I’ve written quite a few poems with Lilith as the voice. She’s always showing up in my mind, and I consider her a muse. Recently I was told that I’ve made her too vulnerable. She needs to be a “feminist.”
I’ve been thinking about this a great deal. After all, I believe my poetry is reflective of my femininity. Have I misrepresented Lilith? She’s been walking the landscape of collective psychology much longer than feminist theory, and I believe she deserves the layers of an epic hero.
And then it occurred to me that the word “feminist” has been equated to strength, and the word “vulnerable” to weakness…and that we value strength above weakness. That both strength and weakness can’t live together in the same person.
I disagree. Let’s look at brave vs afraid. When a soldier steps into battle, is he not braver if he does so in the face of his fear? In fact, without fear, such an act seems potentially closer to reckless.
So yes, my Lilith is vulnerable. She is the stronger because she has (at least in her private musings) admitted it. Lilith steps into the world alone in the face of her vulnerability, and that is what makes her strong.
It is not uncommon for people to try and edit the author’s voice. Lilith is part of a mythology so people feel that they own her. If she speaks to you, you “need” to do what feels natural for you. All I see is strength in your work, in being vulnerable, in being authentic right now.
Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I agree, people feel they own her, which I ironically think makes her voice of vulnerability so strong!
As you noted, strength and vulnerability are not mutually exclusive (yay nuance!!) and a person who exists solidly in one camp or the other isn’t a very interesting one to either write or read about. Dabbling in those gray areas, and recognizing where strength is derived from vulnerability or where weakness if derived from faulty conceptions of strength is absolutely where it’s at. 🙂
Besides, Lilith doesn’t make sense as a 100% fierce character. In her own story she explicitly undergoes the trauma of exile, and there are a lot of readings of her story which take into consideration the potential of implicitly communicated rape. It makes so much more sense to portray someone who has undergone the trauma, is still vulnerable because of it, but is also strong because they keep trudging along in the face of said trauma.
In any case, Lilith wouldn’t be nearly as enigmatic or as powerful is she weren’t also deeply nuanced.
Thank you for coming to read and comment. The concept of her exile are what strike me the most about her. If she doesn’t care…if she doesn’t want or doubt…she isn’t whole…and it’s the wholeness of her that is her gift (at least to a storyteller).