The Monstrous Female Ambition of the Harpy
“When women grab for space men thought reserved for their use alone, those men will surely call us foul.”
This is a series on monstrous female archetypes by Jess Zimmerman.
Myth and folklore teem with frightening women: man-seducers and baby-stealers, menacing witches and avenging spirits, rapacious bird-women and all-devouring forces of nature. In our stories and our culture, we underline the idea that women who step out of bounds—who are angry or greedy or ambitious, who are overtly sexual or insufficiently sexy—aren’t just outside the norm: They’re monstrous. Women often try to tamp down those qualities that we’re told violate “natural” femininity. But what if we embraced our inner monsters?
The New York Times
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“Our anger exists to scourge the world, and to save it. Not everyone wants it saved.”
“Most cultures have a female monster who preys on pregnant women and children. In ancient Greece, her name was Lamia.”
“When you’ve spent all your life smothering your contradictions, their eruption can undo you.”
More in this series
I blamed my mother for so many things, but I blamed her especially for being a mere mortal when what I really needed was a supreme, supernaturally benevolent being.
Seizing the Means of Enchantment: What Fairy Tales Can Teach Us About Class and Wealth in the Age of the Mega-Corporation
Class systems are not fixed in fairy tales—in fact, fairy tales would almost seem to argue for the redistribution of wealth.