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Monday, May 26, 2014

Narcissus in Chains Chapter Fourteen

Dottie's breakdown here 

It is almost dawn. J.C. says he will stay in his coffin as opposed to sleeping in bed with Anita. Vampires in the Anita verse die when the sun comes up. J.C. is one of the most considerate people in this book. That hurt to type.

Anita decides she will allow Nathaniel to sleep with her. J.C. says she has to allow Jason to do so as well, which she agrees to despite having no idea why J.C. is pushing this idea on her.

Nathaniel starts to unbraid his hair. Why you would sleep with your hair loose when you have such a ridiculous amount of it boggles the mind. I used to have hair so long it would tangle around the screws in school desks. I can't imagine it being twice that. It would be one thing if the setting were different. In Geek Love there's a scene at what is essentially a titty bar for freaks (this is the language of the book; it is literally about circus freaks). One of the women there has pubic hair down to her ankles, and the big reveal is her taking her underwear off and showing how beautifully shampooed and groomed it is.

Excuse me, Anita, we'd like to have a word with you.

She goes on about J.C.'s huge black bathtub. The spout is a swan which "always reminded me of a fountain." Um, technically it is a fountain, right?

Woe to her, Anita has no appropriate sleep clothing. Why she can't just wear her shirt and panties I don't know. Oh wait yes I do, because this is an excuse to make Anita seem oh so modest and pure because omg, she couldn't possibly sleep naked in bed with these two men.

Turns out J.C. sent jammies,  because again he's the nicest guy in the book even though I have it on very good authority that he is also a rapist. Then again, so is literally everyone else, so I am not sure where to direct my outrage. I feel like my outrage gland is swollen and pulsing with overuse, to the point where all the receptors have died and I no longer have emotions.

J.C. brought her teh sexxxors lingerie to wear. Ha ha. It is apparently the only thing he had that was even approaching modest.

How come J.C. has a cache of women's underwear?

This tells me that Anita has a very low opinion of men and a very low opinion of herself. She's also bought in to the ornamental, fragile white woman trope. You see, her body is an object (even if patriarchy calls it a treasure. Whether or not the term is 'positive' doesn't matter), an object that all men must surely want to possess. In fact, if men see her body they will not be able to control themselves and will try to take control of her, because all men are icky wild beasts who are big fucking babies about their sexuality.

Now, all of these things happen to be true in the AB verse, but that doesn't mean they should be true.

Jason is a fucking creep and I hate him, maybe the most out of all the characters I've met so far. A guy I met in my twenties pressured me to stay the night in his bed despite me saying no at least ten times. Finally I gave up and spent the most uncomfortable, dangerous eight hours of my life clutched in this person's arms. That is what Jason reminds me of.

She thinks about Micah and blushes. Sigh. Insert rant about how Micah is a rapist.

"I am not going to babysit your ego, Jason. You'll have to take care of it yourself."

I wish we could have more of the character that peeks out in lines like this. Someone who draws clear boundaries and calls others out on their shit. Yet for some reason many, many authors seem to feel like female empowerment and stereotypical strawman 'feminist' bitchery are the same thing. They are not. Female empowerment (cis empowerment, because I think trans female empowerment is more complicated) is as simple as:

1). Women are allowed to occupy whatever role they wish, given that they are suited to that role in regard to their abilities and desires. This means that it is not feminist to insist that all women must participate in careers usually associated with men. It means that if a woman desires to be a housewife, then that is as valid a choice as a woman who chooses to be a high powered lawyer.

2). Women are allowed to leave and join social and gender roles without the threat of violence.

3). Women are the sole owners of their bodies. Women are the sole owners of their sexuality. They do not belong to anyone else. Nor are women ornamental, but as capable of contributing to the world, their fields, their families, etc as men are.

There. Now grant you that is very basic, especially to people who are involved in social justice. I haven't dealt with trans women, trans men, or genderqueer people in this break down. I haven't mentioned the complications being a woman of color brings, or being disabled, or what have you. I also framed it through a cishet lens. But those basics, as limited as they are, would vastly improve this situation and I daresay a lot of characters if it were followed.

I feel like Anita is one of the worst offenders in this regard. The things she values are all stereotypical cishet male things. Guns, a job in law enforcement, simple clothing, having many idealized lovers at her beck and call. She devalues feelings, feminine ways of dressing and otherwise presenting as femme. Her comments and thoughts about other women are almost universally negative, especially when that woman is perceived as trying too hard, usually because she happens to be wearing makeup and a skirt. It's a bit like when white people go around proclaiming how they so hate other white people as an attempt to absolve themselves of their huge wonking case of white guilt. It's not cute and everyone sees through it. It makes you no friends in any group.

Anyway, Jason has "yellow" hair. As in he dyed it that color? That doesn't sound terribly attractive.

Anita feels off balance after everything that has happened. As well she should. Of course no one is treating it like a rape. Everyone keeps asking her what's wrong and she keeps telling them she doesn't want to talk about it. Aside from the annoying repetition this too is in keeping with many rape victims. They're ashamed, or in shock, and they want to hide what happened in order to avoid another attack, and in order to keep their lives functioning semi-normally.

This woman sleeps with a gun under her pillow. She is a sad and pathetic person.

So remember what I said earlier about female empowerment in part stemming from sole ownership of one's body? Jason assures her he won't try anything with her in bed tonight, not because he doesn't want to but because Richard will make him pay for it if he does. You see, even though they're not dating anymore and Anita isn't the lupa, Richard still feels he has the right to her body and her sexuality. That is disgusting. LKH once again doesn't seem to understand how gross it is. I honestly do not get how she can understand her own work so little.

The darkness, once Nathaniel shuts off the lights, is "like some giant black hand pressing against me."

Giants! Pressing! Hands! I really should keep a count of these things. I think this is the fourth or fifth time she's used this. And really I know she's just talking about the darkness, but she's such a racist piece of shit that I can't help but giggle over her being afraid of a big black hand.

"One of the good things about Nathaniel was that he didn't question orders much."

Anita tells us that normally she sleeps in the wereleopard cuddle pile at home, and now she gets lonely when she has to sleep alone. Okay that's fair. Oh wait, but it's sad that she's like that because I forgot, in order to be teh toughz badass womenz one must be an island at all times, because touchy feely stuff is for weak little girls who wear skirts and scream when things go wrong.

She decides to snuggle Nathaniel. They must be rowing to dream land on a raft made entirely of hair, then. Anita lets Jason snuggle up but Jason is also a predictable creep about it, because that is the entirety of his character. Jason is also as tall as Anita. It's just not that likely that every male she runs across is her height. Most people (I think) are about 5'7 to 5'10. Anything above or below that is rare.

Jason has an erection. Comedy, people, comedy.

"The men tried their best not to get erections, and not to use them when they did; the women tried to ignore the fact that they had them."

This is the Anita verse version of world building, guys, since this is shapeshifter etiquette. Not to mention, they try not to use them? Not only does LKH hate women but she really hates men too. Men can't control their cocks or their urges and at any moment they could very well turn in to a malfunctioning rape ATM, like that scene in movies where money gets spit out at speed. Except you can buy cool shit with money whereas with rape all you get in the AB verse is more rape.

Again all the AB shifters act the exact same, despite being based on wildly different animal templates.

Anita, in her thirties, has finally realized that men getting erections isn't personal.

I read on the kindle so I don't know how many pages it is, but it feels like a MILLION, all to tell me that she's sandwiched between Nathaniel and Jason in bed. This is not in the slightest bit naughty to me. It probably shouldn't be to Anita either, considering she hangs around bondage clubs on the regular, but that would mean acknowledging that Anita isn't a perfect blushing white virgin which omg, we clearly cannot consider.

For once Anita doesn't feel dominant and wants to be protected. Good! An empowered women does not need to be in charge of every given situation or relationship. Plenty of empowered women are BDSM slaves or submissives. They're no less autonomous than someone who doesn't engage in power exchange. They've decided to live the lifestyle that fits them best and they live it without shame or fear.

Not to mention if you happen to be a black woman there's a huge expectation that you will also be strong. I remember listening to a talk on the power of vulnerability for women, and for black women in particular, that being strong can really have the opposite impact. I would like to see this with Anita. First, I'd like to see her actually identify as a woman of color, or if she doesn't due to say self hate, I want to see that. I want to know what the pressures of being a latina woman feels like to her, what her relationship with strength and submission is.

Of course, I won't get that, but it's another place where LKH could have expanded on these concepts quite a bit and, imo, that effort would have resulted in a much more compelling story.

Despite Jason being a container for creepy comments and hair gel, Anita waxes on about how wonderful he is and how he's a great friend. Ugh. She drifts off to sleep. Oh dear, that means the next chapter is going to be a shitty dream sequence.


  1. My outrage gland is like the throat of a bullfrog.

  2. "How come J.C. has a cache of women's underwear?"