Monday, August 13

Medusa's Head

She was beauty itself, dazzling all, an imposible prize, the forbidden fruit, a heavenly combination of feminine charms, "the jealous aspiration of many suitors" _ Ovid.
She's a nymph turned into a monster. The scariest image that human imagination have carved through history. She's Medusa.

All of what remained and what we now came to know and see of Medusa is her scary head, screaming an endless horrified scream as the Greek hero Perseus succeeded in cutting it off. Poor thing, she is doomed to be always remembered as such, pathetically ending up on a Versace logo!

How many of us know the tragic story of Medusa? The beautiful nymph, who was the dream of every god and mortal. She would never yield to any show of affection or a generous suitor hoping to lock her up as a precious possession. She loved life, and loved to keep her beauty an eternal inspiration to poets and artists. But one of the male gods decided to put an end to her arrogance. Inside the temple of Athena, while she was praying and thanking the gods for bestowing her with beauty, in came the monster, the sea god Poseidon, and he raped her.

In hatred of herself and the world, Medusa asked the goddess Athena to have pity on her and protect her from men. Her wish was granted. The goddess transformed Medusa's beautiful hair into serpents and made her face so terrible and scary that any man who would dare to look at her will immediately turn into stone. In that way, Medusa chose to forsake her beauty in order to find security and to enjoy the sight of men turning into stone, horrified at the sight of her monstrous face.Still she wasn't left alone. While Medusa was pregnant by Poseidon, King Polydestes of Seriphus sent the hero Perseus on a mission to cut off Medusa's head and bring it back to him. Perseus wasn't as heroic as it would seem. He succeeded in the mission by having a cap which makes him invisible and a pair of winged sandals and a mirrored shield. In that way, he could look at Medusa in the mirror instead of looking directly to her face. No wonder it was a piece of cake, but the myth was turned up-side-down to praise the bravery of the hero who wasn't scared of Medusa, the source of terror for men.

The reason why I told you all this long story is to make you see how any female who dares to challenge male arrogance, even if for the mere sake of self-protection, would not only end tragically, but will have a memory that will serve to make them heroes and make her a devil. Medusa was only the beginning. A memorial to all other women so as not to dare think like her (believing they could overcome men or threaten them), and to all men so that they will never allow any woman to challenge them and cause them fear. She should be uprooted, her head should fly, and her reputation has to suffer. Doesn't it sound familiar?

All those who call for women rights nowadays are given a bad name. The whole concept of feminism has grown notorious all of a sudden! No wonder why when a woman is labelled to be a feminist she is described by the worst adjectives and it doesn't hurt to call her a lesbian in doing so. If you feel proud of your gender and celebrate being a woman, then you are a whore. If you call for emancipation and freedom, then you are devil seeking to doom your society and distory its ethics! Yeah.. "ethics".. hahaha. If you seek for your independence and your right to live your life by your rules, then you are an outcast. If you don't want to wear the veil then you are an athiest. If you want to have a career, then you are a man. If you care about serious issues and want to make a difference in the world then you suffer from a psychological complex.

But if you hate being a woman, if you dispise your body, if you repeat what men say about you, it is a virtue. If you don't have any serious goals or aims in life, it is perfectly ok. If you are a lazy ass, wanna sit at home, do nothing and live your life as a parasite waiting for the man to feed you, then you are most welcomed. If you hate your life and look forward to death in order to find peace, then you are religious. If you're all covered up in black, then you are respectable. If you do nothing creative or constructive, good job, you know you should leave such things to men. If you never had your own opinions or views, then what an excellent thinker you are! If you see your only role in life is to amuse your husband and get children, then you have reached the ultimate wisdom.
What a sick society!

What this society doesn't care to see is that it has turned all of its women and girls ino Medusas.. Silent, undercover Medusas, each seeking shelter and revenge in her own way. But in doing so many of them have become so destructive, that one generation after the other will pay the price. The living corpse wrapped in black will extend her shrouds to wrap it wround everybody's neck. She won't let anyone escape the clutches of her black ropes. The parasitic creature will add up to the poverty of her nation. The idiot who hides behind her lack of personality and talent, will add up to the ignorance and poor culture of her country. The physical factory of sex and breeding will only add the number of miserable creatures in this pathetic society.

However, today's Medusas won't wait for someone to cut off their heads, cause their heads are useless. They live under the cover of blind obedience, while they are only destroying a society that refuses to treat them as full humans. The horror that they pose is not visible to the eyes of men, but is a thousand times more destructive, cause it's turning a whole society into stone.

Patriarchal societies have for long sold the lie that danger lies in the head of a thinking woman. Yet, a true Medusa's head is a woman's empty head. So, next time you see a woman fighting for her independence and freedom, don't freak out. And when you see a girl who embraces life and focuses on her goals, don't make fun. And when you see a girl who aims high or doesn't put marriage as a priority, don't come up with the stupid conclusion that she's got some psychological complex. And when you get ignored by a girl, grow up and don't take it as a personal challenge to bring her on her knees. If you really wanna be a man, compete in a mature and responsible way. Try to be as successful and as focused as a girl is. Yes, imagine! There's nothing wrong in taking after a woman. There's nothing wrong in admitting that a girl is worthy of respect and that there can be things to learn from her. Try to quit the childish ways of "I'm the best and she must come after me". Try to co-live instead of crushing a fellow human in order to prove a false concept. Try to see the beauty of a world where varity means intigration, not where someone has to be better than the other. Try to understand the true facts of life before those hidden Medusas turn this life into hell. Beware!


Jasmin said...

Oh how I miss reading Greek mythology! Thanks for that :-) From what I recall though, Athena turned Medusa into a monster out of jealousy… or something like that. Your interpretation of the story is way much better of course! Haven’t seen it that way before :-)

BTW, I’m new here… came by way of “Agenda” ;-). Your posts kept me up all night, which is not a good thing, since I’m supposed to be studying :-) And yes, I’ve read every single post and comment on your blog. I’m sure you’ve heard it a million times, but your writing is truly powerful and inspirational. Never have I met an individual so dedicated and sincere in their goal to empower women, most especially in the Arab world. I confess, I am an outsider and in many ways, ignorant of the World outside my own country.

There is much to learn out there, and my stereotype of women in the Middle East changes everytime I meet someone like you. While I don’t identify myself as a feminist, I’ve always admired intellectual women (such as yourself and most of your readers) and thus am motivated to succeed in life. As a woman driven to have a good career and sees marriage as a crutch, I too have faced obstacles from family and peers. In fact, I remembered a conversation I had with my mother, in which I “jokingly” suggest of not marrying at all. She was dead serious that I do not joke about it, and that she would rather see me in a convent serving God if I don’t get married. Silly, I know… considering that it’s 2007 and I live in a democratic country, yet my family still thinks this way. God forbid I have a successful career but yet remain unmarried… blasphemy, I say! ;-)

Wow, I’ve gone way off on a tangent here… apologies! Anyway, just like to say thank you for the thought-provoking read. Looking forward to the next post…

The Alien said...

Dear Fantasia,

i like this post alot, i do not have anything to say that i did not know what to do. i do want more people to read it so i translated it to Arabic. my arabic is not good but i did my best. i will send the translation to u on ur mail ( to review it and give me ur notes on translation (my english is not good as u so i may have missed something).
we need to think of a way to publish it (i can do it in my blog)

i just want to know, why u talked to men this time?

Samir said...

What a nice post! Your words is focused and so strong. Really it is a strong post. I am now writting for human rights specially women rights. I totally agree with your opinion about the sick socaity. Really it is like a war. I am in need to such words as yours. I want to see every girl of our country raising her hands with strong objections. I believe that woman can live a better life without man guardianship.


د /إياد حرفوش said...

Dear Fantasia,
Simply marvellous article and innovative link between the Medussa and today's women story. Yet, I still disagree on one point. Competition is not what a life should be. between man and woman or even between same gender elements. Integration is the word as u said. maybe as I am a socialist I always think life can accomodate and tolerate all. Yet with a good room of prominence and self actualization we can all live outside the rat racing. Regards

د /إياد حرفوش said...

Dear Alien/ Fantasia,
If you agreed on that I can offer my help in Arabic styling. Thanks

Fantasia said...

You're most welcomed here. I was so flattered by your words. So glad you found my humble writing admirable. And sorry for keeping you awake all night. Wishing you all the best with your studies.
I don't know where you're from, yet I was not surprised when I learned about what your mother believes. Women all over the world are still fighting for their rights. Middle Eastern women are no exception, yet their challenges are far much more. The examples you see on the news are mainly from Iraq, Afghanistan, and Iran. That's the focus of the Media. Those places are ruled by groups who rely on religious authority, and thus impose their own understanding of religion on the citizens. And naturally, as women come at the bottom of the list, they are the live manifestation of chaos.
Other parts of the Middle East are suffering from the same, but those groups which wish to impose the same image are either weakened by the government or are strong but haven't yet got access to authority. In Egypt we belong to the latter. So, while you might find the typical image of the Middle Eastern women as you knew it to be the major trend in Egypt, still there are a few who are struggling against it.
I really wish there are more like you who show genuine interest in understanding our societies, caring enough to know the facts and the diversities that exist within the region.
Thanks for your comment, and hope to read more in the future.

Fantasia said...

I'd like to thank you so much for your wonderful translation of this post. Ideas should have their own wings to soar high and spread the word. In my opinion those wings are created through translation, adopting the different tongues of people, making those ideas accessible to all.
You have earlier made a suggestion for an Arabic version of my blog, and unfortunately I was of no help. I am a hopeless Arabic typer. But now I also learned that Eyad is interested in giving a hand. I believe we can work towards that, but let's first start by publishing those translations at your own blogs, that are more well-known and have got much bigger audience than this new spot. Then I can gather those in a mirror blog.
So, for now I would ask you to publish it on your own successful blog (although it has recently attracted a lot from the enemy camp). I'd ask eyad to help with the formal Arabic and we'll see what can done.
Thanks a lot my dear friend. And considering your question. I've talked to men in former posts, like Men out of the Jungle. It was you who first left a comment when this blog was in the very beginning to tell me that men too would be ineteresting in reading what I have to say. Remember? So, I'm addressing both genders now.

Fantasia said...

I'm always happy to see first-timers here. Welcome and thanks for your motivating comment. You said you were writing for human rights.. journal, newsletter, research..?
I believe that ending the hierarchy that we are suffering from is the key to solving human rights issues. When people see that they are all human, nobody is better than the other, nobody has the right to crush the other, everybody has to respect one another, then we end the hellish chain of human rights abuse; even in politics. But some concepts have made out of minor differences the basis for a huge rift between people, that in the middle of struggling over whose religion, race, gender, power, color, ideology is better, they have lost what connects them as species.
I may sound biased to females, but at the heart of it, I am with the return to the human condition.
Thanks for your encouragement. Come often.

Fantasia said...

Thanks for the nice words. Well, men have placed competition to be the law of life. They are the ones who can't stand to share their success, their status, their lives with women. What I was talking about though was professional competition. That when a man sees a serious female student or worker, he shouldn't feel hurt, but instead seek to be up to it and have self-confidence. I am with integration, but not the integration of seperate planes that men are promoting: the one that says I work outside and you work at home so we complete one another. This is no integration, this is apartheid.
Thanks for your generous offer. Alien has done a great job with his translation that was in colloquial Arabic. I will send you a copy on your email, and let's see how we can work it out in formal Arabic, or if you have any suggestions.

Fantasia said...

jasmin again,
I always get carried away when I write, sorry I missed your very first comment on the Medusa myth. Well, you know each myth has different versions. In the first part of Medusa's story, there are different tales, some of them even see that she was created a monster from the beginning. You will find, however, that all versions agree on the second part, dealing with the heroism of Perseus in cutting off her head. I chose a version that best suited my cause. Thanks for giving me the chance to illustrate.

اجندا حمرا said...

Dear Fantasia
first of all i missed interacting with u a lot
i hope you can forgive my long silence
such a strong post as usual my dear
allow me also to thank u for the story i enjoyed reading it a lot although it holds lots of sadness within its content but i always find something different and new while reading your posts fantasia
simple and to the point without mere words just to fill the blanks
of course i totally agree with what u were saying women who start asking for women's rights r often called bad names like u said although it is our most simplest thing
we just want to feel secure and not irritated
but all of what we can see and face in our daily lives is harrassement and male dominance
and if a girl start acting all the people around her start to accuse her of being immoral they never say the man is wrong
the girl is always wrong ,she is the one who wears tight clothes and allow men to rape her
they dont stand beside the girl being raped but beside the rapest unfortunately
not only those wearing tight clothes got harrassed which is what always makes me think
u can find girls who r not showing at all and still men cant leave them alone and i wonder what's wrong with those people?
thank u for the story and for always making us use our minds
i enjoy always comin here so keep on writing my dear:-)

Fantasia said...

Pleased to see you lighting this spot again. I'm very grateful for your continuous support and inspiration.
It's always the girl's fault cause she is the weakest. She can't stand up for herself. But what truely amazes me is the great number of girls who adopt the same views! Their number is decreasing as they realise that they are not safe no matter what they do, especially with harassment being a common practice. Still there are many girls who would say it's the girls fault. I can't believe how a person can be brainwashed in such a way to believe that yes she's incomplete and yes she is the one who tempts men to do this to her.
Thanks for raising this issue. Will plan to give it more attention in my coming posts.

Jasmin said...

Thanks for the warm welcome, Fantasia. I am glad to be here. It's true I have very limited knowledge regarding Islamic and Middle Eastern politics, specifically in Egypt. But I am always willing to learn, and I hope that your cause will see the light of day in your country.

Also, regarding the Medusa myth, thanks for clearing that up! I should've known better that different versions do exist :-)

Agenda, thanks for bringing me here... it's good to "see" you ;-) Your comment brought up a touchy subject, and I have to admit I am that way sometimes. Everytime I see a female dress a certain way, i.e. scantily-clad, way too short skirts, etc.; and men would stare and/or say something inappropriate to said female, were she in turn would be upset or angry... I can't help but secretly feel that she was asking for it. Perhaps it was my strict family upbringing that made me think this way. So yeah, maybe I was brainwashed as Fantasia puts it ;-) At the same time, I blame men too. After all, we are all human and not animals. It's a shame that most men can't control their sexual urges. It's a shame that women can't dress whatever they feel like to express themselves without having society judge them.

Fantasia, you should definitely write an article regarding this issue... it will definitely be an interesting discussion amongst your readers. I will look forward to it (if I can tear myself away from studies, that is ;-).


Miss Egyptiana "Trapped Soul" said...

wht i like the most about this post is the identification of the hidden reason for the problem


they themselves spread certain ideas that they have inherited... blindly ... not knowing that they destroy their own lives and others lives

great post as usual dear

Fantasia said...

Thanks for taking the time to reply back. Agenda is a huge support and an active contributer to this blog. I also was so interested in what she said about misconception about women according to their outfits. You shall see a post about this here soon. I may add a poll as well to see how many females commit the same mistake. Keep coming back whenever you can catch a few minutes.

Fantasia said...

Welcome back. Long time, missed you a lot. Thanks for your compliment dear.
As I said to agenda and jasmin, I shall dedicate a separate post to discuss the idea of how women themselves contribute to the spread of wrong ideas and misjudgements of each other. It is a huge mistake and certainly deserves attention. Thanks for adding your input about this matter. Don't get absent again. Love to read your comments.

R2 said...

Very well written. Also liked how you have interpreted the meaning of Medusa in the present context. Keep it up!

Fantasia said...


Welcome to FW and thanks a lot for your encouraging comment, which made my day. Glad you liked this post. A dear one of mine, although a bit old. Wish it was good enough to make you read more topics here and consider frequenting this blog.

"When I dare to be powerful - to use my strength in the service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid" - Audre Lorde