Medusa- Tempt Them And They Will Come
Medusa's story has two sides to its commentary on female blame. On one hand, Medusa is remembered as a terrible, hideous, malevolent monster. I was among the group that knew nothing about her rape and remembered Perseus “slaying the monster” as something heroic and deserved.
This is reminiscent of both the modern responsibilities placed on women without consideration to their situation as well as the burden placed on women to deal with anything that comes along with their assault. With the recent debates surrounding abortion policy it isn't rare to see a "pro-life" argument that if a woman didn't want a baby she should have closed her legs, without stopping to consider anything about the situation. Further, even after hearing stories of the most gruesome assaults, you will still see people arguing that it's not the babies fault and that it is still the mother's responsibility to carry the pregnancy to term. While nobody is arguing that the baby is at fault, because the rapist isn't expected to bear any responsibility and rarely faces any punishment, blame and responsibility fall solely on the victim.
The other side of the commentary is the blame placed on Athena. It was my immediate reaction to this story was to be angry at Athena for punishing Medusa. By focusing my blame on Athena I did the exact same thing I’m trying to criticize; subconsciously ignored the actions of Poseidon to see if blame could be placed anywhere else. The motivation behind Athena’s transformation of Medusa is never stated and there’s a plausible argument that Medusa was transformed into a monster for her own protection. A lot of commentary on this story relate Athena’s curse to the blame and competition that takes place between women. I have seen far more empowerment and support between women that I've ever seen shame and competition, especially between victims. Athena’s curse offered Medusa protection and a defense but even if she did have malicious intent, it doesn’t change the fact that the only unequivocally condemnable action in this story is still that of Poseidon.