Thursday, May 07, 2009

She Was Dark At the Top Of the Stairs

Library of Halexandria:
The earliest representations of Lilith seem to be as a great winged Bird Goddess, a wind spirit, or one associated with the Sumerian, Ninlil, Goddess of the Grain, and wife to Enlil. As the “hand of Inanna”, Lilith was notorious for bringing men from the street and fields of war to Inanna’s temple for holy sexual rites, in which the intention was to civilize the people. The sacred sexual customs were, in fact, considered the greatest gift of Inanna.

As Adam’s first wife, however, Lilith really got into trouble with the patriarchy. She had the audacity to want to be treated as Adam’s equal. According to Hebrew mythology, the Babylonian Talmud, the Zohar, and the Alphabet of Ben Sira, Lilith refused to lie below Adam, and thus set the archetypal example for later feminists. God allegedly threatened her by decreeing if she did not submit to Adam, that “one hundred of her children would die every day.” Lilith chose exile.

Which really got Adam’s goat! Despite being ostensibly happy about having Lilith out of his life (and later blessed with a subservient, if not occasionally misguided Eve), Adam apparently never gave up resenting Lilith for having chosen exile to being with him. Not a lot has changed in thousands upon thousands of years: A woman deciding her life is better alone than with a particular man is still the height of insult to that male.

The male patriarchal traditions, therefore portrayed the situation as one in which the first woman on Earth, who was created equal to man and a free spirit to boot, would be condemned to survive for eternity as a she-devil, mating with demons and devils and bearing monsters instead of human children. “This image was to serve as a threat and warning to any woman who might consider leaving her husband or defying male authority.” [1]

But it was all to no avail.

Lilith by John Collier.

Women put up with a lot of shit every day, a goodly amount of which is so normalized few bother to mention it. Two days ago, men in my department, whom I would describe as reasonably harmless, were talking and I made a suggestion. Another woman drew near and made a suggestion. The men talked over us. I walked away. She followed me and asked if I felt brushed off. I said I would refuse to discuss the project further. Later, one of the men came to my desk and asked a rhetorical question. I said that because he didn't actually listen to me I wouldn't discuss this project anymore - and he kept talking. I said no, I wouldn't discuss this further and again he kept talking. The third time he finally got the message that we shouldn't converse. Perhaps it was the gesture I used. The reason I mention this is because it's so ordinary for men or a man to talk over women that it's barely worth a mention, like this conversation.

Tata: I want to be the little old lady on a shiny Vespa.
Guy: No, what you want to be is...

Apparently I'm so impressionable that men who are not me know what I want better than I do. Don't be surprised. It is a common conversational event, barely worth a mention. It will happen wherever men and women gather, and only women will notice.

Daily Contributor:
WFSB-TV in Hartford reported [Johanna] Justin-Jinich’s boyfriend entered about 1 p.m. local time carrying a gun and wearing a wig that also was left behind, the station said.

Yesterday, a man walked into a bookstore and shot a woman point-blank. His intention was to kill her and he succeeded. The Daily Contributor, as tepid a name as any, reported online and still reports as of this writing, that the murderer was her boyfriend. We expect that. It's so common we barely notice. These two people were not engaged in a relationship, however. He stalked her. According to NBC News while I was bicycling this morning, she'd filed at least one complaint. Yesterday, he killed her. The Hartford Courant article chooses neutral words very carefully.
"She's a really loyal friend; a really loving, passionate person about life and about her friends and family," [Leah] Lucid said of her friend, whom she affectionately called Yo-Yo.

Her passions included writing and her work in public health and women's issues, Lucid said. Justin-Jinich volunteered at various Planned Parenthood offices in her home state and in the area.

"She was the most giving and loving person I have ever known," Lucid said. "I'll remember her loyalty and her warm smile whenever I saw her and her very funny voices she would make with me."

From miles away, you can see it coming, can't you?
Ryan La Rochelle, 23, of Boston, said he was shocked. He knew Justin-Jinich from Westtown School, a small boarding institution in southeastern Pennsylvania they attended as high schoolers. La Rochelle learned about her death from the media.

"She was a very beautiful and kind girl," La Rochelle said. "I have no idea how something like this could have happened."

After [Jen] Bromley, the owner of Silk Waxing Spa, learned that Justin-Jinich had been shot, she closed the shop and drove to Middlesex Hospital with her cousin, another friend of Justin-Jinich's who attends Wesleyan. They thought she was still alive. But as they pulled into the hospital parking lot, the cousin's boyfriend called with the news.

"I've been crying and distraught all day," Bromley said Wednesday evening. "She's a really happy, really smart girl. Really intellectual...I can't imagine why any one person would dislike her and want her dead."

Beneath the simple laments, you can feel issues of class, feminism, the meaning of beauty and the same old male entitlement crap simmering until it boiled over. Nobody understands. Nobody thought anything of it. Of course, no one understands. Until our hearts break, this stuff is barely worth a mention.

[1]Demetra George, Mysteries of the Dark Moon, The Healing Power of the Dark Goddess, Harper San Francisco, 1992.



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