O maid, you once were lovely,
full of grace, and named
for Wisdom in eternal female form–
Metis, Maat, Medha the names you bore…
But the passing generations,
reshaping and restructuring your form,
made you over as a thing to fear,
no longer Maid, but monstrous
with a deadly, stony gaze;
Men made you cruel and cold
and perilous to life in latter days,
forgetting that the peril in your eyes
is Truth too true for them to see, and live.
Grim-faced now, the Gorgon who is wise,
whose serpents in her hands once offered Life
now–writhe in ringlets on her brow
And Perseus pursues her with a knife…
copyright 2005 by CL Redding
Medusa illustrates one of humankind’s greatest dysfunctions, throughout all the cultures in which women have been put down and diminished, relegated to roles of subservience, charged with incapability of mind and frailness of body. In those that view the Universe as perpetually polarized the good and the bad, the feminine has become associated with evil. Out of these attitudes, naturally flows the reshaping of the feminine from equal to the masculine, and possessed of particular female powers to being chattel of the male: from whole person to object and having no value except as men define it.
Humanity has been deformed and crippled by this dysfunction that began with the rise of patriarchy. When life became about conquest and physical domination, the values of insight, of healing, of the powers of gentleness were diminished.
It isn’t about how men are, or women: It is about foundational assumptions and beliefs throughout a culture in its defining of maleness and femaleness. It is about the essence of the masculine and of the feminine. It is about unexamined notions and forgotten roots.
How do we heal this dysfunctional family? It has to start with awareness, with questioning what has been accepted as normal, with looking back to beginnings, to times before the beginnings, to seeing a world without this dysfunction.
We know more now, we understand many things better than our ancestors did, or could. Our philosophies have grown more sophisticated. It is in our power to refute, to redefine the ‘truths’ of our ancestors, and knowing better, to do better, as Maya Angelou suggested.