Dottie's break down here
Oh my god, here we go. The first time I read this book I breezed through the rape scene without a blip, I think because my subconscious was desperately trying to protect me from something unsavory and triggering. But this time all I feel is dread. On that note fair warning, I'm probably going to get detailed here so if you'd like to skip for your own well being, I wouldn't blame you in the slightest.
So everyone conveniently left in the last chapter so Anita and Micah can be alone together in the shower. They talk, and once again Micah just exists to tell Anita how competent she is, how amazing, that she's the best alpha evah despite being a human, etc.
Anita self describes as a "bloodthirsty sociopath." Ergh. I studied sociopathy (insert argument over the terms sociopathy, psychopathy, and antisocial personality disorder) for six years. I know more about serial killers than LKH ever could. Anita is not a sociopath. For her to actually meet those criteria LKH would have to be a competent writer and researcher, and I think we can all agree that particular ship has sailed.
Some of her actions are heartless and bloodthirsty, yes. Anita is in no way a complete person. But what I am getting at is that it doesn't feel like it's there on purpose. It's as if LKH only absorbs partial parts of the criticism she receives, which must be precious little versus how much is actually out there available to read. I've heard it said that she doesn't read her reviews, but that is a bunch of bullshit.
Granted, she's clearly dismissed all the negative stuff as "haters" and "jealous whiner babies" who never get laid.
Quick aside: NOT EVERYONE WANTS OR NEEDS TO GET LAID. She lives in this weird series of gender funhouse mirrors, where everything is distorted and only the very basic shapes are reflected.
Okay I am going to try and keep track of the consent or lack thereof in this scene.
1). Micah asks if he can take a shower. Anita agrees.
2) Anita tries to leave to save J.C. from jail. Micah acts like he's in pain and she comes back over to him.
FULL STOP. I assume you guys are at least passingly familiar with Ted Bundy? I am fascinated by him. I know a ton about him, his life, his victims (I make a point to learn their names and some little things about them, that's a rant for another day), and I've read nearly every book about him with the exceptions of The Only Living Witness, The Deliberate Stranger, and the Phantom Prince (out of print) I bring this up because the reason he was so successful at killing women had to do with the fact that, for the most part, he lured them away from safety. They went with him willingly, under pretense. One of his favorite pretenses was to pretend to be injured, and that he needed help carrying his items. You can guess what Micah's little ploy reminds me of, though I'm sure LKH intends his pain to be genuine. Plus he hurts because Anita bit him hard enough to draw blood in the last chapters so he is legit hurt. Still, he could deal with it himself without luring Anita back in to the shower.
Hey pretty lady, want to help me back to my car?
Anita is guilty about biting him. This is bullshit for three (?) reasons.
1.) HE IS A FUCKING SHIFTER, JUST SHIFT AND HEAL IT YOU FOOL.
2). He is manipulating Anita's guilt over acting out. Not to mention she did it because J.C. went straight to dubious consent territory and compelled her to do so, so she's just a ragdoll being tossed between J.C. and Micah at this point.
3). HE AGREED TO IT. Or am I completely misremembering the last chapter?
Oh I guess it isn't healing because Anita is technically a lycanthrope. Blah whatever.
Back to the consent list:
3). Micah suggests that together they would be a powerful force for the pard. Anita says she'd like to take it slow. Then she says, "I want to." This isn't very clear so I am not sure if she's saying yes I'd like to try being mated, or if she's saying yes I want to wait. Considering these options change the scene immensely this is a really bad time to be unclear.
Anita says "lower things." when she means ass. Tee hee lower things. I hate how puritanical she is.
4). Anita tries to leave AGAIN and he calls her back AGAIN. This time he tries to sway her with an offer of support for the lupanar where she has to go win Gregory back from the wolves. Micah is a manipulative shit. First he tries pain and guilt, now he's trying to buy her with the promise of being allies. He ought to be helping her anyway if he's such a wonderful Nimir-Raj. Gregory is a leopard and Micah has already shown that he'll help leopards from other pards, so he's just doing this to try and lure Anita back in to his clutches.
He starts washing his dick in front of her.
I would throw this fucking asshole out of my house for this (or out of wherever the fuck they are). This is a breach of consent right here in my opinion, though I can be very hardline about boundaries. This is a sign that he's going to keep on violating boundaries. This is a test, to see if Anita will put up with it.
If you end up with someone and they start out with tiny boundary violations? Get the fuck out of there immediately. And I mean shit like when you say please don't tickle me, they tickle you anyway. That sounds silly, maybe, but make no mistake: that shit is a test. They're seeing if they can break and manipulate you and your limits. It will get worse.
5). Anita again thinks to herself that she needs to leave but she doesn't verbalize any of it because that would be too consensual and clear regarding limits. The other thing with this is Micah is being a manipulative ass, but Anita isn't sharing much of anything about her inner thoughts. She said she had to go once, but that's not the same as "no, I do not want to see your dick or be in this room with you. No, I don't want to have sex or cuddle or whatever the fuck you're thinking." Personally I think Micah has received enough signals anyway, considering she told him she wanted to go slow, but I also don't like how LKH often portrays Anita as thinking things as if it's the same as speaking aloud. That's another personality disorder trait, at extremes, the feeling that other people should understand your internal rules despite you never sharing them/changing them without warning.
Micah shows off in the shower.
6). Anita again expresses her disinterest in commitment. Micah tells her he will "agree to any arrangement [she] wants."
So far we're more or less 2 to 0 on the consent scale, in favor of Anita. She's expressed that she needs to leave. She said she isn't interested in him romantically, twice. Granted she is watching him soap his dick like a starving woman in a butcher's shop but that in no way indicates that she actually wants to take a ride on his massive skin pony, at least not at that particular second.
Let's see what happens next!
SHE TRIES TO LEAVE AGAIN AND HE CALLS HER BACK AGAIN.
Fuck, time to start a new consent list.
1). She tries to leave. She is clearly NOT INTERESTED.
I am not going to say much more than this, but my rapist pressured me for sex constantly. I said no over and over until I finally said yes just to shut him up. He'd keep me awake all night when I had to be at work at five in the morning. He was manipulative, unpredictable, and often on drugs. I was no saint in this relationship. I kept getting attached to his friends because I didn't know how to leave and wanted them to rescue me. Because I was a cheating whore I thought I deserved what he did. Yeah. So this is what that scene reminds me of.
He tells her it's okay to be attracted to him, because his ivory love pole is just so amazing that bitches can't help themselves.
Anita continues to awkwardly refer to Micah's body, which sometimes means penis, sometimes ass, sometimes his whole body. Trying to portray Anita's discomfort this way is weird and muddies the waters as far as what the fuck is going on. In a scene where the consent (or lack thereof) is this complex--or would be if it were written well--you have to have excellent clarity to pull it off.
Micah tells her their beasts are attracted to each other and she protests that she's not a wereanimal. Okay fine but she already HAS a beast inside her so I don't know why it's such a weird concept to her.
Now THIS is why I am obsessed with this scene. THIS is fucking interesting. As a creature with a human side and an animal side, which side does the consenting? Is one prioritized over the other? In were culture do they only think of the animal side, so if your beast is in to it you couldn't accuse someone of rape? Not that it would make it okay per se, I'm just saying that's a really compelling idea to explore. So of course it won't be explored and we'll just get a shitty rape scene instead.
Micah turns around and his tragically huge cock is erect and well, tragically huge. Anita is all omg I want me some of that thick yogurt dispenser.
2). Micah acknowledges that she can't help but look at him, "even though you don't want to." ARGH so now would be the PERFECT time to take advantage of her lizard (leopard?) brain and fuck her against the will of her higher mind, right? APPARENTLY IF YOU'RE MICAH IT IS.
Even NOW, LKH could salvage this. What if it's leopard tradition to ignore verbal consent or nonconsent and to only consider the consent of one's beast? And then he realizes after the fact that Anita doesn't know that and he has to atone for what she experiences as rape? Fucking interesting! So it won't happen. She'll just get raped and love it.
"He glided towards me like some great, slinking cat..."
Granted he's in human form, but he IS a great slinking cat, you dumbass. Analogies, you fail at them.
3). Micah comes over and touches her so he can get soap all over her, because THEN he says oh my, you'll have to come get under the water with me to get all that soap off of you.
I don't know how I didn't have a fucking heart attack the first time I read this, because Anita is 3 for 0 on the consent scale again. What really disgusts me is that the wants of her pussy are being treated as more important than the desires of her mind. She can eye Micah's bologna staff all she wants. That doesn't mean she really means yes when she's saying no. You guys are all smart enough that I don't have to rant on about patriarchy and all the bullshit that props up this idea since time immemorial. You get it.
HERE IT IS GUYS, HERE IT IS.
"No," I said, my voice strangled, but I repeated it. "No."
FULL STOP DO NOT PASS GO DO NOT COLLECT THE PUSSY. There is NOTHING dubious about this. He can't even claim wereleopard culture. He couldn't in the first place because the culture isn't well developed enough to justify it, but he REALLY can't fall back on it now. That is a clear unambiguous NO.
I need no consent list at this point. All consent, dubious or otherwise, is now out the fucking window.
So what does Micah do? He gets closer and presses his dick on her. She AGAIN SAYS NO. OMG WHAT IS THIS SCENE? How could LKH have possibly defended this as anything other than rape? He commands she touch him. ANOTHER NO. What is this like six times she's said no? Oh my god. Oh my god.
"I know you want to. I can smell it..."
Again, this could be oh so very interesting. I get sick of magical creatures just being what trekkies deem "rubber forehead aliens" meaning essentially humans, usually attractive ones, with weird foreheads meant to denote their alien status. They're never really all that different from humans and any cultural conflicts tend to be resolved within the space of the episode. True alien beings should at least some of the time have practices and beliefs that are horrifying or nonsensical to humans. This could be one of those times. LKH would have to do a lot of things differently, but it could be handled well.
1). Strongly establish wereleopard culture and put an emphasis on their different cultural norms, expectations, and instincts.
2). Make Micah more beast-like and less polished, less human.
3). Make Anita less stupid and ignorant about wereleopards, considering she's THE FUCKING NIMIR-RA. Then she could at least anticipate that this might happen and she'd have more agency here than she currently does.
There's a bunch of stuff about how Micah engages in all this light petting and it makes Anita all hot and bothered. Your body responding during a sexual encounter you don't want doesn't magically make that sexual encounter consensual. In fact some people are the kind of people who can orgasm no matter what's happening, as long as certain physical things happen. It doesn't make it okay and it's still very much rape. Plus it can frequently cause complex trauma. Not only have you been raped, you have to deal with the guilt of 'liking' it, and every orgasm is now fraught with terror and shame.
This is all so gross.
Then the consent turns on a dime because suddenly she "wants it so badly." What the fuck I don't even. What is even happening here? I don't know if I am really willing to call this a yes on her part, though, since it's already been established that she's in thrall to all the magic between them. She starts to respond to him, holding him and pressing against him. Okay. Who the hell do I agree with here? Like so many things in AB I just end up finding them both terrible, though really Anita is still in my mind on the right side of consent. She's said no a million times and her tentative physical responses are not enough for me to turn this from a rape to consensual sex.
The text is really trying to convince me that Anita is in to it now and I just sort of want to puke.
She actually reaches out to J.C. for help, to save her from whatever is compelling her to do this with Micah. Oh my god I hate this. I don't know what else to say. It just makes me sad and I feel small and angry.
NOW J.C. IS MAKING HER TOUCH MICAH'S DICK.
This is our heroine. From an objective outside perspective, why does our heroine have so little agency? It's one thing if this is intended as a rape scene, but Word of God it's not. It terrifies me that LKH can write this and say it isn't a rape scene. Not only is Micah raping her, but J.C. is as well! After she asked him for help!
I wish everyone in this book would fucking die.
Oh the magic that's compelling her is the ardeur. She gets this from J.C. because he can feed off of sex. I think the ardeur is really interesting but--we all know this refrain by now--it just gets horribly fucked up. J.C. reveals that he hasn't been feeding off of sex because he knows Anita wouldn't appreciate it. J.C. is at once a disgusting example of humanity and one of the nicer people in this book, because at least he considers Anita's feelings sometimes, when he's too tired to rape her or condescend to her.
Sadly, that's more than I can say for basically everyone else.
"Micah, stop, please stop."
I want to cry.
I sometimes want to get on twitter and yell at LKH directly. But the one time I said something her followers attacked me. She retweeted something with the word "retarded" in it and I said that wasn't cool. Apparently I am a sensitive little nancy who can't handle the real world, you guys.
"Please, Micah, I'm not on birth control."
When a woman is about to be raped and/or killed, they'll reach for anything that might make the attacker see them as human, or at least too much trouble. I'm on birth control, I have cancer, I have kids at home, I need to take care of my ailing parents, whatever. This whole scene is exactly like a woman about to be raped by a stranger, which is what it is. How can LKH think this isn't rape? How?
Micah tells her he's fixed.
"Please, Micah, please don't."
SHE HAS SAID A CLEAR VERBAL INARGUABLE NO FOUR TIMES.
LKH should be ashamed of herself. And not for writing rape but for not handling it with the slightest bit of deftness, tact, or nuance. This is disgusting. It deserves to be fucking burned.
Now he's biting her and she goes blank and "passive." Yeah, because she's being raped.
I am going to get personal now. Suffice to say I've been assaulted more than once. And part of the reason I fear being visibly trans perhaps in the future is two fold:
1). I am afraid of yet more violence
2). I have spent most of my life presenting as a woman and I know the rules for how to stay relatively safe. Keep your eyes down, smile big, take up very little space, open body language, politeness. Now some of this is because I genuinely enjoy being pleasant, but my whole demeanor if I perceive any hint of threat is about deescalating in order to protect myself as much as possible and I hide within the shell of femininity I have been assigned in order to do so.
Men, trans, and genderqueer people can of course be raped and will often submit just to live through it too, but since Micah and Anita are in a cis and het situation those particular pressures are present.
That's what Anita is doing. Not that she's trans, but she's submitting in order to prevent yet more harm from coming to her and cleaving to patriarchal expectations when doing so. It's so sad.
Micah is using soap as lube. Ow ow ow. Water and soap are terrible lube choices.
He puts his dick in her and "there was a stopping point."
Well no kidding. Your vajay doesn't go on forever until it turns in to your food tube.
"I stood pinned against the wall, passive, unmoving."
There's a scene in Rome where a legionaire stops his whole army to rape a peasant girl against a tree. That's what this reminds me of. She says in her head that she doesn't want to stop but that makes no difference, because as far as Micah knows she doesn't want to do this.
She then asks him to fuck her harder. I have no idea what to make of this. He tells her no, it will hurt her because his penis is tragically huge. She's begging him for it. So basically he won't do anything she asks.
One of the issues with Twilight is that Edward is constantly policing Bella's wants and desires. If they were in an actual dom/sub relationship that would be one thing, but there's no reason for Bella to be subservient and there's certainly no reason for Edward to reject her sexual needs. Keep in mind it's not that he doesn't want to have sex, he just doesn't want to hurt her with his massive vampire peen. It takes on a creepy religious undertone when there's a power differential that hasn't been agreed upon, wherein the male controls the woman's needs and urges.
Oh I see, she's protesting because she doesn't want to feed off him. So she's about to rape him now. All of you die in a fucking fire.
Now she's screaming don't stop don't stop so she can get him to lose control. Then she'll exploit that vulnerability and feed off of him. Gross. Everyone in this is a gross rapist. It's also hard for me to have sympathy for Anita because in the following books she's just as much of a rape machine as Raina. Except she's more like a rape ghost because she gets the ability to rape entire groups of shifters from afar. Not that rape is ever okay, not even when committed against someone who is actually a rapist, but when everyone in this world is absolute scum it's hard for me to have sympathy for any of these characters.
"It felt like he filled me up as if I were a cup..."
The purpose of analogies is not to compare one bog standard uninteresting thing to another bog standard uninteresting thing just like the first. It's meant to add color and depth to your writing, hopefully by comparing two unusual but connected things. Here's some funny ones.
Anita is a screamer. This would be hilarious if the rest of the book were good. As it is it just reads like having sex with a shrieking blow up doll harpy. Her mouth is perpetually a perfect pornographic hole and her ragged wings carry her from dick to dick while she shouts and gibbers.
She says butt. Please don't have your characters say butt. Ass. Even a sheltered virgin can probably get away with saying ass. Well, unless you're Sookie Stackhouse because girl compares her breasts to puppies. She can probably say butt.
Their beasts fuck too. LKH wants it to be like this:
But it's like this:
She ends the chapter by having Anita cry and blame herself for the rape she just experienced. At least she's crying over being a rapist herself.
Now I need to cry in the shower. Seriously.