Many people believe that the goddess of art and wisdom punished a rape victim. The story of Medusa is the one that most people are aware of, that she was a priestess raped by Poseidon in the temple of Athena. She was transformed into a monster by an "angry" Athena, according to this story. It's the later version by the Roman poet Ovid, written this some time between 43 BCE and 17 CE.
Medusa as a character has been around since ancient Greece and had always been a monstrous gorgon. She was born that way and had gorgon sisters called Sthenno and Euryale.
Early worship of Athena was as a snake goddess. She's also linked to weaving and spinning. Again there is another story about her changing a beautiful mortal woman named Arachne. In that story, Arachne made works of weaving art and the goddess destroyed it, followed by Arachne committing suicide. Athena felt deeply sad for her, so she brought her back to life in the form of a spider. This was done out of remorse and not as a punishment. It shows here that Arachne was given a chance to live again to continue weaving by spinning webs. This is also a story about reincarnation.
Going back to Medusa, the later version by Ovid that seems popular today has demonised the goddess Athena. If people want to take that version literally, instead of seeing Athena as a cruel goddess punishing a woman for getting raped, maybe consider that Athena was doing Medusa a favour. Athena gave Medusa the power, because Medusa could blind people just by looking at them. She was so frightening that she would never be attacked again!
Posted by the girls of She Wolf Night blog
(Graphic designed by me using Azalea's doll maker)