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?
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“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
I Underwent Genetic Testing to Help My Son, and Discovered I Have an Increased Risk of Breast Cancer
What if my son, the boy who has puzzled everyone, has helped to save my life?
It can be easy to confuse real emotion with the shiny drama enfolding it. Sometimes grand gestures are signs of grand feeling—sometimes they’re not.
I blamed my mother for so many things, but I blamed her especially for being a mere mortal when what I really needed was a supreme, supernaturally benevolent being.