The Slave Trade

This was something born out of an upcoming post that just ran away from me, about the differences between how male and female characters are treated, and it lead me to thinking about giving this particular issue its own post. There will be another one in a day or two on broader issues.

If we believe the most popular narrative at the moment, then Eric is currently a sex slave. He’s signed off by Appius, he’s married against his will, when he didn’t want to. And someone centuries younger will force him to have sex. So let’s assume that that is all true, and then explore that.

Is this The Simpsons’ light-hearted sexual slavery storyline?

Apu Wedding
After all, if you’ve watched as much of this show as I have (which consisted of a 17 day long 24/7 marathon of the stuff during the Olympics on my cable service, which my joyous sons wanted to watch for all hours of the day and night, and then nightly for years up to five episodes) then you’ll know that in this episode, called The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons, that Apu didn’t want to get married, but here he is – saying yes to an arranged marriage – which he does out of a sense of obligation to his parents and the deals they made. Is the comical Homer in a Ganesh costume really meant to be distracting us from the terrible rape scene to come?

This is essentially the suggestion that is made – that Eric’s marriage to Freyda is indeed, 200 years of sexual slavery. But it really wouldn’t be the first time that Eric has apparently abided by his sexual slavery. He did that when he was human too:

Aude was older. She had been my elder brother’s wife, and when he was killed in
battle, it fell to me to marry her so our families would still be bonded.
But I’d always liked her, and she was willing.

Dead and Gone, p. 87

So yet another marriage he was obligated to go through with because of family, and here he was raped for years until they had six children. Truly, this has just as much in common with his marriage with Freyda – it was arranged through custom. Possibly his Dad had something to say about it, possibly it’s just what you do. Except this particular sex slave relationship was for life, not a finite amount of time. So ostensibly, the sexual slavery he underwent in life was worse than what he faces now.

Of course, that’s not the only sexual slavery going on. Sometimes Sookie is the victim:

“Now that you and Eric are openly pledged,” Victor said in a silky voice…
“We’re what?
Dead and Gone, p. 41

Again, done without her consent, which makes all actions after that rape. She didn’t want to be married, she doesn’t like that they’re married, she points out that Eric made the commitment without talking to her. So this would be yet another instance of sexual slavery, right? Except that Eric is the offender instead of the victim.

I notice that Sookie’s slavery was met with joyous and amused laughter, and embraced wholeheartedly as a good and protective thing that Sookie should be happy about. She’s been bashed for not embracing her slavery to Eric more times than I can count. She should have piled on the shackles apparently. Eric’s is met with first indifference and then indignation. No one seems to have noticed Apu’s slavery. It was a pretty widely shown episode, and there’s nothing about it on Google, not even on the more extreme sites on the internet.

Now to be actually serious about this issue though. I don’t expect this to change any time soon. It has even provoked a response from CH. That Eric is a sex slave, and will be raped for hundreds of years. Well, as I pointed out in my previous post, he bargained for a whole heap of things when he married Freyda, up to and including Pam getting to be sheriff. He demanded specific things from Freyda too. What he didn’t actually try to stop was this supposed raping that would be going on. The rationale here is that he can make deals with Freyda that involve who he can ban from Sookie’s life, but he can’t put a limit on the whole sex thing? That Freyda would refuse to come to a compromise about sex, and break the whole deal, just so she could get with the raping, and Eric didn’t bother to fight it because well, I don’t know why. The underlying assumption that Eric wouldn’t want to have sex with Freyda, even if he didn’t deny she was beautiful when Sookie pointed it out.

Freyda certainly hasn’t shown any interest in forcing before. She seemed to want him to come to her – Eric tells us so:

“In the meantime, she calls me every week offering me a share of her kingdom if I’ll come to her.”
Dead Reckoning, p. 253

Freyda finally offered Eric enough inducements, and Eric finally wanted to avoid the bullshit that Felipe was going to punish him with. Certainly Appius could have forced Eric’s compliance, by using the blood bond, but Appius is long dead. He might have sold Eric into slavery, but that doesn’t mean that Eric is therefore a slave. Freyda certainly gives him a choice – as CH said, not a good choice – it’s that or punishment with Felipe, but that’s still a choice. There’s no forcing going on.

In fact, it occurred to me as I was reading Thyra’s post DEA fanfic that all Eric had to do to get out of his marriage with Freyda was to get someone to break his rules – to get someone to taste Sookie, as the prohibition stands. So not only did he not ask for help, but he didn’t even do the most rudimentary and least hurtful thing to get out of the contract with Freyda. Bill or Pam could have done it with Sookie’s consent, and then Sookie could have complained to Felipe and broken the whole deal – since she can’t be glamoured, she could lie and say she didn’t see who it was, and no punishment necessary for the vampire in question. The fact that Eric wasn’t willing to break the rules he made without serious damage tells me that not only is it a choice, it’s not even a fucking hard choice. Ain’t no slavery going on there.

I just had to say something because we all know how much I love fucking double standards. I know it’s a convenient peg to pin your hat on, without having to say that you’re raging because the suitor wars didn’t go right and look like an arse. I think it’s highly insulting, and truly hyperbolic. Most marriages are consummated, and broadening the term of rape to decide if the marriage is not the first choice, all future sex will be is stupid. If you truly believe that, then the sex scene in Dead and Gone was a fucking rape scene.