Women are right to fear the dark.
This is what they learn —
Through gentle warnings,
Whispered words —
A matrilineal tradition of fear and helplessness and simmering hatred,
A pot on low heat.
Had reason to fear the dark —
For that was where the monsters hid,
Deities disguised as men
But with the same cruel hands as they all have.
She was cursed for his indulgence.
They call it a curse, anyways —
A woman’s greatest strength is her beauty,
And without her beauty, what is she?
If she can no longer meet the gaze of her male partner, what is she?
If she cannot help but bite at any man who draws near, what is she?
This is what they all think —
For men only see the ugliness on her face.
They see the writhing of her hair,
The cold in her eyes,
The way she stands, now tall and unafraid,
And think —
If she is no longer afraid of them,
What is she?
Men do not understand why
The women flee from them
Into her arms
Where she will protect them from the darkness that the streetlamps do not reach.
Men do not understand that the scales in her hair are meant to keep them away
To keep away their wandering hands
Their lustful grasp
The violence they will let boil over.
Men do not understand that the cold stone her gaze leaves them with is her protection,
Not her curse.
(They forget that Athena is a maiden goddess,
The goddess of wisdom,
And knows as well as all women what it means for him to indulge himself.)
So when she smiles at the woman walking alone through the street,
The men see Medusa as a monster
And dare not approach.
But the woman knows that this monster is a person who can protect both herself and others
So that none shall share her fate.
Women are right to fear the dark, you see.
The darkness is where the monsters hide.
But monsters come in different forms,
And some will fight to protect their own.