Religion and Sight - Louise Child

Religion and Sight - Louise Child

5. The Female Gaze: Sight and the Medusa Myth

Religion and Sight - Louise Child

Gina Bevan [+-]
Cardiff University (PhD student)
Gina Bevan is a current PhD student at Cardiff University. Her thesis, “The Ambivalence of Medusa: Female use of the Gorgon in Popular Culture from the 1980’s to the Present” is an interdisciplinary work which combines the topics of religion, ancient history and gender. Gina has presented her PhD research at a number of conferences, including a piece which explored rap artist Azealia Banks’s use of Medusa in her Ice Princess music video. It appears that Banks uses the Gorgon as a symbol of black experience and Gina’s findings were presented at the 2017 Classical Antiquity and Memory conference, University of Bonn and the 2017 UWICAH conference, University of Wales. Gina also enjoys teaching and she is currently a mentor for The Brilliant Club, a charity which seeks to increase the number of talented but less fortunate students applying to highly-selective universities.


Medusa, as she is found in ancient Greek mythology, is known as a terrifying monster whose petrifying gaze could turn those who looked at her to stone. What is often ignored is that her victims were overwhelmingly men, with only one known case of her gaze taking effect on a woman. In this chapter, the author will explore whether Medusa posed such a threat because she transgressed Greek gender roles as a woman who looked back. The chapter will use comparative literary material to suggest that the myth can be taken as an aetiological tale that reflects the ancient Greek man’s right to look freely, in contrast with the more restricted gaze of the Greek woman. This may be used to explain why the hero Perseus, after decapitating the Gorgon’s head, appropriated Medusa’s petrifying gaze to defeat his enemies, as if it was his own.

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Bevan, Gina. 5. The Female Gaze: Sight and the Medusa Myth. Religion and Sight. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 87-105 Jul 2020. ISBN 9781781797495. Date accessed: 24 Jan 2021 doi: 10.1558/equinox.35748. Jul 2020

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