I too was acting out of character. For reasons I can't recall now I had been unable to watch June 29th's installation of True Blood when it aired that Sunday night at 9; that had me feeling out-of-sorts. Her text ramped up my anxiety. I flashed back to the Bill-centric scenes of seasons past that had left me feeling sucker-punched and deflated; when he fulfilled his penance the magister meted out by turning Jessica, his Jazz age romp on bloody sheets with Lorena as a nameless flapper lay dying - gurgling on her own blood - on the bed next to them. I worried I'd be in for a scene in this vein and confess that I trolled some websites for more information before making the angst-filled 30 minute drive from my house to Rebecca's to watch the episode with her after work on Monday.
What I found online confirmed my suspicions that I would be in for something that would shake the very foundations of my Team Bill status. Still, I should have been more prepared.
But honestly, I don't think anything could have prepared me for the final scene of "It Hurts Me Too" and the insidious, creeping effect it had on me - mind, body, and soul. Granted, I was deeply disturbed by what I saw and immediately panicked that I would have to jettison the wallpaper I have on my cell phone as an ode to Bill:
Joking aside, I certainly didn't laugh off the scene but I did find myself making excuses for Bill as Rebecca and I discussed it; rationalizing his behavior to an extent and trying desperately to convince myself that he would be redeemed.
But later that night, the dark tendrils of his naked violence perversely caressed me during my fitful sleep and I awoke feeling stripped bare - more vulnerable in my womanhood than ever I had felt before - this haunted me all day.
I can still feel the nagging dread that slowed my feet on the bank's stairs when I noticed how many men were inside; my sickening sense that their eyes were on me like predators stalking prey as I waited on line. Then and now merge as the visceral emotions flood back, crashing over me anew. Again, I can feel my lungs constrict, vise-like as I abruptly exhale, hot tears welling in my eyes as I sit on my porch during my lunch break pouring over readings from women's studies courses I took years ago, trying to contextualize and find words for what I was experiencing. As a social worker I am well aquainted with the statistics on violence against women, and despite the close work I have done with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault I had never, ever felt such fear - in my own skin and down to my bones - as a woman.
Even now, recalling that pivotal span of 48 hours or so which set both Rebecca and I on the path that led to us opening up shop here at The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern makes me shudder, cool air on warm skin in needle-pointed contrast as I type. I still have a visceral embodied reaction to the final moments of "It Hurts Me Too" and my experience of it months after first viewing the episode that makes it easy to remember why my thoughts about this scene were unripe for words for so long - until here and now!
In the next post I am pasting the content of a letter penned by my sister and I in response to the call issued on the National Organization for Women (NOW) website to “write to HBO and tell them what you think about this violent, misogynistic scene [last scene “It Hurts Me Too”] in True Blood”. It represents our first attempt at distilling our immediate and deeply felt response to the scene into written form and the first baby step towards initiating this forum.
We strongly believed that in the face of NOW’s critique the cast, writers, and crew of True Blood needed to know how powerfully this scene and the show can move feminist women like us, and the action it has compelled us to take in terms of starting this blog—myself as a social worker and scholar in the field of transformative studies keenly interested in the relationship between popular culture and social change and Rebecca as an intellectually engaged and faithful viewer of True Blood—this is outlined our letter to NOW. We forwarded copies of this letter to key members of True Blood's creative team and we still welcome any feedback on our response to NOW they may have. We would also appreciate the opportunity to interview those associated with this scene both for this blog and for an academic paper I am preparing for the conference “Vampires: Myths of the Past and the Future” to be held at the University of London next year.
I think the letter we wrote to NOW, which as I said I am posting above, will further flesh out some of our thoughts on this scene - which we intend to continue discussing in this space - as well as give you deepened insight into our reasons and motivations for starting this interactive blog and some of our goals for this forum.