Feminism: The Ability to Turn Men to Stone Clara Crisp

Ovid, author of Metamorphoses, wrote that “Medusa once had charms; to gain her love, a rival crowd of envious lovers strove”. She was a beautiful woman, who was cursed when she was raped by Poseidon. This was the origin of the gorgons unmatchable power.

Ray Harryhausen, a famous stop-motion animator created a revolutionary new design of Medusa, making her more monster than woman. The director stated in an interview: "I found that most of the classical Medusa’s were simply a rather attractive looking woman’s face with snakes in her hair. That wouldn’t turn anybody to stone, … [and] that wouldn’t be very dramatic for a motion picture, so I gave her a scaly face, and a more evil face than most of the classical concepts”. The change Harryhausen implemented triggered a change in Medusa's representation in popular culture.

Heléne Cixous believes in a feminism defined as the uprising of woman out of "her inevitable struggle against conventional man". Cixous proposes that the best way for women to do this is to use there intellect. "Women should write about women" so that other women may know the misinformation men have historically fed to us. She uses Medusa's story as an example of men feeding women misinformation, stating that maybe Medusa is in fact not dangerous. With this enlightenment, women will be able to grow, up and out of their struggle with the masculine mindset.

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This scene aligns with many others in the movie Basic Instinct. They depict that the "power" women have over heterosexual men is sex. Throughout the movie the murderous main character is compared to Medusa. Arlene Richards argues that the entire movie "is a relentless attack on women", because Medusa's previous feminist representations are stripped away. Richards also goes on to point out the similarity in women and Medusa's ability to turn to stone "Basic Instinct evokes primal fear of the vulva, the Medusa that turns man into stone".

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