In the original story, the Medusa was a beautiful woman who held a very positive role. Tragedy fell upon her when she was confronted with endless hardships brought upon by male actions. Medusa was a beautiful woman who was raped, killed and beheaded by various gods. However even in the face of tragedy and disgrace, the Medusa was portrayed as meaningful. Following the moment her head was removed, a Pegasus flew out of her body, representing the birth of beauty.

Just as the Medusa was powerless to fight against the repressive actions forced upon her, so too was she powerless against the continual metamorphosing of the myth which resulted in the more popular Medusa myth commonly known today. In this popular version the Medusa is a monster with hair of a thousand snakes. She is under a curse which causes everything she looks at to turn to stone. Cixous explains that this monstrous image of the Medusa exists only because it has been directly determined by the male gaze. Once Cixous establishes that the myth of the Medusa is nothing more than a facade, she begins to question if the Medusa does in fact have the ability to turn things into stone or if her fearful imagery comes merely from our perception of her, a perception that has manifested itself from male warnings.

The metamorphosis of Medusa into a monster is similar to the change women underwent, going from sexually whole to sexually incomplete. Both transformations occurred as the result of a myth, a myth introduced by men and believed by women. In "The Myth of the Vaginal Orgasm," Koedt explains that men have created a myth which causes women to feel inadequate and incomplete. These feelings of inadequacy result from their inability to achieve a vaginal orgasm. Koedt and Cixous each express the belief that the power of a myth lies in the degree to which the myth is believed. In actuality, men do not have the power to repress women. Instead, it is women who give men this power by believing their repressive attempts. If women stop believing in these myths, they will as a result dismantle the myths, voiding them of all credibility and power.

If women can move past their fears and change their perception of both the Medusa and the vaginal orgasm, they will subsequently remove the fearful power of these myths. The power of these myths comes from the very act of believing their validity- if women did not fear the myths, there would be nothing to fear. Once the idea has been raised that the Medusa is not a horrid monster, Cixous presents the challenge to women to explore the myth further, casting aside male warnings. If women would simply open up to one another, thereby shedding light upon the abyss, the fallacy of the myths would be exposed. Upon the realization that the myths are nothing more than a facade, women endow themselves with personal power. Cixous explains that if women do this, if they dare to "look at the Medusa straight on," female explorations will result in the discovery that the Medusa "is not deadly, she's beautiful and she's laughing."

Introduction to the Myths
Why the Myths Were Created
How to Uncover and Conquer the Myths
The Myths and Their Faults
Derrida's Theory of Deconstruction
Applied to Cixous
Obstacles Faced in Conquering the Myths
How the Medusa Became a Monster
and the Woman Became Inadequate
A Critique of Cixous' Use
of Deconstruction
Cixous' Proposed Results and
My Proposed Results

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