Mansplaining the Goddess has to be a new low. The term “mansplaining” comes from Rebecca Solnit’s essay (that became a book) called Men Explain Things To Me. She deftly skewers the sort of males (yes, i know, not all men) who assume that they automatically know more about any given subject than a woman.
The book is rad, but it will likely make you furious. Solnit draws some fantastic conclusions. They go way beyond – say – my typical experience of a taxi driver telling me how websites work. Or even pompous “let me try to simplify this so that you might be able to understand it” lecturing. (Solnit is a Sun-Mercury conjunction Cancerian with those two hooked up in a Grand Trine with Neptune + Chiron. )
Sadly, I am accustomed to a particular style of person feeling the need to tell me all about subjects I am informed on. But until recently, nobody has tried to mansplain the Goddess to me. It was on Facebook and apropos of nothing, he launched into “Medusa had no real power” — “I hope you understand that Medusa only had her head full of snakes lent to her by Apollo” and on and on.
It ignored that there is an extensive background to the Medusa myth way before the Grecian version. See Barbara Walker and Helene Cixous’s work on the topic for a start. An iconic example: A.L. Frothingham’s essay Medusa, Apollo and the Great Mother was a paradigm-alterer.
The guy also assumed that I knew nothing at all or had never studied mythology. And, it was odd to have a man lecturing on my improper interpretation of a goddess. It was textbook mansplaining and pompous trolling for attention, BUT it also made me question my reaction.
WHY did it feel so poignant? Then I recalled how, during a traumatic and challenging girlhood, how thrilled I was to discover Isis, Persephone, Medusa, Ishtar, and more. Their powers blew my mind, the ordeals they survived, their temples and stories.
Their roles were so broad but shrunk down with patriarchy into a Holy Ghost, Virgin Mother, and Whore of Babylon. By the way, parthenogenesis, which is when you can conceive and give birth to a baby with no man being anywhere in orb, is a classic goddess attribute.
Along with their magical strengths and status, a lot of them were unabashedly whores, spinsters, witches, single mothers, or cat ladies. Some had multiple lovers – others sought solitude in wild enchanted retreats – those choices did not define them.
They went on quests, ruled realms, moved between dimensions, time-traveled and did magic. Ancient Queens, priestesses and everyday women alike visited their temples, had shrines to these female deities in their homes, prayed to them and attempted to develop their relationship with this energy via dreams, hymns, art etc.
Read at the right time, books such as Goddesses In Everywoman, Women Who Run With The Wolves and The Women’s Encylopedia Of Myth and Wisdom are life-altering.
The Facebook troll mansplaining the Goddess was just a particularly pitiful version of a long line of men discrediting feminine strength and divinity.
Or, acknowledging it but saying it was merely on loan from men. So if you’re not “nice” enough, they could presumably grab it back. This Christmas I am going to be raising a glass to the Holy Ghost who was, according to the Gnostics, Sophia – the Goddess of Wisdom.