Thursday, August 8, 2019

The Status Quo Has to Go by Trista Hendren

Arte de la Jessica Gonzales


As we were finishing this anthology, two headlines from different parts of the world captured my attention. The first was from the Netherlands, where 17-year-old Noa Pothoven had asked the government to be euthanized after years of suffering—stemming from being sexually molested at a children's party at age 11 and later being raped by two men when she was 14. The government denied her request, and her parents allowed her to slowly starve herself to death at home, agreeing not to force-feed her. I do not blame this girl for her choice, nor her parents for honoring it. I blame a world built on patriarchy and the resulting sexual entitlement of men. We must rebuild a world where children are never raped or abused—and give them every reason to go on living.

The second headline was a trial in India, where an 8-year-old nomadic Muslim girl was abducted last year while she was out grazing horses. She was gang raped for 5 days in a Hindu temple—and then strangled and bludgeoned to death. Her name, which is rarely mentioned in the press, was Asifa Bano—and her eyes will always haunt me.

When I woke up this morning, I tried to connect with Asifa's soul and felt my heart break into a million little pieces. I then tried to send love and comfort to her parents by connecting to my go-to Mother-Goddess energy, but found no solace. Mother-God had failed us. It was Lilith who came.

As a mother myself, I knew the pain of Asifa's mother was not something that would ever be consolable. As Karen Tate wrote, “We’re allowed to have the Great Mother in our spiritual paradigm if she is docile and tame like Mary, or as the Goddess that saves women in childbirth or men from bombs and typhoons. But would patriarchy have us reclaim the full meaning of the Queen Mother of Compassion, or any Goddess, if it meant embodying her might bring our world into balance and emulating her caused women to no longer serve the status quo?”

The image of a Mother God is so much more palatable than Lilith, who seems nothing short of a wild woman. Lilith-Goddess is like the Auntie who saves the day with Her 'fuck that shit' energy—pulling together her own Gulabi Gang when necessary.

Lilith's mothering style has been chastised (whose hasn't?)—but I see her more as a mother-bear whose children are at risk. No one dares to mess with that woman.

Let's be clear: These days, all of our daughters are at risk. And each and every one of them belongs to us.

We must begin to create a world where being female means more than trying to avoid and/or endure rape. Lilith refused to lie down to be fucked by Adam. She must be MAD AS HELL about the current State of the Union.

If there is a 'curse' to being female, it is not childbirth. I have given birth twice—and while I understand that everyone's experiences are different—I have had headaches that were more painful than either of my births were. When birth is not turned into a medical procedure, it can be quite powerful—reminding us of our Goddess-potential to create life.

The curse was actually was in 'God's mandate' of male domination—which has resulted in so many atrocities.

We must create a world where we—and our daughters—can passionately design the lives we want to live. We must come back to a garden where enthusiastic, of-age, love-making and sexual ecstasy take precedence over the male sexual prerogative that has destroyed so much. Lilith was maligned because she embraced the 'erotic as power.' As Audre Lorde wrote:
“This why the erotic is so feared, and so often relegated to the bedroom alone, when it is recognized at all. For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.“41
It is through Lilith's energy that we can reclaim the erotic power that has been stolen from us via rape and sexual abuse—and the daily threat of both that keep many of us 'in line.' It is Lilith who can help us protect our daughters. It is through Lilith that we can reclaim the autonomy and joy that is our birthright.

I came across the words of Grace Sesma, of Curanderismo, the Healing Art of Mexico, on Facebook as I was working through my grief stemming from Noa’s and Asifa's short lives.
“Children are the seeds of a future yet to be determined. We should think of ourselves as the caretakers of all children; not just those in our family and immediate circle of friends, community, town, or nation. How we care for all children today will reverberate throughout time. It will imprint itself within the cellular memory of millions yet to be born.

We are the ones who can heal and weave strands of new, healthy, genetic memories that our descendants will carry: wisdom, courage, resiliency, health, and loving-kindness.

The future is fluid. It shifts and adjusts course as we make individual and collective choices. May our choices bless all the children of the world and all of creation.”
Lilith's energy is what I believe we need now to push us through. As we lose abortion rights throughout the United States and continue to wait for Equal Pay around the world, watching helplessly as so many of us are raped and abused—let us remember something.

Lilith just walked out.

She never completely left us though—and you can see her everywhere if you pay attention.

Art by Liliana Kleiner

Lilith is the grandmother who killed a rabid bobcat with her bare hands to protect her sleeping granddaughter.

She was Polly Higgins, Earth lawyer and activist, who fearlessly led a decade-long campaign for ecocide to be recognized as a crime against humanity—selling her house and giving up a high-paying job, “so she could dedicate herself to attempting to create a law that would make corporate executives and government ministers criminally liable for the damage they do to ecosystems.”

Lilith can be seen throughout women's literature—particularly, as Dr. Gillian M. E. Alban mentioned in her essay—as Toni Morrison's Sula—whose character radically changed my life as a young woman.

Lilith appears in music—from Aretha Franklin's R-E-S-P-E-C-T to Whitney Houston's Try It On My Own to Aurora's Queendom—singing songs that inspire freedom and autonomy.

Lilith reincarnates Herself through our daughters—when they push us to reconsider our own hypocrisies and shallow-thinking—and teach us that new ways of being are possible.

Lilith spoke to us through women like Sojourner Truth, Andrea Dworkin and Audre Lorde. She is every one of us who says, I AM NOT TAKING THIS ANYMORE.

Lilith erupts through Maya Angelou's breath-taking poem, “Still I Rise”—and every single time one of us invokes it—particularly, and most recently U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar.
“I'm a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling, I bear in the tide.”
As our literal oceans swell with garbage, and our world reverberates with racism and male violence, we must embrace Lilith's massive energy. I call on Lilith to guide us out of this man-made mess that patriarchy has piled onto for thousands of years. The status quo is no longer acceptable. I re-commit my life to doing whatever it takes to overturn it. I ask you to join me.


An excerpt from ''The Status Quo Has to Go'' in Original Resistance: Reclaiming Lilith, Reclaiming Ourselves.



Trista Hendren is the Creator of The Girl God series. Originally from Portland, Oregon, she now lives in Bergen, Norway with her family. You can read more about her projects at www.thegirlgod.com


References:

Henley, Jon. “Dutch girl was not 'legally euthanised' and died at home.” The Guardian; June 5, 2019.

“Six men escape death sentence for rape and murder of eight-year-old Indian girl.” The Journal.ie; June 10, 2019.

Tate, Rev. Dr. Karen. Goddess Calling: Inspirational Messages & Meditations of Sacred Feminine Liberation Thealogy. Changemakers Books; 2014.

Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Ten Speed Press; 2007.

Preuss, Andreas. “Georgia woman says she killed rabid bobcat with bare hands.” CNN; June 18, 2018.

Watts, Jonathan. “Polly Higgins, lawyer who fought for recognition of 'ecocide', dies aged 50.” The Guardian; April 22,2019.

Morrison, Toni. Sula. London: Vintage, 1973, 2004.

Angelou, Maya “Still I Rise.” And Still I Rise: A Book of Poems. Random House; 1978.

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