How Medusa Became a Feminist Icon

The first depiction of Medusa can be dated back from a poem by Homer as being part of the three gorgon sisters, Stheno and Euryale. All three are originally described as having tusks, wings, and the infamously iconic snake hair. While there have been myths about Medusa in the past, the most famous myth is her being the monster that Persuses had killed. Up to that point that was Medusa was known for a monster that had the ability to turn her victims into stone.

Holding snake Pexels

It wasn’t until the Roman poet Ovid made her a more complex character than her original myth wrote her out to be. She was no longer depicted as a monster like it was written in the stories about her. In Ovid’s story, Medusa is no longer the same monster that had tusks and wings. In this version of the myth, Medusa is instead a beautiful womxn. That the only reason that Medusa is the way that she is is because of a curse that was placed on her. In this version of the story, it is said that Medusa was in the temple of Minvera and that one day Neptune, the god of the sea, found her and sexually assaulted her. Upon witnessing this act the goddess Minerva turned Medusa into the snake hair monster with the cold-stone stare that we all know her as.

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Now Medusa is now seen as a feminist icon as her ability to turn men into stone can be seen as a way to empower womxn; as Poet Percy Shelley writes about the snaked hair womxn’s powers as both being full of grace and terror. Instead of being seen as a monster, she is now depicted as a feminine Fatale. Nowadays Medusa’s can be seen as a symbol of revenge against the male gaze. Whether you see her as a monster or more of that, the fact is that Medusa slithering her way into being more than meets the eye.   

Sources: 1, 23, 4

Photos: Her Campus Media