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Sookie Stackhouse A Feminist Icon?

Posted on the 24 September 2011 by Eric And Sookie Lovers @EricSookieLover

Sookie Stackhouse A Feminist Icon?I found this article and thought it was interesting and wanted to share it with you.

A blogger from BitchMagazine.com, has written an article about how feminist icons get to be icons? She uses Sookie Stackhouse as an example. We thought it might be interesting to see what you think about this. Is Sookie an icon? What makes her character the perfect example of an icon in the feminist movement? Obviously, they base this off the books, since Sookie on True Blood is anything but a feminist icon – more like a damsel in distress, but let’s see what they have to say!

This is what they said…

The Sookie Stackhouse novels, as they are also known, are premised on the idea that the world is full of supernatural beings—shapeshifters, fairies, and so forth—of which only vampires are open to humans about their existence, as of two years before the novels’ start. Sookie meets her first vampire, Bill, in the course of her work as a waitress in her small Louisiana town. She’s drawn quickly and irrevocably into the supernatural world, enduring frequent fights for her life. The novels aren’t exactly heavy; they’re a fun read, full of sex and wonder. (That’s not a critique: I’m not a fan of hierarchies of culture.)

Charlaine Harris, born in 1951, has been writing mystery novels for over twenty years. One of my favorite things about the novels is that Harris has social justice concerns threaded right through their base. It’s refreshing to have queer characters as a norm, and Harris draws parallels between the treatment of her vampires and queer people. Many fantasy novels which try to address race do so by replacing non-white people with supernatural beings. Harris is unusual for having both groups feature in her novel, often overlapping, and not shying away from the snarls of complications that play out there.

Sookie’s a disabled character who isn’t framed as pathetic, but as sexy and bright. It’s a really nice change.

I like Sookie a lot. She’s a down to earth young woman on the edges of worlds, one she doesn’t quite understand yet, and one in which she’s shunned. She’s not highly educated, and she’s not stupid, and she makes this very evident when people sneer at her position as a waitress. She’s a Christian, and it’s very interesting to me to see how she reflects on that faith in the light of a situation and changing world such as are rapidly throwing around new challenges to her faith. Sookie is quick-thinking and practical, proud and independent.

The thing I like best about Sookie is that I can identify with her as a disabled woman. Disabled main characters are a rarity, and women who aren’t bitter or resentful about their disabilities are even less common. Sookie is a telepath who experiences her condition, and the social position into which it thrusts her, as disabling. Her telepathy is important to the plot, and her identity as disabled is handled respectfully. How often do you encounter a plot with supernatural elements and disability that doesn’t involve a Magical Cure storyline? This is why it really annoyed me when, in the TV series, True Blood, Sookie says that she used to think of it her telepathy as a sort of disability as though that would be a bad thing. Sookie’s a disabled character who isn’t framed as pathetic, but as sexy and bright. It’s a really nice change.

Sookie is sexual, and not, on her own terms—well, mostly—and she stands up for herself. She tells her by then ex-lover Bill that “Those words are not a magical formula” when he hurts her and then tells her he loves her. However, there are times when Sookie has had to ingest vampire blood in order to use its regenerative properties to survive injury. The effect of this is to give the donating vampire knowledge of her emotions forever, and to induce sexual attraction. This is a stark illustration of the frequent denial of agency to Sookie in the books. A few books in, her goal is simply not to get beaten up for a while, which is just awful. I admire the way Sookie handles herself while she is subject to the whims of more powerful people for so much of the time, and I find that this is the situation in which she has been placed really disturbing.

The Sookie Stackhouse books are fun and thought-provoking by turns. I can’t claim to understand precisely why vampire novels have such a grip on the publishing industry right now, but I like these books. I’ll be interested to see where Sookie ends up on the feminist stage.

I never thought of Sookie as a feminist before…but this blogger made some great points! Sookie does tend to take things as they come and doesn’t dwell on things. Mostly she complains about things in her own mind. She is willing to accept what happens to her, for the most part. I think most of us like Sookie because she’s so down to earth and still manages to look at her world in a humorous light. She is clearly a strong character and the core of her hasn’t changed throughout the series. She still loves her friends and family, is loyal and strong, a fighter and willing to do things to help others out.

There is, however, one part of this article I don’t agree with…the blood bond or exchange doesn’t induce sexual attraction per se, it only amplifies what’s already there!

What do you think? Do you think Sookie is a feminist? Or, do you disagree with this article? Share your thoughts below!


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