Medusa was the victim.
“Medusa? The snake-haired monster? A victim?” Yes, you read that right, a victim. We
all heard the glorious story in which the mighty Perseus “saved” Athens by beheading
Medusa and then used her head to turn a sea monster into stone. But do you know the whole
story? Myths tend to have holes, and Medusa’s story has more holes than Swiss cheese.
Medusa was a normal Athenian woman until she caught Poseidon’s eye. Attracted by her
beauty, Poseidon decided to rape her. This made Athena extremely jealous and to get revenge
she cursed Medusa. She gave her snake hair that could turn any man into stone so that no one
could ever look at her again. After getting cursed, Medusa exiled herself in a cave far away
from Athens, so she wouldn’t hurt anyone. The only person she ever petrified were the men
sent by the king of Athens, Polydectes, who wanted an impossible gift: her head. Now comes
in play the mighty Perseus. While Medusa was peacefully sleeping, he entered the cave and
by using a shield given by Athena as a mirror, he beheaded Medusa. She died on the spot, but
her curse was still very much alive and this is how her severed head became a weapon that
Perseus used to kill all of his enemies, including the sea monster that was terrorizing Athens.
As a way to thank Athena for her help, Perseus disrespected Medusa one last time by gifting
Athena her head.
Lately, sexual assault survivors are getting Medusa’s tattoos to raise awareness on how
women are punished or blamed after surviving sexual assault. “You shouldn’t have worn
that”, “You were asking for it”, “Men can’t control themselves”, “You only have yourself to
Medusa was punished, but in a way that no man could ever hurt her again: she had the
power to defend herself. Until Perseus came along.