Special Episode – Women of Myth with Ancient History Fan Girl

The Partial Historians

Content warning for this episode: violence, sexual violence, removal of children

We sit down to chat with Genn and Jenny, the fabulous cohosts of the Ancient History Fan Girl podcast. They have recently published Women of Myth: From Deer Woman and Mami Wata to Amaterasu and Athena which examines fifty women and femme presenting figures from cultures across the globe.

While Women of Myth is the centre of this conversation, there’s no way to discuss ancient ideas about women without considering how that might reflect upon the contemporary issues that women face. This also leads into consideration of the challenges faced by women throughout history.

We wrap up with a discussion of looking beyond the ancient Greco-Roman world – the value of doing that and what that can look like in podcasting.

Special Episode – Women of Myth with Ancient History Fan Girl

What makes a book?

In this interview, we explore some of the details of the book including

  • The ideas that shaped the concept for Women of Myth
  • The role of Sara Richard’s illustrations in expanding representation
  • What it was like to co-write a book together

Listen out for discussions about

  • Amba/Shikhandi – The Vengeance-Seeking Genderqueer Warrior of the Mahabharata
  • Atalanta – The Ancient Greek Warrior, Athlete, and Argonaut
  • Ītzpāpālōtl – The Skeletal Warrior Goddess of the Aztecs
  • La Llorona – The Wailing Woman of Mexican Mythology
  • Medea – Dr G draws parallels with La Llorona and Medea’s stories
  • The Morrigan – The Ancient Irish Goddess of War and Battle Frenzy
  • Oya – The Yoruba Warrior Goddess and Orisha of the Wind

Interested in Women of Myth?

Consider these retailers:

The book cover!

Sound Credits

Our music was composed by Bettina Joy de Guzman.

An illustration by Sara Richard from Women of Myth of Ītzpāpālōtl, the Aztec Skeletal warrior goddess.
She appears as a crown skull with green feathered hair surrounded by flames.

Automated Transcript

Dr Rad 0:16
Welcome to The Partial Historians.

Dr G 0:20
We explore all the details of ancient Rome.

Dr Rad 0:23
Everything from the political scandals, the levels as the battles waged, and when citizens turn against each other. I’m Dr. Rad.

Dr G 0:34
And I’m Dr. G. We consider Rome as the Romans saw it, by reading different authors from the ancient past and comparing their stories.

Dr Rad 0:43
Join us as we trace the journey of Rome from the founding of the city. Welcome to a very special edition of The Partial Historians. I am Dr. Rad.

Dr G 1:00
And I’m Dr. G.

Dr Rad 1:02
And Dr. G, we are joined today by two extra special guests. I know this is very exciting for us two extra special people are with us. And the mystery of way shall soon be revealed. I know what I mean, this is this is really a treat because we are joined by two members of the unofficial lady pod squad. And that is right we are joined by Jenny and Genn, who are the hosts of the extremely popular Ancient History Fan Girl podcast. And we are both fan girls of that podcast. Are we not Dr. G?

Dr G 1:39
We are so it’s like super, super exciting. It’s like ancient history girls unite.

Dr Rad 1:43
Exactly, exactly.

Jenny 1:45
The feeling is mutual.

Genn 1:46
Very mutual.

Dr Rad 1:50
It’s actually it’s actually really shocking that we have not had you on our show before this because it was many, many moons ago that we recorded Spartacus together. And I feel like it’s because we’re constantly in contact in terms of I constantly see what you guys are up to on Instagram and constantly listen to your show. And I kind of forget that we haven’t actually talked in real life for quite some time.

Jenny 2:11
It’s a parasocial relationship.

Dr Rad 2:15
It’s indicative of this sad social media world that we live in. It’s like, oh, I’m totally caught up with this person’s life.

Jenny 2:21
Yes, we are in meshed. I have I frequently have that as well.

Dr Rad 2:28
And we are having them on the show today. Because extra excitingly, they have just written a book.

Dr G 2:37
Oh, my God.

Dr Rad 2:39
That’s right. That’s right. They are now not only the cohosts of an excellent Ancient History podcast, but they are the coauthors of Women of Myth: From Deer Woman and Mami Wata to Ama – oh see, I’m going to screw this up. Amaterasu and Athena your guide to the amazing and diverse women from World Mythology.

Jenny 3:05
Yay. That’s our book. Thank you so much for having us on. This is so exciting.

Genn 3:13
Yeah, we’re so excited to be here.

Dr Rad 3:15
No problems at all. And we probably should give a bit of a shout out because not only are you guys co authored this, but you also have some amazing illustrations by Sarah is it? Is it Rashad or Richard Richard

Jenny 3:25

Dr Rad 3:25
Richard, by Sarah Richard, which really do make the stories I think come alive.

Jenny 3:31
Absolutely. And Liv Albert wrote our forward canvas that

Dr G 3:35
I know. Oh, yeah. For people who might still be unaware – and that must be so few people out there – Liv Albert is the host of “Let’s Talk About Myths, Baby”, which is an incredibly popular podcast from the unofficial lady pod squad.

Jenny 3:50
Indeed. I think it’s just official at this point.

Genn 3:55
I think so. I think I’m going to have badges made.

Dr Rad 3:58
I know, I’m like how have we missed the opportunity to have matching T shirts made I don’t know.

Jenny 4:05
We should all have a T shirt.

Dr Rad 4:07
Yeah, absolutely.

Genn 4:08
Okay. I’m on it.

Dr Rad 4:10
Done, there’s our project. Alright, so let’s get into it. Dr. G.

Dr G 4:14
Yes. So we’re very excited about this book. And I imagine that many people who listen to our podcasts are going to be excited about it as well. So I’m wondering, just to get us started, what’s the basic premise? I feel like the title gives a little bit of a hint. But I imagine there’s more to be said on this front.

Jenny 4:32
Do you want to hit that one, Genn?

Genn 4:35
Oh, I’m gonna let you start.

Jenny 4:37
I mean, the basic myth, it’s women and world mythology. It’s, it’s um, it’s about women and also, you know, feminine presenting characters figures from mythologies around the world. And that includes, we had 50 different slots. And, you know, it’s, it’s actually there are many Goddesses in the book, but it’s divided into three categories goddesses, heroines and monsters. So um, yeah, that’s basically And

Genn 5:05
And put those monsters in quotation marks, please.

Dr Rad 5:07

Jenny 5:08
Monsters, quote unquote. And we definitely go into what is coded monstrous in the book and talk about that a lot. So, um, so yeah, that’s that’s basically what the concept is.

Dr Rad 5:20
Excellent. Yeah, no, I must admit, I was really interested, by the way that you chose to set out your book. And I found it very, very fascinating. So you’ve got, as you say, those three categories of mighty goddesses, both heroines and formidable monsters using flesh rabbits, they’re jumping, they’re jumping all over my screen. Can you tell us how did you decide upon those categories when you were setting about writing this book?

Genn 5:45
So those categories were actually something that our publisher wanted. So it was it came down from, from the publishing gods.

Dr Rad 5:54

Genn 5:55
And that was, it might seem like that could be limiting. But actually, it was really fun. And it forced us to really look at who looked at how we were gonna break up the book and make sure that we had not just a whole bunch of goddesses, or not just a whole bunch of really great mortal heroines who did incredible stuff, or not just focus on some of my favorites and mythology, the monsters, because the monsters are just so fascinating and tell you so much about a culture. It’s, you know, it tells you what people are afraid of. It also tells you about how people, the things people valued the things they didn’t value. So, you know, there’s a whole book that could be made of each of those sections. So it was kind of nice to have the publishing Gods on higher say, you know, what, could you give us a little taste of each?

Jenny 6:48
Yeah, it was, I think it provided some good structure.

Dr Rad 6:52
Yeah, definitely. Well, I must admit, I was particularly interested in it because I am a teacher, as I think some people might know. And in my Year 11, course, I get to teach a unit called “Women in Greece and Rome”, which is a comparative study of that. And I will actually always have a section on female monsters from mythology, because I think it’s a great way to actually start off the unit, because, as you say, by looking at what a culture is afraid of, I think that actually tells you a huge amount about their attitudes to various things. But if you want to look at gender, for example, it gives you real insight into that.

Jenny 7:27
Oh, yeah, huge amounts.

Genn 7:30
Spoiler, it’s almost always women with sexual agency, almost always.

Jenny 7:34
Frequently, it’s not only that, there’s, there’s kind of a subcategory that’s like, you know, medical fears, we found a lot of monsters who are kind of, you know, spirits or beings that interfered with, for example, childbirth, and you know, what we might call today, sudden infant death syndrome. You know, like, if this monster attack, they attack a woman in in birthing, or they attack a baby, it’s as it’s just born. And this is a way to explain deaths that might not be easily explained otherwise, in pre modern cultures. There’s also monsters like, for example, there was one an Inuit monster that was basically like her, her. Her basically what she was, was a monster that tempted children out onto the ice. So she would like if a child wandered out onto the ice, she would grab it and take it underwater. So you know, that just speaks to a real fear about the environment and about, you know, children wandering away from their parents and winding up in dangerous situations, which I’m sure was, and still is, in a lot of places. A real danger, right. So..

Dr G 8:41
Yeah, I think that I think that’s a really important point, because one of the things that you can see a connection with here is how sexual agency sort of leads into the childbearing aspect. And then the consequences of the childbearing fall upon the mother and the child in various ways.

Jenny 8:58
Oh my gosh, yeah, absolutely. Like there’s there’s all these like, kind of revolving fears around women, childbirth, child rearing that, that exists across many cultures.

Genn 9:08
And then you get it on the other end as well. You get a lot of older women characters are also monsters. I mean, famously Baba Yaga, right, the, the Slavic witch, the deep forest, whose house is on spindly chicken legs that can move around and she’s kind of a chaotic, chaotic, and all fairy tales. Sometimes she’ll do good things. Sometimes she’ll do real bad things. Sometimes she’ll put your head on one of her D posts. You also have like there’s a cannibal ogress who also takes an age children. So there’s a lot of like women who are not within the family unit who are older, maybe past childbearing years, also being dangerous, particularly if they have any kind of knowledge.

Jenny 9:50
Demonized, literally. Yeah.

Dr Rad 9:52
I feel like that’s speaking to so many things as a person who’s decided not to have children, mostly because I am massively afraid or the idea that I’m like, Yes, this resonates and also living in a culture where we’re terrified of aging and women are just like not supposed to age. I think this can definitely hit home with a lot of people in our audience.

Jenny 10:15

Dr G 10:18
I want to be a crone. I’m looking forward to that part of my lifestyle.

Jenny 10:22
Listen, we’re all gonna wind up on Team Cannibal Ogress eventually like we all know that.

Genn 10:30
Do we have to be cannibals though like I’m here for ogress, but do I need to be accountable?

Dr G 10:34
You can be a vegetarian if you so desire that is fine.

Jenny 10:37
You can be a vegan cannibal ogress.

Dr Rad 10:41
I’m actually I’m actually seeing our future now. You know, soon soon we’ll all be of an age where society no longer wants to look at us and has no use for us. So we may as well just buy an apartment building that’s entirely soundproof where our matching lady pod squad T shirts, and we’ll just lock ourselves up in individual spaces and record sounds like basically what I’m doing now.

Genn 11:02
Overlooking the sea please.

Jenny 11:05
Genn can have a window in hers.

Dr Rad 11:08
You can have that, old crone.

Jenny 11:10
Her teeth are long; her windows are glorious.

Dr Rad 11:16

Genn 11:18
How else am I gonna warn people not to approach sometimes by like putting a head in the window. Like I need to have something to warn people.

Dr Rad 11:25
Yeah. We’ll be an interesting version of the sirens. You know,

Jenny 11:28
Stop scaring the food away.

Genn 11:32
Alright, look, I’ll be able to manipulate like you have the low lighting. We’ve got a few good years. Yeah.

Dr Rad 11:38
It’s good to have a plan, you know, eventually, you know, society will cast you out.

Jenny 11:45
It’s called retirement.

Genn 11:46
There’s only so many Tik Tok filters, right. Like, we can’t make the Tik Tok filters reality yet.

Dr Rad 11:51
Yes, exactly.

Genn 11:54

Dr G 12:00
So I’m thinking about bringing things back to the to the topic at hand. I just sort of went out on a little imagination of being like, what would it be like to live in a giant apartment complex with ladies by the sea? And I was like, I think it would be good. I’m looking forward to that. So the illustrations in this book by Sara Richard, they’re amazing. I have to say like, so evocative. And I’m really interested in your perspective. One, what was that like working together on this sort of stuff? And how do these illustrations in your view really enhance the themes that are coming out in the work?

Jenny 12:35
Oh my gosh, there’s so much to say about that. Like, there’s so much to so much like the it was very collaborative, you know, like we would – we would receive kind of line drawings Sarah and Sarah would do these like really funny line drawings and like kind of put little notes in them like skulls here and look at the little arrow you know, like more skull children hiding in the woods. Usually it was skulls though she’d there’s like skulls and stories that actively don’t have skulls, which I love. So many, I love that this as a as a fan of the cult of the severed head. I just love skulls, and so to Sara, so I think it really worked. But um, yeah, so like, she would send it in, you know, like line drawings, we would take a look and go back and forth on things and kind of collaborate on what the final result would be. And she so frequently just absolutely knocked it out of the park with very little communication, because she had her own process that was always like really in line with ours, because I think she had like really a similar kind of aesthetic to what we were thinking of, and what we were going for in the writing, you know, like, I’m not shying away from the gory details, for example.

Genn 13:46
So one of the things that, you know, we found when we were doing when we were doing the mythology, history, everything for this book is there’s one word that comes up again and again, when you when you talk about women in, in these stories, and it’s a word that I personally hate because it’s such a loaded word. And we couldn’t erase it from the book, because it’s oftentimes integral to the, to the plot, and that word is beautiful. And so one of the things that we had to contend with was, how are we going to, you know, we’ve got this wonderful collection of stories about diverse women, how are we going to show beauty in a way that isn’t just a westernized beauty standard? And you know, what, what we did with Sara was we worked really closely to be clear about how some of these women could look how, you know, they could not necessarily look Western, like you know, we have we have gender non binary characters. We have larger characters, which for me is always important. You know, I grew up in the era of Disney princesses, where they’re literally their heads or, you know, their hands are bigger than their waist. So, it was super important to me that we have have a full body diversity, full, you know, diversity of gender identity. And we didn’t just want like larger people. I also wanted to see women who are super athletic women who are, you know, slender women who look like every other woman looks. And also, you know, one of the things Sara does is you’ll see a lot of gorgeous women with, you know, very big noses or, you know, beautiful, bright eyes or, you know, the hair textures, everything she’s just so good at so that when you look at these women, they are all beautiful, and they’re not all uniform.

Jenny 15:38
They all look different. Yeah. Yeah.

Genn 15:41
Yeah, they all look great.

Dr Rad 15:43
Yeah, no, I really love to. I really love that aspect of your illustrations, the fact that you had given the thought of, as you say, not just thinking about the ethnicity in terms of skin tone, and that kind of stuff, which is obviously, still a big issue these days, sadly, as we can see, because at the time of recording, we’re recording in the midst of this Netflix fewer about the casting of Cleopatra for their Docu drama, and what she looked like. And I’m sure we all remember a few years ago, when there was debate about the casting of for Troy full of a city. And you know, the casting of people of color to play various mythological characters. So I love that aspect. But I think as you say, particularly for gender, people might not automatically think about it, but having that diversity of body type is so important.

Jenny 16:26
Absolutely. Yeah. And that was a big priority of ours. And I think Sara really knocked it out of the park there, too.

Genn 16:32
Yeah, I wanted to see women who if they were like, riding an elephant or swinging a sword could swing that sword. I was here for that. And one of the one of the one of the illustrations, that’s my favorite is the Morrigan, who is the Celtic goddess of the battlefield, she has Genn hair, which is a very fluffy braid hair. I was so excited that Sara did that. But also, she just looks terrifying. She looks like she would stalk a battlefield. With her cape made of feathers and viscera. She looks like she belongs there. And she’s got this really terrifying beauty to her. Like, I don’t think anyone would, you know, can traditionally call her the most beautiful like person, but she’s really scary. Pretty.

Jenny 17:21

Dr G 17:23
Yeah, that’s it. It’s just a sign, we need to expand our scope of what includes is in beauty, like those narrow standards that come through, particularly online and through like dominant cultural paradigms. And it’s like, books like this become really important because they provide that counterpoint. And you’re not just challenging culture, you’re also expanding it by doing this kind of work. So kudos to you guys.

Jenny 17:46
Absolutely. Thank you.

Genn 17:47
Thank you.

Dr Rad 17:47
And I know my students are always disappointed even though they don’t want to say it, I can see it on their faces. Because when I am when I am teaching Troy, and we start by watching the Hollywood version, then when I show them like the Bettany Hughes documentary, and they see that approximation of what how long or short, it might actually look like, given the cultural beauty standards, that their faces always kind of fall because they’re just like, oh my god, like it’s so confronting the different to like my, you know, Kim Kardashian view of what, you know what a beautiful woman looks like.

Jenny 18:28
It’s like, I feel like I’ve seen Helen of Troy depicted as blonde so often and where does that come from? I mean, why, why is she blonde? You know?

Dr Rad 18:36

Dr G 18:37
Like, what are the chances? It’s like, slim to none guys.

Jenny 18:39

Genn 18:40
Well that’s, that’s, that’s the othering, right? That’s like we see the red hair pop up all the time. Right as as a ginger, like, who has Mediterranean roots. The only reason you see that is to say this person doesn’t belong, like they’re from somewhere else.

Dr Rad 18:53

Jenny 18:53
The odds are very high.

Genn 18:54
There were not genders or there were not blondes. I mean, yes, I’m sure there were like, statistically, but realistically, you know, the Bettany Hughes adaptation is much closer to what it would have been, you know, you’re seeing those hair colors because it’s supposed to be a divine sort of thing to this person, as opposed to an actual reality of what they would have looked like. Sorry.

Dr Rad 19:13
Yeah. 100% 100%.

Genn 19:15
Sorry, gingers out there.

Dr G 19:18
Before we move on from illustrations, I just have to say that the one that really stood out to me was I’m going to try to pronounce the name and hope I get it right. Ītz-pāpā-lōtl, the skeletal warrior goddess.

Jenny 19:31
Yeah, Ītzpāpālōtl.

Dr G 19:34
Yeah. The warrior goddess of the Aztecs, who also has this skeletal aspect about her. Just amazing.

Jenny 19:41
So she was one of my absolute favorites. So if you ask me, you know who’s my favorite. There are like dozens of them that I could say but she’s one that really stood out to me. And we discovered her like one of the she was one of the first ones that I found that was kind of outside of the scope of what I already knew. And I was just so excited about her. She’s a skeletal warrior goddess of the Aztecs. She has butterfly wings lined with obsidian knives and her mythology includes you know, sleeping with a man and then ripping out his heart and eating it, which is pretty awesome.

Dr G 20:12
I mean all round she sounds like the kind of woman I’d want to hang out with.

Jenny 20:15

Genn 20:18
She has some great stories to tell you over and over like a nice bottle of like, white zinfandel. Yeah, like how did we get to this part where we had to rip the guy apart?

Dr G 20:27
Tell me how we got there.

Jenny 20:28
I mean, I think it’s not a white zinfandel. Kind of. I think she drinks blood red wine.

Genn 20:34
All right. Well, listen, I don’t – she would make an exception for me. She just put some hearts in hers. It’d be fine.

Jenny 20:40
I don’t think she’s a “hearts in the wine” kind of gal. That’s just you know, blood clots in the wine, sure. Hearts in the wine. Literal hearts perhaps?

Genn 20:50
That’s what I meant literal heart.

Jenny 20:52
Oh, I thought you meant like little gummy hearts.

Genn 20:54

Jenny 20:58
Okay, I could see why zinfandel or red zinfandel with with literal hearts in it that she would she would probably drink that. Yeah.

Dr Rad 21:06

Jenny 21:07
She works. Like our whole cannibal plan I think she would fit in.

Dr Rad 21:13
So, I really intrigued because Dr. G and I have also just written a book together, it seems really weird that you know, you guys were publishing your book, publishing our book, and we’re like, Oh, my God, we know a little bit about like, what it’s like to try and write a book, you know, together, not just on your own, you know, locked in your own thoughts and that sort of thing. Tell us what are the biggest challenges that you encountered when you were writing this book?

Jenny 21:37
Um, I don’t know. Like, I feel like for me, the most challenging parts were because there there were, I know, Jenna’s gonna have a different answer to this. But for me, the the challenging parts were writing about, you know, women in cultures and mythologies and stories that I wasn’t already familiar with, because I’m pretty familiar with certain aspects of, you know, Greek and Roman culture and Celtic mythology and things because we had covered that in the podcast. But we were expanding a whole lot beyond what we had already covered. So I always wanted to approach those topics, like really well, and with the same, you know, thoroughness of research that I did for stuff I had done, you know, a two and a half hour, like, episode series on or something. So, I felt like that, you know, like, I felt a little stressed about it, sometimes I was just like, I want to make sure I get this right, I want to make sure I’m not just, you know, applying a Western lens, or equating something to things that I had already heard about that it actually has nothing to do with, you know. So I was really careful in that and thinking about that a lot. So I would say that, for me, that was the most challenging part. But it was also really fun, because I got to just get outside of my comfort zone and learn about things that I had not known about before. And that’s really the fun part for me. So.

Genn 22:53
So everything Jenny said is also how I felt I also, one of the things just to add to this, before I go on to what I found really, equally difficult. One of the things were really careful about was because these weren’t, were non western cultures and cultures that we were experiencing for the first time, we really wanted to try to find sources, telling the mythology in sort of from that culture, absolutely important to us that we make sure that you know, we looked at sort of, you know, we looked at the starting point, which is a collection or wherever you would find it in English, a lot of times, we also you know, we are, we are a bit you know, handy, we know we are a bit limited as we only speak English and read English, I read a tiny bit of Latin, Jenny can read and write a little bit of French, but with the with the the exception of that we are not fluent in any other languages. So, you know, we can’t read something in Mandarin. And that does limit the opportunities you have when you’re looking into other cultures. So we were really careful to make sure that where possible, we found sources that were outside of Western cultures and use them to tell these stories of these women. The thing that and that was tricky. But the other thing that I found really scary and anxiety inducing was I tended to cover some of the really big characters from Western and non western cultures like I covered. I wrote the entry, Mulan and Athena and Medusa. And these are all stories that are so ingrained in Western culture and other cultures. Like we have certain images of what we’re expecting. And I found like, Well, what do I have to say that’s new? That’s also true to the story and how do I continue to make that engaging and not just be the same thing you’ve read before? I found that really intimidating. I think we got there in the end.

Jenny 24:51
I think so. Yeah. I hope so.

Genn 24:55
I don’t know about you got a you both but like, I found writing this book with Jenny. We each took different entries that we edited the other person’s entries. But from having the podcast for so long, I didn’t find it like our voices I think meld really well, in the writing of the book, like, I don’t think it seemed like two different people wrote stuff. And I don’t know if you had a similar experience, because like, I kind of felt like it was easy to keep our tone and our voice really consistent. So it felt like one unified project, like what was it like for you?

Dr G 25:25
Oh, that’s a good question. I feel we did a similar thing in terms of like dividing up who would take which chapter and then co editing and, and reversing that and things like that. And I think part of the beauty for us is that we do have two distinct voices, we share a sense of humor. But you would I think, for the astute listener of our podcast, they’d be able, they’d be able to identify who wrote which chapter as well. And it might not necessarily be the case for somebody who hadn’t encountered our work before, because we do have really similar touch points. But it’s really interesting to me, because Fiona has all of these sort of popular cultural references, that I don’t get. And then what I think are popular cultural references are still historical, so. And that was something that I was like, Oh, this doesn’t come up so much when we’re chatting with each other. But it was really distinctly clear in the writing. And I was like, oh, that’s fascinating to me. So it was like, I felt like we got to know each other a little bit better through the process, even though we know each other so well.

Dr Rad 26:26
I agree. I agree. When I was editing Dr G’s chapters, I always break out to a cold sweat whenever I read anything that she’s written, because I’m like, she’s just so effortlessly, effortlessly academic. Like, I can only I can only aspire to have this kind of tone to my work. And then I start rethinking everything I’ve ever written. But yeah,

Genn 26:51
I frequently feel that way as well.

Dr Rad 26:54
But yeah, but you, but you have to just have Yeah, I have. The good thing is I know that if she’s the one editing my work, I’m like, I feel at ease. Because if she can write this way, and she can edit my work, I know she’ll tell me if I’m being an idiot.

Dr G 27:09
I can’t confirm she is not.

Dr Rad 27:15
But yeah, no, it was it was I agree that I think for someone who doesn’t know us, if they probably just be like, oh, yeah, this kind of reflects the podcast. But for people who know us, well, people who listen to the podcast, I think they would be able to tell which chapter was written by which person and it is mostly because I can’t restrain myself. The publisher actually forced me to cut massively back on the pop culture references saying that I wasn’t, I wasn’t dating the book to some of them.

Dr G 27:41
I had to put footnotes in for my chapters, because he was like, Is that a thing? And I was like, that’s a thing. And I’m not cool. But you’re even more uncool than me. So I’m not going to delete it. I’ll put a footnote in for you and others of your ilk.

Jenny 27:56
Yeah, we included pop culture references when we could find them as well, because not all of the figures and characters that we found had like extensive pop culture references, but there were some who were kind of emerging and and were appearing in more like kind of manga and video games and more modern pop culture. And it was cool to kind of track that down a little bit. Yeah, definitely.

Dr G 28:20
And I think that’s useful as well for people who are approaching these sorts of stories because they like they do have a whole wealth of reception as well. So, you know, anything that might be a touchstone for somebody, I think is useful for bringing them in further into that knowledge. And anything that they come across that they haven’t encountered, but the story appeals to them, they’ve got an avenue to pursue to explore it further.

Jenny 28:41
So absolutely, yeah. For example, like Ītzpāpālōtl has, I think she’s inspired at least one monster in a horror film, the name of which escapes me and she’s also inspired, I think, a Disney plus cartoon character from there. And I also the name escapes me as well. But I know that she’s appearing in pop culture recently. And it’s really fun to it’s really fun to see that and track it down.

Dr G 29:06
Yeah, so thinking about you’ve covered 50 women and this is like, like a huge range. Is there any standouts? Oh, the question that we’ve written down is like, who ended up being your favorite and I’m always a little bit I always back away a little bit when people ask me favorite questions because I really dislike having to place one thing on a pedestal so I appreciate that you might not want to go there. But if so one sort of stand out for you that that may be struck you along the way that hit you differently from what you thought it would or surprised you in some way.

Jenny 29:41
Genn, you want to go first on that?

Genn 29:43
No, I’m gonna let you go first because I love hearing you tell this story and I know what you’re gonna say.

Jenny 29:47
Yeah, I always say the same one. And I always preface this by saying that they’re they were all my favorite like having done this book. I was always just super excited about whichever one I was covering and I would be texting Genn these little details and if you asked me what my favorite was that week, it would be whatever when I was working on that week, so I really did fall in love with all of them genuinely. And they’re all They’re all my favorite, I feel very strongly about all the ones that I covered even all the ones that Genn covered because I also helped her edit her entries, and she helped edit mine. So it was really kind of a joint project in that way.

Genn 30:21
And then we recorded the audiobook. So then we, we didn’t record necessarily our entries, we recorded each other sometimes based on the flow of the book. So they do really all feel like they are ours, you know, absolutely.

Jenny 30:35
But I would say that one that has stuck with me that I really just kind of love fell in love with and and felt like I maybe identified with or, you know, just just really loved was this goddess named Oya, who is she is like an Eastern African and also African diaspora goddess who I think she may have like, she’s like a goddess at the Niger River. Originally, she’s a water gout goddess, but also a goddess of like lightning and whirl winds and wind. And she’s a warrior goddess, but she’s also a goddess of commerce. And she has so many disparate aspects to her. But one of the things about her that I just really loved is that she I think her name means if I’m getting this right, I might be messing this up. But I think her name means the “tearer”, as in the t e a r e r, the “tearer”. And part of her one of her aspects is that she is a goddess of like, the destructive force that comes before transformative change. So she would like, you know, kind of rip into your life like, like a strong wind and just rip everything up by the roots. And you have to start again. And I found that to be like a really interesting and important message to me, because I know that I see this in a lot of my female friends specifically. And also I have done this extensively in my own life. Just holding on to a situation that is not good for me, because I had hoped that it would change, you know, and that has been, I’ve done this in several different relationships. I’ve done this with jobs, I’ve done this with, you know, goals that I had, that no longer worked for me, like just holding on to something so hard, when what I really needed was some of that oil energy, just sweeping in there turning everything upside down and shaking it and just letting me start unburden myself and start over again. And I think you know, many of us can do with a little bit more of that energy. So, so I just, I just love her. And I really appreciate that I got to learn about her in this project.

Dr G 32:38
Oh, thank you for sharing.

Genn 32:41
Super uncontroversial. But like she’s also my favorite that I was super surprised by like, I’m very basic. Like I usually say my favorites Atlanta, because when I was 10 years old, finally able to read on my own, I had a long process to reading. I read this book of Greek myth, and there she was, you know, Atlanta, took no shit did what she wanted to do. Wasn’t going to marry anyone who wasn’t her equal. But I knew going in that that was the standard of what I was looking for. Right? When I was looking at these women’s stories, and a lot of the women whose stories we tell our warriors, but some are moms, some are children, some are goddesses of of tearing things up and starting over. But the one who really surprised me the most is also Oh, yeah. Because I don’t know. Like, they just as Jenny describes it every time every time I get to hear her say it. I’m like, Yeah, we all need more of that in our life. You know, like, we just let go or be dragged and I was like, okay.

Dr G 33:40
Yeah, don’t get stagnated, change is on its way.

Jenny 33:43
Don’t get stagnated. Exactly.

Dr Rad 33:46
Yeah, that definitely resonates. Because I think that we we do tend to be scared of change, and we kind of enjoy the comfort, even if bad situation is just that familiarity.

Jenny 33:56
Exactly. And like how it takes so much courage to change your situation, you know, in so many in so many ways. And so like having, like, I kind of see her as embodying that courage, you know?

Dr Rad 34:09
Yeah, absolutely. So this one might be a little bit easier to answer because we’re not asking you to rank your your women. But we were interested to hear because so many of these stories were actually unfamiliar to us because those were also sort of starting from a place of being more familiar with Greco-Roman traditions. But which woman in myth is you find had the most complex back story in your view?

Jenny 34:34
Oh, that’s a good one. Um, do you want to go first, Genn? Do you want me to go first?

Genn 34:40
Um, you go first because I’m thinking

Jenny 34:43

Genn 34:44
That’s my like far away thinking face.

Jenny 34:50
Well done, Genn. Yeah. I would say for me, there’s this character. It’s actually two characters in one Amba and Shikhandi from the Mahabharata in India. The ancient Indian epic. And I this is one of the trans characters that I just completely fell in love with trans or you know non binary perhaps it’s a little bit hard to tell it depends on the source. But this character, I think, if I recall, right, I don’t exactly remember the order, but I saved them for either last or very close to last because I felt that it was a very complex topic to handle. And I wanted to really make sure that I did it right. And some of the complexity of it was talking about Shikhandi’s gender. So this is a story about reincarnation, basically. And it starts off with this woman, a cisgender woman named Amba, who is in love with this man and gets kidnapped by another man and basically has her life ruined by by this guy who kidnaps her because her original boyfriend or you know, lover wouldn’t marry her after she had been kidnapped, and then the guy who did the kidnapping wouldn’t marry her, because I guess he had a vow of some kind. And, you know, just kind of he just sort of casually destroyed this woman’s life. So she really just wanted to get revenge. But this was a renowned warrior, and nobody would side with her and help her get revenge on him. So she prayed about it in the forest, and one of the gods came to her and said that she would be able to successfully get revenge, but only in another lifetime. So she immediately built herself a funeral pyre and jumped into it so that she could hasten her own reincarnation. And eventually, depending on the sources, she may have gone through a number of lives before eventually being reborn as this character, Shikhandi, who their their gender is, either you could look at them as a transgender man or a transgender woman, or perhaps a non binary person, or perhaps a sis woman who just really doesn’t conform to expectations of cisgender women in that time, you know, like that. It’s very complicated, writing about it. But I really enjoyed learning about Shikhandi, and learning about, you know, gender, as told and described in this epic, and also like more modern depictions of Shikhandi and how their gender has been depicted throughout the years. And eventually, like, the cool thing about Shikhandi is that they become eventually the charioteer of this other really renowned warrior in the current shutter of war, which is featured in the Mahabharata. And they wind up just finding this this original person who had ruined his life and riddling them with arrows and taking epic revenge. And it’s just such a really great harrowing and gripping tale. And that just happens to involve a gender queer character from 1000s of years ago. And I really enjoyed that. And I found it, you know, a complex and challenging topic to cover. And for me, because I just wanted to make sure I was getting it right, but also just really, really fun to learn about.

Genn 37:52
Yeah, so mine is a little more recent, La Llorona, who is the Mexican wailing woman of mythology is super fascinating. And her history is so deeply rooted in the colonization of the of Mexico. And us, you know, her story stretches back to when, when Mexico was colonized by the by the Spanish, she started out her life as a, an Indigenous woman who is has a love affair with a Spanish guy. And at this particular point in time, this was very common. And a lot of Indigenous women had these, they were sort of like second spouse, spouses or relationships with these Spanish, Spanish men. And so what happens is this guy who has been professing his love for her, they have two children together, all of a sudden is like, hey, so I have to marry this other woman. And in addition to that, I’m going to take our kids because I think that it would be better for me to raise them and like, you can totally visit them and stuff, but I’m done with you. And so the, you know, the choice that is left to this woman, you know, is is not great. She out of grief and despair, drowns her children and usually kills herself. She’s usually found by a body of water. And a lot of her history is, you know, then she comes back and is sort of a, you know, a spectral spirit who, you know, takes children or, you know, will will drown you in the water. But all of that is so deeply tied to colonization and how women were treated. Like it was very common that comedy and Spanish conquerors would be conquerors. You know, Spanish colonizers would have affairs with Indigenous women and then take their children from them, because they didn’t believe that they were able to raise their own children. And the treatment of women was absolutely appalling and indigenous people in general and one of…