Civic Imagination

A different kind of princess

Xena is the story about a female warrior in Greece, who used to be a conqueror great in battle. After losing her child and being close to death she decides that this is not what she wishes to do. As a form of redemption she travels around Greece fighting for the poor and doing everything she can to amend what she did when she was ‘evil’. Because she was extremely violent and known it was hard for the people to believe that she was there to cause any benefit at all, so she travels to help others and do good. She has a 'sidekick' named Gabrielle who accompanies her, and together they fight giants, warlords and gods in order to find justice. The series also uses greek mythology and history of Rome, so it plays with fictional, historical and mythical characters whose interests' guide the plot of each episode and overall story of the serie.

Ever since I was little I would wake up on Saturdays to watch Xena: The warrior princess. It was definitely not a children's series, and although it was quite violent and my mother disapproved, my family was never able to separate me from this character or what it meant to me. I do not remember the first time I saw an episode, but I cannot remember the time before it played part on my life.
I used to dress up like her, chant her call to battle, and would reproduce some of my favorite episodes with some changes that would make more sense to me. However, this idea of a strong woman who decided to recreate herself and serve for good really meant something to me and I suppose continues to build up on the person I want to be. One of the things that I loved about the show was that it mixed both historical figures with mythology and the TV characters. I did not realize it then, but it was a way for me to hear even more stories and to learn about different cultural branches. It was quite a popular show but I do not share my fandom with others because I find it very personal and sometimes I am afraid they will laugh at her (Xena) and in doing so, also of me.

This story has always resonated with me. Tthe fact that she had not always been good and had to carry the pain of what she had done was also meaningful, as there are many times when I feel that regret is the emotion I tend to dwell on whenever I miss my target, fail or dissapoint myself. But Xena had done terrible things (clearly I had not, but the empathy and feeling I could relate to) but had chosen to become someone different and worked towards that every day. Her relationship with Gabrielle also showed me what friendship meant to me and how I aspired to be as a friend. In many ways it helped me overcome my own fears and still helps do so, with the certainty that nothing (least of all my gender) can stand between who I want to be if I have the will and courage to pursue it.

I think this is definitely an inspirational story. The fact that she did bad things, or was embarrassed of who she was before but chose to change for herself and others shows a humanity that everyone could and maybe should relate to. I am not sure Xena has been used to mobilize people and achieve any social change, but I think that like any story, the social change that could be brought by this character is on how it affected all the individuals who watched the program. I think her story is relevant to female spectators as it empowers women to stand together and fight for themselves and good causes.


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