Offerings Often Obstructed

Let’s see if I can keep the alliteration going here. ūüėÄ This one is a mistaken belief that Sookie both refuses gifts, and that she ties it all up with being a whore. What’s pretty hilarious about this one – at least for me – is that every single person who complains about this also complains that Sookie transposes Bill onto Eric. Ah, reflections in thy waters honey. Read onwards to see why I find that one particularly funny. Nothing could be further from the truth. But I’ll do one better than that, and prove it, with quotes – so excuse this quote heavy post – but this one is just too pervasive and I’m sick of reading it.

Let’s have a look at the¬†times Sookie refuses a “gift” and all the times she accepts a gift from Eric, just to prove that I know what I’m talking about. I haven’t included any gifts she’s gotten from Alcide, Sam and Pam – all of which she’s accepted without trouble, because this scenario only ever turns up in secret-Bill fangirl fic. This is the infamous scene where readers get angry at Sookie for not wanting to be seen around Bon Temps as Bill’s whore. I would question whether this is in fact a “gift” – it doesn’t even have the thoughtfulness of money in card:

“Why can’t you just send me some damn flowers, like anyone else’s boyfriend?
Or some candy. I like candy. Just buy me a Hallmark card, why don’t you?
Or a kitten or a scarf?
“I meant to give you something,” he said cautiously.
“You’ve made me feel like a kept woman. And you’ve certainly given the people
who work at those businesses the impression I am.”
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 28

I’ve seen it written that Sookie doesn’t understand that a wife is not a kept woman. Oh contraire. It is the reader who doesn’t understand the meaning of “kept woman”. A kept woman is a mistress – one who exchanges money for sexual availability and amenability. Kept women – by their very nature – are for good, happy fun times only. For sex, buying pretty things and having fun. They are not a partner to the man – they are like a sexual amusement park. Consider the life of Marilyn Monroe (JFK’s mistress) vs. Jackie Kennedy. Jackie had legitimacy that Marilyn never had. Jackie also didn’t off herself in a hotel room, alone. Bill has inadvertently given people the impression that Sookie’s his mistress. Wife has nothing to do with “kept woman”. It has a definite vibe about it – and it’s all about the mistress providing for most of her own needs – including buying herself presents, food and clothes with her lover’s money. Wives get personalised gifts from thoughtful husbands – I know I do.

But you know, apparently we should be concerned with how Bill wants to treat Sookie, rather than how Sookie wants to be treated. If it makes it seem like – to the entire town – that she’s a whore, and she’s the human living in that town for her whole life, apparently she should swallow down what she knows the gossip is going to be, and just go with what Bill wants. Even though she says that something else would be far more valuable, let’s take it as blanket refusal of any and all gifts, shall we? She should totally demand more than kittens or scarves – what a bitch, eh?

Sookie of course, refuses another gift from Bill:

Inside was a pair of topaz earrings, and a note that said, “To go with your brown dress.”
Which meant the taupe knit thing I’d worn to the vampires’ headquarters.
I stuck my tongue out at the box and drove over to his house that afternoon to
leave it in his mailbox. He’d finally gone out and bought me a present,
and here I had to return it.
  Living Dead in Dallas, pp. 217-218

Isn’t it totally terrible when if you kill a whole heap of humans for revenge, your girlfriend won’t let you buy her morals off with a pair of earrings? God forbid, if you’re on break, you should accept whatever you’re going to get from the guy. They only broke it off over something silly, like him dumping her to go kill people. May I also point out that under the right circumstances, she actually accepted both of those gifts:

“That’s why I bought a women’s clothing store,” he said smoothly.
“So I could rip if the spirit moves me.”
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 235

That’s her accepting the accounts at the stores. Also, while you’re there, observe that Bill loves to rip clothing. That’s a Bill thing so many writers have Eric do. And here’s the earrings:

When I began to wash, I felt something in my earlobes. I stood up in the tub and looked over at the mirror above the sink. He’d put
the topaz earrings in while I was asleep.
Mr. Last Word.
Living Dead in Dallas, p. 235

So fear not, Bill fangirls. She actually accepted both of Bill’s gifts. The whole gift thing – I challenge anyone to find the passage wherein Sookie refuses a gift from Eric. They won’t find it, because it doesn’t exist. Unless Eric has surveillance cameras in Bill’s car – and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t – or Bill told him, then Eric doesn’t have any way to know. Thanks to crappy memory, and wilful ignorance though, it can be turned around to be Sookie’s fault. The secret-Bill fangirls can rage about the treatment Bill got – because Eric NEVER got that treatment. He didn’t do anything so damn insulting.¬† The reason why Eric hasn’t showered Sookie with gifts is because Sookie is a raging bitch – not because there’s no shower to be had. As Sookie says:

But I don’t get too many presents, and I don’t take them lightly. Club Dead, p. 158

I know that there is this pervasive belief that but for Sookie’s stupid attitude about gifts, she’d have so much more stuff. Again, I wonder if some of these women actually read, and actually like Eric, because he’s not like winning the lottery. He really isn’t giving Sookie everything she could ever dream of. Funnily enough, they seem to have more going for them than the shit Eric buys her.

Now, Eric sends her flowers when she’s in the hospital in Dead Until Dark. Her only response is wondering how the hell he knew she was in hospital. I wonder how he knew too. We don’t know much about what she did about them other than wonder how he knew. But she certainly doesn’t ditch her flowers onto the floor and do the finger to Eric out the window.

So how’d she treat him about the driveway – the first gift he gave her? I’ve read it said that the reason Eric gave her a driveway is because she couldn’t give it back. But unless Eric and Bill were having talks about the intimacies of his relationship with Sookie, then Eric would not know that Sookie ever refused a gift. I don’t know that I believe Eric and Bill are so close that they witter on about what’s going on in the day to day of Sookie and Bill’s relationship, and Sookie certainly didn’t fess up after the Maenad attack what they were fighting about. Surely she must have ranted and raved in her head about the driveway, right?

I remembered screaming at Eric about my driveway.
“No,” I said. “Someone else.” I caught myself wishing the man who’d been
so thoughtful had been Bill. 
Club Dead, p. 276

Or, you know, not. So she thinks that the driveway gift is “thoughtful”. What a raving bitch. Such tantrums she has, right? And if you can’t tell, I’m wearing my sarcasm hat. Of course, because Eric can’t shut his mouth about Lorena, and wants to fight about it in front of Sookie, despite reminding him that she’s sitting right there, she kicks him out before she can thank him. Observe:

They both glared at me. They seemed determined to finish this quarrel,
and I figured I would leave them to go at it. Once they were outside.
I hadn’t thanked Eric for the driveway yet, and I wanted to,
but tonight was maybe not the time.
Club Dead, p. 291

So by her own admission, Sookie just wants to thank Eric, but apparently he feels it’s more important to talk about Bill and Lorena. Since she got pretty badly hurt, and had actually told them that she was sitting right there, I don’t see her kicking him out as so damn hurtful. If my boyfriend cheated on me, and his boss wanted to discuss that affair and the motivations in front of me like I didn’t matter and didn’t exist, I’d kick both their arses out of my house too. It’s not as if she didn’t warn them that she was sitting right there, and that they should shut the hell up. If they want to continue, she doesn’t actually need to sit there and just swallow whatever they want to fight about just to say thank you. She also doesn’t want to mention it in front of Bill – because it will make him feel bad, and inevitably cause tension between two vampires already at each other’s throats. Play that scene out in your head – Sookie thanking Eric for her driveway right then, with Bill sitting there. Yeah. Doesn’t look good, right?

Not to mention that in exchange for that driveway, Eric got a lift when he needed it most. This is one hell of a temper tantrum she’s throwing here, right? I mean, I’d love it if people did things like help me when they were all angry at me. Not to mention, not only does she reiterate that he gave her the driveway, she praises him for his gift:

And that was why Eric was sitting in my car right now, instead of running through
the night like a giant white rabbit. He’d had the intelligence to give me what
I really wanted. (Of course, he’d also wanted me to go to bed with
him for months. But he’d given me the driveway because I needed it.)

Dead to the World,
p. 19

So she’s saying that he was intelligent to buy it for her, and that she needed it. That doesn’t sound like any temper tantrum, or being ungrateful that I’ve ever heard about it. I wish ungrateful people were always this positive. I’m not quite sure what the secret-Bill fangirl wants her to do – perhaps bow down and worship at his feet for the driveway – you know, the same way Eric did when she went through with his plan for Dallas and Mississippi….wait….he did that right?

Of course Eric didn’t do anything of the sort. I don’t believe he said thank you to Sookie once for going and making him money. Considering the beating she took there to do her job, that Eric got paid for, the least she deserved was a thank you for Dallas. She didn’t get it. So Eric can live without an immediate thank you for the driveway. As she pointed out to him, she’d taken time off work to do work for him – and she hadn’t been paid for that. While she was in Mississippi at Eric’s request, she wasn’t being paid by Sam, Bill or Eric. That was all free. Since she did a whole lot of work, the very least Eric owed her was a damn driveway and the protection he gave her.¬† He did actually “plead” with her to do it for him – and she did – for free and without any thought of recompense. And still she counts it as a gift, rather than what she’s due. She did save him from war with Mississippi and torture by the Queen. Sookie saved Eric’s life – which he believes is worth the price of a driveway.

The next gift Sookie gets off Eric is the cranberry coat. So what does she do about that, I wonder. Shred it and post it back to him? Chuck a giant tantrum and tell him he makes her feel like a whore? Surprisingly, no:

He took my coat from me and held it while I slid into it.
His hands massaged my shoulders after I’d buttoned it.
“It fits well,” he said.
It didn’t take a mind reader to guess that he didn’t want to say any more about Mickey.
“You got my thank-you note?”
“Of course. Very, ah, seemly.”
Dead as a Doornail, p. 41

Sent him a thank you note? That’s not something I read all the time in fanfiction. It’s nice to see that the campaign for secret-Bill fangirls is so damn successful. When it comes to the driveway and the coat, she’s been nothing but nice, and with the coat, she sent him a thank you note. So far we haven’t seen any temper tantrums. She didn’t even try to give back the cheque for $50,000 – but that was for work and protection done – and she more than earned it. She wasn’t actually required to keep Eric at her house – he’s not her ward. I don’t count that as a gift. Even if I did, she didn’t give it back.

Next gift is calendar. Sookie says she’s going to buy the calendar, and Eric offers to give her one for free – that must mess with her independent streak, and she’d no doubt demand that she pay for it herself, right? Or not:

“If you promise to keep it open to my picture, I’ll give you one for free,” Eric promised.
“You got a deal.”
Dead as a Doornail, p. 294

Okay, well maybe she didn’t act like a raving lunatic over that one. That’s not the ordinary reaction in fanfic, but hey. Let me remind you that this is Eric, big spender. She says she’s going to buy three calendars, and he gives her one free. Truly – getting a car out of that guy at that stage would be nigh on impossible. You’d be lucky to get one free tire. But maybe the fanfic dreams of cars only count after he gets his memory back – before that, he thinks she drives a top of the line Jaguar, right? Riiiight.

Well, surely, if Eric wanted to pay for her work clothes, she’d stand up and demand that he not put her down. She’d demand some stupid and complicated explanation from Eric as to why she can’t dip into her non-existent savings herself, right? You know you’ve read that stupidity – cause I certainly have. That stupidity vs. the reality of canon:

But Eric added, “Sookie, you wouldn’t need these clothes if it wasn’t for the trip.
I’ve called your friend’s store and you have credit there. Use it.”
I could feel my cheeks redden. I felt like the poor cousin until he added,
“The staff has an account at a couple of stores here in Shreveport, but that would be inconvenient for you.” My shoulders relaxed, and I hoped
he was telling the truth.
All Together Dead,
p. 18

So she blushes because she doesn’t want to be called poor in front of a room of vampires. This is a normal feeling for poor people. It’s embarrassing to have no money – in this meritocracy, the pervasive belief is that people want to be poor – and that’s why they’re poor. The young girl who can’t afford college is ameliorated because it’s not that college is too expensive – it’s that she doesn’t want it enough. So everyone believes not that it’s the failing of social welfare and the capitalist system, but rather, the poor girl is too lazy to want to do better. That shit has sold millions upon billions of crapshoot books like The Secret and motivational speakers around the world. But being poor is still embarrassing, particularly if Eric is handing out charity to you in front of the room at large. Since Eric is smart enough to either make out that he’s not, or to assuage her pride, then a blush can hardly be said to be an extreme reaction. Even if he was insulting her to the room at large, blushing is not an assault to the eyes to the point that it would infuriate Eric in its rudeness. And if it did, he should get the fuck over himself.

May I also point out that when Sookie went shopping at Tara’s Togs, like she predicted would happen with Bill, Tara thought that Sookie was whoring herself out to Eric. Even Alcide thought that Sookie was whoring herself out to Eric for the money to fix her kitchen.¬† So despite the fact that secret-Bill fangirls love the idea of Sookie being embarrassed and shamed – yeah – that’s what happens to poor girls. It’s assumed that Sookie isn’t earning it for the telepathy she’s known by the entire town to have – she must be earning it on her back. It’s not so socially acceptable to go out with vampires in the first place, let alone the entire town thinking that you’re doing it to buy pretty things.

I think that Sookie was right to refuse the account at Bill’s strip mall. Firstly, it wasn’t really a gift – it was the laziest excuse for a gift I’ve ever seen. Telling Sookie to go to the shop and pick out her own stuff is not a gift in my eyes. I would have refused it as well. And no matter how well intentioned Bill was (and I think he was – he’s just used to dealing with women like Selah who don’t mind if it looks like they’re using him – because they actually are) I don’t think it’s worth it to be called Bill’s whore for a fucking haircut and a fancy dinner. That would have affected Bill just as much – to be thought that he’s come to town to prey on girls and corrupt good girls like Sookie and turn them into his whores – that one would have done him no PR favours.

But back to Sookie and her tantrums – or her supposed tantrums as spread by secret-Bill fangirls who want her to look like – and more importantly – feel like a whore. It’s important that when a girl is given a gift, it’s successful if it makes her feel like shit apparently. Christmas should be like a merry old punishment. So how did she react to the door and the cell phone after the Las Vegas Takeover? Like this:

It had come from Fangtasia. Huh. As soon as the truck had wheeled back out to
Hummingbird Road, I opened the package. It was a red cell phone.
It was programmed to my number. There was a note with it.
“Sorry about the other one, lover,” it read. Signed with a big “E”.
There was a charger included. And a car charger, too.
And a notice that my first six months’ bill had been paid.
With a kind of bemused feeling, I¬†heard another truck coming. I didn’t even bother to move from the front porch. The new arrival was from the
Shreveport Home Depot. It was a new front door, very pretty,
with a two-man crew to install it.
All charges had been taken care of.
I wondered if Eric would clean out my dryer vent.

From Dead to Worse,
p. 189

Truly, an epic tantrum. She’s all bemused and wondering if Eric will do everything. I can’t see any kicking and ringing Eric and leaving nasty messages, refusing the men to put the door up. Maybe it’s in the subtext if I take hallucinogens. Or if I’m a secret-Bill fangirl, I can superimpose it onto the Eric situation to get some justice for Bill. Have all the Eric fangirls feel Bill’s pain.

But surely, Sookie wouldn’t take a damn thing from Eric, right? Of course she does. And she even asks for stuff only Eric can give her:

I thought of the provocative picture of Eric as Mr. January in the “Vampires of
Louisiana” calendar. I liked the one he’d given me even more.
I wondered if I could get a poster-sized blowup.
He laughed when I asked him. 

Dead and Gone,
p. 181

Not only that, but she willingly accepts all kinds of gifts from Eric – that are not extravagant showers of overkill, and are a little more thoughtful than “have at my store credit”. Eric actually thinks about what Sookie would like, and gives her something she loves:

Eric had given me my bag as a Christmas gift, and I really, really liked it.
My initials were embroidered on it, and it was red with blue and gold flowers.
In fact, it coordinated with the coat he’d given me the year before,
the coat I didn’t need this unseasonably warm night.

Two Blondes,
p. 13

So she uses it and loves it. I’m sure she really appreciated it, even though she didn’t get it on Christmas. Not to mention, that rather than the classic gift of fanfic cars, Eric’s gifts tend to be the gifts of a lover, rather than a Daddy:

Eric sat on the stool in front of my vanity table, and I threw on a robe
he’d given me, a beautiful peach-and-white silk one.
Dead in the Family, p. 160

She’s all calling it beautiful and wearing it. Not stomping on it and throwing a tantrum. This is the only time she’s come close to refusing a gift from Eric. The one and only time:

“We’ll make love. I feel like buying you a present.”
“That sounds like a great night to me,” I said, feeling a surge of hope.
“I don’t need a present, just you.”
Dead in the Family, p. 245

Apparently, that should have been a cue for some of the golddiggers readers to present Eric with their internet shopping wish list. I thought it was a nice thing to say. I would say that to my husband – that I need him, not stuff. Mainly because I care about spending time with my husband, rather than him spending time shopping for things for me. But then I didn’t marry him because I want stuff – I married him because I love him and wanted to spend my life with him. Maybe some girls are different, and will whore themselves out for a price.

Oh, and just for the fullness of discussion, because they’ll always find a way around it to say that Sookie is really evil. Verbatim what she said about moving in together, which is unsurprisingly tantrum free, secret-Bill fangirls:

“Did you think that since we made whoopee and you said I was yours,
I’d want to quit work and keep house for you? Eat candy all day,
let you eat me all night?” Yep, that was it. His face confirmed it.
I didn’t know how to feel. Hurt? Angry? No, I’d had enough of all that
today. I couldn’t pump another strong emotion to the surface
if I had all night. “Eric, I like to work,” I said mildly.

Dead and Gone,
p. 175

No mention of the phrase “kept woman” at all in that situation. That phrase is only used when she’s talking to Bill about the account at the store. So it’s the secret-Bill fangirls confusing what Bill is doing with what Eric is doing. Sookie doesn’t make one mention of the “kept woman” thing past her conversation with Bill. Rather, she tells Eric mildly that she likes to work. What a raving psychotic. Anyone would think this was some sort of hardship for Eric – his wife likes to work instead of keeping house, cooking dinner and caring for their children – three essential services for the life of any vampire, I’m sure. The truth is Eric likes to work – he has worked for months straight at a time. Those envisioning that if Sookie quit work and did as they want, Eric would just hang around all night fucking her – that’s not going to happen. Sookie would be alone for probably twenty hours per day – including weekends – while Eric works at Fangtasia and is Sheriff of Area Five. I know it’s envisioned that she could go into Fangtasia, but he doesn’t just sit there staring at the wall. He has an office for a reason.

So next time you read that Sookie is terrible at receiving gifts – you’ll know it’s a secret-Bill fangirl, campaigning for better treatment for their favourite vampire, and for Bill to have the right to treat Sookie how he wants – even if it makes her feel like a whore, and makes other people think she’s his whore. As for Eric, she’s yet to throw the stupid tantrums I see her throwing in fanfic – or to refuse any one of his gifts.