Predictable Medea


By focusing on the tragedy of the 'unpredictable' infanticide perpetrated by Medea, the paper speculates on the possibility of a non-violent ontological subjectivity for women victims of gendered violence and whether it is possible to respond to violent actions in non-violent ways; it argues that Medea did not act in an unpredictable way, rather through the very predictable subject of resentment and violence. Medea represents the story of all of us who require justice as retribution against any wrong. The presupposition is that the empowered female subjectivity of women’s rights contains the same desire of mastering others of the masculine current legal and philosophical subject. The subject of women’s rights is grounded on the emotions of resentment and retribution and refuses the categories of the private by appropriating those of the righteous, masculine and public subject. The essay opposes the essentialised stereotypes of the feminine and the maternal with an ontological approach of people as singular, corporeal, vulnerable and dependent. There is therefore an emphasis on the excluded categories of the private. Forgiveness is taken into account as a category of the private and a possibility of responding to violence with newness. A violent act is seen in relations to the community of human beings rather than through an isolated setting as in the case of the individual of human rights. In this context, forgiveness allows to risk again and being with. The result is also a rethinking of feminist actions, feminine subjectivity and of the maternal. Overall the paper opens up the Arendtian category of action and forgiveness and the Cavarerian unique and corporeal ontology of the selfhood beyond gendered stereotypes.

How to Cite

Bertolino, E., (2010) “Predictable Medea”, Studies in the Maternal 2(1), 1-10. doi:


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Elisabetta Bertolino



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