But could this be a classic case of a femme fatale embodying male fears of female sexuality?
Nina Triaridou notes in the Classics forum Antigone that ancient Greek mythology abounds with terrifying female part-human/part-animal monsters, and sirens epitomize the seductive female predator.
Triaridou states: “The Sirens’ danger lies in their having a voice, contrary to patriarchal gender conventions: their ability to sing literally causes death, thus encapsulating the male fear of allowing women to speak in public.” In the Odyssey sailors plugged their ears with beeswax to protect themselves from these dangerous female voices.
The Jesuit priest Cornelius a Lapide said of women: "her voice a siren's voice—with her voice she enchants, with her beauty she deprives [men] of reason—voice and sight alike deal destruction and death."
An damning quote from a theoretically celebate man, and not unlike the claims made against women during the infamous witch-trials of the Inquisition, in which tens of thousands were tortured and executed.
"All the stories about monstrous women, about creatures who are too gross, too angry, too devious, too grasping, too smart for their own good, are stories told by men,” Jess Zimmerman said in a CSM interview. Instead of heeding these cautionary tales that warn women not to overreach, she suggests we embrace them as role models in her book, Women and Other Monsters.
Olivia Gilbert adds, “One could argue that sirens are not evil, that they are simply biologically programmed to kill, similar to animals who kill other animals or humans. …Sirens are not humans after all, so they don’t have the same set of morals as we do.”
Gilbert writes on a website offering mermaid classes to those yearning to embrace their inner siren.