I was asked about this by a_dreamt_theme and I was thinking about the oft-used supposed compliment to writers – one that I don’t think would be a compliment at all if readers had clarity of thinking. That’s the idea that evoking strong emotions towards a character actually means that the story is good. And let’s be plain here, the strong emotions are always towards Sookie. Eric could rip off Sookie’s head and shit down her neck, and reviewers would feel sorry for poor fucking Eric because he had to rip off the love of his life’s head and shit down her neck. I’ve read stories where Sookie is beaten and raped, and reviewers, well they feel real sorry for Eric. They say so. Sookie’s pain is no-nevermind and reviewers don’t even mention it. Because they’re far too concerned with what’s happened to Eric.
It’s not actually a compliment to authors that they elicit strong feelings and rage at Sookie – take a quick stroll through reviews – see how many of them have anything positive to say about her, or feel sorry for her. See how many reviewers, by the same measure, say anything bad about Eric, too. Usually it takes the author bashing Sookie to the point that they uninvest people in the story altogether to get people to protest Sookie’s treatment. And then it’s only because usually, that means there’s no sex in the fic. In one story I can think of, the reviewers became sick of how much bashing Sookie had taken…after she’d been tortured for a week, raped, degraded, abducted and beaten three times and all of that on top of canon (it was a canon fic set after DAG). I could write the shittiest piece of crap, and as long as I mistreat Sookie enough – because let’s not be mistaken here, it’s the author doing it – then I can get reviews telling me I’m a Queen of fanfic, and I have it “down”.
Whence comes the avatar, and my general assertion. In this community, if you’ve created sympathy for Sookie over Eric’s feelings about things, you’ve really done something well. If your story relies on sympathy for poor widdle Eric the manbaby, then honey, you are shooting fish in a barrel. Eric has raped women in fics, thrown women to the floor in fics, beaten women, threatened children, bullied small people, hurt pregnant women, killed people and killed Sookie, terrorised innocent people, abandoned Sookie physically and emotionally – and still reviewers eat him up. He has done the identical thing to Bill – drained and raped Sookie – because she wasn’t coherent enough to give consent and didn’t do so out loud to him, and still they eat him up. He doesn’t even need to apologise – in a pinch he needs to justify it, but often he doesn’t need to do jack. They will even bash Sookie in the reviews if she doesn’t understand Eric’s inexplicable need to be a giant arseknuckle.
Here’s an example of what I’m referring to – and it’s a generalised one. But in the relationship struggles often written in fanfic, there’s all kinds of consideration for Eric, because he’s a thousand years old and wants to do it his way. I don’t think I’ve seen it often written in reviews that they should do it Sookie’s way, or any consideration of her relative youth. No consideration for her there – she needs to fall in line with the program and “mature” (read do what she’s told like she’s a child – this is mature apparently – by God I hope I never grow up). Sookie is supposed to take into consideration the stress of having Appius bring trouble into Eric’s life. Riiiight. Like Sookie had so much consideration paid to her when Niall brought trouble into her life. Lol. Right. That kind of consideration. I do believe Sookie got bashed six ways from Sunday for not doing it right. Sookie got TORTURED and the sympathy was for Eric, who merely got burned everywhere by silver, and could walk around after his ordeal. Book Eric felt bad for Sookie, but not the fangirls. That was when Sookie needed to think about fucking Eric, and how much pain he was in over her torture.
So why is it this way? Why is there such a misogynistic leaning in this fandom full of women?
There are seven main reasons I can discern. The first one is Alan Ball. Thank you fucknuckle number one. Alan Ball’s show – wherein all the power is sucked out of women – appeals to a lot of women who think that they need to do as they’re told by guys. You can read the fics, wherein reviewers and the writer grovel after Eric. I’ve actually looked at some of this shit and thought I should get myself abs and a big dick, and I could have these stupid women worshipping me on their knees. I’m pretty sure that’s pretty much all it would take, and I could be ruler of a lot of stupid, stupid women. But that requires me to want to have something to do with these women, and fuck that. So of course, there’s going to be an influx of women who love the world view that women are powerless, and mostly there for fucking. Like Yvetta the cardiologist fucking in the basement for six hours.
He’s given a new offshoot to wholly ridiculous sex as well for women. For example, the moving at vampire speed? Yeah, they tried that with sex machines (as in dildos attached to machines) and found out that there is a speed at which the friction becomes too much, and the woman is seriously damaged. Some of the women who had goes on the early machines suffered from vaginal prolapse and serious internal damage. Six hours in the basement? Oh Yvetta would be a bloody stump of waist, that’s what she’d be. Not to mention the amount of blood running down the necks of the women (because have we seen any men barring Lafayette bitten – for punishment I might add?) would also seriously disable them. So now we have women who don’t know much about anatomy and their own bodies writing crap that would get them seriously hurt or dead if they tried it. But yay? Now they actually want to do things that damage them and encourage other women to want that too because they write about such shit.
As much as there’s a whole heap of people who protest it, most of them protest not that AB has gotten Sookie wrong – more that AB has gotten Eric wrong. That Eric from the books would never be the kind of guy to be cruel, mean and hurtful – he’s an all round swell love interest who happens to be an immortal killer. Of course, these same readers protest that CH gets Eric wrong. It couldn’t be their reading comprehension – it’s everyone else that has it wrong. The truth is that the same shit they see in the books is seen as “justifiable” becomes less forgivable when you have to actually watch people being abused and traumatised. The “right” of Eric to disregard humans in general becomes less palatable when you have to see it actually acted out. True Blood, like the early books has substantially less Eric and Sookie fucking than is written in the majority of fanfic. Week after week we have to see Eric being generally cruel, mean and hurtful – it can’t be skipped over and justified as understandable, so instead, we get lots of writers thinking that Sookie running her mouth means she deserves to get hurt.
Of course, there are still elements that appeal to these women. Franklin Mott has quite the fangirl following himself. Tara’s trauma over being raped, kidnapped and traumatised was boring, but Franklin was an amusing little guy with his fast texting fingers. I daresay that if that was written in fanfic, some reviewers would question why Tara didn’t just go along with it – who wouldn’t want to be with an erotomaniacal stalker whose fixated on you? You should go along with the plan if the guy in question is handsome….oh, you just know these chicks? They would have gone with Ted Bundy even after his arraignment, the tards.
So despite the fact that lots of women protest True Blood, the reality is that they fall in line with those ideas. They don’t watch with any critical analysis in their heads – they just eat it up and deify Eric some more. They like seeing women in lesser positions and doing what they’re told – because after all, that’s what appeals to them about the show. Sookie knows her proper place as Bill’s little bitch, and they can’t wait for next season when she’s Eric’s little bitch. They write a whole heap of fanfic where Eric justifies putting Sookie in the basement as “helpful” and then comes the boning. But it’s more than just the influence of Alan Ball, and the sorts of women that he brings to the fandom, because not all of the women come from the True Blood audience.
The second reason, I think is that it’s entirely possible that that’s what fanfiction does – draws a whole bunch of women that think Sookie should not be having needs that don’t conform with what the guys in her life want. All those with feminist leanings are happy as larks with the original books, and thus, don’t need to “improve them” by re-writing them so that Sookie is a secondary character to Eric’s peen which has a character all of its own, and even features in more paragraphs of discussion than what Sookie does at work. There are some writers who keep to the idea that Sookie and Pam are valid people who are perfectly entitled to be pissed off with people, but I review – sometimes it feels like love sonnets – to tell them so, and well, I just don’t review as much as I read.
But others don’t think that Sookie is particularly valid as a person. The phenomenon of “Smarter Sookie” is really just Sookie who does as men tell her in fanfic. Her own needs and desires are relegated to the backburner thanks to what men want. Usually that man is Eric, but sometimes it can be Bill. Sookie’s smarts don’t come from internally – they come from the man who’s playing her new Daddy and also fucking her – which to my mind, is not what Daddies should actually do. “Smarter Sookie” if advertised should rightfully be advertised as “Sookie who does as she’s told by a guy”.
I’m all for Eric or Bill taking on the paternal role in the books – but they have to trade off the thing they enjoy about being her equal – and that’s fucking her. That’s where paternalism gets really conflicted, when the desires of the Dad conflict with the desires of the self. Someone said to me by PM that Sookie should really listen to Eric or Bill like she listened to Gran – because they’re older, and deserve respect. But the reality is that Gran had Sookie’s best interests at heart. Eric and Bill do not, or they would have used their copious amounts of money to get her the hell away from vampires. No, they both have their own interests at heart as well. They’ll help as long as it helps them also. Neither of them is going to buy her a ticket to some sunny island so she can live out her dreams because she’d be away from them. So they don’t get the blanket pass that Gran does.
But a whole heap of women don’t see it that way. The aim of the fanfic is to take away every ounce of power that Sookie has. There’s one fic I read, where Sookie didn’t leave the house for three weeks, and when she did, it was into a car that she only left for a few minutes, had bodyguards trained on her every move (men of course) and then back home again. She later went on a plane, but that was okay, because her adversary was a woman. Then back home again. I suspect that Sookie in that fic won’t be leaving the house any time soon. If she does, well, she’ll have a contingent of men following her around and checking her. That’s just one particularly bad example, but there are countless others where Sookie stays at home and hears only about the wider world when Eric tells her she’s got to keep away from it some more. Seriously – it’s the fanfic version of Boxing Helena.
It’s not just her freedom that’s taken away from her – in the books Sookie doesn’t have much stuff, but she has a modicum of freedom to live – but one of the principle things that they take away – the littlest right – is the right to complain about all this paternalism. Sookie’s not allowed to be pissed off if Eric “manages her life” – she should instead be happy. Eric’s declaration of ownership is taken as true, and she should do as she’s told. I would personally like to see a note from these writers’ dads/husbands/boyfriends/brothers that they have a right to post fanfiction on the internet, but that’s just me. If they want to propose the idea that women should seek permission to live their lives in a story, I think they should live that for at least a day.
Lots of readers complain that Sookie made allowances for Bill she didn’t make for Eric. Possibly that could be that Eric is her boyfriend’s boss, and Bill is her boyfriend while all this is going on. Sookie broke up with Bill for a reason – and I’d rather not see her with Bill Mark II. No one complains that Sookie is all up in Victor’s grill when she should make the same allowances for him as she does for Eric. But any actual problem she has with Eric is relegated to “Oh, she’s blaming him for her Bill problems” and then demanding that she turn over all free will to Eric, like he’s been her best mate all these years – presumably particularly when he said he wanted to kill her – yeah, that one’s all on Bill. *rolls eyes hard*
The whole idea that Sookie is obligated to a man because he likes her is faulty and insulting. Sam likes her – he’s liked her longer than Bill and Eric have – he’s given her more jobs that don’t involve getting half killed, and protection just for protection’s sake than Eric ever has. Not only that, but Sam’s protection of Sookie is way better than Eric’s has been. When he offers it, Sam comes through with his protection – like in the graveyard near Bill’s, or at the Were War as a lion. Under Sam’s care, Sookie hasn’t been injured as badly as when Eric is ostensibly protecting Sookie – and he’s never sold her into danger (Dallas anyone?). So should he be top of the pantheon of men who get the most consideration? I mean, that’s the same argument used for Eric, so maybe Sam should positively benefit from that puppy.
Sookie is portrayed as so weak by these writers she can’t even manage a pregnancy on her own, or raising children. She physically cannot be left alone with anything, because she’ll kill herself or it – even if it’s a harsh desert lizard. With the prolific nature of fics with kids in them, Sookie is now also ordered around by her own children. I don’t just mean bossy kids (like my beloved Ooshka’s Home series – reeead eet) but I’m talking kids who give her input on who she’s allowed to date, what she’s allowed to do, what Daddy (or even not-yet Daddy) Eric has said he wants from her. It’s no longer enough for just Amelia and Pam to order her around – three year olds do it, and Sookie just doesn’t say boo about it. She is literally at the lowest rung of the hierarchy, with even children telling her what to do all the time. It’s particularly worrying when I see this happening from writers who are mothers – for the sake of their own real life kids, God help them.
There is an undercurrent as well – and I’ve actually read this one explicitly stated – that women ‘gave up power’ when they did for themselves. No longer does Sookie get to buy her own car, she can now use her vagina to get one from Eric. Never mind that Sookie might feel pride in earning it on her feet – she should submit control to Eric and earn it on her back, even if it makes her ashamed and makes her feel worthless. Often, though she’s just over the moon about being the new Stepford Fucktoy. The whole car storyline has become a tired cliché – instead of Sookie saying it’s all she can afford, and that being the end of it, now Sookie is forced to admit that her best efforts to buy herself something pale in comparison to Eric’s efforts to buy her something. There is nothing Sookie can actually do for herself – not buy things, not clean things, not work, not play, not even masturbate herself, but Eric can do it better.
The third reason is a sociological one that I’ve observed. As I’ve spoken about before, I like making sociological observations of the fanfic phenomena. I’ve noticed in fics wherein all of the characters dogpile Sookie – I could give you hundreds of examples, and I’m sure you’ve read one yourself – the reviewers, like the unthinking social animals they are, dogpile as well. I’ve been watching the dynamic closely, and I’ve finally seen a pattern. Usually there’s Pam, Amelia, Eric, and miscellaneous other characters all telling Sookie’s she’s all wrong and can’t do anything right. It will often go on for chapters, and in a few fics, it’s a downright theme.
Reviewers of those fics don’t look at what the characters are really saying, but rather tear shreds off Sookie along with the group. They don’t stand back and tut at the author for doing such nasty things – because this is the subtext of women who have low opinions of themselves – but they join in. For some of the reviewers, it’s the not thinking, but for others I suspect it’s a complex form of hatred – borne of the idea that either they don’t have a perfect bully like the Eric, who can fuck for days; or borne of a complex hatred of themselves and their own ways of doing things.
The fourth reason is that there are about ten prolific reviewers – I’ve seen them around the traps for a while now – and they all apparently hate Sookie with a fiery passion. They never write positive reviews about her. The only time they do review is when they get to tell her off. I’ve watched them with fics – they review all the chapters where they can spew their hate at her and when she’s no longer doing anything they can pick on her for, they just stop reviewing. They don’t ever review anything positive about her, at all. Usually, they just troll around fics venting their Sookie hatred. When they can find an opening, they spew long diatribes of how worthless she is – nothing else. They positively don’t leave any other kinds of reviews.
Because some reviewers are unthinking social animals, they dogpile that as well. They read the reviews of those reviewers, and have a merry old time taking their anger out on Sookie and blaming her for all the social ills, or the emotional ills of Eric the manbaby. They agree with X, Y and Z because really, they don’t think about anything at all. They’re following what everyone else said, because they don’t want anyone to think badly of them. If I were to write a fic that would be something they would read (and they all read fics with ESN in them so I’m safe) I’d probably just ban the infamous reviewers just in case and stop them reviewing. But then, I don’t give a shit about review numbers.
The fifth reason is that Eric – the real character – isn’t such a nice guy. Writing him as such is brave, and doesn’t win you friends, and might not get you to the 1000 Viking club. Now, I’m not talking about the Eric of fanfic who often behaves like an arse, and promptly apologises to Sookie the next chapter, and then she admits she was wrong too (cause Sookie’s got to be wrong as well) and then he does something sweet and overly romantic. I’m talking about the Eric that squeezed his wife’s hand hard, talked to his possible future wife in his current wife’s lounge room and bit her to make her cry – with one apology to go with all that shitty behaviour, one mealy mouth explanation and one self-righteous justification.
In truth, there just aren’t that many writers in fanfic who are good enough to keep the interest of readers if they do that. Their writing just plain old isn’t good enough, and readers will soon lose heart with the character. For all the shit of they’re better than CH, they’re really not – because she has readers still invested in the couple, despite the fact that Eric is clearly a giant arse at times. Even readers who supposedly haven’t liked the last couple of books are still invested in the couple and want to see them overcome problems in Dead Reckoning and be together. Most fanfic writers are not of that calibre, and I review the ones that get close, partly because they are brave enough to be daring. Fanfic should be daring – good writing usually is.
Usually, what they tend to do is write Eric as supported by all the characters as the perfect paradigm of male perfection. They can’t possibly do anything else, but they have to bash Sookie to do that – and get her to comply with Eric the manbaby. In a few of the fics, he’s seen as so perfect, and he bashes Sookie so much, I have hoped that Sookie would die her way out of the relationship. As someone said to me recently, when it’s gone that far, it must be a giant trainwreck. And so it is, because if I think death is better for Sookie than being with that version of fanfic Eric, then surely, you’re fucking up big time. I like Eric as he is, and Sookie as she is – but I love Sookie the most. But there have been a few SVM writers who write such a weak doormat version of Sookie, that I have wished she would just die and get free of the monster that is Eric.
There was one such fic that had so much Sookie bashing – chapter upon chapter of it – that in the end, I just wanted Sookie to die. When her life was at risk, I had hoped she’d die her way out of it, rather than submit her pride, personality and self esteem – what there was of it left at that stage – which wasn’t much. It wasn’t to be though, and the writer wrote it until Sookie resembled a fine goo of nothing, and was subject to Eric’s desires and wholly alienated from every other character. The Sookie bashers had a fine old time tearing shreds off her in reviews, and then finally, all the other people who read the story (and it haemorrhaged readers at one point and had quite a few protest reviews) had to be bought off with about five chapters of constant sex scenes and then overly romantic goop that directly contradicted the first half of the story. It was so bad that SPOV just aped EPOV over how worthless she was, because she was just a reflection of Eric’s desires. There was no “SPOV” to speak of – it was SEPOV at best. I bonded with a few people over wanting Sookie to die her way free – I usually get a few PMs about that sort of fic, because some readers know I will share their disgust.
Unfortunately, just before a new book is when these sorts of stories spike. That’s because readers have had a whole year of immersing themselves in fanfic and forgetting that Eric ever did anything wrong at all. They remember the fake fanfic Eric, who has distorted their view of real Eric. That’s what also leads to the abrupt fall of grace that Eric has when every new book that comes out. As I’ve mentioned before, these readers don’t really like Eric – they like the fake fanfic St. Eric. Real Eric is just too nasty for them, despite their protestations that they are his fangirls.
An extension of this is hating on Bill, Quinn and Sam. Sookie’s personality is undercut because she has to be a fool to have anything to do with these men. Despite the fact that Bill has been Sookie’s boyfriend for longer than Sookie has been Eric’s wife, he’s written off. That then rubs off on Sookie’s personality, because what sort of an idiot would love Bill anyway. I myself have gotten heartily sick of Bill-hating fic, and it stops me reviewing, because really, that’s having a go at Sookie herself. She’s not smart enough to see that oily, small Bill was really gross next to every other member of the vampire race. Same too with Quinn and Sam hating. Bill, Quinn and Sam aren’t as bad as they are made out to be in hating fic (which in my opinion wastes far too much storytime on the hating and becomes fucking boring) but because their faults are exacerbated in fic, Sookie is by extension an idiot for not noticing that she was picking a turd up from the gutter.
The sixth reason is again, related to the fact that some fanfic writers just aren’t good enough. They often don’t have the skills to write a good story – they can’t work out how you do things. Most stories follow a curve, one of opening, the trigger for action, the development of the story, the climax and then the close. If you could imagine it (as I do) as a gentle hill. But I’ve read fanfics where the story just keeps going through climax after climax. In order to do that – as I mentioned above, they pack far too much shit into their stories. Long after they should have controlled themselves, they keep packing shit into it. This is usually angst (read Sookie is wrong a lot) genre fics – where they keep piling in the problems because they can’t figure out how to get themselves out of various holes in their writing.
As you can see with CH, even though she has the main plot and a sub plot or two, they all follow that pattern. So in Living Dead in Dallas, the main plot is the trip to Dallas, and the sub plots are Lafayette’s murder and Bill and Sookie’s relationship. Those three strands of story all follow that curve. But in fanfic, all of the action is usually between Eric and Sookie, so they break up and have fights – in a 30 chapter fic – five to six times, which is just too much. It’s particularly bad when the angst fic is also a romance fic. It’s plain old bad writing, and unfortunately, some betas don’t seem to understand story structure, so they don’t tell writers because they don’t know either.
Particularly with angst, there is a desire to write that genre in particular because the writer doesn’t have an ordinary story they can enthral readers with, and their characterisation is bland. So they chuck in six thousand things that Sookie does wrong, so they can finally fix her after umpteen chapters. Sookie might daringly leave the house, or she might not comply with Eric’s rules. She might look at another man, and there’s chapter after chapter of her getting rapped over the knuckles for her being friendly with Sam, Bill, Quinn, Jason, and probably a few other guys. They’re the main ones.
Usually, she just does nothing much, and all of Eric’s problems stem from her either lack of compliance, or her lack of thought. She has to do something wrong, because without it, the writer hasn’t got much. It’s a good sleight of hand, because no one notices that Sookie is an empty vessel. Sookie in this fic can get so bland as to be a complete stereotype – the something-or-rather “Southern belle” or “lady”. Sookie in the books has never called herself a Southern belle, and the only “lady” she was was in the Lady Falcons Softball team. She doesn’t refer to herself as such. Ever. So with Sookie as the empty vessel, there needs to be something going on to distract the readers from that.
There’s also that not many readers read Eric and OC fic. I know I’m not interested in reading a dressed up version of the author sharing their personal fantasy of fucking Askars, but most other readers are heavily invested in Eric and Sookie. Therefore, if you want to get your fic read, then you write Sookie. Some of those writers hate Sookie’s guts, or are maybe jealous of her. They tend to suck all personality traits out of her – and seriously, Sookie as the empty vessel is huge – and sometimes insert their own rather nasty personality traits. As I’ve mentioned before, this is something that happens quite a bit. Of course, the hate should rightfully be reinterpreted as “The author sucks” but that’s not how reviewers see it.
The seventh and last reason is lack of knowledge about subject matter. Fanfic writers tend to be amateur, and for some of them, they don’t understand what it is they’re writing about. So one of the oft-used things is rape as a story device, without any actual understanding of rape. That’s where writers write about rape to get people in and cause they think it causes good angst. Usually, they’re so amateur they don’t know what the hell they’re doing so they fuck it up. Not only do they upset real rape victims (because they often don’t put trigger warnings, because they don’t understand the nature of rape so badly) but also, they give false information to other amateur reviewers who kindly pass that shit along. Lots of crap is said by reviewers which just furthers the hatred towards Sookie in other fics. If you’re one of those reviewers, and you haven’t seen a trigger warning on the top of the chapter – and it is explicitly called such – you can probably assume that writer knows diddly squat about rape and shouldn’t be writing about it.
This is a particularly bad thing to do, because there are real rape victims suffering because they happened on a story, or real victims of child abuse that happened upon a story, entitled only “angst” or “with dark themes” and the writer so kindly gives them flashbacks and fucks it up completely. I have spoken about all these problems over and over. Some reviewers then take that writer’s account as realistic, when it is not in fact, realistic. Sookie doesn’t show any of the signs of realism in rape in the fic at all. So that just contributes to Sookie getting no sympathy whatsoever in other stories, because readers just don’t get it. A good writer doesn’t deal with these things without prior knowledge of them from a personal level, or a professional level, or at least does extensive, sensitive research. A bad writer throws them in for the sake of plot devised angst. And they shouldn’t. It’s lazy, disrespectful, and stupid. It’s the height of bad amateur writing.
These are the seven signs of Sookie hate – what causes Sookie hate, what keeps it going round, and why some writers seem to draw it over and over again no matter what they write. It’s a combination of bad writing, poor comprehension, lack of understanding and lack of brains. If diligent enough, your average Sookie hater can get all four. Yay?