When It Is Considered Monstrous Not to Want Children, and Monstrous to Want Them Too Much
“Most cultures have a female monster who preys on pregnant women and children. In ancient Greece, her name was Lamia.”
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?
Media scrambled to report the facts: Less than 0.1 percent of abortions take place past twenty-four weeks; virtually all are wanted pregnancies that encounter heartbreaking medical obstacles; the procedure doesn’t “rip the baby out of the womb”; it isn’t a baby yet anyway. None of that mattered, because none of that was the point. The point was to paint women who have abortions as baby-murdering monsters.
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“Our anger exists to scourge the world, and to save it. Not everyone wants it saved.”
“When you’ve spent all your life smothering your contradictions, their eruption can undo you.”
“Medusa’s ugliness grew and grew, becoming something greater than herself but still part of her legend.”
More in this series
Those who spend their lives in bodies others deem unworthy grow accustomed to building our own self-worth.
Every day, as news reports about climate change become more threatening, I grow more nostalgic for the places and objects of my childhood that feel increasingly imperiled.