There’s nothing I hate more than the All Souls Trilogy right now. Why have I wasted so much time reading these atrocities?
LONG MAY WE REIGN a Lucifer/Lilith fanmix for the self-destructive, erotically manipulative, co-dependent and fatally ambitious. Empirical grandeur and religious imagery abound. listen.
i. Master Plan/Adam Lambert: We are the face of a new generation, we are the ones with no reservation, don’t give a damn about your cold calculation welcome to the master plan.
ii. Running up that Hill/Placebo: There’s so much hate for the ones we love. We both matter don’t we? And if I only could make a deal with God and get him to swap our places, I’d be running up that road, running up that hill with no problems.
iii. Guillotine/Yadi: You’ll fall like a guillotine and kneel before the queen. I don’t need blue blood running through my veins, like a queen, I will make you love me.
iv. Vampire Smile/Kyla La Grange: I’m gonna get so drunk on you and kill your friends, you’ll need me and we can be obsessed, I can touch your hair and taste your skin, the ghosts wont matter cause we’ll hide in sin.
v. I Miss the Misery/ Halestorm: I miss the bad things, the way you hate me, I miss the screaming, the way you blame me…I like the kick in the face and the things you do to me, I don’t miss you I miss the misery.
vi. Sister/She Wants Revenge: He said you better lie down cause the angels are watching, she closed her eyes and said quit the talking, you can hurt me do whatever you like.
vii. A Good Idea at the Time/Ok Go: How it all went down, only Pilate knows, all I ever asked him was when the bars were closed…The demon’s in the design, seemed like a good idea at the time.
viii. Bedroom Hymns/Florence and the Machine: This is as good a place to fall as any, we’ll build our altar here, make me your Maria, I’m already on my knees.
ix. Love the Way You Lie/Eminem feat. Rhianna: Now I know we said things did things that we didn’t mean, we fall back into the same patterns same routine, but your temper’s just as bad as mine is, you’re the same as me…Maybe that’s what happens when a tornado meets a volcano.
x. Serial Killer/Lana Del Rey: Baby I’m a sociopath, real cold killer, on the warpath, cause I love you just a little too much, sweet serial killer.
xi. Empire/Alpines: I’m building an empire, I’m building it with all I know, I’m building an empire, I’m building with my body and soul, so little time and so much to lose.
xii. Angels/The XX: Light reflects from your shadow, it more than I though could exist, you move through the room like breathing was easy, if someone believed me they would be as in love with you as I am.
xiii. When We Were Lions/Charlie Simpson: You’ve had my love since we were kids, I’d follow you into the dark, I’d follow you to the ends of the Earth. Do you remember when we were like lions? Do you remember when we had it all to live for?
xiv. J’attends/Gortoz A Ran: Instrumental for a death scene.
Before dreams (or terror) invented
mythologies and cosmogonies,
before time was parceled into days,
the sea, the eternal sea, was already here.
Who is the sea? Who is that violent
and ancient being that gnaws at the pillars
of the earth and is one and many seas
and abyss and brilliancy and chance and wind?
To gaze at it is to gaze for the first time,
always. With the wonder produced by
elemental things, the beautiful evenings,
the moon, the fire of a brazier.
Who is the sea, who am I? I shall know this
on the day that comes after agony.
—Jorge Luis Borges
I’ve grown quite weary of the spunky heroines, brave rape victims, soul-searching fashionistas that stock so many books.
She’s not picking a fight with survivors. Her “issue” is with the tropes writers use to render their female characters likable, or “strong” in capital-A Acceptable ways. And I think we’re all familiar with writers—often male, never survivors—raping their female characters to make them Interesting, to make them Good, to make them Survivors. It’s the Joss Whedon thing, the Lev Grossman thing, the Game of Thrones (HBO) thing: there’s no faster way for a male writer to tell his audience that a woman is strong but not too strong, strong enough to emotionally weather Terrible Things but not too strong to fight them off. It makes them brave, but in a sexy, victimized, nonthreatening way. They’re touchable because they’ve been touched but it’s not like they’re sluts, not like they liked it. They’re strong, these female characters, strong like the men have been told to write, strong enough to claim sympathy—and indeed they’re inherently sympathetic (and their rapists inherently, easily monstrous), telegraph-sympathetic, moral-absolute sympathetic—but their strength isn’t too much for your average audience member (usually male audience member) to take. They’re not too strong to, say, spoil rape fantasies.
It’s lazy. It’s cheap. It’s hideous. It has nothing whatsoever to do with telling rape survivors’ actual stories. It’s weak writing. And it’s endemic.
To stick within the examples I’ve named: Joss Whedon raped Buffy, violated the bodies of multiple female characters, ended the series with her violating the bodies of women all over the world, would have raped Inara (to save everyone else!) if Firefly had been picked up. (Let’s teach Inara the whore that sex is only permissible when he says it is, let’s curb Buffy’s superhuman power and make her and the audience very sure that she can suffer like all women can.) Lev Grossman has a fox god rape Julia Ogden’s soul out, literally tears her soul from her womb lining, but it’s okay in the long game because he ejaculates divine power into her. Game of Thrones (HBO) wrote Cersei Lannister as softer, more likable—and to prove that she was really not that threatening after all, changed a consensual sex scene to her brother raping her on her son’s bier. (Her brother, Jaime, continues to be portrayed as a complex guy who’s fun to be around.) Similarly, Frank Miller thought Catwoman was too hard to like, maybe, all that slick saucy charm and stealing stuff, so he made her a poor rape victim so we’d know she was a person, really.
I could go on.
It’s seven in the morning and I’m tired.
I’m tired of Joss Whedon (noted geekboy “feminist icon”), of Lev Grossman (NYT’s golden child), of men like this of writers like this of trends like this. I’m tired of going to production after production of Measure for Measure and watching directors choose to throw away scenes of difficult power dialogue for the spectacle of making the play’s powerful central zealous fierce but arguably dislikable female character gain vulnerability when she’s thrown sobbing over a desk. I’m tired of watching cable shows and biting my fist and I’m tired of fucking thanking the shows that don’t rape my girls.
And yes, that means I’m tired of female characters whose bravery and vulnerability and narrative interest is contingent on their suffering. And tired of what they represent. Not tired of deeply thought, respectfully written, complex fictional characters with equally deeply thought, carefully and respectfully written rape storylines or histories—in whose number I count Gillian Flynn’s own Camille Preaker (her own admitted favorite character, a rape victim and occasionally brave in complicated ways). But this has nothing to do with them—with victims—has it? That’s the problem. Those stories, of likable palatable not-too-tough tough girls that break easy for their usually-male creators and their male-eyed audience, don’t care about victims. They’re not about her. They’re written for someone else.