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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Farewell from the graduating Battalion staff of 2024
The Battalion May 4, 2024

Lilith, the original feminist

If you think Hillary Clinton is the world’s biggest supporter of women’s rights, you haven’t done your research. If you think Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton started the revolution that eventually allowed women the seemingly natural abilities to dress, act and pursue life as they please, you still haven’t reached the root. If you think you can name any other woman in history who would have me silenced into agreement on your veracity, you are looking for answers in all the wrong places. For I assure you, women’s reluctance to be subservient started farther back than you would imagine. Before Hillary, the 18th century, flappers, the Pill and Jane Austen. Before the fall of mankind, before Adam lost a rib to Eve, there was, according to Jewish mythology, Lilith.
As related by the Sumerian creation story found in the book of Genesis, man and woman were created together, equally. Lilith, Adam’s fabled first wife, enforced treatment of equality. She wanted to share in the search for food, talking to God, the naming of animals. But most importantly, she wanted to share roles in sexual positions, thus refusing missionary.
To Lilith, sex was the physical interpretation of oneness and within that, of pure equality. Adam argued with her that it was God’s command for her to be on bottom, but Lilith insisted time and time again that since they were made from the same dust, their equality must be matched in sexual relations just as it was in everyday life.
Adam never relented on God’s commandment of submission for woman and Lilith eventually took off, leaving Eden behind forever. One might say this was the first divorce.
Adam was devastated and begged God to force her to come back and obey his commandments. So God sent three angels out to find her and bring her back. Lilith refused.
The angels, upon finding her in the Red Sea, explained that if she didn’t go back to the garden, she would have 100 of her children killed every day.
Her response, paraphrased: That’s better than forced submission.
Alas, the angels killed all her sons and she swore hatred on all of mankind, that they would feel the pain of child loss just as she had.
Mortal mothers, in attempts to keep Lilith’s demonic murders at bay, were to sing “Lili-abi” (“Lilith be gone” in Latin) to their babies. That song, believed to ward off Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, made its way into the modern English language in the form of the word “lullaby.” To this day, it represents a song mothers sing to children to put them to sleep.
Lilith has her good points as well, and appears in a more positive light in such works as Goethe’s “Faust, Part I,” and Keats’ “Lamia.” She has also historically been a subject of controversial paintings. Her plight is caught in these differing mediums and brought to light by highlighting God’s demonizing of an independent female.
Today, a quick Google search will have you overwhelmed with Lilith literature and blogs. But for her triumph over submission, the feminist movement is her biggest fan.
The movement usually focuses on her fleeing from Eden and choosing personal pain and suffering over submission to a man. She represents original defiance and strength for females, by a female.
Which brings us to Women’s History Month: a designated time for reflection on past victories won for women worldwide. Also, a time to reflect on the women in the world who haven’t yet gained the same “privileges,” so to speak, as those in America.
When reflecting, pick up a Bible and re-read the Genesis story, focusing on the first creation explanation. Think back to Lilith and her mythos, bad reputation, disobedience and independence.
Three of the largest monotheistic faiths – Islam, Judaism and Christianity – have long been known for their stance on male dominance. For women’s history and feminists everywhere, it’s about time the Lilith myth is brought back up, rediscovered, re-researched and redefined.
After all, as renowned historian and author Laurel Thatcher Ulrich once famously declared, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”
Ladies, it’s time to celebrate our history with our original supporter and biggest fan.

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