Gritty goddesses: the ‘monstrous’ ones

7 mins read

Feminism is an act of freedom and equality. However, it can often be misunderstood as a power grab. Many people stereotype feminists to want one thing: to be stronger than men.

This often leads to feminism being stuck with a bad brand.

For some reason, women wanting to control the way they’re perceived is still a taboo. However, this is not a new concept, and not only limited to mortals.

Goddesses and worshipped deities have also been lashed by the whip of confused misconceptions of identities.

The patriarchy has a very defined perception of what is feminine. Goddesses such as Aphrodite from Greek mythology and Freya from Norse mythology fit those images. After all, marriage and beauty are things women should worship and aspire to achieve in their lives.

Unfortunately, for these dear backward thinking people, not all women wish to conform. This led to unjust punishments for these goddesses, such as being outcasted or painted as savage monstrous deities.

Deities like Hinduism’s ferocious Kali. A battlefield goddess in some understandings, not of goddess status in others.


She is painted as a bloodthirsty destroyer, an uncontrollable warrior. Pictures of her show her standing over her slain enemies with her tongue sticking out.

Not poised like Athena would be, like a true warrior goddess.

Kali instead is raw in her portrayals. There’s a power to her unrelenting ruthless nature that isn’t bound by expectations. It gives her a wild beauty that is not pretty but is something more. She is a goddess painted like a monster but is worshipped for being the ultimate protector.

If she were a man, Kali’s passion would be celebrated. She would instead be an avenging God who would be allowed to bask in the glory of her slain enemies.

Maybe this is because men are allowed to have monstrous natures. They alone are supposed to be the powerful or at least in control of power. Women have too many emotions to have all that, women should be delicate, and if not, then disciplined.

And when they cannot be, then they should be banished.

Circe was one such Greek goddess. A sorceress who was the goddess of witchcraft and magic. Painted as an enchantress and banished from Olympus for being too powerful. Sentenced to live alone on the mythical island Aeaea.


Circe was known to transform the men who came to her island into animals. She acts as a symbol of female power for her strength in magic. But by men is most often regarded as a monster, or vain for her confidence in her ability.

It’s an unjust representation for women in mythology. To be powerful and have a divine recognition, but to also be blackballed by it. Perhaps for having traits that are too often regarded as masculine, and therefore, dangerous.

Women like Lilith from Jewish mythology. Rumoured to be the first wife of Adam in the Garden of Eden, but again, banished. Her story has many different interpretations, with one commonality: she is always the bad guy.


Often seen as a demonic figure for not submitting. Everyone’s issue with Lilith has to do with her and Adam’s sex life. Adam being the man wanted to be on top when they had sex.

However, Lilith challenged this and wanted the dominant position.

Some say when they could not agree, that Lilith left. As if her reputation was willingly received. However, the more natural sounding myth is that she was banished for her disobedience.

Lilith went on to become a deity closely associated with vampires and the killing of babies. However, she is a deity who refused to submit to a man and was then demonised for her strong backbone.

It all suggests that women with bloody tendencies or unrelenting resolve are unacceptable.

Especially when they’re not beautiful like they should be, such as goddess born deformed like Norse mythology’s Hel. The daughter of Loki and sister to monsters such as deadly wolf Fenrir and the great serpent Jörmungandr.

When she was sent with her monstrous family to live in Asgard, it was short-lived. Her appearance made other Norse gods uncomfortable, so she was sent away.

Credit: Fanpop,com

Instead, she was to reside and rule over Niflheim as the queen of the dead.

Tales of her appearance are what Vikings feared. But perhaps it was her eye of fire that gods feared, as it only allowed her to see the truth – something mischievous and power-hungry gods didn’t want to be held to.

It’s the goddesses who threaten the image or power of gods who are demonised. This is why feminism is largely about power imbalances. It is evident when women are strong they are punished, and their images are twisted.

Being a woman comes with the cost of fighting to protect your image. Even if it is a direct reflection of a man’s, it is an unjustifiable inequality. Women can be powerful and savage without being monsters and should instead be celebrated for their independence and bravery.

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Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

Deputy Editor of Brig Newspaper. Fourth year journalism and English student at the University of Stirling. Lover of covering social issues and creator of 'The Talk' column for everyone who needs to hear it.

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