Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Why Medusa's Arrow?

The Legend

Medusa was one of three sisters born to Phorcys and Ceto. Though she was born mortal, her sisters Stheno & Euryale were not. Medusa was originally very beautiful. Her crowning glory was her magnificent, long hair and she was courted my many quality suitors. Before she could be betrothed to a husband, Poseidon/Neptune found her worshiping in the temple of Athena/Minerva and ravished her. Athena was outraged at her sacred temple being violated, and punished Medusa by turning her beautiful tresses into snakes and giving her the destructive power to turn anyone who looked directly at her into stone.

The Meaning

As a Sex Workers Right's Advocate I see a lot of symbolism in this legend that parallels the lives and experiences of the Sex Workers I speak out for.

1-As someone who has casually studied archetypes in my spare time I have come to understand Athena in a certain way. Though I have a great deal of respect for her in other ways, her archetype is one of a Goddess in service of and empowered by men. She is the protectress of the patriarchy. She was born of Zeus and Zeus alone and though one might expect her to come to the defense of a woman in need she had a tendency to look down on what she perceived as weakness.
I hear many Anti-porn and Radical Feminists talk about "overthrowing the patriarchy" but if you look closely at the companies that publish their books and the people on the Religious Right they tend to join forces with you will see that they doth protest too much! Much of the outward contempt they express for "the patriarchy" is a pathetic attempt at hiding the true nature of their connection to it.

2-Medusa was worshiping at the temple of Athena at the time she was "ravished."
The temple to me represents the feminism we think we all know and believe in when we are naive to the true nature of feminist politics today.

3-Poseidon/Neptune raped Medusa in the temple of Athena but rather then Athena getting mad at him she punished Medusa and turned her into a snake headed Gorgon for the rest of her days.
Poseidon obviously represents what we typically think of when we think of Patriarchy. He is powerful and he takes what (or who) he wants when he wants it. I hear many antis go on and on about how the Patriarchy puts women in the position to go into sex work by limiting their choices. I have noticed; however, that once a woman does go into that line of work they are quick to demonize her and accuse her of "Kowtowing to the Dick."

4-Medusa's gaze can turn anyone to stone instantly.
Marginalized by a society that sets many up for failure many women turn to sex work to make ends meet. You would think most human beings would have a great deal of compassion for them and you would be wrong. Once in "the lifestyle" many women find themselves so Stigmatized by the nature of the work they do you would think the hearts of everyone around them had turned to stone.

5-Know as an archer Medusa's Arrows were sharp and deadly accurate. Once she set her sights on her target their was little that could be done to distract her. As she was an underworld creature sunlight was not a friend to her but if you think you had escaped her once it found you might be mistaken. She may not peruse you but her arrow might follow you into that light and bring you back into the underworld she called home...the hard way.
Once marginalized and stigmatized by society a woman has little choice but to adapt to her new state of being or shrivel away in defeat. Taking up the cause of Advocacy is not only a way to heal but one might find that their words are capable of reaching those who would otherwise exist in a state of blissful ignorance.

Using our voices to spread this awareness is not only a way to heal but also a way to make a difference. Sadly, sometimes the greatest wounds are caused not by sex work itself but the stigma that goes along with it and the betrayal of those who claim to care.

I have found a solid support system in the Sex Workers Advocates on YouTube I have come to know and am grateful for it.

FeministWhore has been a mentor to me and I have learned so much since I met her.

YeOldeHeretic has been there for me in ways I can't go into but her friendship has given me strength when I wanted to quite and I thank her.

xxxild has taken me under her wing and guided me threw the underworld and for this reason I call her Kore.

And dynamiteruby is always ready to cheer me up...even when I don't wanna be cheered up!

Thanks Ladies!

Together we will shoot those arrows straight and hit those disinformationists...

For a little extra insight into why Medusa means a lot to me (hint-it has something to do with my childhood) watch this video. It also features a great song by Solace called Journey's end.


  1. Thank you for explaining the meaning behind your blog. It is *very* aptly named! And for the record lady, you have been a very big inspiration for me. :)



  2. A very interesting post. I hope you don't mind if I share some of my reactions...

    Athena as a patriarchal goddess: indeed Athena's attributes were always "masculine" -- she has a shield and goes to battle; she is the goddess of (traditionally masculine) wisdom, intelligence, research... And, like all Greek gods and goddesses, she can be quite unfair to people (you could find examples of similar maltreatment from Aphrodite, Hera, Artemis... name your goddess -- or god --, there's at least one person s/he undeservedly screwed up, and usually more than one.).

    But your point is that Athena has a closer relationship to men, i.e. the patriarchy, than to women -- which as far as I can see is true.

    I agree also with your interpretation: feminism (often actually academic feminism) has a strange relationship with the very social order it criticizes (I don't like the word 'patriarchy', but for reasons that aren't relevant here). But I don't take it against them that the publishing houses they select are mainstream: there are many good books on all topics published by mainstream publishers too.

    What I see as their "unholy relation" to the social order they criticize is (a) that they enter into alliances with right-wing and religious extremists who they should avoid if they believe in the very ideology they profess, and (b) their uncritical acceptance of a number of simplistic ideas and prejudices about men and sex ('sex is something men do to women', 'men are (potential) rapists', etc.) which ultimately have the same source ('patriarchy') as the social order they fight against. In fact, the 'patriarchal' influence in some of their ideas is so obvious, I wonder how they could miss it.