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A brief rant about mermaids February 7, 2014

Posted by Erin Ptah in Meta.
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Irrational annoyance of the moment:

There’s some post going around Tumblr about unusual/non-traditional mermaids, inspiring a bunch of people to do related art…and, okay, great, but then you get reactions like this Daily Dot article, which suggest the whole thing is a revolutionary new idea, a reclamation of mermaidhood. Someone makes a text reply that opens “imagine angler mermaids…” and it’s noteworthy. Like this is a shocking innovation that no one is had before.

People, have you ever been to Deviantart?

Type in [any sea creature] + “mermaid” in the search box, and I guarantee you several hundred results, if not several thousand. You want horrifying monstrous deep-sea mermaids, bioluminescent and translucent and hungry? We got those. Swamp and bayou mermaids, with alligator scales in murky waters? Them too. Elegant koi mermaids, frequently Japanese? Been done, practically cliché. How do you feel about seahorse mermaids, maybe some leafy sea dragons? Got ’em. Intimidating spiny lionfish mermaids, we’re all over those. Translucent ethereal jellyfish mermaids. Fanged and sharp-finned shark mermaids. Well-padded, cute narwhals. Impossibly long-tailed eels, electric and otherwise. Tentacled octopi and squid. Colorful, many-legged shrimp. Ensembles of mermaids. Mermaids that defy identification.

That’s 50+ links without even breaking a sweat. (Plenty that are visibly POC, if you’re counting.)

You think Tumblr invented reimagining mermaids? Tumblr is decades late to this party.

(Unrelated to the main rant, but couldn’t let this pass without mentioning it: that article links “designing more-monstrous mermaids” with “designing POC and/or overweight mermaids”, in a way that someone really should have stopped and thought about before posting.)

(And unrelated to either of the above: they think mermaids are rare as an explicitly female type of monster? Harpies, gorgons, Medusa, Sphinxes, sirens, succubi, banshees, lamia, striga, selkies, and a whole bunch of subtypes of vampire, among others, would like to have a word with them. The trope of mythologizing an underlying cultural fear that “women = sexually threatening monsters” is sadly not rare.)

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