(Essay) A Gallery of Toxic and Pornified “Goddesses” by Max Dashu

I can’t stand it. For some time I’ve been thinking that something needs to be said about the the toxic femininity scripts   creeping into “Goddess” imagery, mass-media contamination, and all in the name of women’s empowerment. These posed, stilted, playmate-like “goddesses”, sticking their breasts out and pouting like lipstick models are all over the net. You’ve seen them – on Youtube, on Facebook, in comix and videogames. Oh, let’s not forget video games and virtual world avatars. They’re proliferating like mad. This is not empowerment; it is monoculture, limiting, plastic, soul-less, and lacking in the relaxed boldness of real power.

See what you think.

I can’t stand it. These posed, stilted, playmate-like “goddesses”, sticking their breasts out and pouting like lipstick models are all over the net. You’ve seen them – on Youtube, on Facebook, in comix and videogames. They’re proliferating like mad. This is not empowerment; it constrains the female to the same toxic scripts as the mass media.

I would’ve liked this painting if he had just left out that poor, contorted woman, with a head bigger that her waist. And what is she doing with her right leg? This artist does the same model-type over and over in different haircolor and fashions. Bizarrely, he calls it “Mythic Naturalism.”

OH! I am so demure, so fair, and my proportions conventionally Barbie-like. My leg is drawn up in the obligatory bent-knee pose, and my gaze downcast. I am ready to do thy bidding.
I show that even Nike, valiant winged goddess of Victory, can thrust her breasts out and arch her back as much as any pinup girl. I gaze fixedly at my ulna, which somehow inspires me. And I can fly! even though one of my wings is attached to my shoulder and the other to my kidney. This alone makes me a goddess.


Another waste of talent:
there’s some beauty here,
the leggings are kind of cool,
but the stereotypical pose ruins it.
I am the Prom Queen Goddess (see my tiara?). I carry paganish symbols but never forget to point my toes and keep my legs together. Oooh.
Coy much? This simpering ninny with the batwings is titled “Morrigan.” Wait til the real Morrigan, the Irish goddess of battle, gets her claws on the artist.


Yes, arched back, butt out, that’s required, and so are the tiny waists and stick-arms. It’s all about display, never embodied Presence.

Good luck dancing on those rocks with the stilettos.

This one at least has muscles! though her body type otherwise fits the mold. Still, the muscles lend a little dynamism, even if she looks like she’s about to expire from sucking in that belly.

What is it with the pointed toes?

Pornified goddess template. “Flashbunny,” nuff said.

It’s not just the “goddesses”: meet the “shamans.”

“The Return” (of worshipping the blonde? creepy)

And it’s not just the “goddesses.” They do the same to the “shamanesses,” “witches,” and even “Amazons.” Check it out.

I first noticed a strong trend on Pagan YouTube videos toward soft-porn imagery of witches, but it goes well beyond that.
Several months ago, I did a web search for images of “woman shaman,” “medicine woman,” etc., and this is some of what turned up. What’s sad is that people think they are reaching for a more powerful image of women, while conforming to the same old tired, limited ideas. Nearly all are glamour girls of the same body size and (often impossible) proportions. Virtually none represent old or middle-aged women, few are muscular, none are fat or even husky. Their stance and expressions are predictably uniform and modeled on porn archetypes.

If you’ve already looked at the first two pages, I’ve reorganized them and added several more pages as of April 25:

A Gallery of Phony “witches”

A Gallery of Fake “Amazons”

The Toxic Feminine Template: Video Games and Virtual World Avatars

Enough! what women need is the Real Thing.

(Meet Mago Contributor) Max Dashu.

21 thoughts on “(Essay) A Gallery of Toxic and Pornified “Goddesses” by Max Dashu”

  1. We do a disservice to our Goddesses by portraying them as “modern youthful women.” They are seen as being naked, or dressed as dolls or sexual cartoons. A great point raised Max. May we always let them be shown as powerful female Deities, not models of fantasy. There are great artists, who for centuries, used their skills to create the Goddesses in their all their glory.
    Blessings to all who honor & respect our beloved Goddesses.

  2. I feel the same way, Max, I’ve been noticing too much of it lately and find it so disheartening and disturbing. It’s always good to read your articles, and great to see you here on Mago as well. Let me know when you’re coming to San Miguel.

  3. Hurrah!!!! I am as repelled as you are about these stupid pornographic depictions of fake goddess images. I want to throw up. Thank you, thank you, for exposing this stuff for what it is – pure crap.

    “It’s sad is that people think they are reaching for a more powerful image of women, while conforming to the same old tired, limited ideas. Nearly all are glamour girls of the same body size and (often impossible) proportions. Virtually none represent old or middle-aged women, few are muscular, none are fat or even husky. Their stance and expressions are predictably uniform and modeled on porn archetypes.”

    You are so right!!!!

    Barbie still runs the show…

  4. Excellent and I love your humorous approach to the topic! It’s interesting that in the work of Willeim Reich, the posture of sticking out your butt actually reduces the sexual life force flow very effectively. So the pics are actually inducing sexual response yet blocking it in themselves…

  5. Thank you so much for this! This has been driving me crazy for a really long time. Trying to purchase artwork featuring those to whom I am dedicated or else working with is so frustrating. I once ran across a sculpture of Danu that looked like She was about 16 and was so simpering and silly it was nauseating — not even considering who She was supposed to be.

    And I am currently working with Athena, so was just this week shopping for an altar piece, when I ran across a completely creepy supergirl (I guess), complete with owl, shield, spear, and little else, except a bared waist that would make Barbie look tubby. Yikes!

    Hello, dear artists, wherever you are. You know — the REAL ones.. We would pay dearly (I think) to see our Beloveds in forms that are true, powerful, and sacred.

    And thank you again, Max, for voicing this. It’s really important.

  6. The Morrigan you posted is based of a video game character she is the daughter of a vampire lord. It’s a fighting game by capcom called “Nightstalkers” the names just happen to coincide so no need to be upset at that particular picture.

  7. In most of these cases, it is as simple as Sex sell’s the artist are not trying to portray an accurate depiction of a Goddess (or at least I hope not). they are selling their work. If you do not like the way they portray them don’t buy it.As an artist and a pagan, this is the very reason I try not to do images of the different Goddesses, as a man I find my self over sensualizing the depictions, But in mythology, many goddesses are said to be very attractive. Art is subjective and something I find as beautiful another may not.

  8. I just wanted to take a moment to thank you for this post–but to also implore you to make a correction:

    Your reaction to “Morrigan” is understandable–but please take note: That picture is of a video game/anime character, and is a demon, not an intended depiction of any goddess or visual goddess-like female representation. To make your future posts more credible, please be sure your examples actually fit your theme.

    Otherwise, great work and again, much appreciated.

    Sincerely, a female NOT offended by the Darkstalkers franchise.

  9. This crap drives me nuts. Even on witch sites and in pagan imagery, these playmate floozies abound. Sure, they might be perfectly badass kickbutt goddesses, but the ridiculous renditions of model-like perfection gall me and I scroll right on by. I don’t even care what the meme or article is about.

  10. Yes! It’s to the point I won’t read the article (unless it’s super compelling in content) if it’s got one of those ridiculous reminders that selling female sexuality is still popular if not profitable – in whatever guise it takes.

  11. As an artist (who often DOES represent Goddesses as other than barbies etc) – the thoughts/ needs are duly noted. Now, if only the *rest* of our vapid culture would support those of us who put so many hours and so much effort so we can make ends meet.
    SO much love to everyone here! <3

  12. I couldn’t agree more!! It’s just disgusting the proliferation of highly sexualized and/or infantilized images of the goddess are all over the internet. As if the Goddess cares one whit about satisfying men. She is all powerful unto herself and needs none of that bs.

  13. For starters, you may wish to revisit the art you have chosen to vilify. It would behoove you to do this little thing called research before you spout off half-cocked. That you cannot identify an anime (Japanese cartoon) or know that Julie Bell is a bodybuilder as well as an artist, well that detracts that the topic. That you cannot identify 3d imagery, though you like the leggings… Yes, that smacks of a well-informed article.

    That being said, this is not about goddess imagery. This is the objectification of females in media. I, for one, do not agree with the “barely there”, hyper-sexualized images around, but there you go. If you are complaining about people using said image to visualize the goddess, then that is a highly personal matter but hardly the responsibility of the artist.

  14. the objectification of the female deity has been irritating me for years, so much so that I have designated any male copying one on his facebook page as a potential sex offender.

  15. I think she is cherry picking her images a bit. For example, the Morrigan image she used is the succubus Morrigan Aensland from the Darksiders video game, a fighting game about vampires, demons and the like. It seems like she just went on google image search and picked out her least favorite images labeled as goddesses. This is not an indicative standard of the norm within current goddess imagery, and many of her complaints seem either nit picky or just a critique on an artist’s skill.

    I am pretty sure the pointed toe thing for several of these images is because they are supposed to be floating. Except for high definition muscle gal; I guess she’s just flexing to show off those muscles. Which would make sense, as someone pointed out to me that this is actually a body builder competition pose used by both men and women.

    Also on a side note, when did Laura Croft from Tomb Raider start being considered an Amazon; same with Taki and Ivy form Soul Caliber? Are we just using that as a generic word for female warrior now?

    Anyway even though there are plenty of sexy goddess images out there (and some better drawn than others); I don’t think this article has made a strong case for goddesses becoming pornified. This just seems like a rant post with more sass than substance. It can be satisfying to read if you are already of the same opinion, but I don’t think really proves her point. *shrugs*

  16. I actually had to stop watching a local pagan facebook group for this reason, the daily barrage of images was ridiculous, you couldn’t tell the “goddesses” or “fairies” from biker pin-ups, and when I commented on the fact that they were all airbrushed generics it was ignored. That and problematic messaging on one of them and I was out.

    That said however (and I genuinely do understand what you mean,) but much art takes some kind of investment and bravery to share and I think it’s kind to consider the artist and their intentions as well in cases where sincerity is present. I say this because in high school I had an art class friend who made a painting that took her months that was very similar to the “shaman in a corset” that you posted. She was a teenage girl, and we were all exploring our conceptions of sexuality, mystery, and magic.

    Best Regards, and thank you for saying it!

  17. Several years ago I tried to tell this to a woman that had a Wiccan website. She used images of so called goddesses that to me looked more like Victoria’s Secret models. She whined to the other members of the website that I was too prudish and that these images were “empowering” to women. I just can’t see how dressing like a porn queen and posing in overtly sexual poses is empowering to anyone. She stopped posting my comments and I became the butt of some pretty childish jokes so I stopped going to this website. It’s like the recent trend of woman who had reached the age of fifty and were either posing nude or in micro bikinis and posting these photos on social media. They claim it’s empowering but I’m not sure these woman know what that word means. Oh well, to each his own.

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