Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Narcissus in Chains--chapter 15

Business first:

In other words, ladies and gents:

Back to our regularly scheduled bi--

...that one was directed at me. You can't--

Fine. FINE! Sheesh, give a robot authority figure an inch, they take a mile. So anyway, back to this terrible, terrible book.

Anita is awakened from spooning in bed with two formerly minor characters by Rafael, the wererat king. This is apparently something like the werewolf Alpha. Because rats have that.

Somebody pointed out to me the other day, correctly, that wolves don't actually have this pack system. That info was due to a study carried out on a large number of wolves in a small, enclosed area. Wolf packs are actually family groups. Mom. Dad. Kids. There are no alphas. There are no omegas. The "pack" is an artifically created construct due to too many beings in too small an area. It's the wolf version of Universe 25 (Google it. Humanity is doomed)

In short...WHY DO OTHER THINGS THAT NEVER WERE PACK CREATURES HAVE A PACK? Leopards are loners. Lions have a pride, I'd buy that. Tigers...oh god, thank God there are no weretigers in this book. That happens in another book. The fuckery in those books apparently outweigh this one.

So it turns out Anita must go rescue the other Wereleopard tonight. I do not remember this being mentioned, but it's better than screwing around until the full moon, not established as being X number of days away. Maybe it is tonight.

Anyway, Rafael the were-rat king jumps through political hoops until he agrees to be Anita's backup when she rescues the wereleopard. Rafael has a treaty with Richard, the pack assumes the treaty is with all of them, and Rafael wants to send the message that he only has a treaty with Richard. Meaning if Richard is killed, the wererats go bye bye.

This was the fun part of the Anita Blake series, IMHO. And this would be more interesting if the wererats had EVER had to come to the rescue of the werewolves or vice versa. I'm kind of realizing this as I type, but there are never any conflicts with outside groups in this. Which might be part of the problem with the internal politics. No outside threat=everybody inside the group gets grabby. The only group that has to deal with outsiders on a regular basis are the vampires, and the vamps are the least fractionalized group in St. Louis.

What I'm saying is...Anita Blake? Needs a war. Stat. Conflict makes for interesting stories. Were-whatevers coming in force against St. Louis? That would make for a damn interesting story. Especially if the author used it to teach Anita that she doesn't need violent bravado to be accepted as a cop and a warrior, that other people's bounderies have value, and that her first answer to everything needn't be a gun.

Of course, this is Anita Blake and LKH we're talking about. That will never happen.

In fact, I've just realized what I find so obnoxious about this series. You know how the end of Breaking Dawn was everyone standing around talking? When there was all this lovely cannon fodder Stephenie Meyer had taken time to get you sort of attached to? AND THERE WAS NO CLIMAX? Yeah, the entire Anita Blake series is kind of like that, but everything after Obsidian Butterfly is nothing but that, peppered with sex scenes that are about as sexually stimulating as a weed whacker.

And then Anita and Rafael decide to keep this a secret from Richard because:

“Sometimes you have to keep things from Richard to help him.”


I've been very lucky in relationships. I've never been directly involved with an abuser or a control freak. I've watched it happen with my nearest and dearest, though, and that statement right there? Is textbook.

No. It is not okay to keep secrets from your significant other "to help them". You can hide birthday parties. You can hide Christmas presents. You can hide something that you want to reveal later because it will make them happy. But you don't hide relationship breakers. You don't hide the hole you've dug financially, or the way you're being treated at work, or the fact that you've been fired. If you are in a relationship where you have to hide big, major, huge things from your SO because you're afraid of how they'll react? Either you're vastly underestimating them as people, or they are horrible, dangerous human beings and you need to leave.

Anita isn't proposing they hide Richard's surprise party from him. She's about to make a move that will potentially put his life in danger. She's going in to his political adversaries with one of his few major allies at her side, not his. Richard will have to spin it so that it is clear the rats are with him and not the pack. The wolves might react badly. The whole situation might go up in flames if all three of them do not have a plan in place for spin. Hell, if Richard knew about it ahead of time he could use this as leverage for more control over the pack.


And then Anita hangs up the phone, snuggles down under the covers and realizes *gasp* there are naked men here! And then...*reads ahead*

Sorry. That's my automatic reaction to any A/B sex scene now.

So Anita sees a mostly naked Nathanial and the "ardeur" kicks in. She wants to sex up Nathanial. Jason tells her that Jean Claude stuck him in the room so that Anita wouldn't "feed" off Nathanial, so suddenly she wants to sex up Jason. Nathanial snuggles her, the ardeur gives her some magical insight into their hearts, about how "pure" they are, and to her credit she tells both of them to leave. Nathanial says he doesn't want to go, so I guess it's all okay when Anita picks him up by his hair.

And then the book blows my mind.

If someone can’t tell you no, it’s rape, or something like it.

If someone can’t tell you no, it’s rape, or something like it.

If someone can’t tell you no, it’s rape, or something like it.

To me (and I know I'm the last person who should talk about this) the worst part of any sexual assault is accepting said assault as your fault. It's your fault that the person did whatever it was to you because you were out late. It's your fault that you were hurt because you were dressed like that. It's your fault, because you did something nice that they interpreted as being a come on. None of this is true, but your brain is so desperate to regain some kind of control over your body and your life that you take on responsibility for what you cannot and will never be responsible for: The reactions of others.

It's a very hard habit to break.

Anita was raped twice, less than twenty  four hours ago. Once by Jean Claude, and once by Micah. She took on responsibility for both rapes when they were not her fault. She allowed one of her rapists to reenforce this bullshit on the drive home. And now she is redefining rape as "taking advantage of someone so willing, they'll never tell you no."

Great. So what about the five or six times you told Micah no? The two times you made it clear you wanted to leave? The way you hugged the door until he dragged you out into the shower? Why is what you want to do to Nathanial wrong, but what actually happened to you perfectly right?

I'm not angry at Anita here, because Anita is not a real person. Anita does, thinks and says whatever her author wants her to. I am angry, because I went through this bullshit. I got fed the wrong information by someone who meant very well, and I called it "the incident" and never talked about it again, until I mentioned it to a friend in a discussion on triggers, and he responded with "You were raped". And then repeated it until I understood, and that was when I really began to start to heal. I am angry because somebody dealing with a rape of their own would be easily influenced by this book. "Oh, it's not rape because Anita had an orgasm. I had an orgasm, ergo I was not raped either, and I'm being silly for pressing charges against that very nice man who forced me to have an orgasm against my will. Therapy is just a waste of my time." When you're casting around for control over your life due to some asshole's actions, you'll grab any twig that will give you the illusion you're not about to fall. LKH has provided rape victims with a big, dangerous, termite riddled branch.

Ugh, I just need to move on.

 Hands on me, holding me down. I opened my eyes to find Nathaniel and Jason holding me down. They each had a hand on one wrist and one leg. They could bench press small elephants, but as my body writhed against the bed, I raised them up, made them struggle to hold me. 

“Anita, you’re hurting yourself,” Jason said.
 I looked down my body and found bloody scratches on my arms and legs. I had to have done it, but I didn’t remember doing it. The sight of those bloody scratches calmed me, made me lie still under their hands.
Hey. LKH wrote about Self Injury! That's my own special brand of crazy! Wow! For those of you who don't know, I have issues with S/I. I've managed to go a year without an episode, but the temptation can be STRONG. I'm getting my chosen cutting place tattooed as both a celebration and a deterrent. I am...very surprised to find this here. LKH even got the stuff before an "episode" right too. The swirling blackness, the absolute desire to do anything to get relief. I am sure that LKH will now have the other characters react in a gentle and understa--

“I’m going to get something to tie you down with just until Jean-Claude rises,” Jason said.

Things you should never do to a person with S/I issues:

-going through their room to find the S/Iers implement of choice.
-tie them down because you think they have gone crazy.

Episodes occur during transitory states of strong emotion that, for one reason or another, the cutter can't vent in a safe manner. The first episode--ie, this one--is usually bad. I remember actually blacking out for a couple seconds immediately prior to the first time I cut. Once you've broken that barrier and drawn blood, it gets frightfully easy to justify damaging yourself. People do not harm themselves because they have gone crazy. People harm themselves because they feel cornered by their emotions and don't know where else to go. And if a cutter feels cornered by you? They will never go to you for help. Ever.

The way to react to an episode of self-injury is to, very calmly, get the person to talk about why they did it, and when they're done crying on your shoulder, ask them if they would like to get help. All the inspections and restraints in the universe won't do half as much for a cutter as a solid, trustworthy shoulder to cry on will.

And of course, Jason has to go get ropes to tie her down with, leaving Nathan straddling her body so he can hold onto her wrists.

Boys and girls, this was self injury as a convoluted excuse to force two major characters to have sex. Which they do in excruciating detail.

And then Jean Claude wakes up, and mercifully, the chapter ends.

I am not touching this book again until tomorrow.


  1. So they pin/tie down a woman who was just raped to 'have sex' with her? Are they curing her with their penis? Well, that's healthy.
    Cyborg Susan B/. Anthony, give me strength!

  2. 1. You made my day

    2. Reading about Anita harming herself triggered me off on that issue, which meant I kind of ignored the other. I shouldn't have, but the "wonderful" thing about recovery is, you're always doing it.

    To me it read less as them curing Anita with their penis and more them having to restrain her because her sex drive is *so insatiable* (gag me)(and also because people who hurt themselves HAVE to be restrained for our own good. Because forming bonds of trust and learning healthy coping mechanisms is SO five minutes ago)

    And if that weren't bad enough, she got the insatiable sex drive demon...thing (the "ardeur") from being raped.

    The icky in this chapter will probably never come off.

    1. You know, I'm hesitant to say this, but the idea of Anita getting her ardeur from being raped could be a pretty apt metaphor for what can happen to rape victims. Now, obviously it doesn't always happen, but I know with my first rape my response was along the lines of "Oh, I'll just have lots of sex with him because otherwise he'll just rape me again. It's not rape if I beat him to it with my consent! :D :D :D" (yes, those smiley faces are necessary, and no, it didn't stop the rapes from happening).
      Of course, this would hinge on the idea that all of this raping (and Anita continuing the cycle of abuse by raping others with her power) were ever presented as a negative. So far all we have is Anita raping her way through her sweeties, and talking about how her aggressor is her true love.
      Again, would be great if this was a case of an unreliable narrator in an abusive relationship, because you spend a whole lot of time convincing yourself that it's sunshine and rainbows and that your abuser is the Love Of Your Life. But... it doesn't read like that.

      Also, sidebar from a previous post. Some women who have been raped do have rape fantasies. It's hypothesized that it has something to do with being in the same situation again, but having control. Hence the name consensual non-consent, Consensual being the key word.

      And that has been story hour by Kore!

    2. I think people react to trauma in many different ways. I was *SO* incredibly lucky, but I wasn't all that hot on the idea of sex prior to my assault, so now I have a lot of trouble letting things advance to the point where sex is a possibility.

      Crime breaks people. You recover and become stronger, but being stronger doesn't negate the fact that the breaking happened. Everybody has to recover their own way, and if somebody can "own" their trauma to the point where they can fantasize about it safely, they are a much stronger ,much better human being than I.

      I am very sorry that it happened to you, too. Have e-hugs.

    3. I hate talking about it, but then I remember it's not something I need to be ashamed of, and I think it was relevant to this discussion. Thanks for not thinking I was doing it for attention (although that's pretty much the same as saying 'thank you for not being THE WORST).

      I think today's A Softer World is really appropriate here:

      And hey, people deal with trauma in all sorts of different ways. People who own it by fantasizing about it are no better than you or me. We each have our ways of coping (or not coping) which makes us different, not better. We're still alive, I think that's a great step.

      Sorry for derailing!

    4. Np for derailing.

      There are a lot of things in people's lives that they don't like to talk about because of shame. I talk about my S/I stuff on the blog a lot, but not in real life. Mostly because I know people won't get it. parents were both addiction councelors. They talked to me about drugs. They talked to me about booze. They told me about sex addictions and gambling addictions and eating disorders. But self-injury was such a horrible, terrible, crazy thing they never talked about it. I had defenses against everything else. I had no defenses against S/I and that's what got me.

      If people who go through trauma, and people who fight addictive behaviors, do not talk about what they've gone through, how will it ever become safe to speak up?

      And if you hang around here long enough, you'll learn I LOVE derailing. That's why "ramblings" is up in the title.

  3. "Boys and girls, this was self injury as a convoluted excuse to force two major characters to have sex. Which they do in excruciating detail."

    Oh. Just....I can't. I have no words. I also have a past with cutting, and this...I don't remember this, but dear god I wonder what my high school self thought about it, if I even noticed it was wrong. Teens *do* read LKH, there are tweets to her from them about it, including learning about sex from it. It's too scary to think about.

    Ugggh, I hate how anything that includes werewolves always misunderstands the whole pack business, complete with alpha and omega roles. I mean, with some werewolf packs in fiction, they *are* like the wolves in the experiment, non-family strangers brought together by circumstance, but it's always presented as if they're behaving like a normal natural pack. Likewise, I could buy the wereleopards and weretigers having groups if it was presented as being a decision on the part of their human side, like a support group for people suffering from a similar condition, a place to learn control and ways to hide what you are if you want to, etc. but it's presented as being inherent to their nature, suggesting it comes from the beast side (ditto for their hierarchies and how 'oh wereleopards touch each other all the time because of their beasts' NO, THEIR BEASTS MUST WANT TO KILL EACH OTHER, THEY'RE LEOPARDS). I was even willing to entertain the idea that maybe the inner beasts of werecreatures work differently than their real animal counterparts, but that's kind of been quashed by a lot of implications in the current AB book I'm reading (Flirt) while also proving LKH seriously does not research animals at all because Anita's inner lioness (she gets a ton of inner beasts but never shifts) basically acts like the reverse of a real lion (getting mad that a male werelion won't share her with another because 'the pride is all about sharing' and uhhh all the lioness share one male lion in a pride, and male lions share neither their harem nor their food--they generally don't hunt but when they do, the females get nada from them. your lioness should not be expecting a male lion to be all about sharing ffs...but this is all presented as natural animal behavior)

    1. *nods*

      I was SO lucky when my cutting was real bad. The people who would have freaked out never found out, and my mom, who caught me every single time (after the fact) never sent me to a hospital or gave me "cut inspections", or told me that I was broken. Both my parents were councelor types, and they'd delt with that kind of behavior before. You cannot get confrontational with cutting. It'll send the kid off the deep end and ensure that they WON'T come to you.

      I think if humans came together to support their were-whatever-ness, you WOULD get the "traditional" pack set up. You have humans who want support, and were-animals that want to be left the fuck alone, and that's when you'd have dominance issues.

      Now if it's a naturally herding animal, like horses or deer or rabbits, that's another story. Herd structure is very much like pack structure, in that there is an alpha to keep the herd in line...who is usually female. And I think that'd be an interesting dynamic to handle. An artificial pack vs. a natural herd.

      If I were writing it, the herd would be were-elephants. Or werehippos. In fact, the artifical pack of predators would be a pack because of the hippos. You do not fuck with hippos.