Claim Your Complexity: The Monstrous Upheaval of the Chimera
“When you’ve spent all your life smothering your contradictions, their eruption can undo you.”
This is Role Monsters, a series on monstrous female archetypes by Jess Zimmerman.
Myth and folklore teem with frightening women: man-seducers and baby-stealers, menacing witches and avenging spirits, rapacious bird-women and all-devouring forces of nature. In our stories and our culture, we underline the idea that women who step out of bounds—who are angry or greedy or ambitious, who are overtly sexual or insufficiently sexy—aren’t just outside the norm: They’re monstrous. Women often try to tamp down those qualities that we’re told violate “natural” femininity. But what if we embraced our inner monsters?
Jess Zimmerman is the author of Women and Other Monsters and an editor at Quirk Books. Her essays and opinion writing have appeared in the Guardian, the New Republic, Slate, Hazlitt, Catapult, and others.
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More by this author
I Gave Up Pants—But Femininity Is Just As Binding
I stopped wearing pants in the name of physical comfort, with the emotionally uncomfortable result that I now present as a woman who wears dresses all the time.
Theory of Knowledge
An example of the just-world phenomenon: If anyone found out, they would think I deserved it. When it’s the girl who gets hurt, they always do.
Who Is Steven Hotdog? Or, Untangling the “Braided Essay”
A personal essay of the Steven Hotdog form needs the interior experience, the exterior fact, and the meaning that connects them—in order to work its magic.
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What If We Cultivated Our Ugliness? or: The Monstrous Beauty of Medusa
“Medusa’s ugliness grew and grew, becoming something greater than herself but still part of her legend.”
The Grammar of Time Travel
There is a comfort in believing that all our ancestors’ understandings of time and space, however met with destruction, live on.
How Languages Go Extinct
Cantonese has become a forgotten heirloom of my past.