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Medusa trend prompts Egyptian women to speak out on sexual assault

Egyptian women who have been victims of sexual assault and rape are using the Medusa tattoo trend on social media to tell their stories and make their voices heard.
Women buy bread from a local bread stand in al-Fustat neighborhood, Cairo, Egypt, May 2, 2022.

Tattoos featuring Medusa, the Greek goddess of wisdom and battle, have recently been trending on social media among victims of sexual harassment and rape in Egypt. While commonly viewed as a snake-haired monster who turned men to stone, Egyptian women have embraced her story as a symbol of sexual assault survival.

In Greek mythology, Medusa was a beautiful woman who attracted the attention of Poseidon. She had taken an oath of chastity, but despite turning down his advances Poseidon raped her inside the Temple of Athena. Yet rather than blame Poseidon, Athena took out her wrath on Medusa and turned her into a creature so hideous that all those who gaze upon her turn to stone. Thus her story has come to be viewed as a classic tale of victim blaming.

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