Lilith as a figurehead for abortion rights?!
As many of you will know, I recently completed my dissertation on the malevolent supernatural/Jewish gothic as an idiom for protofeminist expression in the poetry of Anna Margolin and Celia Dropkin (who, by the way, are fucking rockin’ poets who stirred up the Yiddish literary scene; check them out). One of the biggest things i covered was the figure of Lilith, who in Jewish thought is considered to be, among many other things, the first woman (i.e. before Eve). She was made from earth, like Adam, and as such considered herself equal to him. Consequently, she refused to submit to him and fled Eden. As the Midrashic tale (first told in The Alphabet of Ben Sira) goes, she went to live in a cave by the Red Sea and had sex with all the demons that lived there, proliferating her demon children throughout the world. Further, in revenge for her mistreatment by Adam, she kills human children.
God got wind of this and sent down some angels to have words, and they forced her to agree not to kill children wearing a protective amulet and also to kill one hundred of her own childen every day as well. In this sense, she has garnered the role/incarnation of “terrible mother” (as Siegmund Hurwitz identifies, this is one of two discrete roles Lilith plays—the other being “divine whore”)—not simple for murdering human children but for refusing to compromise her endeavour and to that end agreeing to kill over one hundred of her OWN children each day.
It strikes me as odd, then, that Lilith, whose mythology paints her as a merciless child-murdering sex fiend demon, has been appropriated as the figurehead for Texas abortion fund charity The Lilith Fund.
Certainly, i approve of charities like this. And using Lilith as a figurehead for women’s rights is nothing new and i have wholly endorsed it until now. But it is a little bewildering, given her larger cultural treatment as an “infanticidal slut”, that she would be used as the icon for an abortion fund charity. Doesn’t it present the wrong message about why abortions funds are necessary and why people get abortions?
It suggests that abortion really is “child-killing” as the pro-life lobby suggest it is. It suggests there are people who get abortions for revenge, that there are people who get abortions because they despise children. That people who get abortions are evil and demonic.
I fully understand that Lilith is a very powerful totem for feminine empowerment, and i applaud that. But using her as the figurehead for an abortion fund charity is perhaps the most ill-advised application of it i could ever imagine.