The Medusa Project: Editor’s Introduction by Juliette van der Molen
With the upcoming October 31st launch of our free-to-download debut anthology #TheMedusaProject, co-editor Juliette van der Molen considers a mythological being bestowed with the ultimate power to end the male gaze.
I never intended to edit an anthology this year. Like so many projects, this started out as something different. Megha Sood, my assistant editor, came up with the brilliant idea of putting a themed call out for submissions to celebrate International Women’s Day and the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote in the United States. This is a presidential election year in the United States and it feels just as important as it was 100 years ago that women have the right to vote, the right to be heard. I shared her call with our editorial team and as so often happens with the magic of Mookychick, an anthology was born.
As an author that likes to dig into history, I’m often reminding myself that old texts are written and stories are told through the narrative of men. Even when they are about women, they are often not first hand accounts. The further back that I read, the more this is the case. And so, as we look into mythology and the story of Medusa, it is important to understand that women were not the original tellers of these tales.
Narrative is powerful. Words can build and shape ideologies that last centuries after the author is long gone. The more that we hear stories from the source, the more we are open to the possibility of enlightenment and compassion. Medusa, at its core, is a story about violence against women and the vilification that has historically followed. Forget that it’s mythology and look at the repetitive themes that have led us all the way through a history that was written to take power away from women and blame them for their misfortunes. Even Athena is cast in the role of a jealous woman if we follow the traditional telling. But, what if Athena wanted to protect Medusa? She gave her the ultimate power to end the male gaze. This meant that Medusa would never be the prized possession of any man, never find love or that completeness that we are told all women must find. Athena punished Medusa- this is what the patriarchal narrative would have us believe.
Medusa is more than mythology.
Medusa is me. Medusa is you.
I want to hear Medusa’s story from her own lips. I want to chat with Athena over a cup of tea. I want to hear the voices of women that are not my own. And so, I ended up editing The Medusa Project. The author’s and artists that have contributed to this stunning body of work have come together as a powerful force. Inside of this anthology you will find stories of trauma, of survival and of triumph. You will find art that asks us to pause and consider different perspectives. You will find magical rituals rooted in empowerment and healing.
I’m so thankful for everyone that trusted us enough with their work to respond to our submission call. Often, it is not easy to share these stories and I am grateful for each contribution. I’m grateful to my co-Editor and Assistant Poetry Editor, Megha Sood, for her tireless enthusiasm, thoughtfulness and attention to detail along every step of the way. When my energy flagged, she lifted me up and let me know we were in this together. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner.
Additionally, I’d like to thank Magda Knight, co-founder and EIC of Mookychick, for her gentle encouragement and for providing the foundation of an incredible magazine where all voices can be heard. It was her vision that provided for Medusa as the theme and catalyst for this anthology, as well as the title. Her Medusa ritual in our section of Magical Rituals is part of the “Big Medusa Energy” that we know will be a source of empowerment to many.
Thank you to our editorial team at Mookychick for your insight and support with this project. And lastly, a thank you to Wijnand, who worked hard to layout this anthology and breathe the last bit of life into it!
It is our hope that in these pages you will find camaraderie, understanding and empowerment. We believe that Medusa would approve.
Juliette van der Molen
The Medusa Project