The Betrayal of the Feminine, or The Year the Lone Ranger Shot Me

Silently he pulls his gun from his holster, points it at me, and pulls the trigger. In shocked amazement I gape at him, uncomprehending. Then I grasp my stomach where I've been shot and think to myself, "Now I will die." In terror I begin to scream, waiting for the life to seep out of me. Surely I will fall over and die any second. But I don't. The Lone Ranger stands there, cool and detached, watching as I scream and wait for the death that never comes.

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The Betrayal of the Feminine, or The Year the Lone Ranger Shot Me

The Bridge to Wholeness:
A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth 

Chapter 4

WHEN I WAS TEN YEARS OLD, I had a dream I will never forget. It was one of those "big" dreams that has a powerful emotional impact on the dreamer and can be a prefiguration of the essential problems and direction of one's life.

I'm walking along the railroad tracks near the home we lived in when I was five. The tracks wind through the dark woods. I am alone. Suddenly I hear somebody come up behind me and call my name. I turn and see that it is Tonto.

"The Lone Ranger wants to see you," he says. "Come with me."

I'm thrilled. The Lone Ranger is my hero. When I grow up I want to be like him. Tonto is his faithful Indian guide and friend. The Lone Ranger trusts him with his life, and so do I.

I follow Tonto back along the tracks to where the Lone Ranger stands waiting. His magnificent horse, Silver, is grazing silently behind him. The Lone Ranger speaks to me. "Stand down there by the tracks," he says. So I walk down the embankment beside the railroad track and stand there with my back to it, waiting in excited anticipation to see what wonderful thing he will say or do.

Silently he pulls his gun from his holster, points it at me, and pulls the trigger. In shocked amazement I gape at him, uncomprehending. Then I grasp my stomach where I've been shot and think to myself, "Now I will die." In terror I begin to scream, waiting for the life to seep out of me. Surely I will fall over and die any second. But I don't. The Lone Ranger stands there, cool and detached, watching as I scream and wait for the death that never comes.

I woke up screaming with my heart pounding wildly. When I finally understood that it was a dream, I began to cry. My mother came to comfort me, but nothing helped. Even awake, I felt that I had been mortally wounded.

As indeed I had been. At the age of ten, I had suffered a betrayal by the most beloved symbol of goodness and justice that existed in

the society into which I had been born. It was a betrayal I did not understand at a conscious level but which nevertheless was to shape the next thirty years of my life. The wound I received was a mortal blow to a fundamental part of my personality: the innocent, delicate, confident, hopeful, feminine little girl child who had truly believed she was just as acceptable and equal as everyone else, who thought she had just as much chance to grow up to be like her hero as anyone else.

The Lone Ranger was a hero, all right. As a character in comic books and on television, he defended the poor, the weak, the powerless, the innocent. He rescued victims. He stood for everything that was right and good and brave. But the Lone Ranger would not be a role model for me, and I could never be like him. Girls were victims, not heroes. He had delivered the killing, silver-bullet blow that spoke for the entire patriarchal adult world he represented.

"This is what you get for daring to think you can be like me," this blow said. "I am a hero for boys who will grow up to be men and run the world. It's time you understood the difference. You aren't important, you're only a girl. The only way you will ever be accepted is to play by men's rules in a men's world. Maybe if you work hard, we'll let you win once in a while. Maybe if you're good, we'll take care of you. Maybe if you're lucky, you'll get to bask in the reflected glory of a powerful man. But that's the most you can ever hope for, so don't be a fool and think you're special. You'll never be special in your own right. You're only a girl."

Here's how I know now what that gunshot at the age of ten meant:

That was the year I began to develop breasts.

That was the year I realized that when my brother flexed his muscles my parents were impressed, but when I did the same they were embarrassed.

That was the year I stopped wrestling and racing with the neighborhood boys ... and winning.

That was the year a minister immersed me in a baptismal tank and assured me when I emerged that my soul was saved from uncleanliness and eternal damnation because I had submitted myself to the authority of the patriarchal church and the masculine trinity of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost.

That was the year I tore up the thirty-page novel I was writing because, when I realized how difficult a task it would be, I lost confidence in the ability of a mere girl to succeed at it.

That was the year that, in order to please my father, I agreed to be reasonable on my birthday and trade my passionate wish for a horse for the more practical and affordable riding lessons he promised me instead. I never got either one.

That was the year I gave up my plan of being a veterinarian and decided instead to be a nurse.

That was the year I learned about sex and decided I would be a good girl and a virgin so I would be respected and treated well by God and all the important, powerful people: the men.

That was the year I stopped trusting men.

That was the year I sold my soul for their approval.

That was the year I learned that if I conformed to the masculine image of femininity, that if I sought only the lily and shunned the rose, I could preserve my safety.

That was the year I betrayed my own divinely ordained destiny - my femininity. It would be approximately thirty years before I would begin to recover this, the greatest loss of all.


Dr. Jean Raffa is an author, speaker, and leader of workshops, dream groups, and study groups. She maintains a blog called "Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom." Her job history includes teacher, television producer, college professor, and instructor at the Disney Institute in Orlando and The Jung Center in Winter Park, FL. She is the author of three books, a workbook, a chapter in a college text, numerous articles in professional journals, and a series of meditations and short stories for Augsburg Fortress Publisher.

Her book The Bridge to Wholeness: A Feminine Alternative to the Hero Myth (LuraMedia, 1992) was nominated for the Benjamin Franklin Award for best psychology book of 1992.

Reviewed in several journals and featured on the reading lists of university courses, it was also picked by the Isabella catalogue as a must-read for seeking women. Dream Theatres of the Soul: Empowering the Feminine Through Jungian Dreamwork (Innisfree Press, Inc., 1994) has been used in dreamwork courses throughout the country and is included in Amazon.com’s list of the Top 100 Best Selling Dream Books, and TCM’s book list of Human Resources for Organizational Development.

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