176 • Medusa

176 • Medusa

That ugly, snake-headed Medusa
Whom painters depict as a loser
Was once wise and fair
(And had regular hair)
Till Poseidon turned up to abuse her.

Legend tells how wily he-man Perseus slew the snaky-haired she-monster, reflecting her petrifying gaze back in her own eyes by using a mirror, the ironically-selected symbol of feminine vanity. Yet the neglected prequel is a viciously contemporary catalogue of power-seduction and slut-shaming. #MeToo indeed.

2 thoughts on “176 • Medusa

  1. This rhyme is completely on point, I wish I’d thought of it! Thanks for sharing the link 😉 Just this morning, I interviewed an artist, the brilliant Susie MacMurray, whose work I saw at Masterpiece last year. She used Medusa as a subject matter. When I shared an image of the sculpture on Instagram, she left a really insightful comment which I’ll share here:

    “For me this work was an exploration of ‘the gaze’ and of fear of otherness. I see her as a scapegoat. She represents the eternal story of a woman being punished for her sexuality, played out over and over again. Coincidentally I was making this work during the time when the grooming scandal in Rotherham was coming to light, so I was thinking about the stigma attached to the victims. Ever was it thus. There is a 20C French feminist essay that challenges Freud’s reading of her as representing the male fear of female genitalia. They suggest instead she’s revelling in her sensuality. I wanted my Medusa to be majestic and noble, powerful and glorious in her femaleness.”
    – Susie MacMurray

    1. Hi Patou,

      ‘Ever was it thus’, as your correspondent very rightly observes: yet surely now is the time to change it – by art, by journalism, even (perhaps) by doggerel. We must each do the best we can. ‘A change is gonna come’, as the poet said, albeit long-sightedly.


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