love them and accept them just as fiercely and compassionately as I do my more celebrated parts. These are the advanced lessons in Self Love: Refusing to deny or denigrate any aspect of my Whole Self.
I’m convinced this is the path out of the Patriarchal Loop.
This is how we Imagine a better world…together.
When I no longer play out the relationship between The Oppressor and The Oppressed in my Internal World, I no longer feel called to slip into those roles in my External World.
What happens when I release myself from the burden of determining good, bad, right, wrong and can instead reclaim the inherent value of each person, the earth, and its creatures?
What happens when I let go of an obsession with safety and protection and instead establish true security by building alliances across differences?
What happens when I restore trust in my body, my intuition, and my True Self again and evoke Life’s Mysteries by affirming the wild, unknowable, and creative life energies?
What happens when I break the silence, tell my story, own my feelings, celebrate my experience, and remain curious and open to listening to others?
I intend to find out.