Back in the day, I had a blog called Misplaced Myths. It contained various myths, legends and tales turned sideways and over-analyzed, sometimes to a comedic extent. Needless to say, it was fun to write and I decided to bring it back here as a regular feature. (Re-)Introducing Misplaced Myth Mondays!
Medusa: Ancient Anti-Feminist Rhetoric?
According to legend, Medusa was a Gorgon who had snakes for hair and a face so hideous, it would turn a person to stone. She lived with 2 Gorgon sisters, who shared her distaste for mortal man. Perseus killed her by cutting her head off, aided by a reflective shield given to him by Athena. He then used her head as a weapon before giving it to the goddess Athena to place on her shield.
Another, less known, aspect of the legend was that Medusa was once beautiful. So much so, in fact, that she was said to inspire jealousy everywhere she went. She was raped by Poseiden in Athena’s temple, which enraged Athena so much that she made her the hideous creature of legend. Perseus was credited with saying he felt her punishment was deserved. Some hero.
It seems the story is rife with victim-shaming, but is it also a piece of anti-female propaganda? If Medusa was, in fact, a victim of rape, wouldn’t it make sense that she’d prefer living apart from men, with other females who felt as she did? Perhaps, it left her not caring about her appearance, or even trying to be less attractive. Was she really cursed by Athena, or did her hair simply become so disheveled that it resembled snakes to those who looked upon her, turned to stone in their shock and disgust?
What is the takeaway from a story like this? It makes you wonder who’s really the hero and who’s the monster.
Got a myth you wanna see misplaced? Gimme a holler!