Does your brand of feminism remove barriers for women, or simply move them around? Does is expand options for women, or does it just shift them? You don’t liberate women by forcing them to choose option B instead of option A. What is comfortable for you might not be comfortable for someone else, and it’s entirely possible that what you see as oppressive, other women find comfortable or even downright liberating.
Before you think the girl in the middle is a strawman, let me tell you I used to be her, back in my misguided youth. I considered myself the standard to which other people should adhere. But that was stupid. It’s not up to me to tell people how to dress, and it’s much nicer to let everyone choose for themselves.
Some women would feel naked without a veil. Some women would find it restrictive. Some women would feel restricted by a bra. Some women would feel naked without one. Some women would feel restricted by a tight corset. Others love them. Some wear lots of clothes with a corset. Some only wear the corset and nothing else. What makes any article of clothing oppressive is someone forcing you to wear it. And it’s just as oppressive to force someone not to wear something that they want to wear.
Perhaps more interestingly though, is that it’s a very different tone as far as the direction of aggression. Most people know the Clash of the Titans version where she’s on the hunt for him once he shows up. But let’s face it, Medusa really gets the shaft from destiny overall. She starts out as a priestess in a temple who gets raped by Poseidon and gets cursed for it as if it was all her fault. The result is that she’s basically doomed to live without human contact for eternity. Then she’s hunted down specifically for her head by a demigod whose got all sorts of great toys and backing to get the job done and depicted as some sort of horrible monster for defending her turf from folks out to kill her.
There are some really interesting theories about regarding just what the whole ‘gorgon’ thing was really about from a historical perspective. It’s really quite a tragic tale about the rise of patriarchy and the purge of goddess-centric worshipers. There are also parallels to the Apollo versus Typhon story which is part of the same era. Harsh.
See, even the demystified stories from ancient times are fascinating!
I wish there were more nuanced portrayals of Medusa than as just a scary, snake lady.
Not to mention all this shit went down while she was pregnant with twins, the Pegasus and the giant Chrysaor, as a result from the rape. Perseus would mount Pegasus, and use him and Medusa’s head to kill a sea monster, thus winning him a wife, Andromeda. Medusa was cursed by the very goddess she served, Athena, who also gave Perseus the mirrored shield he used to slay her. Raped, betrayed by her god, hunted down like a beast in her own home while she was pregnant, her own children stolen from her and used to glorify and aide her killers and betrayers. And she’s supposed to be the monster?
That’s how Greek men saw the myth. Greek women viewed it as Athena protecting Medusa by giving her the power to make any man who looked at her completely harmless. Her head was used as a symbol to mark women’s shelters in ancient Greece.
Friendly reminder to remember that women have their own vivid lives and cultures and that the stories which are preserved today come through a heavy filter of gender, race, and class biases.