Mark's account of the execution of John the Baptist offers an occasion to raise questions about understandings of gender both in the ancient world and today. Whether or not Mark demonizes women and their capacity for power may be an undecidable question; we can more certainly establish that modern readers have offered interpretations molded by their own fears about female subjectivity. These assumptions have equally infected scholarly and popular interpretations, obscuring the boundary between the two. This paper pursues two major lines of inquiry. First, it explores assumptions about gender, especially masculinity, that shape Mark 6:17-29. Second, it highlights tendencies in late nineteenth and twentieth century thinking about gender to show how these tendencies overdetermine readings of the Markan text.