Spoilers: it’s still full of disgusting misogyny and racism. Hope you weren’t expecting anything else. Poor Johanna Parker, whoever she is: imagine having your voice associated with bigoted dreck. I find it telling that on this cover art they appear to have used a mannequin that’s made of some kind of fabric. Unintended implication: white people don’t look quite human.
Last time I forgot to include this little gem:
The chauffeur shook my hand gently, as if he didn’t want to break my bones, and then he nodded to Amelia. “Miss Amelia,” he said, and Amelia looked angry, as if she was going to tell him to cut the “Miss,” but then she reconsidered.
Tyrese Marley was a very, very light-skinned African-American. He was far from black; his skin was more the color of old ivory. His eyes were bright hazel. Though his hair was black, it wasn’t curly, and it had a red cast. Marley was a man you’d always look at twice.
We have a black character, and what is he? A white man’s chauffeur. He is a good-looking black man too, but a light-skinned one. “Red cast” on his straight hair. “Bright hazel” eyes. “Old ivory” is unhelpfully inexact, but aged ivory tends to be yellow. In short, the only way for a black man to be attractive to Sookie (and presumably to Charlaine Harris) is that he must be “far from black.” Marley takes care to be careful about shaking a white woman’s hand, “as if he didn’t want to break [her] bones.” A physically imposing black man who must take caution not to threaten a white woman. In the US south. Hmmmm.
The woman standing at the podium was beautiful and black, her hair shaved very close to her skull. She wore a draped dress of orange and brown and the highest heels I had ever seen. She might as well have been wearing toe shoes. I looked at her closely, and I sampled the signature of her brain, and I found she was human. She smiled brilliantly at Eric and had the sense to give me a share of that smile.
Sookie, you really have to check if a woman of color is human?
I’m actually taking a cheap shot here, because this is something Sookie does all the time–looking at their brainwaves or whatever–but she usually does this when she wants to remark that someone isn’t human, i.e. a weresomeshit or a vampire. The inversion here arises from the fact that she assumes white people are human until proven otherwise. A black woman (and therefore sexually unattractive to Sookie) is automatically under suspicion. It’s possible to read this charitably, but due to the overwhelming racism I’m not going to bother.
“Great grandpa?” I said, trying out the concept.
Niall Brigant winced delicately. On a real man, the gesture would have looked effeminate, but on Niall it didn’t.
For fuck’s sake. This obsession with “real men.” See also the description of Eric from the first part.
See, here’s the weird thing about meeting my self-proclaimed relative: I never doubted his truthfulness. This was my true great-grandfather, and the knowledge just clicked into place as if it fit into a puzzle.
Aryan blood calls to Aryan! Fairy, specifically, but western fae are basically super-Aryan master race anyway.
“He raped her, ” I said, almost hoping it was so. My grandmother had been the most true-blue woman I’d ever met. I couldn’t picture her cheating anyone out of anything, particularly since she’d promised in front of God to be faithful to my grandfather.
Yes, Sookie would rather her grandmother got raped than be unfaithful. Feminism, right here. Fail-mi-nism. I don’t give a shit at this point that some women think these books are feminist. They aren’t. They explicitly, thoroughly aren’t: if not this, there’s rape apologia coming out of Sookie’s mouth like a cockroach swarm. This isn’t feminist. This isn’t feminism in any way, even the precious “white straight women sans intersectionality” form that a certain demographic loves so much. This is utter diarrhea and if you think this is feminist, reevaluate your definition of it. Now.
I’d never thought to ask Claudine about any of this. For one thing, she didn’t seem to enjoy talking about being a fairy, and when she popped up, it was usually when I was in trouble and therefore sadly self absorbed.
The trouble with this is that she’s had plenty of chances to talk to Claudine. It’s just that Sookie isn’t interested in asking other women about their lives, dreams, ambitions, and so on. Sookie isn’t only self-absorbed in times of stress; she’s like that all the time.
In sharp contrast, vampires–at least in America–were definitely on the increase. There were three bills wending their way through Congress dealing with vampire immigration. America had the distinction (along with Canada, Japan, Norway, Sweden, England, and Germany) of being a country that had responded to the Great Revelation with relative calm.
Since a few heavily Catholic and Muslim countries had adopted a policy of killing vampires on sight, the U. S. Had begun accepting vampires as refugees from religious or political persecution, and the backlash against this policy was violent.
Oh haha no you waste-of-oxygen, jingoistic fungal growth. You troglodyte. The only way for someone to believe the idea that the US would do this is if they live under a rock, an all-white neighborhood or town, and never step outside it. To never watch the news, to close themselves entirely to what’s happening outside their immediate little sphere. To ignore everything that doesn’t affect them. To, in short, be a bigoted whitey American.
Are you a first-worlder? You might have traveled. You probably didn’t need a visa to enter the US, or much of anywhere else. You might have needed to applied this one time somewhere but there wasn’t even a sliver of possibility that it might have been denied. The fees were nothing. Do you know what it’s like for the rest of us?
And people’s relatives can’t visit them in the US because visas. Now tell me that the US would embrace vampires fleeing “religious or political persecution” out of the goodness of its heart. Maybe if those vampires are white and from the first world. But then again, Harris’ choice of accepting, tolerant nations is telling, isn’t it? All first-world, all western and white-supremacist, except for Japan which has the distinction of being the weeaboo’s dream vacation spot and the orientalist’s romanticized ideal of Exotic Far East. Does Harris even know anything about her country’s foreign policies? Is she that stupid, or does she just not care? And “heavily Catholic and Muslim countries”? Islamophobia and denial in one neat stroke! What does she think the US is, if not a fundamentalist nation of religious fervor? I mean, ask a Muslim how she’s treated over there.
He was right about that. I didn’t know where he’d put the body, and I realized that I didn’t really care. A year ago it would have torn me up, leaving a body behind as we sped away along the interstate. Now I was just glad it was him and not me who was lying in the woods.
Ah, Sookie the sociopath. In the hand of an even mildly competent writer, this would be a turning point for Sookie–from decent person to, well, that. It could be a question of survival, of self-defense, of what’s ethically acceptable and what isn’t.
Charlaine Harris is not that writer.
Hadn’t I always had a soft spot for Eric, who made love like a train thundering into a tunnel?
Yes, Eric who shamed your reaction to Bill raping you.
And I had to rethink my unpleasant memories of my mother, too. She’d fallen for my dad like a ton of bricks, and she’d had his kids because she loved him… Only to find that she didn’t want to share him with them, especially with me, another female. At least, this was my new insight.
Sookie projects her terrible misogyny onto everyone. Unsurprisingly, Sookie hates her mother too.
“She’s a treacherous bitch. “
“Gosh, tell me what you really think.”
“No kidding, Amelia, she took a job at Merlotte’s so she could spy on me for the Pelts.”
It’s about Tanya again. What is wrong with taking a job at Merlotte’s to do this? Remember, she was investigating a missing woman who is the daughter of a family Tanya has cordial relations with. God, that bitch. Treacherous bitch. Bitch bitch bitch. Feminism!
She made her way up the steps with Bob in her arms, and I went to my small bathroom to remove my makeup and put on my own nightgown.
Wait, what? She doesn’t take a shower? Is this a white people thing where you don’t maintain any personal hygiene? After a day–and keep in mind this is after she’s had an encounter with a would-be assassin so there was blood on her clothes–she doesn’t feel the need to shower? Has Charlaine Harris finally unlocked the mystery of why white people stink so very, very much?
I wondered if Bob would mind a kitten companion. Would Amelia get jealous if I bought a female cat? I had to smile even as I snuggled deeper into the bed.
Bob is a boyfriend Amelia mistakenly turned into a cat. Here, again, we see Sookie projecting her automatic possessiveness onto every other woman. She genuinely, sincerely can’t think outside of the “all women are slutwhores competing with each other for male attention,” and that’s despite her knowing that Amelia is bisexual.
I looked through the peephole and saw an elderly black woman with a halo of white hair. She was light skinned and her features were narrow and sharp: nose, lips, eyes.
What is with Harris being unable to write a major black character who’s not “light skinned”? I mean, apart from the obvious racism? She also speaks “very precisely pronounced English.” Sookie never remarks on the English pronunciation of white characters.
He was thinking Alcide was a lucky guy to have dated Maria-Star and me, and all the luckier since that bitch Debbie Pelt had vanished. Good riddance, Tray thought. “Now I get to ask you a question, ” Tray said. [...] “You have something to do with Debbie disappearing?”
I took a deep breath. “Yeah. Self-defense.”
“Good for you. Someone needed to do it.”
Bitch, bitch, bitch. This is yet again another occasion where another character affirms Sookie’s sense of ethics and choice to murder, as well as her general hatred of all women: it’s okay that she thinks Debbie was a bitch and it’s also okay she killed Debbie, because why, everyone else hates Debbie anyway.
Amanda wasn’t too crazy about that idea. She owned that bar, and using it as an execution or torture site didn’t appeal to her. She opened her mouth to protest. Alcide faced her and snarled, his face twisting into something that wasn’t quite Alcide. She cowered and nodded her assent.
Alcide raised his voice even more for his next pronouncement. “Cal Myers is Kill on Sight.”
“But he’s a pack member, and members get trials,” Amanda said, and then cowered, correctly anticipating Alcide’s wordless roar of rage.
These books’ gender politics, in a nutshell. No woman is to step out of her place, which is to cower before men, unless she is Sookie. When she’s not Sookie, it’s perfectly fine for men to treat her like trash and enforce a violent patriarchy. If Alcide had been yelling at Sookie, I promise you that this scene would have played out differently–Sookie would have been sassy, talked back, and Alcide would have seen the error of his ways. Such is the Exceptional Woman, of which there may be but one in the world, elevated high from the rest of her gender, an exemplar allowed to play with the men as an equal.
This is not feminism.
“When I was searching for Bob today, I found a female cat in the woods with kittens. And guess what? They were all black-and-white.”
I really had no idea what to say.
“So to hell with the promise I made him, right? I’m going to have fun. He can go have sex; I can have sex.”
It’s only after this that Amelia starts dating another woman: rebounding from her boyfriend-turned-cat rutting with a female cat. On which note, I don’t recall any lesbian woman in these books–the queer women are all bisexual (and usually also dead). It’s as if Charlaine Harris genuinely can’t imagine that some women might not at any point be attracted to men in any way, or exclude men entirely from their romantic/sexual considerations.
Of course, the FotS guys were probably Arlene’s buddies. My weakminded exfriend had fallen hook, line, and sinker for the pseudo religion that the FotS propagated.
Unlike the enlightened, intelligent Sookie… who is a Christian and goes to church every Sunday. Okay.
Just then my roomie walked in. Amelia was wearing a beautiful pair of black linen pants and heels with an off-white sweater and a pair of amber and tortoiseshell earrings. She looked conservative, too, but in a more modern way. Amelia strode over to us, smiled at Pam, and said, “Had a drink yet?”
Pam smiled in a way I’d never seen her smile before. It was . . . Coy. “No, waiting for you.
Queer women! It’s interesting to note that Pam and Amelia are the only two women Sookie doesn’t passionately despise–probably because they, being interested in each other, are not a threat of sexual/romantic competition to Sookie. This is the one instance where Charlaine Harris’ misogyny actually overcomes her slightly less blatant homophobia. Don’t worry though, these two break up. Can’t have two women in a happy relationship together for long!
“He’s not going after any men?” I finally managed to speak.
Tray’s face was dark with contempt. “Naw, ” the Were said. “The only way I can read it is, Furnan wants to set Alcide’s temper off. He wants everyone to be on a hair trigger, while Furnan himself stays cool and collected. He’s about got what he wants, too. Between grief and the personal insult, Alcide is aimed to go off like a shotgun.”
So, the opposing packmaster (they believe) is killing women on Alcide’s side off, including his girlfriend. A point is made that he’s going after women exclusively, because what is a series of misogynistic claptrap without some gleeful fridging? There’s a plot twist (not really) later, so keep this in mind. No, it’s not the kind of plot twist that makes this less sexist. Sorry.
It griped me that I’d been drawn into this fight, which was none of my own. In fact, bottom line: knowing Alcide had brought me nothing but grief.
I was almost relieved to feel a head of anger building at this injustice, but my better self urged me to squash it in the bud. It wasn’t Alcide’s fault that Debbie Pelt had been such a murderous bitch
Bitch, bitch, bitch. For half a moment here, we see Sookie approach something almost like self-awareness. This is not to be: she immediately switches back to blaming a dead woman, calling her a bitch, and absolving Alcide of any fault whatsoever.
She noticed I wasn’t my usual self, but she kept her thoughts to herself. Not really, of course, since I have my little disability, but she didn’t say anything out loud.
Is there a single minority Charlaine Harris doesn’t do her damnedest to insult? Sookie’s referring to her telepathy, by the way.
I grabbed up two new romances and a couple of mysteries, and even a science fiction, which I rarely read. (I guess I thought my reality was crazier than anything a science fiction writer could dream up.
Harris, save the lampshading. It’s something to do if you are a writer of some competence, a quality you are entirely without.
He had a big knife, and he was holding it to Barbara’s throat. [...] “Don’t scream, ” he hissed through long sharp teeth. I froze. Barbara was in some space beyond fear. She was way into terror.
“Detective Beck will kill you for hurting his wife, ” I said very loudly. And I said it with absolute certainty. “Kiss your ass goodbye. “
“I don’t know who that is and I don’t care, ” the tall man said.”You better care, muthafucker, ” said Alcee Beck, who’d stepped up behind him silently. He put his gun to the man’s head. “Now, you let go of my wife and you drop that knife.”
Sookie proceeds to “[throw] a Nora Roberts hardback at him, whacking him upside his head,” which causes him to trip so badly he falls onto his own knife. Why is this segment remarkable? Observe the difference between Barbara’s reaction to danger and Sookie’s: Barbara is “way into terror” and paralyzed. Sookie, Exceptional Woman, is heroic enough to throw a book. So well she manages to murder the dude.
“No, why would I go for the women? We never want to kill pureblooded female Weres. Except maybe Amanda, ” Furnan added tactlessly. “If we’re going to kill someone, it’d be the men.
So here it turns out Furnan isn’t behind it! (By the way: a werewolf with the surname Furnan? lulz.) His reasoning for not wanting to kill women? Because they are baby factories: “I would never abduct a woman, especially a Were woman with young.” Sookie doesn’t remark on his general misogyny. In fact, she rarely remarks on any man’s misogyny. Hmm.
At least Sam was with me… It was my fault he was here. When he’d become so curious about what was brewing with the Weres, I’d had to tell him.
Remember when I said that Sookie always looks to men for help, support, and protection? Except this is what happens later:
“Bring it on, furass!” she shrieked, beckoning with both hands to a Were who was slinking up on her from behind. She’d twisted around without moving her legs, a maneuver that would be impossible for a mundane human body. The Were launched and got exactly the same treatment as its packmate. As far as I could tell, Claudine wasn’t even breathing heavy. Her eyes were wider and more intent than usual, and she held her body in a loose crouch, clearly ready for action.
Claudine is a fairy, and has been sent explicitly to protect Sookie; when Sookie is in trouble she often shows up and bails Sookie’s worthless ass out of whatever disaster she’s in the middle off. Does Sookie even consider asking her for help? No, because Sookie doesn’t consider women a worthy source of anything except easy targets for her petty criticism, slut-shaming and general judgeyness. It’s Sam she asked to come with her.
Alcide’s group included auburnhaired Amanda, who nodded at me, her face serious, and some werewolves I’d seen at the Hair of the Dog the night Quinn and I had visited the bar. The scrawny girl who’d worn the red leather bustier that night was standing right behind Alcide, and she was both intensely excited and deeply scared.
Sookie singles out the reactions of women, specifically the reactions of a younger woman being scared. Men are rarely in a state of panic or terror, because as we know, Whitey, Charlaine Harris is the most feminist of all writers ever.
Female Weres have power and status but they’re not packleader . . . Ever. This woman was clearly large and in charge, though she was maybe five foot two. She had prepared to change; that is to say, she was naked. Or maybe she just wanted Alcide and Furnan to see what they could be getting. Which was a lot, both in quantity and in quality.
“I thought if I picked off a few key bitches, you two would kill each other off, ” Priscilla said. “Too bad it didn’t work.”
Vomit. No, this gets better.
I thought about Priscilla Hebert. In my brief glimpse into her world, she’d been at least trying to find a place for her disenfranchised pack, and she’d done the research to find a weak area where she could establish a foothold. Maybe if she’d come to Patrick Furnan as a supplicant, he would have been glad to give a home to her pack. But he would never have surrendered leadership. He’d killed Jackson Herveaux to attain it, so he sure wouldn’t have agreed to any kind of coop arrangement with Priscilla–even if wolf society would permit that, which was doubtful, especially given her status as a rare female packleader.
Well, she wasn’t one anymore. Theoretically, I admired her attempt to reestablish her wolves in a new home. Since I’d met Priscilla in the flesh, I could only be glad she hadn’t succeeded.
So, here’s the thing with Sookie and her glimpses of self-awareness: here she recognizes that Priscilla was trying to work with a deeply misogynistic structure (female weres can’t be packleaders and are treated as incubators), that she was trying to find a new home for her pack (and in so doing utilized that sexism against the “key bitches” she targeted)… but Sookie doesn’t step over that threshold. She thinks Priscilla should have come to Furnan as a supplicant. Priscilla should have known her place, shouldn’t have overstepped her station as a baby factory, should have submitted to a male packmaster, and ultimately? Sookie’s happy Priscilla is dead.
To be fair, Priscilla also tried to have Sookie assassinated–but here’s the thing, that’s an authorial choice. These are not real people with their own free will. Charlaine Harris chose to construct the situation such that Sookie would have a reason to despise Priscilla and celebrate her murder. Charlaine Harris constantly chooses to set up circumstances in her books such that Sookie will always find something to hate about other women, and other characters confirm her general hatred: see everyone calling Debbie Pelt a bitch. Charlaine Harris made it so that when Bill raped Sookie, it was Debbie’s fault. Not Bill’s, the rapist.
This isn’t Sookie internalizing misogyny. This is Charlaine Harris, the author, making particular narrative choices that reinforce that misogyny.
Despite her aggressively dyed spiky black hair and her heavy makeup, there was something wistful and vulnerable about Holly’s face.
Yes, yes, women are vulnerable and sad and.
Tanya Grissom came in the front door. The short, curvy woman looked as pretty and healthy as a milkmaid. Tanya went light on the makeup and heavy on the self-assurance.
Holly was one of the few who knew that there were such creatures as Weres and shifters… she considered Tanya (a werefox) guilty by association, or at least suspicious by association.
So again we’ve got Sookie randomly picking apart Tanya’s appearance (what’s wrong with having self-assurance? Ah that’s right, only Sookie deserves being self-assured) and then another character also disliking Tanya. Everything works like this–all morality is centered on Sookie.
It was a huge effort to smile at my customers after I’d had that idea. I was ashamed when I realized I should be happy to see someone interested in Sam, someone who could appreciate his true nature. It didn’t say much for me that I wasn’t happy at all. But [Tanya] wasn’t good enough for him, and I’d warned him about her.
Tanya returned from the hallway leading to Sam’s office and went out the front door, not looking as confident as she’d gone in. I smiled at her back. Ha!
As you know, Bob: Sookie is the gatekeeper to all remotely attractive white men. Anyone who touches one of “hers” must die and be called “bitch” a lot. And because Sookie’s told Sam that Tanya was here on the Pelts’ behalf (an act that is still not intrinsically evil, sorry Harris) Sam is now rejecting Tanya, on Sookie’s word. Sookie: the ultimate judge, the final authority on all that is good and wholesome and worthy.
It’s not nice to flit around in someone else’s thoughts, but I’ve always been able to do it, and it was just second nature.I know that’s a lame excuse. But I was used to knowing, not to wondering. Shifters are harder to read than regular people, and Sam was hard even for a shifter, but I got that he was frustrated, uncertain, and thoughtful. Then I was horrified at my own audacity and lack of manners. Sam had risked his life for me the night before. He had saved my life. And here I was, rummaging around in his head like a kid in a box full of toys.
But Sookie, you violate everyone’s privacy all the time–even after you learned to control your telepathy! Naturally she feels apologetic for having done this to a man, even though earlier she also rummaged around Octavia’s head (but found she couldn’t penetrate). You know. Octavia, the black woman. Come to think of it, I hope this isn’t meant to be a “tribute” to Octavia E. Butler because coming from a racist, that’s just gross.
Carson’d mastered burgers Lafayette right away (hamburgers steeped in a former cook’s special sauce)
Her friend, a woman in her fifties, asked for a hamburger Lafayette and a side salad.
This is very small, but very telling.
Who is Lafayette? A cook previously employed at Merlotte’s (now replaced by Carson, who I’m pretty certain is white). He was gay and black, met with that most common fate of gay characters in fiction: raped and murdered. And now, he’s replaced and what does anyone remember about him? His hamburger. No one mourns Lafayette, literally no one. Sookie doesn’t give a shit (because he wasn’t a hot white man lolol). Lafayette’s only memory is reduced to a disposable fast-food item. “Lafayette” stops being a person; he’s become a dish. An object. That’s all.
Charlaine Harris, please stop pretending you aren’t a member of the Aryan Nations. Also, stop writing. Just stop. And everyone who contributes to making her popular and rich? STOP. STOP. If you want to read the books so much let me know and I’ll send you the whole goddamn set.
Next part is coming when it comes. We’re at about the halfway point. I’m so sorry, but if I had to suffer–well, you know the drill. In the meantime, check this out.
But as the book and TV series continue, she becomes less and less likable, as she becomes more of a judgmental shortsighted hypocrite. In the show, she’s a terrible friend to Tara, is constantly putting loved ones in danger, and her priorities seem completely out of whack. In the books, her inner monologue is often her judging and looking down on people for their choices, when hers are just as unsavory. Based on what I’ve heard from friends who read the books or watch the show, I’m not alone in how I feel about Sookie, yet my Sookie-hating friends and I all continue to watch True Blood and read the books. Why?
About the Crystal thing:
I agree about Sooki, I’ve raged about it on here before. SPOILERS – the entire book about Crystal/Jason and Crystal’s death PISSED me off. The books made it seem like she deserved her horrible end because she cheated on Jason. Eric makes a comment about her being “worthless” which I thought was way too harsh. I don’t really care if they were married. Jason is a dick. Plus he seemed unaffected by her meanness AND death and seems to get over it pretty quick. Sookie is WAY to judge-y. She does whatever she damn well pleases but then condemns everyone, especially the female characters, for being “slutty” sometimes.
One of the comments is disturbing:
While I can half-heartedly agree with most of the comments, meeting Sookie through the books first made me feel like she was really human. Part of it may be because she’s actually Southern, and not just “set in the South.” I realize I’m a fish IN the water here, but Sookie’s attitudes, judgements, affections, and blind spots seem familiar to me, whether I like them or not.
In short, this reader out-and-out admits that she loves Sookie because she identifies with the misogyny and racism. Mystery solved.
There’s some weird mental gymnastics being performed here to defend Charlaine Harris from any and all charges (it’s realistic! It’s reflective of “our” society!), as well, complete with the usual basic tone argument and Cult of Nice bullshit. This is why you don’t over-invest yourself as a fan: when you get to the point where you invest your identity into a product you consume, it becomes really really sad. This is true of being a fan of anything. End geek pride. End fan pride.