Athena: Father’s Daughter/Backstabber


The Father s Daughter and the Backstabber

As mysterious as an owl in the dark night air, the goddess Athena hovers proudly over the great library and the victorious battlefield. She will not dirty her hands in battle but will remain at the side of her chosen heroic soldier, helping him to win the war.  She offers him strength, power and knowledge as well as her undying loyalty.  She carries a shield of armou in one hand and an image of the goddess Nike in the other for Nike is the symbol of victory.  Born from her father’s head, she has no mother and no room for female companions of any kind.  She is smart and takes full control of her emotions.The Father’s Daughter

The Father’s Daughter doesn’t care much for fighting the good fight for women’s causes like the Amazon does. She may argue against the female cause, siding with men to prove she’s on their side thereby gaining their admiration.  She feels she is the exceptional woman – “Other women can’t do this,” she thinks, “but I can because I’m the exception.”

She forms alliances with strong men who can help her achieve her goals. She doesn’t sleep with them but instead develops friendships with them as “one of the boys”.  She’s the type of woman who is eagerly allowed into the male workplace for she is always loyal to the strong men she unites with in the battlefield of business.

She is smart and a very strategic thinker, never allowing her emotions to sway her into making the wrong decision. She hates the wild untamed wilderness, preferring a fast-paced city life.  She likes things she can control but also loves the challenge of learning new things, especially those related to the mind and the business world.  She uses brains over instinct and can focus on her own goals just like the Amazon.  As a goddess she oversees crafts as well as warfare, for both take patience and concentration.  She has the strength to be professional and to be a gifted student.  She is very inquisitive and resourceful in a crises but doesn’t trust others to get things done for her and often takes on everything herself.

Without the skills or opportunities for business she will rally behind her husband’s career as if it were her own. Watch out if he ever tries to leave her.  She would be most upset at the loss of being involved with his job more than anything.

Lieutenant Jordan “L.T.” O’Neil (Demi Moore) in G.I. Jane is a Father’s Daughter, not an Amazon, because she fights to become just like a man and prove she is as good as a man. An Amazon would retain and value her female essence.  Jordan tries to fit into the boys’ club as a male.  Her words, manners, actions and values are very male by the end of the film, and she sacrifices herself for their approval several times.  An Amazon like Xena would never care so much about fitting in, and in the film Courage Under Fire we see a heroic Amazon woman, Captain Karen Emma Walden (Meg Ryan), who returns her female essence throughout the film.  She has no problem with feelings and tears.

What Does the Father’s Daughter Care About?

  • Her name says it all – she cares about aligning herself with powerful men and supporting patriarchy. She wants to be accepted by men as one of their own so she can get ahead in her career. Getting into the old boy’s network is a major career stepping-stone for her.
  • She only cares how men view her. Women can say what they want of her but she feels they usually wind up admiring her for her accomplishments.
  • She loves to win, or more importantly, to see her team win. She’ll go to great lengths to see this happen – she’s a real team player.
  • She wants to study and learn new things, to broaden her mind.
  • She likes to travel to distant lands but never without staying in a luxury hotel. She never does anything she can hire someone else to do for her. She has a busy schedule.

What Does the Father’s Daughter Fear?

  • The Father’s Daughter fears female friendship because it reminds her of her own femaleness, which she tries to suppress. She sees women as the weaker sex and fights everyday to prove she’s not weak.
  • She can handle losing a battle or two but is terrified of losing the war. Such a loss of control is devastating.
  • She needs to remain in the city. Going out into the wilderness would just starve her desire to learn from books. She needs to see that nature has a lot to teach her as well as books do, but she just doesn’t resonate with it.

What Motivates the Father’s Daughter?

  • The need to know, understand and belong are strong motivators for her. She wants desperately to fit in with the boys and proves she’s better than most women.
  • Any challenge that allows her to use her strength in strategizing will grab her attention. She won’t tolerate anything disorderly.
  • She needs to be self-sufficient and independent, but she likes to know there’s a powerful man nearby to fall on “just in case.” She likes how the goddess Athena helped Achilles reach his goal but also wanted him to be of service to her.
  • Competition is one of her great passions, especially when it involves sharing the risk within a team so she doesn’t have to be the only one to fail. If she loses, the entire team loses and she won’t be left alone to pick up the pieces.

How Do Others See the Father’s Daughter?

  • She’s neat and professional in appearance. Even when she’s at home alone she wears nice neat clothing; it may not be the most comfortable thing to wear, but appearance counts.
  • To others she seems unemotional because she’s always cool and calm in a crisis. She appears to be calculating something behind intense eyes.
  • She has a hard time letting loose in front other others. Her home is the only place where she can truly relax. She has some playful games and hobbies hidden in her closet. She enjoys indoor activities best.

Developing the Character Arc

Look at her character’s main goal in the story and then at the fears you’ve selected to use against her. What does she need to learn to help her overcome her fear?  Does she need to learn how to live in a remote town in order to save her law firm?  Does she need to lose an important account so she can save her boss’s career?

Very often a Father’s Daughter needs to get back to nature to ease her stress and regain her health. She needs to learn that being a woman is OK, and she doesn’t have to do everything herself.  Perhaps being “one of the boys” isn’t that important.  See the film Baby Boom as an example of the Father’s Daughter who has to give up her career, move to a house in the country and raise her dead relative’s child.

What happened to her at an early age to make this archetype dominate her personality? Did she see her mother trampled on by men and swear she’d never be that weak?  Did her father have all the control in the family?  Was she forced to stay inside and play alone as a child, going into her head and out of her body?

To grow, this archetype is best paired with one of the following:

  • The Artist – can teach her about creativity and letting go in the moment.
  • The Seducer – can open her sexuality and teach her how to have personal relationships with men.
  • The Destroyer – can teach her about raw female power.
  • The Scorned Woman – hates other women, such as mistresses, so much she can be an example of how ridiculous it is to hate all women.
  • The Matriarch – can show her female power within the family and teach her traditional values.



  • Loves to be in the city.
  • Prefers male friendships to female.
  • Values work and career above all else.
  • Is willing to do anything for the team.
  • Is self-reliant.
  • Always dresses for success even when home alone.
  • Is very smart and intellectual.
  • Is very confident and self-assured.


  • Is an avid supporter of patriarchy.
  • Gets upset with other women who complain about inequality.
  • Is only attracted to powerful men.
  • Is a workaholic.
  • Is always strategizing.
  • Is unable to fully express her feminine side and be in touch with her body. Dancing is hard for her.

The Villainous Side of the Father’s Daughter: The Backstabber

As a villain the Father’s Daughter will trample on others to reach her goals. She can use her calculating, strategic mind to out-smart anyone, and her alliances with powerful men allow her to do this.  Sometimes these men take advantage of her loyalty.

Her rage is great when she learns a man she trusted has betrayed her. While Amazon women expects it, the Father’s Daughter feels devastated by it because she learns she isn’t “one of the boys” like she thought she was.  She spends her whole life trying to fit in with them.

Her whole identity can become wrapped up in her career. Losing it is like death to her.  She’ll become disloyal before she lets that happen.  She’ll use her femininity to play the innocent woman routine and later stab a colleague in the back.

She’ll also vehemently fight a woman who fights for women’s rights. She doesn’t want to admit that the playing field isn’t equal for all because that means it’s not equal for her.  She wants to distance herself from her feminine side and all its weaknesses as she sees it.

She has unwarranted fears that others are out to get her.  She’s preoccupied with doubts about the loyalty and trustworthiness of others and is unable to confide in them for fear that what she says will be used against her.  She can’t relax and is unable to collaborate with colleagues.  She becomes suspicious of everyone and detaches herself from the group.  Her sense of humour completely disappears.

She doesn’t understand what’s wrong with wanting to be successful, powerful and on top. She enjoys the company of men more than women but always has a trump card waiting in the wings to revenge any colleague who betrays her.


  • Feels trapped.
  • Plays off of the sweet little woman stereotype perfectly when it suits her.
  • Thinks of herself first.
  • Has no problem destroying another’s life or career.
  • Relies on the kindness of strangers in her time of need.
  • Lets others feel good about helping her so they let their guard down.
  • Is an expert liar until her buttons are pushed and she lashes out, spilling her true feelings.
  • Is paranoid and feels that others are plotting against her.
  • Has trouble relaxing.
  • Can’t confide in or collaborate with colleagues.
  • Detaches herself from the group.

Athena in Action

Father’s Daughter/Backstabber TV Heroes

Captain Kathryn in Janeway (Kate Mulgrew) in Star Trek: Voyager

Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) in The X-Files

Murphy Brown (Candice Bergen) in Murphy Brown

Prue Halliwell (Shannon Doherty) in Charmed


Father’s Daughter/Backstabber Film Heroes

Elizabeth I (Cate Blanchett) in Elizabeth

Lieutenant Jordan “L.T.” O’Neil (Demi Moore) in G.I. Jane

J.C. Wiatt (Diane Keaton) in Baby Boom

Katherine Parker (Signourney Weaver) in Working Girl

Margo Channing (Bette Davis) in All About Eve

Loretta Castorini (Cher) in Moonstruck


Father’s Daughter/Backstabber Literary and Historical Heroes

Pope John Paul I

Matilda, Countess of Tuscany

Kate in The Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare

Beatrice in Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Lady Macbeth in Macbeth by William Shakespeare

Kinsey Millhone in books by Sue Grafton

Bernie Harris in Waiting to Exhale by Terry McMillan

Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Karen Sisco in Out of Sight by Elmore Leonard





Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s