Rules and Living in Fear

This is a subject very near and dear to my heart, as one can imagine. I work all the time with risk assessment, risk management and fear of crime. It’s something that Sookie worries about as well, and it’s apparently something that readers of the series feel so strongly about that there is a whole swathe of fanfic designed to put Sookie in a gilded cage, or spank Sookie for not hopping in a gilded cage.

The majority of the Sookie bashing that gets under my skin is accusing Sookie the victim of crime of being responsible for that crime. None of the blame is put on Lochlan and Neave for torturing Sookie – no, it’s all Sookie bashing for not realising that Lochlan and Neave would torture her. I hate to break it to the audience, but torturers live among you too, as do murderers, rapists and paedophiles. Really, it sets a far higher standard for the individual victim to blame them to resist the absolute hordes of people eager to do the wrong thing.

I wonder how easily these people would give up their own lives for fear of crime. Firstly, it’s my duty to tell you that if you want to live in fear, you should stop all contact with others. Certainly, you should ditch close relationships. The people most likely to assault, maim or kill you are in fact people you know. Strangers aren’t as likely. By the preponderance of the statistics, you should stop speaking to men altogether. The rate of male offenders is so much higher than it is for female offenders. Get rid of the idea that you should spend your life with a man, or be friends with a man. If you’re a woman reading this, you’re most likely to have all of those things done by your male partner. Male acquaintances are also more likely to rape you. If you’re a man reading this, you’re also in danger from other men. They’re more likely to beat you to death.

So, ready to give up men? I mean, they are your greatest danger, even when they’re not vampires. Or perhaps you’re ready to give up relationships all together, with their inherent dangers?

No? I thought not.

You see, the fact of the matter is that us criminologists, we usually know our risks of crime. Yet, to apparent surprise, I still walk into shops with no security cameras despite the risk. Security cameras, by the way, are a risk management technique. Just their presence reduces crime by about a third. I still talk to men, I still have casual acquaintances, and I still piss my husband off. I don’t live my life in fear, because the reality is that opportunities for crime exist ABSOLUTELY EVERYWHERE. If I chose to live in fear, I might as well die, cause I certainly can’t fucking do anything.

So too it is with Sookie. Readers expect her to give up absolutely everything in order to be safe.  She can either choose to try to live some semblance of a normal life without living in constant fear – and living in fear is not sustainable in any real way – or she can cower frightened in her house. The idea that any of the assaults Sookie has endured could have been prevented by anything? Not possible. For example, the mere presence of Eric, older stronger vampire, and human neighbours did not prevent Mickey from attacking Sookie. People who wish to do you harm will actually come back later. Jerry Falcon did, right? They’ll wait until they find a way to get through to you.

Well, Sookie had a specific threat. Some readers think that that makes her blameworthy. That if she’d followed all of Eric’s rules, she would have been fine. Oh, well let me quote you Eric’s rules:

.

That’s right. He didn’t make any and I had to leave that space blank. He made suggestions. His exact words were:

“It might be a good idea for you to stay in Shreveport,” Eric said.
“You could even stay in my house.”

Dead and Gone, p.174
“You would be much safer if you left your job until this
problem with the fairies is resolved.”

Dead and Gone, 
p. 174
“I honor you with the invitation.”
Dead and Gone, 
p. 175

There aren’t any promises in “safer”. That’s not a guarantee. That’s risk assessment. So too with the idea that it’s a “good idea”. There’s no promises from Eric that he ensures her complete and total safety. If he did, he would have made those promises as he did later:

“And you are mine, and you will be mine. They will not get you.”
Dead and Gone,
p. 292

See that? That’s a promise that they won’t get you, not a risk assessment. Sometimes I ponder that statement myself. I mean, Eric is a great fighter, but he has no guarantee that he will in fact win. Any warrior who goes into action is full of bluster, but that doesn’t mean that this is an actual iron-clad guarantee of safety. If Sookie hadn’t had the guns with lemon juice and her grandmother’s trowel, Eric would have been a liar that night. If Bill and Tray hadn’t fought with their last, Sookie wouldn’t have been safe. Take them out of the equation, and Eric’s guarantee is crap. Eric’s good, but he’s not freaking psychic.

Eric can’t offer any guarantees to Sookie about her safety. I imagine it would have been a whole lot worse if Sookie was at Eric’s house when Neave and Lochlan attacked. They would have probably killed Eric. He wouldn’t have been lured into drinking poisoned blood, like Bubba was. So they would have had to kill Eric to get to Sookie, and that’s what they would have done. They’d been watching her for days. That’s of course, if they didn’t just take her during the day. Somehow, I don’t think fairies would have checked with the guard to the gate of Eric’s community. They’d have popped right into his living room with no wards, or distracted him for a second at Fangtasia (mucho easy).

Same too goes with the new demand that Sookie quit her job in the coming book, Dead Reckoning. Eric can’t actually give an iron clad guarantee that if Sookie quits her job, she’ll be unharmed. Eric can’t even guarantee that for himself, and he doesn’t even work at Merlotte’s. He can’t guarantee Pam’s safety leaving his house – or that having Pam with her will protect her at all. There are no guarantees that anyone is safe following Eric’s rules, and it could all go terribly pear-shaped.

As a person who’s done risk assessment at length, you know who Sookie should ditch if she wants to be safe?

ERIC.

Sookie should run far, far away from Eric, who brings with him loads of potential assassins. Before she met Eric, and when she was dating Bill, she only had guys like Rene Lenier to worry about, and other Fellowship sympathisers. Now that she’s with Eric, there’s Victor, who is not wanting a telepathic asset – but to kill Eric’s telepathic asset. There’s all manner of fangbangers I’m sure ready to attack her. There’s Eric’s business associates, and enemies that Eric makes himself. Hell, there’s even Eric and Pam themselves. If they don’t keep themselves under iron control after Sookie hugs Claude, they might actually kill her. If Eric doesn’t see a road hazard, and they get into a car accident, Eric will live. Sookie might not. If Eric doesn’t control his temper while fighting, the same result could end in Sookie’s death.

So before you diss all the victims of crime out there that can’t control the entire offending population and live in fear, consider that you should think twice before siding with Eric and his absolutely no guarantee safe set of “rules”.

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