A Glimpse of Lilith's World

A Glimpse of Lilith's World


In 2015 I got a phone call from Jesper Molin, an artist I had worked with once a few years before. He wanted to create an art project about female strength, masculine fragility and start the conversation about gender roles and norms. “I love the way you combine your modeling with the fight for women and a great view on nudity, so I want you for this project. Also, I want to call it your name, after you". I didn’t even try to stay cool, I just jumped up and down, feeling like I won the lottery! I loved the project, and I loved the art we, the whole team, created. I think the images show me as a fighter, a conqueror, a dominant player, powerful and strong, but also emotional, sensual, sexual, and safe. It was a dream coming true, to be booked for such an amazing project, a project that played with the very ideas I constantly reflect around. On exhibition day, it was packed with people and it was almost overwhelming to see all of the images in huge exclusive prints, hanging in the gallery. I am so grateful for Jejune Magazine wanting to publish it! We need projects like this, we need to question more, to try to understand the world in different ways, not just one. To question gender roles, or just gender, is one of the healthiest things to do; it gives perspective on life, on our identities, and it explains so much of why we take the decisions we take, why we feel the way we feel. 


I believe we create our world. Yes, “think happy thoughts and be happy” does have some legit ground, but you can also end up having to deal with a life of traumas at the age of should-have-done-this-earlier. I’m more interested in social constructionism: I think the meaning of different ideas are created by us, and constantly reinforced (sometimes aggressively) until we consider these ideas to be objective truths. And if something is an objective truth, then it has levelled up to be something we wouldn’t even consider to question. The earth being flat wasn’t considered to be an idea, it was objective truth. Now we have seen – actually seen – the world is a globe, so now that is the truth for (most of) us.  


There is a line within theory, queer theory, which uses the idea of social constructions to explain gender: according to queer theory, gender is a social construction, something we have created. The idea is that you can’t get away from our ideas. If someone says the word “woman”, you instantly have an image in front of you of what a woman is, and there is no way to even talk about what a woman is, without confirming the very ideas we already have of what a woman is. The trans-world has taught us that having a vagina and being a woman is not the same thing. By now, many of us have accepted that taking care of kids, cooking and cleaning aren’t things wives are more suitable for than husbands, even though we still see those tendencies in most households (come on society, develop faster!). According to social constructionism and queer theory, men would indeed be less emotionally available than women – because we keep on reinforcing that idea, and therefore creating a world where that eventually becomes true. So what is a “man” if he is not strong, rational, quiet, stubborn, sexual, handy, independent, proud and ambitious? What is a “woman” if she is not emotional, loving, needy, vain, chatty, naive, careful, sensual and sensitive? The idea is that if we were all raised and treated the same, we would be very, very much more similar to each other. The differences within the group “women” would be larger than the difference between men and women. I don’t think this is true to one hundred percent true. I think our different hormone cocktails do create a difference between us, but I do believe that difference is significantly smaller than what we make it out to be. Like, maybe really really tiny super small? Or maybe just small? Anyway, this is a perspective of life I like to use. Assume we create gender, then what else do we create, and what else can we then change to suit us better, the way we really are? 


My sexual and romantic identity is Queer. It’s the Q in LGBTQ+. What does that mean to me? Well, imagine a scale, men on one end, women on the other. Our sexual and romantic preferences are somewhere on that scale, most people feel they are on one of the far ends, some people move on the scale. Gender identity works the same way, by the way. There are other scales: very sexual – asexual; extrovert – introvert; early riser – night owl; believes unicorns exist – in denial; etc. I have a lesbian friend, and I see it as if there is a scale between the way she works and the way I work. On her end: biology. She’s a lesbian, she has always known, never been anything else, will never ever have a hetero experience, not even if the zombie apocalypse came and the only way to save mankind was to do a dude with a dick. Mankind would die. On the other side, more in line with queer theory, sexuality is a social construction, it’s created from our social context. Basically all of us grow up and live in a world where heterosexuality is the norm, and not just any norm but the norm. TV, commercials, books, radio programs, friends, family, most likely your parents – everywhere you look the story is the same: a couple equals a man and a woman together. Because we identify with the world around us (there is nothing else to identify with, really), the world will reflect itself in us and this also, according to this end of the scale, goes for our sexual and romantic identities. And I am on this side on the scale. I don’t feel that my sexual and romantic identity is biological, I think that it’s, at least partly, a product of the context I’m in. I think had I instead lived in a world where the norm was that women were attracted to other women, that would have affected my sexual and romantic identity and the way I would have chosen to live a happy and satisfactory life. My friend is proof that the other side of the scale exists, she’s homosexual in a heterosexual world. My side of the scale is more theoretical. It’s more difficult to prove, and impossible to prove that it’s accurate for me, but I believe it is. So, I identify as queer. Other people who identify as queer will have a different explanation, but that is also a part of the queer idea. Queer is everything that is not the norm. Queer is not meant to have clear lines. It’s a questioning concept and it needs to stay that way. We need it.



During the exhibition, I was asked if these images define me or if they were just roles I took. I answered for I don’t know how long. In one of the images, I stand in boxing gloves, without a shirt and I scream, punch, and fight someone or something you can’t see. I see me fighting for my body. Too many times, men have violated my rights to my own body, and it’s still happening, both in my immediate life and in politics. When did the rights to my body, such as deciding if I want to carry a fetus/child inside it or not, even become open for discussion? When did someone else’s “need” to feel their dick’s skin towards my vagina’s inside overrule my decision to not want to risk STI or pregnancy? No, it’s not a role, that image is me. The piece in which I’m laying naked on a bed of flowers, holding a bouquet of flowers between my legs, represents (to me) my willingness to give in to my desire. What if the flowers are pleasure? I’m laying in it, digging a foot into it, spreading out all over it, and showing some of it the way to my inside, with the expression in my face as if I’m reaching climax (I really do hope I look like that bombing when I reach climax). My sexuality is something I’m very focused on right now in my life. I realized a few years ago, I felt shame when I was aroused, and I decided right away I would find a way to replace that shame with happiness and pride. I have worked hard and I have gone so far already, but I want to go further, so yes, that image is me. Many of these images have a deep emotional meaning for me. And they are meant to have a strong meaning, to have an impact and to provoke thought. The portrait on which I have eyes glued all over my breasts and my eyes closed is titled “Look into my eyes”; the image where I’m holding a glittery gun like it was a penis is titled “Male power”, etc. I’ll leave it at that.

The way I see it, you can call this art project queer. It questions, it’s outside the norms, it doesn’t say “how to” but “hmm.. what about?”. It contributes to the discussion. It’s powerful and sensual, at the same time. It’s intelligent and emotional, at the same time. You can call it feminist, because it represents strength in women and fragility in men, the very attributes to gender our patriarchal world tries to strip from us; and it highlights the oppression by switching the roles, by exaggerating. You can call it empowering, because there is anger in it, anger that needs to come out in screams and rage, not in diplomatic smiles. And it celebrates! The woman, me, on these images is taking every piece of pleasure in life she can get her hands on – no corner for her, no way, she wants to live and she wants to live big.

I hope you enjoy it as much as I did modeling for it. 

Thank you for your time.

To learn more about Lilith Etch, please follow her via the following platforms:
Instagram: lilith.etch.model

And hair/make-up artists throughout the project:
Emma Schatz
Isabell Fransson
Evalotta Ericsson

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COVER - Cis Saldana - this is her Humanity

COVER - Cis Saldana - this is her Humanity