The Shrinking Goddess

The Shrinking Goddess

Power, Myth and the Female Body

This item will be released 9 July 2024
N/A Hardback 288pp 85 black and white images. 2 maps.

About the Book

Wild and strange stories have been told about the female body since antiquity. While tales of poisoned hymens and witches with multiple breasts circulated, the first creation figure, Mother Earth, fell out of popular culture. Ranging from the empowering to the absurd, ancient myths about women’s bodies have not only survived into the twenty-first century but continue to influence modern discourse.

The Shrinking Goddess brings together myths about the female form and traces subsequent male efforts to ‘tame’ it. Mineke Schipper explores how women’s bodies have been represented around the world, from the demon daughter of New Mexico with a toothed vagina, to the Japanese supermarkets and European festivals where ‘breast puddings’ are considered delicacies.

Drawing from the vast reservoir of writing and art that shape how women are seen in today’s world, The Shrinking Goddess reclaims the female body as a source of power.

About the Author

Mineke Schipper is a cultural historian and writer. She is the author of seven critically acclaimed works including Never Marry a Woman with Big Feet: Women in Proverbs from Around the World and Naked or Covered: A History of Dressing and Undressing Around the World. Her writing has been published in The Times, El Mundo and the Los Angeles Times, among others. Schipper was foreign secretary of Dutch PEN, chair of Index on Censorship Nederland and currently serves as Emeritus Professor of Intercultural Literary Studies at the University of Leiden, with visiting professorships in Nigeria, Kenya, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso and China. She lives in the Netherlands.

→ Author Website


‘A cultural and anthropological study of misogyny via global artworks, texts, myths and proverbs. Only by seeing what has been done can we undo it.’
New Statesman

‘Illuminating, informing and underpinned by extensive research, Schipper’s global approach is the means to a journey. The Shrinking Goddess will lead you to reconsider the female form in all its splendid glory. Ground-breaking.’
Jasmine Elmer

‘This is a vital cultural study. Forensically researched, the book the representations – and misrepresentations – of women’s bodies via global art works, texts, myths and proverbs. It opens the reader alongside its pages, offering an education, a reason, a deep knowing and a path out of here. World changing work.’
Joelle Taylor