Medusa-Strong

Trans Women Terrify the Established Order

On this month's third anniversary of Christine Blasey Ford's courageous testimony, I paused to wonder what might have happened if that brave woman had had Medusa with her.


Then I realized, she did.

Kavanaugh & Blasey Ford at the 2018 Hearings, courtesy NBC & Teen Vogue.

The Rape of Medusa

Medusa was a beautiful mortal whom the god Poseidon raped, then Athena punished by turning her hair into snakes and making her glance turn living creatures into stone.


Let no survivor go unpunished, seems to have been the motto of the Greek gods.


Two Pictures Tell A Story

Which one of the visages of Kavanaugh and Ford above would more likely to turn you to stone?


Through the last 3,000 years, the patriarchy has done a massive hit job on Medusa. It's not enough that she was violated by one god, only to be disfigured by another. Her fate was to then be beheaded by the mortal Perseus (again, aided by the gods) and her head used by him to turn into stone anyone he thought had it coming.


Look at the way she's portrayed in the 1981 Ray Harryhausen-animated MGM film.

MGM's 1981 idea of a just portrayal of Medusa.

It's like the gods wrote, directed, and produced this gaslit vehicle.


Of Gods and Men

That's the point, isn't it? When a woman has any power, poses any threat to the established hegemony, she's raped, vilified, and demonized.


Much like Christine Blasey Ford was, three years ago.


Except that this time, the world wasn't buying it. Men used crass, autocratic efforts to squelch Blasey-Ford's testimony and portray Kavanaugh as the victim.


Until he opened his mouth … and looked uglier than any movie's worst demonic portrayal. Greek gods and mythology were never a commentary on the nature of the divine but rather a portrait of human foibles, played out by immortals who should know better …


… just like a Jesuit prep-school boy destined for the highest court in the land should've known better than to assault a young girl. He didn't just get bit in the ass by his past. Blasey-Ford's composure turned his angry, petulant tirade into a crumbling statue to the ills of patriarchy.

Which one of the visages of Kavanaugh and Ford above would more likely to turn you to stone?

Enough

Kavanaugh's temper tantrum reflected the fear and desperation that has fueled a male-dominated order of civilization to trample women. It's ugly. Vicious. Takes what it wants and punishes those whom it violates.


Until now.


Trans Tipping Point

The tipping point of trans-female acceptance represents not merely a talking point that right-wing demagogues use to rally bucks from their reactionary base. It demonstrates the emergence of the feminine that, despite its having been ground-under-heel for millennia, is something to aspire to, to even order society according to.


An old Hebrew prayer goes, "Thank you, Lord, for not making me a woman."


It now seems like that was really self-hating wish fulfillment.


Trans women turn the hearts of their detractors to stone not because we're ugly or demonic. But because we admire, embrace, and claim ourselves as always having been women, in the face of centuries-long domination of women.


Two More Pictures Tell A New Story

Below are two of my paintings, Medusa 1 and Medusa 2. When I painted the first, I was trying to convey the anguish of the mythological Medusa. I painted the second one to be the portrait of a dear friend.

Medusa 1 and Medusa 2, ©2020, Bethany A. Beeler

Stepping back a year from their creation, I now see that I was painting myself. Before I transitioned, I felt lost and imprisoned in something implicitly ugly and stonelike about me. After I transitioned, I felt a beauty that I and the world of men had denied me.


The snakes are still there, mind you. But in the first, they are a writhing, venomous curse. In the second, I am the snakes—resourceful, able to hide, hunt, camouflage, and show my fangs. Not to scare anyone. But to stand up for myself in a world full of predators who've designated me as a demon to be slayed.


The sad thing was, in my past, I assigned that status to myself and beheaded any face of my true self that said, "Wait. Aren't you something to be treasured … especially by yourself?"

I won't turn anybody to stone whose heart wasn't already made that way by their own fear.

A New Way to Face the World

Christine Blasey-Ford treasured herself and all her sisters enough to allow her life to be ripped apart as she stood tall in the face of forces that would have ground her under their heel.


Yes, Kavanaugh still made it to the Court. Yes, he just helped craft a maneuver that seeks to behead the rights of women in Texas.


But, folks, his is an ugly, rock-faced desperation, much like the transphobia I and other trans women face to this day.


The difference is that no one is holding up our severed heads in a cry of penis-shrivelled victory. We hold our own heads high.


I won't turn anybody to stone whose heart wasn't already made that way by their own fear.


In the meantime, here's one last dual-picture with no opposites in it. It's all love.

Me and Pam, something more than two goddesses.