Friday, December 21, 2012

Narcissus in Chains--chapter 17

I'm going to say something that will probably be controversial and easy to take out of context, but I'm going to say it anyway. And no, it's not that Anita is a--

--whatever. Bear with me for a couple seconds, okay?

The Gor novels are better than this series.

That is not a compliment.

The Gor books are terrible. They are a waste of space. Trees died so those books could exist, and that means everyone involved in their publication should be brought up on some kind of crime against the plant kingdom. But John Norman, sick and twisted as he was, did want to make humanity better. His basic thesis was so wrong it was a literal hate crime, but his goal, in his own sick, twisted way, wasn't all that different from, say, Ayn Rand. He identified that something was "wrong" with the world and tried to fix it through his writing. He should be shot into space without oxygen, but he's a better writer in every possible category than Laurell K. Hamilton.

Yes. I just said that. See, I read ahead last night, and I have never been so throughly pissed off at a chapter in a book as I am right now. I said yesterday this book has surpassed all our abilities to feel shock and horror. I was fucking wrong.

I really hope the words "fuck you" don't irritate anybody, because you're going to be hearing them a lot. In the back of my head I expected the section to be one big, long, rolling, nasty sex scene. It is not. It takes literally FOREVER for us to get to the sex. And what happens between now and the sex is just...

In fairness, this whole book would make Applebloom puke
So lets just dive in, shall we?

When we last left our (gag) "heroes" they had all decided to feed Anita's lust demon by having JC feed on Jason and Asher feed on Nathanial and Anita feed on everybody, because apparently being bitten by vampires feels really good. I'm not criticizing that last little bit, by the way. That's legit lore. At least they're not sparkling. So now they all pile into bed, and a freaking miracle happens, boys and girls:

Somebody asks somebody else for their consent.

“Do you want Asher to feed from you?” 
“Oh, yes,” Nathaniel said,
Wow. Somebody in this book finally commits an act of human decency. I'm starting to get im--

My voice sounded as breathless as his when I said, “I’m not on birth control.”

Everyone froze. Jean-Claude peered over Jason’s shoulder. “What did you say, ma petite?”

 “I stopped taking the pill six months ago. I’ve only been on it for two weeks. No guarantee for another two to four weeks.”

 “You made love to the Nimir-Raj.”

 “He’s been fixed.” 
Asher said, “She did what?”

That's the rape scene he's referencing there. Now, to get it out of my system: 

There really aren't any words that aren't on macros that I can use right now. She did not make love to him, she did everything she could to get out of the situation, she didn't want it to happen in the first place, and now, boys and girls, the people she loves are shoving her face back into it at the drop of a hat. And the rape scene was still less than twenty-four hours ago.

Fuck you, Jean Claude.

So now we get an unbearably long scene in which everybody talks about how careless Anita is for not being on birth control and how awful it would be if there were surprise penis during this thing and she were to get preggers with an unwanted baby.

Because birth control is totally all about avoiding getting pregnant, and there is no other reason a woman would get on it, ever.

I can't speak for other women, but when I was on birth control I had no intention of having sex with anybody. I was on it because I read that it alleviated menstrual cramps. At the time, mine were fucking debilitating. There is pain, there is pain so big you cannot function, and then there is pain so big you pass out on the floor of a public bathroom. I've had infected teeth that haven't hurt that bad. And the pill worked.

And you know what else I "Love?" How it's totally the woman's job to take care of icky reproductive issues. What happened to keeping a rubber in your wallet, guys? 

And it's Anita who whines the whole time--and you have no idea how much I would like to not be using that word, but that's the only thing that fits--about how they said no sex and condoms just complicate things and she doesn't want her boys using condoms...and then the worst thing I have ever read commences. 

Jean Claude decides that everybody needs to wear condoms. And this is how he talks her into it.

“I think I can keep from fucking them.” I sounded angry, but it wasn’t anger that I felt, it was a seed of doubt. That hesitation made the anger worse. I always hid behind anger when I could.

 “And before this morning, you would have sworn even more strongly that you would not fuck a strange man you had just met.”

 The blush was so hot, it almost hurt. “I didn’t mean to.” That sounded weak even to me. “I couldn’t  .  .  .” 
You could not control yourself, ma petite, I know. But if you lose control again, would you not rather be safe?”

And now they are using her rape to manipulate her. Oh god, she's so wonton. Oh, god, she loses control around people. Oh, god, we have to remind her of this to keep her horrible uncontrolable female sex drive from making our lives miserable with an unwanted pregnancy.

Let me go turn off Robot Cyborg Susan for a second. This part isn't going to be funny.

This bullshit is why I called Anita a bitch earlier. And while I'll admit that it's wrong to use a gendered word as shorthand for "terrible waste of human skin" I stand by the underlying meaning of what I said: If you do this, you are a terrible waste of human skin. You do not identify the weakest point in someone's psyche and then use it to manipulate the other person and get what you want. It's like Jean Claude decided to tickle Anita's third degree burns to get her to lie down and be a sport about things. This shit is not okay. Not now. Not tomorrow. Not three million years from now. Not ever. If you are aware that someone else has a deep emotional wound, like from being cheated on OR BEING RAPED LESS THAN A DAY AGO, you do not use that wound as leverage to get what you want out of the other person.

And even if it's not rape--it totally is, but let's play devil's advocate here--it's still fucking wrong. She's upset that she made a mistake with a stranger, she's doubting herself, she's very fucked up inside. YOU DON'T USE SOMEONE ELSE'S PAIN AGAINST THEM. EVER.

In short, Fuck you, Jean Claude. Fuck you, Micah, and FUCK YOU Laurell K. Hamilton for passing this psychological fuckery off as something morally acceptable in ANY relationship.

Okay. Turning Susan back on.

Jean Claude does it again less than two paragraphs later. So he's brought up her lack of control twice, her "sex with a stranger" twice, AND SHE WAS FUCKING RAPED WHEN IT HAPPENED.

How could no one see what was wrong with this?

Finally, though, Anita agrees with everything Jean Claude said, because she can't argue with him.

 The problem with battling a manipulator is that they are convincing. They know how to twist your words and actions against you in ways you cannot easily fight. They're wrong, they know they're wrong, YOU know they're wrong, but they know how to make it look like they're right, and with a manipulator, the appearance is the only thing that matters. The result of arguing with a manipulator is usually you either storming off, voiceless and angry, or you agreeing even though every cell in your body is screaming they're wrong, simply because you can't think your way out of what they just said.  

You cannot argue with a manipulator, kids. You can only disengage, and then distance yourself from them. And if you have to confront them, have witnesses. 

Now can we just have disgusting five-way sex and get this scene over with?

No, we can't. Because we have to make this even worse. Anita says "Well, I can go to the lupanar anyway," And Jean Claude replies with the following:

He tried not to meet my gaze. His shields were back in place, and I couldn’t tell what he was feeling. “You would be attracted to all the men. You would  .  .  . I cannot guarantee what you would do, ma petite, or who you would do it with.”
There really aren't words anymore. Not only is Jean Claude slut-shaming, he's slut-shaming a rape victim.

But CW! I hear you saying. He might not know that it's a rape! LKH intended the rape scene to be loving intercourse. She herself never considered it to be a rape scene. How do we know that unfair manipulation and slut shaming are what Jean Claude is really doing? How do we know CW isn't interpreting this the wrong way?

Because this happens two paragraphs later:

“Let me spare you such degradation, ma petite. You are not as I was. You have never given yourself freely. I fear what you would do, or think of yourself, if you did these things. I do not think your sense of yourself would survive intact.”
In other words, my dear blog-readers,

  He knows, and so does LKH. It's right there in the text. The bolded part.

Jean Claude then goes on about how he was able to learn how to feed the ardeur from a distance, but it took him five years and he had to learn control all on his lonesome, and Anita is getting more and more horrified as she realizes she's going to have to live with uncontrollable lust for lust for the rest of her life (and no, that's not a typo) and then Jean Claude does it again: 

“If you had withstood the Nimir-Raj’s advances, then I would say that your strength of will might conquer it.
She was raped, you undead piece of shit. She did resist his advances. She just didn't try to claw his eyes out.

And then Jean Claude tells her that if she doesn't feed the ardeur, she'll start literally eating her friends.

And then Anita says "fine, but everybody needs to be wearing pants. I'll go get my underwear."

And then Jean Claude says "yes, but you might order them to take it all off, because you'll lose control of your mouth, too."

The chapter ends with Anita thinking that maybe just throwing in the towel and becoming a psychopath isn't such a bad idea after all.

This chapter was the worst part of the book that I've far. And I know it will probably get worse. I just don't want to think about what "worse" might mean for now. I'm going to go play a video game for an hour, and then paint until I have to go to work. Not noble, but shiny pretty video games should get the taste out of my mouth.


  1. Boo. Booooooooooooooooo.
    One of the worst things about all of this? Didn't JC compel her to seduce Micah in the first place? So all of this is him not only shaming a rape victim, but a victim of a rape he was a part of?

  2. Yep. And personally, I consider the mind shit he pulled as rape, 'cause she did not want to and it was "her" seduction of Micah--or rather, JC's seduction of Micah through her--that had her crying in the shower in the first place.

    And the 24 hours post trauma are worst. Anita should be at home, in her own bed, in penguin PJ's and a cup of cocoa with Ronnie. Not in the uber-sexually charged atmosphere of JC and the wereleopards.

    I am trying REALLY hard not to go on a "this is how you brainwash someone" rant but...yeah, this is how you brainwash someone. Traumatize them, isolate them from people who actually care about them, and then feed them the data you want them to accept along with praise, pleasurable experiences, and positive re-enforcement. It's the psychological equivalent of footbinding.

    I'm not saying that JC is trying to brainwash Anita, or that her bad behavior after this book is a result of brainwashing, mostly because that would have required forthought and subtlty from the author, and I'm not giving her that much credit. (though it WOULD make everything from here on out make sense) It just fits the behavior model that abusive groups like to use, with sex added in as a "fun" bonus.

    I'm starting to actively hate this book.

  3. So much wrong. So much wrong. I honestly don't even know where to begin.

    Okay, I'll ignore the crazy rapeness and just go with the one piece of solid advice that popped into my mind reading this post:

    "What happened to keeping a rubber in your wallet, guys?"

    Heat breaks down latex. If a guy tells you it's okay because he keeps a condom in his wallet, it's not okay. That condom has been there for God only knows how long, and should not be relied on.

    Now if you're out on a date and the guy is prepared, that's different. That's good, because men should take some responsibility for birth control. But if he just keeps a condom on hand at all times - No.

    And that's the one positive, possibly useful thing I can think to say.

    1. I have no idea how it can get any worse than this. I know it will, but I honestly did not imagine that this book was going to dip so far as to have somebody slut-shame a rape victim into using condoms using her rape as leverage. On a list of Things That Earn You A Special Place in Hell, that has to be very close to number one.

  4. Anyone that tells you that LKH writes empowering feminist main characters should be handed this book and asked to point to even one example. I have never come up with a satisfactory explanation for why so many people fail to see that somewhere along the line the author's fetish for rape fantasies/ lack of consent took over this series to the exclusion of plot, pacing, continuity, or any grounding in sanity.

    If you think this scene is bad, there is one in Incubus Dreams that was so ridiculous and long winded that I literally throw the book across the room. My cat is still pissed off about that one. That was my ephinany that the series was never, never, ever going to get better again and I was just enabling LKH to write more of that swamp mess. It was a hard habit to break, because I had fallen in love with the world of Anita Blake and many of the original characters (other than the original Anita) and I kept buying the books to caught up with their adventures. When I realized the author had morphed the characters into funhouse versions of their origina selvesl to serve her new pycho/gender/religious/lifestyle agenda I truly mourned their passing. But like any bad breakup, you learn from the experience, dust yourself off and move on. And in the case of Anita Blake novels, try to warn others so they can be spared the pain and misery so many of us have experienced over the years.

    1. I loved a lot of things about AB--especially Laurell's narrative voice. The woman CAN write. That's why I usually fall off the wagon. I pick up a book, read the usually good-to-awesome first chapter, and then find myself having to deal with a lot of icky stuff.

      Anita Blake books are like a bait-and-switch scam. You get a taste of what you like, and then a whole lot of nasty falls on your head.