...LORENA FANS TAKE NOTE...
The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern will be setting up shop from October 6–9, 2011, at the Vail Cascade Resort and Spa in Vail, Colorado!
Rachel will be giving a talk at the Sirens conference; a networking retreat and academic conference dedicated to women in fantasy literature, providing perspectives on fantasy books by women, female characters in fantasy works, and how to support women in fantasy literature.
Within its focus on fantastic women, each year Sirens features a fantasy-related theme—and in 2011, the theme is "monsters"! Conference programming will examine and dissect monstrous characters and themes of monstrousness. As the Sirens site points out, women have too often been decried as "monsters," and examples of monsters and questions of monstrousness pervade fantasy literature. Sirens honored guests for 2011 are Justine Larbalestier, Nnedi Okorafor, and Laini Taylor, each of whom has written of female characters who may—or may not—be monsters.
Here's an overview of Rachel's presentation:
Title: Annihilating HER Again: How Eroticized Rage Against True Blood’s Vampire Lorena―Avatar of the Monstrous Feminine―Resurrects the Forgotten History of Goddess Culture's Suppression
300-500 word abstract for 50 minute talk
This visual, multimodal and experiential talk revolves around the now infamous final scene of True Blood Season 3, Episode 3 entitled "It Hurts Me Too" which drew the ire of the National Organization for Women for what NOW called a “messed up depiction of women, men, violence, and sex”, prompting its call for feminists to deliver a “thanks but no thanks” message to HBO.
When it aired on June 27, 2010 I watched—eyes wide and jaws agape—as during what some call an act of “hate sex,” vampire Bill Compton hurled his maker Lorena to the bed, tore off her clothes, and twisted her neck, turning her face to the floor as he forcefully thrust into her. Despite his contempt and brutality—and with blood dripping from her mouth—Lorena told Bill that she still loves him. This explicit rendering of eroticized rage shocked me at a gut level akin to the way feminist scholar Vicki Noble describes women’s response to the obscene prevalence of rape: “We experience our collective annihilation repeatedly, psychically and physically as a woman is raped every thirteen seconds in North America…”.1
And yet, I can’t condemn or denounce this deliberately unsettling scene; in my view it raises vital issues that are better addressed through thoughtful dialogue than censure and several questions ripe for discourse spring immediately to mind:
o If Lorena is as NOW suggests the classic “bitch” archetype; the monstrous Feminine—a characterization that reduces her to a monolith—how might this comment on our culture which has long fragmented and demonized the Feminine? What kind of cultural context would need to exist for us to think differently?
o Why does this scene disturb us so? Is it too hard to reconcile the genteel and romantic Bill Compton with his willful despoiling of Lorena; his determination to utterly ruin her—and harder still for us to place such a rapacious mindset not at the margins of dominant culture, but at its center?
o Could Bill's pillage and defilement of Lorena be seen as a visceral rearticulation for a contemporary audience of mythologies depicting the slaying of the Great Goddess by the warrior god as peaceful, egalitarian society was supplanted by patriarchy some five millennia ago―the collective memory of which still pulses in our modern psyches?
Drawing upon 800,000 years of art, myth, histories and poetry and amplifying leading voices in feminist thought, archaeomythology, women's studies, and Goddess scholarship not often heard in mainstream discourse, we will explore these charged concepts and more. Tracing the intriguing parallels between the difficult-to-digest imagery “It Hurts Me Too” confronts us with and the mythologies of Goddesses dismembered, slain or made subordinate to male gods which represent the rupture from a Goddess-centered world to “dominator” world of today, we will open a discourse on contemporary issues like gender relations, sex and sexuality, attitudes towards autonomous women, and rape as a dominant social and cultural metaphor for behavior. We will identify new models for a “partnership” social structure.
1. Vicki Noble, Shakti Woman: Feeling Our Fire, Healing Our World (New York: HarperOne, 1991), p. 3.Any thoughts?
I hear the host resort, which combines the conveniences of a modern hotel with the laid-back, friendly atmosphere of a mountain retreat, is amazing, and with its great room rates during the beautiful fall season in the Rocky Mountains, as well as a discount on most services at their acclaimed spa, maybe that's enough to lure you to Vail to join us?