Ishtar the Thot The Appropriation of the Epic of Gilgamesh by the Manosphere

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Susannah Rees


Online antifeminist forums, blogs and social media sites are replete with references to and retellings of the Epic of Gilgamesh. These appeals to the Epic are used to endorse the misogynistic worldview propounded by the manosphere and to convey a cultural and intellectual heritage onto their explicitly antifeminist ideology. In this article, I focus on the characterisation of Shamhat and Ishtar who are viewed by these manosphere communities as paradigmatic of women’s use of sexual capital to manipulate men. I explore how these manosphere readings of the Epic of Gilgamesh blend the narrative with modern controversies such as Gamergate. In documenting these appropriations of the Epic of Gilgamesh and the narrative strategies used in the manosphere retellings of it, I highlight the insidious distortions of the myth and their deeply concerning consequences.

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