Mar 182015
 
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by Nobilis Reed

It happens every so often. Some author somewhere will get called out for not including substantial female characters in their novels. It also happens with creators of comics, TV and movies. If there are women in the story, they fall into a few roles that generally don’t leave them much room for agency; the princess that needs to be rescued or the girlfriend who gets “fridged” in order to provide the hero with motivation. This sort of writing is the primary reason for the Bechdel Test. And too often, the author accused will respond with something like “Oh, I couldn’t presume to write deeply about female characters. I don’t understand them well enough.”

I have no doubt that this is utter bullshit.

I’ve been writing stories with well-developed female characters since the beginning. It never occurred to me that women might be mysterious creatures, beyond my capacity to understand or empathize with. They were always just people. People who may or may not have the same background, expectations, drives, desires, and ways of thinking as I do, but then most of my other characters don’t have the same thoughts and feelings either. I’ve never felt that my imagination and empathy were not up to the task.

Maybe I’m just a genius?

Maybe I’m this paragon of perspicacity, peering past the veils that obscure the feminine soul, teasing out Secrets Man Was Not Meant to Know. Maybe I’m a mutant, bitten by a radioactive woman, with amazing mental powers that I can call upon in times of crisis. Or maybe I’m actually trans, unbeknownst to my generally-male sense of identity up to this point, and my body is inhabited by a female mind.

Or maybe, just maybe, the whole idea that women, as a gender, are more complicated than any man can hope to understand is bullshit. Maybe it’s a pillar of sexism that gives men an easy out, an excuse for failing to empathize, for brushing off their failures to treat women like human beings. Maybe it’s a pass men give themselves to avoid having to examine their own thoughts and feelings about women deeply.

Because here’s the truth, which some may find disturbingly radical: Women are human beings. And as human beings, their thoughts, feelings, drives and ambitions are not that different from anyone else’s. An author with the capacity to write a character who isn’t one hundred percent identical to themselves must, therefore, have the capacity to write someone of a different gender. In fact, it’s easier to write deeply about someone of a different gender who shares the author’s basic cultural background than it is to write about someone from a radically different background. After all, dear male writers, women are all around you. All you have to do is watch, listen, pay attention. Just as you would with anyone else.

And here’s your story idea for the month, fresh from Poughkeepsie: A character arrives in your city from an alternate universe where there’s no sexism.

***

Stories that don’t stop at the bedroom door—or the castle gate—or the airlock.
http://www.nobiliserotica.com
Podcast: nobilis.libsyn.com
Twitter: @nobilis

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Aug 122014
 
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By billierosie

It is all women’s fault. All of it. Everything, ever since the world began. …But which women? We are used to blaming Eve for her disobedience to God‘s holy decree—and we are wrong to do so. Greek mythology blames Pandora for her insatiable curiosity when she opened up the pretty box. Wrong again. The fault of womankind and consequently every bad thing that has ever, ever, ever happened, is actually the fault of Lilith—Adam’s first wife.

There are many stories about Lilith in ancient Hebrew and Assyrian texts. The stories tell us that God created Adam and Lilith at the same time, and out of the same dust. It seems that conflict arose between Adam and Lilith, because Adam insisted that Lilith should lie beneath him during sexual intercourse. Lilith was furious and refused; she was Adam’s equal. She spoke the sacred and ineffable name of God and vanished in a rage, flying off into the air.

Adam was understandably angry and insisted that she return to him. Adam asked God to help him, so God sent three angels—Senoy, Sansenoy and Semangelof—to find her.

She was eventually found in the Red Sea. The angels threatened her. If she did not return to Adam, her husband, one hundred of her sons would die every day. Lilith countered their threat by telling them to do their worst, retorting that she was created to harm new born children and that is what she would do. But she made an oath that she would not harm a child wearing an amulet with the images of the three angels inscribed on it.

Lilith’s first appearance is probably in ancient Sumerian texts; she also is mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls. She is older than Judaism and is the most important of a small collection of named female demons in Hebrew legend.

As far as I am able to ascertain, there is only one Biblical reference to Lilith—in Isaiah 34:14:

Wildcats shall meet with hyenas,
goat-demons shall call to each other;
there too Lilith shall repose,
and find a place to rest.
There shall the owl nest
and lay and hatch and brood in its shadow.

The passage associates Lilith with the night and with repulsive, unclean creatures. She is clearly linked with the demonic world, and I get a sense of her plotting, scheming and finding ways to do harm. As stories around her develop, Lilith becomes associated with endangering pregnancy and childbirth—if she can make things go wrong, she will.

Lilith is also a succubus. Men fear her coming to them in the night, stealing their seed, copulating with them, as they slumber helplessly. She personifies licentiousness and lust. Even holy men feared her; in the Middle Ages, celibate monks kept Lilith’s nighttime visits away by sleeping with their hands crossed over their genitals and holding a crucifix.

Kabbalah has a clear view of Lilith as well.

While it is heavily used by some denominations, Kabbalah is not a religious denomination in itself. Inside Judaism, it forms the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. Outside Judaism, some see its scriptures as standing alone, without need for the traditional canons of organised religion. Kabbalah seeks to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other ontological questions. It also presents methods to aid understanding of these concepts and to thereby attain spiritual realisation.

Through the teachings of Kabbalah, Lilith maintains a status fixed in Hebrew demonology. She leaves a trail of tragic tales wherever she appears. She strangles children in their cribs and she seduces any man she fixes her gaze upon. She is the partner of Samael (Satan) and with him, she rules the forces of evil. She visits her earthly husband, Adam, as the succubus, stealing his seed, and she copulates with Satan. Lilith gives birth to one hundred children a day and is held responsible for populating the world with evil.

Men and babies have no protection against a sexually powerful entity such as Lilith. She personifies female sexuality and her mythology perceives her sexuality as a terrible threat, disruptive and destructive, going against the natural order of things. Lilith disturbs identity, system, order. She has no respect for borders, positions or rules.

These days, her name is unspoken—either because we don’t know about her, or because we live in the enlightened decades of the twenty-first century. But Lilith still lurks as a sinister entity in the minds of biblical commentators and in the teachings of Kabbalah, and as a powerful entity in feminist readings of mythology. She provides a necessary sexual dimension, which is otherwise lacking in the Genesis story. Genesis, when read in literal terms, portrays Eve not as some wicked femme fatale but as a naive and largely sexless fool.

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billierosie has been writing erotica for about three years. She has been published by Oysters and Chocolate, in The Wedding Dress. Logical Lust accepted her story “Retribution” for Best S&M 3. She has also been published by Sizzler, in Pirate Booty and in their Sherlock Holmes anthology, My Love of all that is Bizarre, as well as Hunger: A Feast of Sensual Tales of Sex and Gastronomy and Sex in London: Tales of Pleasure and Perversity in the English Capital. She also has a collection of short, erotic stories, Fetish Worship, as well as novellas Memoirs of a Sex Slave and Enslaving Eli, both published by Sizzler Editions in 2012 and available for purchase at Amazon.
billierosie can be found at Twitter, @jojojojude and at her blog.

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