Medusa Got A Bad Rap


I have a complicated relationship with Medusa. Of course, Medusa herself is a complicated girl — with an identity that spans classical myth, castration anxiety (Really Freud? Really?), and angry feminism.

She’s been shadowing me forever, it seems. For one thing, my hair is a mop of spiral curls, and for a time, by certain people, I was referred to as having “Medusa Head.” It was meant as a joke, but when you consider that Medusa is variously considered a monster, a demon, and a terrifying symbol of rage — and that one of the people who called me by this nickname was my boyfriend — you can see how it might have ruffled my feathers a bit (or my iridescent scales, as it were).

And there is this too: I am scary.

Or so I have been told, always by men who said they loved me. They loved me but I was too intense, too ambitious, too dramatic, too overwhelming. They loved me but I was too sad, too broken, too raw. I over thought everything. I was a flight risk. Too much of a loner. They loved me but they didn’t trust me. They loved me but they were sure I’d break their heart, given half a chance.

They loved me but eventually I’d turn them to stone.

And maybe they were right, in part. A little. Some more than others, that’s for certain.

But here is what I have finally come to believe. There is a way to love Medusa. To truly love her, with her violent origin story, her rage, her danger, her twisty beauty. Not to slay her, or to let her harm you, but to find a way to get close enough to stroke every snake on her head. To see past the glamour she throws. There is a way to love Medusa, with her power to destroy and her mortal vulnerability.

There is a way to love Medusa, but it requires something more of you than mere adoration. It requires more than desire, however hungry. It demands that you look into her eyes and be willing to master the part of you that wants to run from things that aren’t easy. It demands that you make a stand, even when she hisses at you, even when she tells you to go.

And it helps to be a snake charmer.