Saturday, November 23, 2013

Danse Macabre--chapter 29

Micah brings Anita food. Passive agressively, of course, because (according to the text) pointing out that somebody is neglecting themselves to the point of putting other people in danger is, like, you know, bad.

IT TURNED OUT to be coffee first. Requiem wasn’t in the bedroom, and Micah came through the door with a tray of breakfast. He didn’t say that I’d waited too long to eat, and maybe endangered Damian, or risked raising my beasts again and hurting myself, or losing the baby, or that by neglecting myself I could make the ardeur more uncontrollable. No, he didn’t say any of that.
Anita has neglected herself to the point that she is raping random people. Oh, but not condemning her for it is the kind and generous thing to do. She doesn't need a Come-to-Jesus talk. Oh, no. She just needs people to wait on her hand and foot and put up with the amount of danger she's putting everyone in by not eating.

Also: Anita was, by her own statement, not going to go get food. She was going to go get coffee, and then go find sex. Technically, her body is still human. It's been stated by multiple people that the ardeur cannot replace actually eating. There are anorexics who eat more frequently than Anita Blake does. In fact, it just hit me that it's entirely possible Anita Blake's pregnancy scare is because she eats so seldom and her malnutrition is so bad her period has stopped. The only thing even remotely resembling a plot in this book is revolving around how the ardeur has gotten so dangerous it is putting Jean Claude at risk politically and everyone else in danger physically, and that they need to figure out how dangerous it's gotten before someone else decides to act on it. That means this entire book is centered on self-neglect and self injury with the added bonus of psychic and actual rape as a direct result of said neglect.

I don't mind sex scenes in my fiction, okay? My problem with them is not the sex part, it's the part that I don't really find sex all that interesting, and that's a nice chunk of book that could be furthering a plot that we can't get back. But I don't like non-con, I don't like abuse, and I really, really, really don't like reading stories that actively condone any form of self-harming because that's a trap that's really easy to fall into and really hard to climb back out of again. Every single thing in this series--EVERYTHING--reads to me like an abuse victim with severe stockholm syndrome self-medicating with sex and self-abuse. If the next Anita Blake book came out and said flat out that's what's been going on? This would actually be one of the best character studies in existence. And the fact that it is actively condoning this--Micah's act of kindness is viewed as good because he's not talking to Anita about how utterly fucking stupid and dangerous her self-abuse is--is fucking reprehensible.

I smiled at him. “Thanks for the food, and I’ve got a two o’clock appointment with my gynecologist.”

“Today?” he asked, “Is that wise?”
It's the first smart thing Anita's done in the entire book. It's the first and ONLY thing I've seen Anita do that might maybe take care of herself. There's more steps she'd have to take, but it's a start.

Anita then arranges for her buddies and her bodyguards. Apparently the concern is that she'll need shapeshifters she can give her beast to. Well, that's kind of smart, but the easier solution is to get her diet under control.

(Seriously. I cannot emphasize this enough: If you're depressed, figure out what "Eating right" means and start doing that. Get on a good multivitamin, eat a lot of brain food. Depression is not an emotion; it's a chemical deficiency that first cripples your ability to feel positive emotions, and then your ability to feel anything. Some of it is usually diet related. If your brain isn't getting enough materials to work with it's not going to do a good job of repairing itself. It won't fix the problem overnight, but it'll get you started in the right direction.)

 Anita and Micah keep talking, and Anita asks Micah if she's "eaten enough". This book has covered roughly twenty-four hours of time, and Anita has eaten exactly once. And that's this time. And she's eaten a grand total of a croissant, a piece of cheese, and two cups of coffee.

Micah tells her to eat another piece of cheese. She makes an ugly face.

“Jean-Claude needs to know about the appointment.” “I know.” “I could tell him.” I frowned at him. “You don’t trust me to do it.” He sat up, raising his hands. “I will do whatever will make this easier for you, Anita, but he needs to know as soon as possible that you are going to take his human servant, his animal to call, and at least two or three blood donors with you this afternoon.”
The book is saying that Anita going to her ob/gyn to check on her potentially life threatening pregnancy is, you know, bad, or at the very least a huge inconvience to one of her Significant Others and that he needs to know all the circumstances of her leaving.

 If I feed on Requiem and he’s mind-fucked again, then I’m too dangerous for the other pomme de sang candidates. I need to feed on Requiem before Auggie rises for the day.
So Anita has just turned down more food in favor of magical sex that could possibly send her partner into a dangerous mental tailspin from which his recovery is questionable. When the book has stated over and over and over again that more food would actually be better for her than more sex.

Anita then breaks down in tears because her life is shit.

This series is like watching a best friend in an abusive relationship, and this moment is like taking them to lunch and spending the entire time listening to how much their lover needs them and how he's really nice and just a little lost and they're really close to a breakthrough and they just need to work a little harder, all the while looking at the gigantic shiner they've got and thinking about how if that happened to you you'd be pleading self-defense right now, not stating that he didn't really mean it this time, and all of a sudden that friend breaks down in tears and starts mumbling how everything's fucked up and they want out and they've got no idea how. I call it "Bottoming out", and awful as it is, it's also the wake-up call people in bad situations need. I've had about three of these, each time they were awful, and each time I'm glad they happened because HOLY SHIT, I don't know what would have happened if I'd stayed in that situation.

If Anita had any real friends with any real understanding of what a good relationship even looks like? They'd be handing Anita that women's shelter card they've been carrying around for months and promising that Anita can live on their couch.

Micah is, of course, frantically backpedaling and shoving all Anita's nasty girl emotions back into the box before Anita actually realizes that the reason her life is shit is, you know, she's being abused and also she is raping people.

My problem with all the relationships in this series is not the sexy sexy. It's that all of them are abusive relationships that are so severely wrong, IRL they're fatal. And it is presenting this as a desirable thing.

But instead of getting out and bumping into Ronnie or a co-worker or someone else who could give Anita the reality check and help she desperately needs, Micah holds her and kisses her until it's all better. You know. The dude that raped Anita in the motherfucking shower. And Anita mentally hates herself for her weakness because tears are weakness and there's nobody around to tell her that maybe what she actually needs to do is GET THE FUCK OUT OF THERE.

And just like I’d known I would, I lost it. I cried, and screamed, and clung to him, and hated myself for doing it. So weak, so fucking weak.

Anita doesn't need another lover. She needs a motherfucking intervention.


  1. Telling Anita to get her life in gear would make her *feel bad* though - and as far as I can tell, literally everything in the books exists so that Anita doesn't ever have to feel bad. It appears to be the only real crime in the Anitaverse. Even if doing so might save some lives. :/

  2. One of my favourite authors, Diane Duane, grew up in a house that was in her words "neither safe nor sane". It shows up all over her fiction. She thinks very much about how people treat one another, and the world around them, and how they treat themselves. Care for the world, care for others, and care for the self are all imbedded in her stories in ways that make it clear she's spent a lot of time thinking about these things. And one of the ways that's imbedded in her work is that the world reflects that care back, in ways that are both subtle and overt. In various ways, depending on whether she's writing SF or fantasy, the world speaks back to the characters to warn them if they're making dangerous choices. Sometimes people choose to ignore that care, but it's always there. And if they choose to continue making dangerous choices they have to deal with the consequences, but it is very clear that they built those consequences for themselves and can choose again.

    LKH has likewise created a world that cares, but it only cares for one person.