Poisonous Women


By Helen America


As the story goes - and it’s a story that we all know - everything is Eve’s fault. The pain, destruction, and exile that humanity suffers could have been avoided if the first woman - the archetype of a  woman - had simply done as she was told.

The story of the first woman is one that’s been obsessed over, studied, discussed, maligned and celebrated since it was first conceived. It has been used to reinforce the patriarchy. It has been used to subjugate women - because, apparently, if you overlook Adam’s participation, Eve is reason enough why all women should have no power or trust instilled in them.

Of course, John Milton’s classic epic poem Paradise Lost did a lot to redeem Eve in the 17th century, when it was published. Almost every high school English student can tell you his version of the story - that Eve was convinced by the fallen angel, Satan, who appeared to her in snake form, promising her a sensual, voluptuous world that she couldn’t refuse.

According to Bruce Feiler in his brilliant book The First Love Story, Adam and Eve represent not just the first human beings, but the first romantic couple. God created Eve to cure Adam of his loneliness; before her existence, it’s believed that the first human embodied both genders (Adam is indicated by they/them pronouns until Eve shows up). Eve represented something more than just woman; she was a person, given to Adam as a life companion. While the command was “be fruitful and multiply,” the Adam and Eve narrative is one of romance and perseverance beyond procreation, Feiler asserts. I agree with him.

Eve is a Poisonous Woman, because she’s the First Woman. To be a woman is to be a little poisonous; and since Eve is the archetype of womanhood, she’s the template the rest of us follow. Regardless of vanity or naieveté - which Milton attributes to Eve as the reasons why she listens to the serpent and eats the fruit - the fact is that Eve, for whatever reason you choose to believe, ate the forbidden fruit that led her to knowledge. Adam followed her.

Eve’s story lately has me thinking about my own experience with an Adam. We dated right after I graduated college. While he wasn’t “fake-woke,” in the way that a lot of millennial dudes are in 2018, he certainly made it a point that he was a feminist who thought that my intellect was cool, at the onset of our liaison. However, as more time passed, he started to express resentment at my opinions, often told me, flat-out, to “be quiet,” and at one point, said that my mouth was “something [I’d] grow out of” (he was 13 years my senior). He clearly enjoyed the idea of dating a woman who was smarter than him, but didn’t like the reality. Needless to say, it didn’t work out, because I’ll never grow out of my mouth! But the experience really made me sympathize with my maternal forebear.

Adam and Eve, ultimately, seemed to have a good relationship, one that lasted through the exile from Eden and the tragedy of their son killing his brother, until they died at several hundred years old. But the lingering distrust of Eve, and by proxy, women who seek knowledge, is the most important part of Eve’s story, setting the stage that every woman and femme walks across.

About the Model

Niki Black



I’m a singer songwriter

Memory of the shoot

The channeling of powerful female characters with a group of friends was just such a fun way to spend the afternoon. Feeling the divinity of these women and discovering Tona’s music which I binged her song Good Love for weeks after.

Connection to her Character

I find Lilith, the theological first wife of Eve fascinating. That’s why I loved portraying Eve so much, she’s like the demon version of her!

Follow Niki on Instagram @thenikiblack