The other day I mentioned the lack of actual diversity and positive, realistic, emotionally intelligent role models in our media (as in entertainment) and literature. There are some:
But not nearly enough. They’re few and far between. Don’t get me wrong; there are plenty of shows, books, and movies I still enjoy. It’s just that even if they’re fantastic, they’re not fully representative. Granted, this might be a hard thing to do since most people have never met too many folks different from themselves.
Yet as a recent article pointed out, many of us in the margins need possibility models.
And not just cookie cutter tokens, insinuation, or titillation.
For me especially, fitting into so many different intersectional identities that I’ve never seen anyone else come close, there was only one person that came close. By that I mean she was reviled and hated as much as I am. Not personally, mind you. No, few people see beyond my labels to my reality. And the same goes for her. In fact that’s one of the reasons I feel such a kinship to her. I’m not religious (if anything I’m a Daoist alethiologist; I’ll explain that another day) but damn do I admire the hell out of her!
And this is why:
1. She’s Associated With Dragons/Serpents/Air
I was born in the Year of the Dragon and born a Gemini (making my sign that of air). I don’t believe in astrology but I do absolutely fucking love dragons. Also, her personality seems rather similar to mine. We both have become a bit monstrous when angered, we both are very sensual and sexual, and we tend to burn those who get close to us in ways both positive and negative. We are both incredibly cerebral, celestial, and versatile.
2. She’s a Black Woman
Though her depictions often show her as rather fair-skinned, which she may or may not have been, most think she might have been Sumerian, which would put her on the border between Asian and African. Doesn’t matter; she’s a mythical legend. She’s a woman of color. And she might have been a redhead (which I absolutely fucking adore). Like me, she’s been fetishized, marginalized, scapegoated, feared, and desired precisely because of her “exotic” nature.
3. She’s Non-Monogamous/Highly Sexual/Androgynous
Lilith fucks whoever she wants, whenever she wants, and is completely unapologetic about it. She is an advocate for her own pleasure. And there are some tales that mention that once upon a time she and Samael shared the same body, making them both male and female. Being polyamorous and genderqueer with a high sex drive myself, obviously this spoke a lot to my own experience. She also seems to be just as sadistic, dominant, and passionate as I am.
4. She’s a Feminist/Individualist
When Adam commanded her to basically lay down and take what was coming to her she said, “Fuck that!” and left. She wouldn’t settle for being secondary to anyone or anything. She called on the most sacred name of God and struck out on her own. She created her own world, loved who she wanted to, and did what made her happy. She sacrificed nothing of herself to gain her joy. She maintained her wholeness, her vulnerability, and rid herself of the poison the world threw on her.
She never accepted the status quo just because that’s what she was told; she questioned everything, knew her own heart and mind, and refused to go along with the program. She took nothing for granted, forged an entirely new path down unexplored avenues, and knew her worth. She wasn’t normal and wouldn’t settle for normal. Though she was pressured by gods and men to conform she never took the well-travelled, obvious path. She avoided a lot of the pitfalls because she dared to look further and to investigate.
5. She’s a Vampire/Nocturnal/Awake
I’m a night owl. Always have been. I despise mornings. But it also goes deeper than that.
See, part of the reason I stayed up late was because I’d wait in dread for the dick who would sneak in to harm me every night. Even after he’d moved out I never really slept well. I sleep light and even now my brain is still working even as I dream. I am always on. I learned to put that to good use by learning to be aware of everything. My hypervigilance and anxiety became tools I used to learn, grow, and pay attention to what mattered.
Lilith is a creature of the night. All things dark are her domain. She walks fearlessly into it because she’s survived worse. She’s able to face her demons because she literally gave birth to them. She creates her own light and is able to see things most others can’t because they are still afraid of the dark or simply unaware of what lurks beyond the light blinding them.
6. She Finds Herself The Scapegoat for Others’ Bullshit
Lilith: the dark goddess, the eater of children, the seductress of men, the mother of demons…
She’s been called a lot of things. And a lot of those things have been awful. Lilith was blamed for infant deaths, for nocturnal emissions, for the creation of all demonic creatures; not to mention one of her partners (a lefty like me) is the one accused of tempting Eve in the Garden.
But yeah, if anything ever went wrong you can bet Lilith’s name would come up like the curse it gradually became. Men hated her. Women hated her. She was outcast, pariah, queer.
I know what that feels like. My race, my gender, my sexualities, my self and my body has been blamed for various problems or sacrificed on the altar of the common good. I have been Othered in the worst of ways, regardless of the truth.
That’s Why Lilith is My Power Animal
It’s why she’s one of my characters. I’m writing her story because in so many ways, it is my own story. Discovering her tale when I started my own research at age 12 was one very important and fortuitous event. It saved my life because I saw my possibility model out in the world. Even though she was hated. Even though she was blamed for everything wrong with the world. Even though she was considered evil.
For a person who did often identify more with the intelligent villains in movies than the empty interchangeable protagonists, Lilith was the first to help me realize that there are different sides to every story-and that the one that gets told the most isn’t always the right one.
All she wanted was to be treated like a human being. Instead she was made into a goddess and a succubus (the Madonna/whore complex, anyone?). She values the truth above all else, she uncovers what others fear to reveal, she lives openly while others hide.
She showed me what I could become. She proved to me that I was indeed possible and that I did exist. It was she who inspired me to keep going as myself, no matter what the world called me.
Lilith created herself in so many ways. She was always full of herself, not in the disparaging way people mean it but in the vivacious sense. She is a cup overflowing. The only creature that could ever understand me and See me fully. Someone thought her up thousands of years ago. And here I am today, having felt so totally alone and beaten.
So when I stressed the importance of realistic, diverse, positive role models that’s what I want to see. I’m bringing her back to life and sharing her experiences from her point of view. Because they are my own. And because it’s way past time I had a media representation of myself.