S, a 19-year-old from Houston, Texas, says her fourth grade teacher, Ms. Q, told her about the Urban Legend of the Goat Lady. Ms. Q detailed her own experiences with the Goat Lady, having encountered her in the woods with a couple of her friends during childhood. Ms. Q recalled seeing the Goat Lady stand on her hind legs and stare with lifeless eyes, before barreling rapidly forth towards Ms. Q and her friends. S remembers being absolutely horrified by the retelling of the Goat Lady encounter. S’s family planned a hike in the woods for Easter weekend, but having just heard the story of the Goat Lady, S was terrified to go on the hike with her family. For a while, she was extremely hesitant to go into the woods at all.
According to legend, the Goat Lady is a woman resembling a goat-human hybrid that inhabits the woods of Eastern Texas and eats wandering children who trespass onto her territory. The legend is usually, as is in this example, shared by word of mouth.
Notably, the Goat Lady is said to live in the woods and eat children, which is a common theme in cryptozoology. The woods are often viewed as a liminal space, where fear of the unknown easily takes hold and strange encounters are likely. Often, especially in many early American towns, the woods were viewed as the boundaries of civilization, and beyond civilization, is the perception of savagery. In many cultures, especially Native American cultures, the goat is viewed as a symbol of fertility and sexuality. Therefore, it would make sense for the figure of a woman to be crossed with a goat, given that women are primarily viewed as potential mothers and the bearers of offspring. Additionally, women tend to be inherently more sexualized for these abilities. The Goat Lady’s practice of eating young children could be an obscure depiction of backwards behavior, which juxtaposes the accepted norm of women mothering children in a civil society. The opposite of bearing children is eating them; therefore, the Goat Lady could represent the backwards and savage antithesis to the expected status of mothers in women. Given that the liminal space of the woods is often considered a backwards realm beyond civil society, the Goat Lady can viewed as an emblem of female dissent in opposition to societal norms.