Mythology is a traditional story created by people to explain a natural or social phenomenon, and typically involves supernatural beings or events. On the other hand, feminism is the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.
Mythology has been around for a long time, featuring some anti-feminist themes due to how women were viewed in traditional societies. This article is to address those anti-feminist themes and why they should be changed.
The Greek goddess Hera is one of the most worshipped and respected goddesses in Greece. She is the Goddess of Marriage and people would regularly pray to Hera for her protection and guidance at every wedding. While Hera was meant to represent the divine ideal of a happy marriage and family, she didn’t experience the same. Her marriage to Zeus only started as a result of Zeus raping her. Zeus cheated on Hera multiple times and liked his illegitimate children more than Hera’s.
As much as Hera wanted to, she had no power to escape her marriage with Zeus. In Ancient Greece, it was customary for the man to decide whether a divorce should take place. Moreover, if a divorce took place, the woman would lose her status and power. This shows that society was structured in such a way that women are dependent on their husbands and often helpless to change the dynamic. Hera’s rape also demonstrates that women were seen as sexual objects to exploit.
Another Greek Goddess who experienced injustice is the Greek goddess Aphrodite. She is one of the most well-known and most beautiful goddesses. Despite that, Aphrodite was given in marriage by her father, Zeus, to Hephaistos but she did not love him back, but instead, she wanted to marry Ares. Because of that, she was stuck in a loveless marriage. Unlike her status as the goddess of love, she could never love Hephaistos. Aphrodite’s situation can be relatable to ancient Greek women who were in arranged marriages. In most cases, the marriage was a transaction between two men, for their benefit. There was not much consideration for the woman’s opinion.
Third, Athena Goddess Of War And Wisdom. She is known to be independent and powerful when compared to other Greek Goddesses because she was Zeus’s favorite child. Athena was actually born with strength and wisdom equal to her father. However, Athena was still subject to Zeus’ command because she was his daughter in a patriarchal hierarchy.
Finally, Persephone Goddess Of Springtime And Fertility. When Zeus gave Persephone away to Hades, Persephone did not know about the arrangement and thought she was kidnapped until Hades explained the situation to her. However, because of her new status as Queen of the Underworld, she could not go to the world above which was contradicting her status as a goddess. She was not given a choice in the matter and her freedom and happiness were restricted.
Based on the stories of the goddess mentioned, they often contradicted their own status as goddesses. They had restricted freedom and their lives/stories revolved around a man making decisions for them. The goddesses were mostly oppressed, portrayed in a stereotypical way, and revolved around patriarchy.
Although, Their stories were written long ago, and in today’s age, women have more rights and freedom. It is not okay to normalize/idolize their stories.
By: Liew Yik Xuan