Introduction to Women and Myth: Seer/ See-Her
When I was a little girl I noticed that some of the books I read recast familiar female characters in a different light--one that made me feel more connected to their stories, that highlighted the unfairness of the original story, or that imagined new ways for a villainess or a support character to be the heroine. (Not a love-interest heroine, a woman-hero, which as we'll see later has a different kind of story.) I was benefitting from other waves of feminists' work to revise and reimagine the stories that shape our identities.
In my first semester at Georgetown, while researching Freud's Medusa Head figure that came up in some of the criticism responding to Oscar Wilde's Salome, I found Susan Bower's essay, published in NWSA Journal, "Medusa and the Female Gaze." In the essay, I found a powerful connection between the stories told about women and how women are shaped as "images" rather than "bearers of the look." (Laura Mulvey, to whose essay I refer, also discusses the Medusa Head.) Bowers argues that women artists and writers, by revising the Medusa figure, can create a new way of looking that honors the subject's and the object's status as human.
In her book, Women as Mythmakers: Poetry and Visual Art by Twentieth-Century Women, Estella Lauter analyzes how women artists and writers of the twentieth century have been struggling to create a mythos that revises women away from image-status, the familiar virgins and mothers and temptresses and monsters; into a creative, empowered, and nurturing non-patriarchal I/eyes. I call this model the Seer/ See-Her: the woman whose access to knowledge is a boon for all and damages none. If we listen to the voice of the Seer/ See-Her, we can change the story of the hero, a story whose adventure, victory, and rein have always also carried the shadow story of violence, destruction, and oppression.
Women Poets Rewriting/ Responding to Myth
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