Recently, I read a blog post that disturbed me more than I like, and not in a good way. For the sake of anonymity and to avoid a firefight online, I am not going to get into who or where. My concern is the what. In the writing, which was done by a woman, the topic of man-hater came up in reference to a mythical being, a Greek goddess called Artemis. The idea that a woman thinks of the multi-faceted Artemis as a man-hater stems from a few areas: 1. ignorance of the pantheon, a superficial understanding, perhaps gained in grade school, or in role-playing games that has no room for depth–2. the lack of looking deeper into this figure by the student/person. Lastly, 3. misogyny.
Artemis (or Diana in Rome), is most closely associated with the moon. Secondary aspects are that she is the goddess of the hunt, preferring the company of other young women, but also in some regions she is viewed as a goddess of fertility, and contradictorily, a goddess of virginity. Artemis, like most of her kin, is a confusing and complex character, who suited a confusing and complex time in history.
So why do some think she’s a man hater? This is the most troubling part for me. The fact that feminism is back in the fore of news highlights the underlying misogyny of our culture and a need to realize that anti-women rhetoric is damaging to all genders. The statement also highlights what has come to be known as Rape Culture. We hear the words victim blaming more in recent yeas than ever, as way to finally face down the rape culture all over the world–it marginalizes victims, both male and female and upholds a system that does nothing to prevent rapes, folding that back on the victims as their responsibility, rapist behavior is never addressed directly. Because of this renewal, we’ve been asked to be cognizant of the sub-messages our speech communicates. Yet, a Before Common Era deity, who is still worshiped by a small sect of classical pagans today, is dismissed as uninteresting and the last thing a woman wants to be, maligned with the effacing epitaph Man-Hater.
Artemis earned this label quite unfairly, but not unsurprisingly. Her crime was choosing to remain chaste. For this she has also gone under the relabeling of being deemed a lesbian, which is also a misalignment–for Artemis was CHASTE–she did not have sex. Artemis was focused on her friendships and hunting activities, but like every other female in the world, she must be couched in the terms of how much sex she’s having and with whom. This labeling disregards her likely sexuality: either asexual or demi-sexual (falls into sexual relationships rarely and only in committed relationships-gender is usually a non-issue). So Artemis’s first mistake was not being bedded by men or gods and choosing her hoes before bros. That makes her emotionally unavailable, an ice queen or just plain angry because she’s so pent up! At least, in the minds of those who view a woman’s sexual choices as judgment on her personality and worthiness to society.
Her second crime came in the form of rape. Out on a hunt, one of her naiad friends was accosted by a stranger, a man, in the woods. It appears that in BCE rape was an issue, and going hunting could make it happen. Back to the story: Artemis, being the goddess and protector of virgins (probably just a protector of young women in general), cut the little shit for his crime. Yet, he became a victim, while the actual victim, the naiad, was disregarded by mostly all, and her hero was labeled a hater of men for not blowing that shit off. I don’t know a man alive who wouldn’t have reacted this way if it was his friend, by their own admission granted, not actual action, which I have never seen them take on many men for raping, they pretty much just blow that shit off. They shrug and walk away, cause it’s no big deal, or something–cause woah, confrontation and consequences for raping is too much! Calling out your fellow dudes, is going too far. I know a solution: How about men don’t rape, and stop blaming women for their rapes, because a rape is a crime committed against another person? There’s an idea. Then no one has to defend anyone else on that premise and the justice system will probably just keep on not testing rape kits and ignoring the rights of victims.
Let’s continue, because that is just a whole book of discussion to be had…
Third, Artemis was bathing in her pool, and had the nutty idea that she might have some privacy while doing this. However, a young man was in the woods (is there some connection? serial rapists of Ancient Greece? There’s a lot of raping going on in ancient times, just like today–still a problem), spied on her ritual. He stood there leering at her naked body, without Artemis’s permission. Being the goddess that she is (a female expecting privacy and consent), chased his pervert ass down, turned him into a deer and slaughtered him. Granted, killing someone for spying on you seems a bit extreme, but when you’re in the moment–when someone is looking through your window as you take a shower and jacking off to your naked body–you’ll probably feel different, just a guess. Remember that this killing was done in the moment–Artemis wasn’t following up a few years later after the Zuesian Courts decided to only sentence him to 2 months and $200 fine for violating her privacy. No, antiquity, and present day, we deem this goddess a fruit cake on a bender. She must hate men, because she killed one for looking at her (NAKED FUCKING BODY WHILE SHE BATHED). I’d hate pretty much anyone who assaulted me, spied on my naked or told me I need to step back cause it’s a man’s job, or that I’m over reacting to abuse/assault. Way to diminish assault victims! Let’s call them man-haters, that will help!
Anway, back to the story…Thus, it was turned around that she’s to blame for being there bathing and letting him look, she should have better protected herself, which just sounds so much like the response to how women should deal with any harassment–carry a gun, but don’t use it. walk with mace, but don’t use it. You should have dressed more conservative…the yapping goes on and on, but has never stopped rape and harassment. Why is it Artemis’s fault? Why didn’t that guy not spy on her? His spying was the problem! He chose to be a sicko and spy on a naked woman taking a bath. It’s not cute and harmless. The goddess felt violated and in danger, as any female would in that situation. It’s fucking terrifying.
The buck doesn’t stop there, though. Artemis suffered a great deal at the hands of her fellow pantheon. Her twin brother thought it was a great joke to trick her into killing Orion, the low ranking god his sister had fallen in love with. Being a demi-sexual, now that you understand what that means, Artemis chose never to love again. However, when Orion and her were together, the love was deep. Zeus tried to force her into marriage. Can you imagine being forced into marriage, having to bed down with some hairy, stinky ape you don’t know? Some of you might think that’s a fantasy–if it was John Stamos (only famous hot Greek guy I know)–I might feel differently. That fantasy is mostly the fantasy of men, and the women who have it, have something like Charley Hunnam in mind. Let me tell you, sister. Your new hubby might ride a motorcycle but he ain’t no Jax. Think more on the lines of Leonard Smalls (Randall “Tex” Cobb) in Raising Arizona (1987)–you’re welcome.
So at least four times, Artemis was betrayed horribly by the patriarchy of her ancient world, a system still very much in play to this day. Her reaction was to only trust those who had not abused her physically and emotionally (naiads) and to pine for the rest of eternity for her Orion, faithful to the end. To this day, the patriarchy still attempts to malign this mythological figure, because she so tightly resembles woman as equal–twin of Apollo, a hunter, fertility god, loyal friend, arbiter of justice….It’s disturbing to hear her painted in this light, considering rape culture, victim blaming and rampant sexism–and very telling that a woman is out there propagating such erroneous information, as though she’s an expert on the topic–not that blogs are the bastion of research and accuracy, because bloggers are basically just opinionating on everyone and not checking their work. They’re not often academics. (On a side note, the woman thought being a gold dragon was a better deal–oh the psychological analysis on that! The symbolism alone!)
Why is my post different? Because I am a historian who values the record and the author of a book that required research of this figure (The Trailokya Trilogy, Book One: The Shadow Soul).
There are a lot of other stories that can be read about Artemis. I recommend Ovid’s Metamorphoses–poetic verse written during the height of Greek paganism. I also recommend that you don’t label a figure that you know so little about, because it has far reaching implications to say things like man-hater, misandry and the rest. Women, above all, should know better and do better by one another–regardless of it being a fictional character, ancient deity or that girl you can’t stand from Psych Eval 102.
Women need to stop talking down other women. You don’t curry favor with men, you hold yourself back.