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Women and Other Monsters: Building a New…

Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology (edition 2021)

by Jess Zimmerman (Author)

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911242,327 (3.5)5
Title:Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology
Authors:Jess Zimmerman (Author)
Info:Beacon Press (2021), Edition: First Edition, 224 pages
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Women and Other Monsters: Building a New Mythology by Jess Zimmerman


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I'm so disappointed.

This book is a rambling, repetitive mess of justified anger but no action. The author constantly¬ reminds you 1) that she's "ugly" and "fat" and 2) about things she's already established (yes, you already said it was Athena who cursed Medusa; you don't need to state so in a parenthetical every time you mention Athena's name).

Most disappointing, though, was the basis of the book's theme using Greek mythology. She primarily uses Ovid as a myth source, but he was a Roman writer centuries after the Classical Greek period. Using Ovid for Greek mythology is like using the Grimm brothers (whom she also sources) for all European fairytales. Those particular authors were often severely removed from the original story contexts and are notorious for adding their own interpretations and ideals.

I get that the author wanted to focus on how modern society at large views the stories, and in that case it wouldn't have been a problem to use Ovid and the Grimms because they are arguably the most popular. But those sources and the way she words her descriptions reveal her extremely shallow research.

The tagline for her book is "Building a New Mythology," but she doesn't include the myriad ways these monsters have been used for exactly that purpose for millennia. She points out that ancient Greeks used the symbol of Medusa on shields to terrify the enemy and on doors to scare away intruders, but she mixes up that Medusa with Ovid's. She doesn't discuss how women used the symbol in the domestic space, or how Athena's* "curse**" could and has been re-interpreted as a blessing to protect Medusa from men's lustful gazes (which literally would have fit into the author's entire thesis).

*In fact Minerva's curse; Roman and Greek gods are not the same, and the whole rape/curse addition is entirely Ovid's and not original to Greek myth.

**which the author demonizes in an effort to show how Athena, born from Zeus' thigh and not from a womb, is such an evil anti-woman figure O_O ( )
  hissingpotatoes | Dec 28, 2021 |
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Zimmerman's story of her experience of misogyny
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