What Does A Tattoo Of Medusa Mean?
If you’ve scrolled on your FYP in the last few months, you might have seen ambiguous TikToks that reference the meaning of the Medusa tattoo. “A lot of people didn’t realize the meaning of a Medusa tattoo. If you do, I am so sorry you went through this too.
You are so strong,” said TikTok user @r. bree. xo, showing her inking of the Gorgon. Videos of people showing their Medusa tattoos on the app are racking up hundreds of thousands of views, as many hint towards a deeper meaning.
Most will know Medusa for her head of snakes instead of hair and the power to turn anyone who looks at her into stone. Many will also be familiar with her most famous tale from mythology—being beheaded by Perseus. After severing her head using a bronze shield to protect his eyes, Perseus used Medusa’s head to defeat his enemies in battle.
Medusa became a sign of monstrous evil, but her backstory is far different. According to the main variation of her tale, Medusa was once a beautiful young woman. It was that beauty that caught the attention of sea god Poseidon, who is said to have raped her in Athena’s sacred temple.
Athena in response turned Medusa into the figure we recognize, with her snake curls and deathly stare. In the widely believed variation, the power put onto Medusa was a curse from Athena, who was furious at the tainting of her sacred temple. Other iterations of the myth however recognize it as a blessing, a way for Medusa to protect herself after being assaulted by Poseidon.
According to The Met Museum, Medusa is portrayed in most Greek art as an “apotropaic symbol used to protect and ward off the negative,” representing a “dangerous threat meant to deter other dangerous threats, an image of evil to repel evil.
” In modern tales of Gorgon though, she is a symbol of female rage. She was even used in feminist theorist Hélène Cixous’s 1975 manifesto The Laugh of the Medusa. Similarly, the TikTok tattoos reference Medusa as a victim rather than a villain. She is seen as a symbol of power after sexual assault and combatting the culture of victim-blaming as a woman made into a monster for her own rape. Stock image of a Medusa head. Videos of people showing their Medusa tattoos on TikTok are racking up hundreds of thousands of views. Getty Images UPDATE 01/18/22 6:54 a. ET: This article was updated to include new videos and picture and to modify the headline..
- 1 Is it disrespectful to get a Medusa tattoo?
- 2 What does the Medusa symbol mean?
- 3 Are Medusa tattoos common?
- 4 How does Medusa relate to today?
- 5 What does the story of Medusa teach us?
- 6 Why is Athena a virgin?
Is it disrespectful to get a Medusa tattoo?
There should be nothing offensive about getting a Medusa tattoo. She is a female monster from Ancient Greek mythology but is also seen as a victim. It is believed that she was cursed by the goddess Athena and that anyone who met her gaze turned to stone.
What does the Medusa symbol mean?
Medusa Facts – 1- Who were Medusa’s parents? Medusa’s parents were Phorcys and Keto, but sometimes identified as Forcis and Gaia. 2- Who were Medusa’s siblings? Stheno and Euryale (the other two Gorgon sisters) 3- How many children did Medusa have? Medusa had two children called Pegasus and Chrysaor 4- Who was the father of Medusa’s children? Poseidon, the god of the seas.
She became pregnant when he raped her in Athena’s temple. 5- Who killed Medusa? Perseus the eventual founder of Mycenae and the Perseid dynasty. 6- What does Medusa symbolize? Medusa’s symbolism is open to interpretation.
Some popular theories include Medusa as a symbol of the powerlessness of women, evil, strength and a fighting spirit. She is also seen as a protective symbol due to her ability to destroy those against her. 7- What are Medusa’s symbols? Medusa’s symbols are her head of snakes and her deathly stare.
8- Why has Medusa’s head been depicted on logos and coins? Medusa represent power and the ability to destroy one’s enemies. She’s often viewed as a strong figure. Her head is viewed as a protective symbol and was even used by the French Revolution as a symbol of French liberation and freedom.
9- Did Medusa have wings? Some depictions show Medusa as having wings. Others show her as being very beautiful. There is no consistent depiction of Medusa, and her portrayal varies. 10- Was Medusa a goddess? No, she was a Gorgon, one of three hideous sisters.
Are Medusa tattoos common?
Medusa tattoos are popping up all over TikTok. – Those familiar with Greek mythology likely know that Medusa was a mythic figure who was capable of turning a man to stone with just a look. Oh, and she had snakes for hair. All of this makes her sound rather unappealing, but it also speaks to the way men likely shaped many of the most famous stories told about women. Article continues below advertisement Although there are likely a million different reasons to get a Medusa tattoo, the most common one on TikTok right now is designed to invert the narrative that women should be punished or blamed in the wake of being sexually assaulted. In some tellings of Medusa’s story, she was raped by Poseidon, and then punished by Athena because of it. Now, women are reclaiming her as a figure of strength and empowerment. Historically, the figure of Medusa has been used to ward off evil. Medusa, who is often evil herself in these tellings, is used as an figure to repel other evil forces.
Now, women are reclaiming that narrative for themselves. Now, many are claiming that Medusa is not an evil figure, but a strong person who had to overcome enormous pain and trauma. Although she never actually existed, her story is one that many women on TikTok have found themselves relating to.
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What does Medusa symbolize feminism?
A Feminist Perspective on the Greek Gorgon – Detail from Medusa by Antonio Canova , 1804–06, via The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York T he stories of ancient Greek and Roman mythology have, over the years, been rediscovered, repurposed, and reinterpreted in more modern contexts. Often times, this has allowed us to garner some sort of fable-like lesson from the stories of the Illiad or Metamorphoses. The story of Medusa continues to provoke renewed perspectives on its symbolism — including through the lens of feminism and psychoanalysis.
- From a feminist perspective, Medusa’s story seems a cautionary tale of the symbolic decapitation of women and a loss of one’s power;
- In order to unpack the feminist implication of the mythology, let’s begin with the narrative of her story;
Medusa was one of three daughters — born with extraordinary beauty and stunning hair. She becomes a priestess to her sister Athena and vows to her sister to remain pure. Athena grows jealous, as many men flock to her, only to glance at Medusa instead. Eventually, Medusa attracts the attention of Poseidon, who subsequently rapes her.
Although Athena had the power to prevent this, she chooses not to. Athena is one of Poseidon’s sworn enemies, and through raping her sister, he is able to take power from her. When Athena discovers that Posidon has raped Medusa, she chooses to blame her rather than him.
In order to punish her, Athena curses Medusa by replacing her beautiful hair with a head of venomous snakes and making it so anyone who looks into her eyes will be turned to stone. At this point, Medusa’s head became a desired trophy for many warriors who wanted to brave her fierce monster-like powers.
- Many warriors are sent to kill her, including Perseus;
- It is only with help from all of the gods that Perseus is able to not only kill but fully decapitate her;
- Without the support of the gods, he would have been petrified like every other warrior;
Perhaps one of the most fascinating aspects of Medusa’s story is that she was pregnant with Poseidon’s child when she was killed. From her severed neck, her child Pegasus is born. As we’ve mentioned, the myth of Medusa can be interpreted in various ways, but I think perhaps the most fascinating analysis is done through a feminist perspective because it unveils just how swift we are to circumvent female rage. turinboy/Flickr/CC BY 2. 0 D espite her origin story being one of purity and renowned beauty, Medusa has come to connote only malevolence and her role as a gorgon, or mythical monster. She is the opposite of what Michael Foucault called, ” docile bodies. ” A concept in which women are expected to conform and submit to the enforced codes and structures of a patriarchal society.
During the late 20th century, feminists began to reassess the myth of Medusa. In the 1994 book, Female Rage: Unlocking Its Secrets, Claiming Its Power , the authors claimed that “when they asked women what female rage looked like to them, it was always Medusa…who came to mind…In one interview after another they were told that Medusa is ‘the most horrific woman in the world.
‘” None of the women they interview could remember the details of the myth, and perhaps, had they been able to, they would have had a different perspective. Our image of Medusa is one of pure evil, but in reality, she is raped and impregnated by her rapist.
She is then cast out and cursed by her own sister. Only to be stalked and haunted constantly by status-seeking men, and inevitably, murdered by Perseus. Then her ” severed head, capable of transfixion even in death, is carted away to help him defeat the villain of his story.
” There is a painful recognition in the fact that Medusa’s head — the center of her knowledge and power — is taken from her in order to empower a man and to fight his battles for him. She is the symbol of what female power looks like in the face of threatened male authority Ancient Greek artists originally portrayed Medusa ” as an almost comically hideous figure, with a lolling tongue, full beard, and bulging eyes.
” This image of Medusa began to shift when ” mustache stubble was replaced by smooth cheeks, and fangs concealed by shapely lips ,” as Classical artists began to feminize her once again. There are numerous images of Medusa in an almost angel-like state, or even once she had been cursed, images where the snakes in her hair function as more of an accessory rather than something fearsome.
Through these renditions of her visage, Medusa is painted into a half-human, half-animal monster. She is both feminine and monstrous. While she may be known for her monstrosity, her beauty remains just as dangerous. In ancient Greek society, which was ” a male-centered society, the feminization of monsters served to demonize women. Source: Damien Hirst and Science T his is exactly why the story of Medusa continues to captivate us — because she is a character that demands to be reimagined, she pushes back against the story that places Perseus at its center, who claims him to be blameless and heroic. Medusa is so alluring to us, because she is the ” image of intoxication, petrifaction, and luring attractiveness. ” She is seductive to us in her contemporary application and dimensionality. Medusa remains of temporal importance because she is the symbol of what female power looks like in the face of threatened male authority.
” Medusa is, in other words, the ultimate femme fatale. She is a woman who ” represents a conflicting view of femininity, one that is seemingly alluring but with a threatening or sinister underside. ” The femme fatale archetype has found permanence in our storytelling, and confirms to us that: to be both beautiful and fearsome — to be a woman who has bodily autonomy and anger — is not at all normative and that those women must be cast aside or have power taken from them.
As Elizabeth Johnston claims in her 2016 Atlantic essay, Medusa may be ” the original Nasty Woman. ” In 2020, it might be easy to chastise the women in the 90s who called Medusa “the most horrific woman,” but perhaps we would be better suited to remind ourselves just how recently things have begun to change.
After all, we are in a post #MeToo moment, when we can clearly recognize Medusa’s myth as a rape narrative — one in which the victim is blamed and cast out by her community for crimes perpetrated against her.
In 1976, Hélène Cixous, a noteworthy French feminist theorist, wrote an essay called ” The Laugh of the Medusa ,” in which she unpacks this myth. She calls women to write and express themselves fully. Throughout the essay she encourages women to come closer in relation to “her sexuality, to her womanly being, giving her access to her native strength.
” She goes on to say that in doing so she will get “back her goods, her pleasure, her organs, her immense bodily territories. ” Cixous continues on, saying that for too long women’s bodies have been occupied and deemed guilty — “guilty of everything, guilty at every turn: for having desire, for not having any; for being frigid, for being ‘too hot’; for not being both at once,” perhaps even from being both woman and angry.
Cixous emphasizes the importance of the female voice, of women’s story, she urges women to urgently learn to speak; because after all “a woman without a body, dumb, blind, can’t possibly be a good fighter. ” Herein, we see Medusa’s head, cut from her body, being held up by Perseus, “she is reduced to being the servant of the militant male, his shadow.
” In what insidious ways are women made to be in a man’s shadow? How might women’s stories actually be centered around women? Throughout all of her work, Cixous decries phallocentric storytelling and histories — in which men and the psychoanalytic lens of phallic imagery are centered in women’s stories.
Of course, one must never mention psychoanalysis and phallic imagery without then mentioning Sigmund Freud, who, during the 20th century, wrote prolifically about the intersection of sexuality and psychology. In 1950 his uncompleted essay, “Medusa’s Head,” was posthumously published.
- He poses the idea that ” to decapitate = to castrate;
- ” Through this framework, Freud posits that the female head is akin to her genitalia — keeping in mind that Medusa did in fact “give birth” to her child from her severed neck;
Within this context, it seems as if both the male genitalia and female head are their respective centers of power. Thereby, to castrate a man is to severe his most vital organ; and to decapitate a woman is to take her most vital source of power. SLAVA GERJ / WITR / SHUTTERSTOCK / ZAK BICKEL / THE ATLANTIC The incomplete essay becomes far more phallocentric as it continues — explaining how the sight of female genitalia instills fear of castration, how Medusa’s snake-like hair is (of course) a phallic symbol, and finally that Medusa’s ability to cause onlookers to become stiff, is a representation of an erection and therefore a confirmation of their manhood and of still having a penis — it is in essence, their final confirmation of manhood. From Freud’s telling, the entire story takes place through the perspective of the man in the story, reducing Medusa to something sub-human. Medusa’s beheading is the ultimate offense because it involves a complete dismemberment, a permanence within the male gaze, and a “double darkness.
- ” According to Hélène Cixous’ article “The Laugh of Medusa,” she claims that, The mythologically beheaded woman is seen (or at least partially seen) does not see; she is blinded and those who have beheaded her are blinded to her real nature;
She is transformed from a seeing subject to merely seen object, a demeaned and faceless body. Freud’s analysis of the Medusa myth is that she was decapitated because she represents castration anxiety through phallic symbolism. According to Freud, it is for this reason that Perseus must decapitate her.
- Cixous disagrees with this analysis;
- She argues that decapitation is not a symbol of castration anxiety, but rather a result of it;
- In other words, symbolic decapitation, “is a symptom of the real dangers that women face in a culture that is anxious about the powers of masculinity;
” Cixous demonstrates these points by claiming Freud himself is reductive and neglects to address the female experience in the Medusa myth, thereby erasing her experience, or, symbolically decapitating her as well. In her book Put A Bag Over Her Head: Beheading Mythological Women , Wendy Doniger posits that — if men fear castration of the penis, then women fear decapitation of the head; therefore the penis and the head become the locus of power within the man and woman respectively.
- Doniger claims that “beheading equals the release or termination of sexuality, male or female;
- ” Doniger submits that through the sexualization of the female head, (i;
- the mouth becoming the vagina) the woman, in essence, loses her voice, or rather she is denied of her voice;
If the sexualization of the female head causes subjectivity of the woman, then I argue that Freud’s analysis (i. the hair as a phallic symbol) is also a sexualization of the female head. If women venture to claim control over their heads, then they become a threat to the phallic, male-dominated structure.
- Because Medusa refuses a fate of silence and subjectivity, Perseus is left with no option but to decapitate Medusa for wielding her power;
- The myth of Medusa lies at the nexus of conversations about symbolism, feminity, rage, and the ways women are symbols of generativity, desire, and power;
There is an alluring nature to Medusa, as she is both siren and saint — she is the complicated woman we all understand and fear. The phallocentric understanding of Medusa that attempts to claim her as an erotic object denies her of her full power of speech, thought, and importance.
Her decapitation is in direct result of male anxiety about maintaining power and control. Google any famous woman’s name, perhaps Angela Merkel, Nancy Pelosi, or Hillary Clinton along with the word “Medusa.
” For centuries ” women in power (or fighting for power) have been compared to Medusa, from Marie Antoinette to the suffragettes. “It’s clear — in our society the sexually and intellectually independent woman is a fearsome sight to behold..
How does Medusa relate to today?
Medusa in Modern Culture – In modern culture, Medusa is seen as a powerful symbol of female intelligence and wisdom, related to the goddess Metis, who was a wife of Zeus. The snake-like head is a symbol of her cunning, a perversion of the matrifocal ancient goddess who the Greeks must destroy.
What does a Medusa tattoo mean 2021?
Is the Medusa tattoo offensive? – The Medusa tattoo is not regarded as offensive as it has now been adopted as an emblem of power for sexual assault survivors. Medusa is recognized as a victim rather than a villain, which gives the inkings of her a poignant meaning.
It has become a symbol for combatting the culture of victim-blaming, as Medusa was a woman made into a monster for her own rape. One TikTok user explained: “That’s why a lot of people have this tattoo, because if they were, they are victims, it is like empowering yourself, taking back your power type of thing.
” Medusa is also considered as a mythological figure who has the ability to deter evil forces. Tattoo artist helps people hide stretch marks and burns with unique no ink method – and goes viral on TikTok.
What does the story of Medusa teach us?
The Moral of the Story – The story of Perseus and Medusa is told to teach various life lessons. Perseus is cast out into the sea in a wooden chest with his unfaithful mother, yet they survive the rough seas by praying to Poseidon for the seas to be calm.
- Once landing on the island of Serifos, Perseus grew into a strong man with noble character and great intelligence;
- As King Polydectes ordered the near-impossible task that Perseus bring him the head of Medusa, Perseus dedicated himself to fulfilling the demand to save his mother;
As the son of Zeus, Perseus had help from the gods during his journey to find Medusa. Perseus used these gifts to locate Medusa and behead her, but it was also his strength, courage, and intelligence that helped him succeed. His courage, strength, and intelligence was also the reason that Perseus saved Andromeda from the Cetus and returned home with her, slaying both Phineus and Polydectes with the head of Medusa by turning them into stone.
- The story of Perseus and Medusa is a story of perseverance, bravery, and dignity;
- Perseus personifies the length one would go to in order to save the ones you love;
- Perseus shows the authenticity of his character when he rescues the helpless Andromeda from the Cetus and the attachment to the rock;
The bravery and courage of Perseus are shown as he beheads Medusa, as well as his defeat of Phineus and Polydectes..
Why is Medusa so popular?
From Renaissance times, Medusa’s power and femininity has made her an enticing subject for Western artists. Her beheading is portrayed as an act of heroism, as in Alexander Runciman’s Perseus and the Sleeping Medusa (1774).
Why is Athena a virgin?
by Erik Collins – Athena is the goddess of the defense of Athens, wisdom and women’s crafts. She is a virgin warrior goddess, one of many throughout mythologies of the world. Since the Greek world was patriarchal, her status as a warrior goddess was limited.
- Her power was specifically in defense of Athens;
- Perhaps because Greece was conquered at the end of the Bronze Age, Athens alone was among the Greek cities that survived;
- her status is also limited because of her service to her father, Zeus;
She acts with his consent or she does his will, so that whatever her powers are, they are also his powers. Her role as the goddess of wisdom is accounted for in myth by her birth narrative. Her mother Metis, the goddess of cleverness, was swallowed by her father Zeus.
He himself became impregnated with Athena, whom he bore from his head in full armor with the aid of Hephasestus’ axe. Originally, Athena was the goddess of womanly wisdom, but her role was expanded to wisdom in general.
Hephaestus’ appearance in the story also helps account for Athena’s role as the goddess of women’s crafts. Althought Athena is a virgin goddess, she mothered the god Erichthonios by Hephaestus. According to myth, she went to Hephaestus wanting some weapons forged.
- When Hephaestus tried to rape her, she protected her virginity and he ejaculated on her leg;
- She wiped it off with a piece of wool, throwing it onto the ground;
- Erichthonios sprouted from the discarded wool;
Athena gave the baby to the daughters of Pandrosus in a chest, which they were forbidden to open. They opened it and became mad, throwing themselves from the Acropolis. Athena then raised her son. In myth, Athena became the patron of Athens through a contest with Poseidon Athena offered the city the olive tree and Poseidon offered a fountain of water, though the water was salty.
The citizens consulted an oracle about what the signs meant and found that they were supposed to vote between the two. At this time, both men and women voted, according to the myth. The vote split along gender lines.
The women outnumbered the men and Athena became the patron goddess of Athens. Poseidon became incensed and flooded Athens until Athenians conceded to limit the status of women. This serves as a charter myth for how Athenian politics were patriarchal. It may also represent a real choice that Athenians made at a point in their history to depend more on agriculture than on trade.
Athena also deals with Poseidon in the Odyssey. She champions for Odysseus, as she did for the Achaeans in the Trojan War. She asks Poseidon to allow Odysseus’ return home after ten years. Poseidon had prevented his return in retaliation for his blinding of the Cyclops.
Athena’s aegises are the owl and the bear. her breastplate bears the head of Medusa. Medusa’s head was either given to her by Perseus, whom she aided in his quest, or given to her through Perseus by Zeus. The head represents her power to defend, since it strikes fear in enemies.