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Medusa and Perseus - Feminist Point of View

In addition to the professional banking experience, Farhat is a professional article writer with experience of over 3 years in writing.

The myths of Medusa- Women's Rage

This article is written to see the other side of this myth. Focus on another side of the picture that we may miss if we remain too conserve on seeing Medusa as a monster. The story of Medusa also explains the rape culture in Greek that the men were too dominant. It is necessary to keep in mind the male dominance scenario of the Soviet where such tales are told and have been told in a manner that maintains the patriarchal system and distracts women from securing a higher status in society.

medusa-and-perseus-feminist-point-of-view

Introduction

The anecdote of how Perseus slew Medusa is one of the most breathtaking stories in Greek mythos. Perseus was a son of the Zeus god and Danae who was a common human. It made Perseus a demi-god of tremendous power and remarkable genuineness and cleverness. The slain of the hazardous monster, Medusa, made him a great hero in Greek mythology. The King Polydectes directed Perseus to behead Medusa. Medusa was limited to a cavern. If a person looked in the eyes of Medusa, he would be converted into stone. Medusa was a mortal who had beautiful hair. One day, Poseidon, the god of the seas and earthquakes, raped her in the temple of Athena. Then, the goddess Athena punisher her by transforming her into a Gorgon, who had living snakes at the place of hairs, and expatriated her from the temple (Madeleine, 2019).

The central purpose of this passage is to present the anecdote of Medusa as an exemplary story of the execution of a woman and releasing of one's hold. For portraying the feminist indication of the story, let’s describe the chronicle account of the tale: Medusa got birth with incomparable beauty and enchanting hairs. She had two other sisters as well. She pledged to her sister, Athena, to remain clean from chastity and became a priestess. A crowd of men used to visit her just to put a glimpse of her, therefore Athena began feeling envious. Soon, Poseidon appealed to her and afterward raped Medusa (Donohue, 2020). When it was disclosed on Athena, she reprehended Medusa instead of Poseidon. Then, she punished her by substituting her glamorous hairs into the vicious head of snakes and if anyone saw into her eyes, he would be turned into the stone. From this time, whoever wanted to claim himself an unbeatable warrior was asked to bring the head of Medusa. Number of warriors attempted to slay her, but only Perseus became successful to execute her by the grace of all the gods only.

Rage in Women:

The mythos of Medusa was evaluated again by the feminists at the end of the 20th century. The book 'Female Rage, 1994' put up the point in order to expose its secret and arrogate its rights (Donohue, 2020). The picture of Medusa shows her as evil. In contrast, Poseidon impregnated and raped her. Moreover, her own sister cursed and exiled her. The tale is a true demonstration of how women are dealt with in the world of men.

Argentine-Italian artist Luciano Garbati formed a sculpture of Medusa in 2008. In which Medusa is holding Perseus's head (Drillat, 2019). In this sculpture, Medusa is not showing the head as a trophy, but as defending herself (Batalla, 2019). Garbati said, "I hope that this surviving image of Medusa could lead to the emergence of new narratives with a female lead.” (Drillat, 2019). She said, “I think his eyes are essential. When you see Perseus, he is showing a trophy, while in my Medusa you see determination, there is not a position of success, but of a woman who was defending herself, who beyond defeating he just went through a tragedy” (Batalla, 2019). Garbati saw Medusa from a different paradigm and claimed that she was punished and deteriorated (Griffin, 2018).

women's rights Movements-Me Too:

In Manhattan, New York, USA, a seven-foot bronze nude will stand outside the Criminal Courthouse until April 2021(Bedworth, 2021). The anecdote had been telling women that it is the sin of women if they are raped. Ann Stanford (1977) restated the vision of Medusa that she was cursed for the jealousy of her sister, and was departed from the rest of the world. She had no one to justify he stance. She got no platform in the world of gods and humans. Even, she was slain by one of the men. To whom the world represented as a hero (Butchin, 2015). The application stated that the story had “communicated to women for millennia that if they are raped, it is their fault” (Jacobs, 2020). Likewise, Judy Takác’s 2018 oil on canvas titled Me(Dusa) also shows the feminist approach of perceiving the Greek mythology story. He pleaded through his art that Medusa was not a monster but an oppressed victim (Tuzzeo, 2020). “Surviving assault is nothing to be ashamed of.” “Medusa can help put a vision in people’s minds that there is no shame in speaking out, defending yourself, and demanding justice.” Said Garbati (Mongelli, 2020).

Athena’s curse | A Protection to Women:

Let's focus on another side of the picture that we may miss if we remain too conserve of seeing Medusa as a monster. The story of Medusa also explains the rape culture in Greek that the men were too dominant. It is necessary to keep in mind the male dominance scenario of the Soviet where such tales are told and have been told in a manner that maintains the patriarchal system and distracts women from securing a higher status in society. Men-dominated norms have continuously questioned by women. Alas! it is not easy to reform the norms in a world where power is not distributed by the one who is in power. Stories of Greek mythology also contain tales where women collectively guarded each other against being seduced. The anecdote also advises a parable moral and suggesting women the way of looking after and save each other in the world of men, where seduction is a common hazard.

From the other perspective of the story, Athena knew that Poseidon feels affection for her sister Medusa. Athena wanted to protect her from breaking her vow to save her purity. As the name 'Medusa' meant 'to protect and guard's that is derived from a Greek verb. Athena was so conscious about her and wanted her safe from the filthy intentions and acts of Poseidon and the rest of the men. However, Athena replaced her hair with the vicious heads of snakes for protecting her from the men. Athena bestowed her with the power to convert a man into a stone by looking in the eyes so that no one could harm her purity (Schwark, 2018).

“In a male-centered society, the feminization of monsters served to demonize women,” (Editorial & Cain, 2018). For a long time, the women who fought for power have been labeled as Medusa. It is understandable that women are feeling rage due to this false narrative of Medusa. The demonization of Medusa is used for keeping women far from the race of power and authority. When Medusa was alive she was depicted as a deadly monster. When she was executed, her execution was celebrated as a crush of the strength of the woman who protected her chastity through ultimate powers (Tuzzeo, 2020).

Medusa-A symbol of Power:

The anecdote is quite clear to us now. The Medusa was slain by Perseus, who took help of all the divine gifts to kill her. The god Zeus had given him an adamantine sword and Hades gave helm of darkness who was his brother. Hermes, the messenger God, had provided Perseus his winged sandals, and Athena handed a highly furnished shield. Medusa was fell down by the shield provided by Athena. The anecdote portrays that Medusa is a multidimensional personality, who did wrong deeds. “In Western culture, strong women have historically been imagined as threats requiring male conquest and control. Medusa is the perfect symbol of this” (Sage, 2020). The character of Medusa was wrongly told by the history is not the understanding of Shelley only. The feminist theorist Hélène Cixous claims that males arbitrarily formed the monstrous concept of Medusa through frightening of female right to gain their rights in the 1975 manifesto 'The Laugh of the Medusa'. Eventually, females have leaned ahead and participated proficiently in the developmental progression of the world so far, but still, there has to be consideration of how women should be listened to, perceived, respected, viewed, and dealt with. Recently, Zarrar Khuhro tweeted about the characterization of Medusa in Greek mythology: “I mean she basically gets raped by Poseidon, because he found her desirable, and then she gets cursed by Athena who is angry that she was raped in Athena’s temple. And so she is turned into a monster who is then hunted and killed by a ‘hero’. How the hell is this okay?” (paxfemina, 2019).

Now, there is an interpretation of the anecdote with a different positive perspective. It was not a curse of Athena that she replaced the hairs into the head of snakes, but she blessed her with the strength to protect herself from the filthy hunger of the men. Medusa received power through which she punished everyone who looked at her with dirt and seductive intention. Athena realized that the only way to protect women is to empower them. So Athena, the goddess of Wisdom and the Hearth, saved her sister.

Conclusion

Medusa was a woman who lived a life of silence and cruelly treated due to the filthy lust of man. Medusa Once, Medusa was an idealized strong woman who had control over the natural needs of the world. Medusa was living in an absolute harmony of the earth and sky. Accordingly, she was considered as a big rival among the gods of the sky who were male. Then, male-dominated adopt a maneuver to harm her status. First, they decapitated her from the temple and then beheaded her for further deteriorating the power of females. Medusa is an exemplary idol of the current condition of women who are blamed on every wrongdoing of men. Athena, the goddess of wisdom, turned her into a monster and exiled her, instead of punishing the man to give her power. The story of Medusa also pleads us that woman are so oppressed in the society. They do not have any option except to embrace the fortune or to the will of men. The man approached her, seduced her, and abused her, but society labeled Medusa the sinful.

References

Batalla, J. (2019, January 21). La historia de la Medusa argentina que se convirtió en un símbolo del feminismo en EEUU. infobae. https://www.infobae.com/america/cultura-america/2019/01/21/la-historia-de-la-medusa-argentina-que-se-convirtio-en-un-simbolo-del-feminismo-en-eeuu/.

Madeleine, M. (2019, September 16). The Myth of Perseus and Medusa Explained. THEOI GREEK MYTHOLOGY - Exploring Mythology in Classical Literature & Art. https://www.theoi.com/articles/the-myth-of-perseus-and-medusa-explained/.

Donohue, T. A. (2020, December 30). The Mishandled Myth of Medusa. Medium. https://aninjusticemag.com/the-mishandled-myth-of-medusa-1f66fda1874b.

Drillat, C. N. (2019, February 2). Feminist Medusa. Anasayfaya dönmek için tıklayın. https://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/feminist-medusa-1228741.

Griffin, A. (2018). The story behind the Medusa statue that has become the perfect avatar for women's rage. Quartz. https://qz.com/quartzy/1408600/the-medusa-statue-that-became-a-symbol-of-feminist-rage/.

Jacobs, J. (2020, October 13). How a Medusa Sculpture From a Decade Ago Became #MeToo Art. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/10/13/arts/design/medusa-statue-manhattan.html.

Sage, S. (2020, September 9). Medusa – Symbolizing the Power of the Feminine. Symbol Sage. https://symbolsage.com/the-story-of-medusa/.

Bedworth, B. C. (2021, January 18). #MeToo and the Medusa Myth: DailyArt Magazine: Art History Stories. DailyArtMagazine.com - Art History Stories. https://www.dailyartmagazine.com/metoo-and-the-medusa-myth/.

Mongelli, L. (2020, October 14). Newly unveiled Medusa statue in Manhattan sends #MeToo message. New York Post. https://nypost.com/2020/10/13/newly-unveiled-medusa-statue-in-nyc-sends-metoo-message/.

Butchin, M. (2015, December 24). "Medusa," by Ann Stanford, 1977. Nudnik Online. https://nudnikonline.co/2015/12/24/medusa-by-ann-stanford-1977/.

Schwark, M. K. (2018, August 9). Medusa Teaches Women How to Turn the Patriarchy into Stone. Bitch Media. https://www.bitchmedia.org/article/medusa-turn-patriarchy-into-stone.

Editorial, A., & Cain, A. (2018, May 20). What Depictions of Medusa Say about the Way Society Views Powerful Women. Artsy. https://www.artsy.net/article/artsy-editorial-depictions-medusa-way-society-views-powerful-women.

Tuzzeo , G. (2020, December 17). "The face of our own rage"- a feminist interpretation of Greek mythological figure Medusa and female rage. - boshemia magazine: culture - art - feminism. boshemia magazine | culture - art - feminism. https://www.boshemiamagazine.com/blog/the-face-of-our-own-rage-medusa.

Toric-Azad, Z. (2019, November 6). Medusa: On Women's "Role" in Rape. paxfemina.com. https://paxfemina.com/medusa-on-womens-role-in-rape/.

© 2021 FARHAT AMJAD

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