Angela Hadrill
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This piece was created in response to an amazing talk “Women in Power” by Mary Beard in which, among other things, she discusses the origins of the medusa myth and its depictions in modern design.

You can listen to the talk here:

“There are many ancient variations on Medusa’s story. One famous version has her as a beautiful woman raped by Poseidon in a temple of Athena, who promptly transformed her, as punishment for the sacrilege, into a monstrous creature with a deadly capacity to turn to stone anyone who looked at her face. (…) This is the classic myth in which the dominance of the male is violently reasserted against the illegitimate power of the woman. And Western literature, culture and art have repeatedly returned to it in those terms. The bleeding head of Medusa is a familiar sight among our own modern masterpieces, often loaded with questions about the power of the artist to represent an object at which no one should look.” Beard, 2017

Medusa is constantly being depicted as object rather than subject, as a decapitated head rather than a powerful woman. She is reduced, both literally and figuratively, to a faceless being that can’t be looked at and that has had their agency stripped away from them.

The narrative should be changed. She wasn’t alone, her two sisters stood by her even when they too were transformed into monsters. Being transformed was not her curse, it was a representation of her strength. She wasn’t a monster, she was powerful and it was that which was feared.