They both ended in 87…400 years apart.
And they’re both royal.
And their stories are about leading with justice and tolerance.
The link between Mary Stuart and the royal family of Eternia may take imagination to see. But in the new film with Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie, I felt there is an interpretation, if not an intention, to use this historic story to speak to us in our time, just as He-Man and She-Ra were, I believe, meant to have greater morals than the ones spelt out at the end of each episode.
I know this film has now left most cinemas, but I took the time to see it twice and to watch all the other available films/TV and do some reading before commenting, and my observations remain pertinent to our times.
I liked the lack of polarity which I observed in some other stories about Elizabeth and Mary.
It seems to me that these women say: if we’d trusted our hearts, and each other, might all this not have happened? If we’d not let our advisors poison us – several of whom wanted the throne for themselves, or to steer its occupier…if we’d let our draw as women, as sisters guide us…
This is not an anti-men story, but I think it is anti the traditional male rule. Elizabeth felt that society only offered her the choice of wife and mother. To reign, she must cast off her gender, or the limitations of it. Even today, women expect to lead but also be defined by our status usually in relation to a man, and by the children we bear.
The 16th century courts were aberrations of what ought to be. Even the most intimate relationship had become a commodity, a business transaction, nothing to do with love and companionship, but forming an allegiance and keeping bloodlines pure and heirs unambiguous.
What a dreadful way to live – for women and men.
Many of us are feeling that it’s time to do differently. We feel that feeling is a good thing, not something to be suppressed or ignored. In another new film, On The Basis of Sex, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is told she can’t be a lawyer because women are too emotional. What’s wrong with caring? Doesn’t that make better lawyers, politicians, and any role I can think of?
But Ruth wasn’t content, and changed the law, and history.
Mary and Elizabeth were told that a woman couldn’t reign alone. But as Saoirse as Mary says in the film, she’s done lots of things which her male advisors told her were impossible.
The old way – adopted by women as well as men – was all about fear. And so we watched our backs and plotted and tried to never reveal a weakness, which included caring. We tried to amass power through titles, land and wealth to make us unstoppable. We tricked and trapped and changed loyalties. We made laws which suited ourselves, making us immune but others culpable. We imposed our version of truth and made violent repercussions for those who disagreed.
We pretended that a strong ruler was one who never showed vulnerability, who had few manners and lots of arrogance; was quick to punish and didn’t do mercy, let alone ask for it. We preserved rank and kept those below on their knees.
We’ve too long cited Machiavelli as our political manual. Utopia is sometimes better, but still far from Eternia, and that’s the imaginary world I’d rather look to.
What if we took from She-Ra and He-Man? They forgive, they save even their enemies (is Skeletor an Earl of Moray?). They care about goodness, and about others. Their power is not used selfishly. And they’ll work together, and with other leaders, not to expand their boundaries and their gold reserves, but to fight injustice – never to harm or kill.
She-Ra, like Wonder Woman, has used her womanhood to recruit and turn wicked people to the side of right; like Xena, Warrior Princess, She-Ra needed turning herself – by her brother. Theirs is not a violent rebellion; it’s not about one set of ugly, inflated power overturning another and then behaving in much the same way.
I’ve often wondered: what would British history be if Mary and Elizabeth had been allowed to work together rather than against each other? Where would we be now? Not in terms of our current royal family, but the governance we have, which like the rest of the world, is all out of shape.
I think these stories invite us to put it back again.