There is a new statue outside New York City’s criminal courthouse depicting Medusa holding the head of Perseus. Its imagery comes from the ancient Greek myth. However, the MWTH project repurposed and reversed the myth to become a powerful symbol of the #MeToo movement.
The Myth Behind the Movement
It’s time for that Ancient Greek literature class I took my junior year of college to finally serve me. The Medusa myth, as told in Ovid’s Metamorphosis, is a fascinating one. People have told and retold the story for thousands of years. Medusa was a maiden in the temple of the goddess Athena until the god Poseidon stalked and raped her. Athena then punishes Medusa severely, blaming her. Athena curses Medusa with her famous head of snakes and a gaze that turns men to stone. The gods then banish her. Eventually, the hero Perseus hunts her down, cuts off her head, and displays it triumphantly.
This Medusa statue is a clever reversal of that myth, and it sits pointedly across the street from the New York City Criminal courthouse. The same courthouse, in fact, where a jury convicted and sentenced Harvey Weinstein for sex crimes.
While some see this statue as a powerful statement in support of #MeToo, it is not without controversy. Many have asked why a piece of art created by a man, Luciano Garbati, is the chosen symbol of the #MeToo movement, a movement begun by women and largely for women. Others have pointed out that men need to be a part of the conversation.
The sculpture and its strategic placement are the work of the MWTH project, founded by photographer Bek Anderson. The project is donating 10% of proceeds from reproductions, editions, and other iconographic representations to the National Women’s Law Center. The project is made possible, according to their website, “by the generous support of a patron (saint) who wishes to remain anonymous.”
While the project’s funding remains anonymous, it certainly seems to contrast with that of another famous New York Statue. State Street, the corporation that funded Fearless Girl, paid nearly $5 million dollars to settle claims that it discriminated against female employees. Which somewhat undercuts the statue’s feminist message.