Saturday, January 4, 2014

Harlequin chapter 7

A lot of things bug me about the stripper scenes in the book. It's not the stripper part. It's...well, it's shit like this:

Byron used the towel to dry some of the sweat off his body. He winced, and turned to show bloody scratches high on one buttock. “Got me from behind, just at the end of m’ act.” “Hit-and-run, or did she give you extra money for it?” Nathaniel asked. “Hit-and-run.” I must have looked puzzled, because Nathaniel explained. “A hit-and-run is when a customer gets an extra grope, or scratch, or something intimate, and we don’t know who did it, and they don’t pay for it.”
Also known as ASSAULT. This is a chance for LKH to address a pretty big issue: Sex workers get abused and assaulted A LOT. They don't ask for it, any more than anybody else asks for it, and it's not right for a customer to take liberties the worker didn't agree to. It's wrong for a customer to do that to a dancer, it's wrong for a customer to do that to their waitress, it's wrong for a random stranger to do that to me. LKH could be discussing the hazards of being an exotic dancer.

But instead, it's all about how desirable her men are.

“Oh,” I said, because I didn’t know what else to say. I didn’t like watching my boyfriends being groped by strangers. It was another reason I stayed away.
It's not that the groping is wrong, even in the context of a strip club (ESPECIALLY in the context of a strip club) and that Anita has to watch her loved ones be casually assaulted by strange assholes just so they can survive. Nope. It's that it's HER MEN being groped that makes it wrong. See, when "my lover" sounds a lot like "my dog" or "my boots", that's when it becomes a big issue. Anita isn't disturbed that her lovers have their rights and bodies violated as a matter of course and that NOBODY in the club seems to be taking steps to protect them. She's disturbed that her property is being damaged by strangers. I know this because after Anita thinks about the groping we move on to her pawing Requiem.

He quotes Milton at her. Because religious poetry about the war in heaven and good and evil is exactly what you want to be quoting at a strip joint. For FUCK'S SAKE Laurel, there's an entire book in the Bible that is literally nothing but erotic poetry. I'd be much more aroused by the verses where the Shulamite describes Solomon's penis.

And of course, it's just Requiem's way to complain that Anita is giving Nate and Bryon more attention than she's giving him, because Nate is a lover and he's just food. AKA a lover that Anita doesn't care much about. It bugs Anita that she doesn't care, and that she's lost out on a potential friend by sleeping with Requiem, even though sleeping with Jason didn't blow that friendship. Requiem is a whiny infant, and in a minute he's gonna passive-agressively quote Donne. That's the issue.

Byron and Requiem start circling each other verbally, which isn't very effective because Requiem keeps quoting the poets most popular with English teachers. And then Bryon starts doing it too, because OF COURSE we're going to have a literary dick measuring contest in the back of a vampire's knockoff Chippendale's. 

And then, without any warning whatsoever, Bryon starts yanking Nathanial around by his hair. It's like post-work chatter, What Light Through Yonder Window Breaks, RANDOM ABUSE. Anita pulls a gun on Bryon (FINALLY AN APPROPRETE RESPONSE TO BAD BEHAVIOR) and Bryon says it's fine because Nate likes it.


Nathaniel’s lips were half parted, his eyes fluttering closed, his face slack with pleasure. His body was tense with anticipation. He was enjoying the pain, enjoying being manhandled. Shit.
No. There is a major difference between consensual playacting between two adults who cleared everything with each other beforehand and got into the mindset for whatever game they want to play tonight, and being randomly attacked without any warning at all. It's the difference between actual sex and rape, bondage games and assault. Nate should not be having an orgasm over having his hair pulled until his neck is at a potentially life threatening angle, ESPECIALLY not with his long history of abuse. This should flip his fight-or-flight trigger, not his fuck-me trigger.

Byron stood there and watched him. “Duckie, this much reaction, you have been neglecting your boy.”

Byron then introduces Anita to the concept of a switch--somebody who gets off on being both a dom and a sub. This is treated as revelatiory information, because it's not like Anita spends a TON of time around sex workers, is intimate with at least one major submissive, and is in and out of bondage clubs all the damn time.


“Feed the ardeur on me and Nathaniel, while I abuse him. If this is a preview, the energy will be amazing.”

Requiem gets pissy and expresses himself with more poetry. You know, because the brooding creative types do that. Did I mention he's dressed in a black velvet cape? AND NOTHING ELSE?

Bryon asks Requiem if he's considered just killing himself because Anita doesn't want him the way he wants her to.

These people are such pieces of shit.

Jean Claude comes in. He's wearing a Tuxedo...made of leather. With silk suspenders and no shirt.

Excuse me, I think I snorted something up my nose on that one.

Anita gets all hot and bothered, and then gets upset because she describes JC's cheekbones as being like a swallow's wing and that's not like her. It's another sign that someone's messing with her (Though my vote is LKH forgot which series she was writing for a minute) but we don't address that at all. Instead, Jean Claude and Lisandro argue over who Anita should pick as her next Animal to Call because the next one needs to be stronger.

Anita figures out that touching Jean Claude makes the whatever go away, so they have a breif makeout session. Jean Claude asks Requiem if he knows what this is, and Requiem says yes. They send Lisandro out and the chapter ends.

I don't have high hopes for the plot, but we're seven chapters in and nobody's had sex yet. Things are looking up.


  1. So the problem isn’t that strippers are considered public property it’s just Anita doesn’t like to see it. Oh my god, holy hell. And she doesn’t even want to do anything about it, she just very literally chooses to look the other way, I CAN’T EVEN.

    Whoa wait, which book is that?

    LKH really does not seem to understand that someone who is sexually masochistic would not be open to “being manhandled” anywhere, anytime, by anyone. Given her approach to sex in general though I guess this is not a surprise. Still gross, though.

    It’s kind of funny because in Shutdown she gets super-righteous on Ellen for using abuse to mean bondage (and Ellen was a legitimate newbie, not someone like Anita who, as you mentioned, spends a fuck ton of time with strippers, sex workers, and/or BDSM enthusiasts)

    Nothing but a velvet cape? Leather tuxedo with silk suspenders and no shirt? It’s like LKH is making a PARODY of what Anne Rice vampire fans would find sexy, but is meaning it seriously.

    …how the fuck does the cheekbone comparison even make sense? Does he have feathers growing out of his face or something?

    1. It's rather amazing how she MISSES THE BADNESS COMPLETELY.

      The Song of Solomon is full on erotic poetry. A lot of translations numb the language down because it's erotic poetry in the bible but there's a couple places where the ONLY THING those metaphors fit are genitalia. The verse in question (5:14) is usually translated "his belly/body/abdomin is as a block of ivory adorned with sapphires" but the word being translated as body is almost universally translated elsewhere as penis.Which makes the sapphire part make sense because blue veins in an erect penis. There's also a couple repetitions of "his hand is on the latch" that could mean either Solomon is entering the bedchamber, or Solomon is giving his lover direct clitoral stimulation. The context doesn't help either way. And they never do ANY sermons or study series on the Song, either...

      See, when you're not in the lifestyle it almost makes sense to assume that it's abuse, or that the people in it like being abused...right up until you start talking to people in the lifestyle. That's when you find out about fun and games and safewords, and how some of that equipment has safety releases built into it. Frankly I think everybody ought to have a "What is BDSM" conversation because you learn more about what constitutes consent there than you do in vanilla sex, and it gives you information that we desperately need to apply to vanilla sex.

      Jean Claude's wardrobe will never not be hilarious.

      I have no idea. I'd think that LKH was trying to make Anita be uncharacteristically lyrical, but in the last book Anita gave Jean Claude fucking lace for eyelashes.

    2. The Song of Songs is so awesome.


    A+. Would *snerk* again.


    Lol, but I think the implications here are that Anita does think of submissives as being an object that she owns. LKH seems to regard a submissive as being property in the sense that this person will always belong to Anita because she is the only one who can fulfill their needs. Noticed the pattern here that every man Anita 'owns' is with her because she is the only one who can have sex with them. Richard is too rough, Micah's penis is too big, Nate needs someone to beat him around, etc. Every man Anita owns stays talks about how she is the only one who can fulfill their supposedly 'wildly kinky and bizarre' needs. It's rather insulting to the BDSM community for LKH to do this, because she has created a world where Anita is the sole individual who can have sex with these 'deviants,' who are also called 'monsters' on a regular basis. LKH claims to be pro-poly/BDSM, yet in her book series the only people who regularly engage in such behavior are the monsters. And the only person who can sate these monsters' appetites is Anita.

    I don't think LKH is trying to intentionally insult poly/BDSM. Instead her main goal is to have Anita own these men without calling it outright possession. LKH writes it so that Anita isn't purposely collecting these men and forcing them to only have sex with her, instead she has created this world where these men have to stay with Anita because she is the only woman who can have perfect, mind-blowing sex with them (i.e., Nate needs to be abused by Anita and she is the only one who can do it, his threat of leaving her is essentially empty because Richard has tried to leave and one can leave Anita unless she kills them). I think this is also why LKH latched onto BDSM and dominant/submissive in the first place, so that Anita can claim ownership because apparently that's what LKH thinks BDSM is all about...owning people.

  4. Sometimes sexual abuse can cause someone to become hyper sexual, and to respond sexually to having their triggers flipped. A person can also be terrified and yet aroused on some level at the same time. Of course this is yet another thing I don't trust LKH to intentionally include, or to handle respectfully. Also sometimes people in the BDSM community use the word abuse in a very tongue in cheek fashion to refer to play, but again, not betting that LKH understands the difference.

    1. I agree with that completely, but I don't feel that's what's happening here. It might just be me, but I don't think that you can have a trigger flipped with no warning or foreplay whatsoever (ie have your hair yanked until your neck starts hurting) and have the sexual interest override the survival instinct. And if you CAN get into that kind of mindset, I don't think that's healthy. The survival instinct is there for a good reason--it tells you when you need to drop everything and run the fuck away. If a person gets to where sex overrides that, they're in a place where they can get KILLED because they won't be able to discern sexy fun times from actual physical danger. Getting to the point where you CRAVE that kind of attention is even less healthy. Frankly, if you're in a space where you would go with a dangerous person into a situation where you cannot rescue yourself and/or call for help with a reasonable expectation of receiving it immediately (IE: "Help" is in the room with you) you need to learn why that behavior is dangerous and how you can short-circuit it before you get in the dangerous place.

      Avoiding dangerous people and situations is 95% unconscious instinct. You don't feel right around that person or that situation, so you get out without really understanding why you need to. Having this be even a little broken by your background sets you up for a world of hurt and bad relationships, and you have to learn to consciously manage what most people can do without thinking about it. If Nate's behavior is realistic, his warning system is so catastrophically non-functional it's a miracle he's not dead. Nothing in his behavior indicates that he's aware of this or that he's taken any steps to manage the risky behavior or develop coping skills that will keep him out of dangerous situations. Everyone in his social circle is encouraging behavior and thought processes that only increase his risk-taking and further damage his warning system, and everything in this book JUSTIFIES his risk-taking because "That's what he wants/ he's wired that way" when it's keeping him from having anything remotely like a happy life. He's relatively safe right now because Anita, other flaws aside, is very protective and has that "you don't fuck anybody else" rule, which is keeping Nate out of locations and situations where he'd be at risk, but judging by his "I'll find someone else if you won't" threat, it's not enough. Instead of seeking help, he's demanding Anita alter her behavior in ways that will be unhealthy for both parties. Anita is not healthy enough to start learning how to do BDSM sex, which is a rant for another time and place, and Nate doesn't have the coping skills or the boundaries to teach her how to dominate him without damaging herself or him in the process. Neither of them have the self-awareness necessary to call a time out and back themselves down if things start getting dangerous.

      Nate is either a badly written cardboard cut out with "Submissive" scrawled in knockoff magic marker, or he desperately needs professional intervention and to be around approximately NONE of these people or businesses until his instincts work again, and for LKH to praise his example as something healthy and natural is INCREDIBLY irresponsible.

  5. This is LKH of course we should believe Nate would love this.
    Ugh for me....
    Nudity doesn't mean to the dancers what it meant in the real world....

    Right because if someone will perform semi nude they will walk around totally nude at any given moment without any sense of modestly. Um no no no no!