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?
More by this author
“Our anger exists to scourge the world, and to save it. Not everyone wants it saved.”
“Most cultures have a female monster who preys on pregnant women and children. In ancient Greece, her name was Lamia.”
“Medusa’s ugliness grew and grew, becoming something greater than herself but still part of her legend.”
More in this series
When he asked me how to say “I love you” in Japanese, I translated linguistically, but mistranslated culturally.
Bees do not attack—just as trauma survivors do not attack, but rather defend. She will not sting you unless she believes the colony’s life depends on her defense. Because when she stings you, she dies.