The Lower Dog in the Room: Patriarchal Terrorism and the Question of Consent in Charlaine Harris’s The Southern Vampire Mysteries
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This chapter explores the representations of violence against women in male vampire–human female relationships in Charlaine Harris’s best-selling literary series The Southern Vampire Mysteries (2001–2013), that became the basis for the HBO series True Blood (Ball 2008–2014). In the course of her adventures, the main heroine Sookie Stackhouse becomes a repeated target of rape and murder attempts, assaults, stalking, sexual harassment and coercive behaviour. These violent acts are performed not only by malicious antiheroes, but also by her vampire boyfriends. As the central figure of the series, it is Sookie who is most often subjected to violent male behaviour; however, other female characters are also frequently abused. Informed by the concepts of patriarchal terrorism and rape myths, this chapter seeks to problematise the ways in which The Southern Vampire Mysteries represent heterosexual romantic relationships, operating to naturalise, justify and absolve male-on-female violence in the intimate context. Because many such incidents are disguised as romance and passion, are rationalised and trivialised by women themselves, and/or befall “unworthy” or “naïve” heroines who eventually “benefit” from the abuse, the questions of violence and female (lack of) consent remain unproblematised within the texts. This message is mutually reinforcing with stereotypical and unjust gendered hierarchies of power and the notion of romance that relies on male ownership of women and female disempowerment.
- About Charlaine. Charlaine Harris. The Official Site of the #1 New York Times Best-Selling Author. http://charlaineharris.com/?page_id=3. Accessed 19 June 2016.
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