Let Medusa speak
Instagram LNI @miss.lni
Let Medusa speak
Today I wanna tell the story of Medusa. It's been a moment I was struggling with its message and values. Growing up in Greece, I was told her story from my schoolteachers through the myth of Perseus -another manhood story for boys... Once I started wondering « Who's Medusa? Why she's having snakes on her head? Was she always a monster?». The answer I found was quite interesting.
Medusa is portrayed as a monster mediated through the angle of the patriarchal myth of Perseus. One of the primal elements of her story is failed to be discussed: the story of her transformation. Evidently, she wasn't always a monster. I suggest that the only monstrous aspect is how she's formulated according to an oppressive system of patriarchal values. The central motif of the Medusa's story is rape. Rape is the pivotal act without which there could be neither the story of Medusa nor the story of Perseus. Medusa was raped in the temple of Aphrodite by Poseidon, the god of the sea. Then, goddess Minerva punished her for her impurity by turning her into a monster having a head full of snakes able to turning into stone everyone who would dare to look directly at her.
Now the stigmatisation of female sexuality and the accusation of women for the consequences of male lust is still prevalent in our society. Already there are few rape cases that go to trial. Furthermore, women are often accused of provoking men and the latter are immediately excused from the responsibilities of their acts. And if course, is even harder to prove a rape in a marriage as, even though the wife is not by law her husband's property, the latter has conjugal rights on her.

The ancient civilizations were founded on enslavement and warfare under a patriarchal leadership. It is known that women had no rights over their own sexuality and reproduction. It's exactly these expansionist imperialist patriarchal cultures that have impacted the social structures and the laws of the modern west. So, it's in this context that we must look through the myth of Medusa. While the second wave feminism resulted in altering the laws regarding rape across the western world, in real terms cultural conditions haven't changed. Therefore, public attitudes towards rape still focus on the notion of female provocation.
For instance, when I was 20 and living in northern Greece , I struggled to have an abortion despite the fact that the law didn't restrict it. It was the cultural law that I was facing when all those doctors I visited refused to give me an abortion for ''moral reasons''. So, there is the civil law and there is the cultural/religious law. It is through the lenses of this persistent moral laws that Medusa's story is told.

That means there's always doubt about the victim of a rape case. There's always victimization for perpetrator and the tendency to disregard a woman's evidence. Even for the Harvey Wenstein's affair people tend to accuse the actresses for playing games with him in order to get a part in a movie instead of focusing on all the testimonies of the atrocities that this man has committed. It's easy to blame the woman. The woman is the suspect. This patriarchal tendency to punish the victim of rape, clearly expressed in the myth of Medusa, has therefore ancient origins.

Otherwise, why a woman goddess, Minerva, would act out the will of a male-dominated society ?

It's very interesting to underline that Minerva was a virgin queen with the same qualities as the blessed Virgin Mary of Catholicism. Her desexualized nature is the origin of her power and of her virtue. On the other hand the source of power in Medusa is in combining beauty and sexual energy. We could suggest that Minerva represents one of those ideal states of womanhood as seen through the lens of male domination and patriarchy: that of the nurturing motherr. Of course Medusa is not a spotless virgin so she has to be punished as an insatiable whore. I doubt that Minerva's response to Medusa's rape has been the same if the myth was invented by a woman. Patriarchy is very cunning as it encourages and educates women to denigrate one another in competition for the benefits of male approval. We can see that in pop culture, in advertising, all over the internet , in the press etc..
In these classical mythological traditions that have influenced our literature, our social structures, our laws and our politics all across the western world, women voices are almost unheard. Our society has been forged by the convergence of these cultures that esteem mythology as the divine's will revelation and so as the final recourse in the pursuit for authority. Now, I have the feeling, that merging the credence given to mythological messages by religious belief with the intrinsic psycho emotive power of mythological imagery, is a very dangerous game.

One of the basic messages of Medusa's myth is her powerlessness as a woman in neither her rape nor its repercussions. Does Medusa has any agency? No, she has no alternative, but to submit entirely to the hand of God's will, to fate. Medusa is completely quiet in the myth while she's blamed and punished for the sexual violence that has been committed against her. There's no mention of her pain, no discourse on her trauma. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, this reflects the true experience of many women forced to give in to sexual violence today.

So many women outline feelings of self-hatred and blame after being raped. So many don't speak up against their aggressors, because they feel they won't be believed. It is not only in fiction, but also in the context of a supposedly more feminist society, that rape is still the woman's problem. Rape is something she must resolve alone. Thus, it seems to me that it is men who must finally start talking about rape.
From the most ancient to the most recent expressions, women are still depicted as mothers or as monsters. And in each case they're either idolized or they're put down, if not destroyed, by the patriarchal power.

I think it's time to retell the myth of Medusa. Time to discuss her trauma, it is time to remove the conspiracy of silence and let Medusa speak. That means it's time for women to be lustful without the fear of shame and blame. Because this plot, this conspiracy, is very ancient. We must cut the umbilical cord ourselves with those myths and traditions that have forged the western culture. Let's be wholly, again. Let's be sluts.