First things first: In celebrating today we want to encourage everyone to broaden their view of IWD. This day isn’t for CIS women - it’s a day for transgender, non-binary, and gender non-conforming people as well. There is no equality until all identities are legally and socially recognized. If we are going to celebrate a day to celebrate gender equality, it needs to be inclusive to all.
TW: Sexual Violence
Poison the Patriarchy is a representation of the rape culture, victim-blaming, and power imbalances experienced as a result of patriarchal society.
The story of Medusa is often told through a lens where Athena finds out about Medusa’s rape and in retaliation turns Medusa (a mortal woman) into a monster with serpent hair and a look that will turn anyone to stone.
This is a classic example of pitting women against women, bypassing the horrendous behavior of the men involved. After a closer look, the story sounds more like this:
After Medusa is raped by Poseidon, a powerful god (note power imbalance between perpetrator and victim) in Athenas temple, she goes to Athena for help. Despite the powers Athena has, Poseidon was more powerful and Athena could not retaliate against him directly, she also knew Poseidon would blame Medusa for what happened. As a result of this, Athena knows she will have to “punish” Medusa in some way.
This is when Athena, the goddess of wisdom, turns Medusa into a monster and is sentenced to live alone on an island - not to punish her, but to keep her safe.
Athena wasn’t able to directly take a stance against the patriarchal systems at the time but using her divine powers – she found a way to do it indirectly. By turning Medusa into this “monster” it prevented anyone from being able to harm Medusa again. This new life (although not chosen) allowed medusa to feel safe again after experiencing such a traumatic event.
It’s a long way from the justice we would hope to see but we can still appreciate through reinterpretation that even mythical tails provide us great evidence that we do have and still need to poison the patriarchy.