Thirsty for a Fresh Take on All Things True Blood?

WELCOME! Thirsty for a fresh take on all things True Blood? Pull up a virtual barstool at the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern where sisters Rachel and Rebecca are serving up juicy feminist analysis with a twist and opening a vein of thoughtful sociocultural dialogue on HBO's hit series.

Like the epic literary salons of eras past - theaters for conversation and debate which were, incidentally, started and run by women; where the spirited debate about the issues of the day ran as copiously as the actual spirits did - but updated for the digital age, the Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is a fun forum for exploring questions ripe for discourse about the human condition & today's most crucial social issues through the medium of True Blood.

Your salonnières are not peddling liquor per se, but they are offering up new and alternative ideas informed by such diverse influences as pop culture, art, music, cultural history, Goddess studies, transformative theory, literature and poetry, and archaeomythology, filtered through the sieve of their own lived experiences as feminist women of a particular age, background, and culture.

This is a space where you - patrons and passersby alike - can view and engage with these perspectives through the lens of True Blood and contribute your own thoughts. So, no matter if you're a Truebie or a more casual viewer of True Blood, or your drink of choice is a pomegranate martini - one of Rachel's favorite cocktails to drink and Rebecca's to mix - an herbal tea, a frothy double mocha latte, or a can of Fresca (wink, wink) you're invited to join the conversation on the show's complexities in a way that can spark transformation.

Hopefully you'll find something to sink your teeth...err...straw, into! PLEASE ENJOY RESPONSIBLY ;-)


The Pierced Pomegranate Tavern is dedicated to exploring social issues and more through the lens of True Blood. As such, you may encounter:

related to the often provocative and adult themes presented by the show

If you choose to enter and participate in this virtual salon, please be prepared to do so in a thoughtful, respectful, and mature fashion with the above in mind. Click here to check out our comment policy. Thanks!


No copyright infringement is intended, all rights to True Blood belong to HBO, credit is ascribed to sites where images appearing here were originally found.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

"You Smell Like Dinner"

Your blood tastes like freedom, Sookie; like sunshine in a pretty blond bottle.
                                                                            ~Eric Northman

As I sit here nursing a ginger ale on the rocks, I wonder if maybe it isn't high time for Sookie to start wearing a different eu de toilette. I mean, after all, Eric isn't the only one who has "complimented" her on her scent, in a more-menacing-than-admiring kind of way. You haven't forgotten Liam's "Man, she smells fuckin' sweet!" (S1E3 Mine), have you? I doubt Sookie has, either.

Thing is, there's no lotion, potion, body splash, perfume, or other such fragrance-emitting product that's responsible for the way Sookie smells.

In Season 3 Sookie began to struggle with her identity and self-worth after discovering that it's her blood - and its scent and taste; the delicate bouquet (in S4E3 If You Love Me, Why Am I Dyin'? Eric sniffs the air, catching her perfume which he can only describe as being "Like wheat, honey and sunlight") and exquisite flavor of it that has drawn Bill, and perhaps others as well, to her. She starts to think that it's not her - not who she is, but how she tastes; how her blood can service others - that matters. She's just the [pretty] packaging. 

And everyone, meaning every supe, has noticed. Her special palate, that is - although perhaps one might be sensitive to her growing sense of self-doubt, too.

Lorena may have hated Sookie, but she sure didn't mind her taste: "No wonder Bill was drawn to you. You're delicious.” (S3E7 Hitting the Ground).

While Bill insisted to Sookie, "it is not your blood I love. I love you. Your heart, your mind, your soul... you have brought light back into my life", he did admit that hers was, "the most delicious blood I've ever tasted" (S3E10 I Smell A Rat).

Last season, upon meeting Sookie - decked out in a lacy white top and cute denim mini; looking as much the fish out of water at Lou Pines as anyone likely could - Alcide's werewolf bouncer buddy eyed her up and down and quipped, "you look like dinner". In the next scene, if you recall, she was nearly sexually assaulted.

Even good 'ol Sam's thoughts echoed this "you smell good enough to eat" theme when Sookie listened in on him during their G-rated Season 1 canoodle in his office. Is that really any wonder, though, since his go-to shift is a collie, and we all know that man's best friend's nose is a mighty powerful organ! Even still, knowing that her smell is probably a big part of what caused her sexy boss to pine over her for so long has got to be quite a blow for Sookie. 

And the list goes on. The cavalcade of vamps, weres, and shifters itching to get a taste of Sookie seems virtually never ending.

We may well be onto something here, as if the episode's title alone wasn't enough of a hint. In her essay, "The Female Body in Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman and Lady Oracle" Sofia Sanchez-Grant points out society's view that the (patriarchally encoded) female body is consumable.

And not just Sookie's body.

Other women are consumable commodities, too.

Now, of course, I know men are fed on as well, I do watch the show; but I think the sociocultural meaning of some of the examples I've pulled out here makes the consumption of females a little different.

Remember how Eric paid a "blood hooker" so that he could feed on her - and he seemed to prefer that she struggle and pretend that she didn't want it?

And when he consumed Hadley against her will as leverage to get her paramour the Queen to reveal  information about Sookie, he rated the other Stackhouse girl's taste like he was reviewing a take-out joint for the local paper: "Mmm-mmm. I 'd give her three stars." (S3E7 Hitting the Ground).

Speaking of take-out joints, perhaps you'll recall how Russell and Lorena deliberated before commanding Bill to procure a woman from a strip club for their dining pleasure, just like they were ordering off a Chinese food menu:

Russell: In the mood for anything in particular?
Lorena: Someone smoky. Not too fatty.
Russell: See, I was thinking... ethnic.
Lorena: Mm.
(S3E4 9 Crimes)

Once procured, they feasted on this "disposable sex worker" with relish - her blood running out of their limo and onto the ground like a perverse chocolate fountain.

Russell's appetite for "something ethnic" calls to mind the language of "gastronomic sexuality" Raquel Z. Rivera (2003, p. 129) describes as being part of the hip-hop lexicon when it comes to the "sweet, thick, pretty, round and various shades of brown...blackberry molasses to butta pecan" women that populate many rap music videos.

If you remember dancing to Big Pun's hit "Still Not A Player" in the clubs back in the late '90's like I do, you know that blackberry molasses to butta pecan reference above alludes to this song. The line's actually, "I love from butta pecan to blackberry molass' I don't discriminate, I regulate every shade of that ass".

Back in S4E1 the drunkard hanging around the back alley near the cagefighting ring tossed similar language at Tara and Naomi, labeling them for his consuming gaze as: "...some of that chocolate banana swirl...every woman's got a price".

In her essay, "Butta Pecan Mamis: Tropicalized Mamis - 'Chocolate Caliente'" Rivera points out that while the video's camerawork alternating between groups of lighter and comparatively darker-skinned women in order to punctuate the singsong chorus, "Boriqua, Morena" is meant to distinguish between these two groups of women, they come together by virtue of Pun's sexual desire.

According to Rivera, these women are eroticized and exoticized, as Pun lays claim to both Puerto Rican and African American "ghetto brunettes". Boriquas and morenas, "brown" women and "black" women may be distinct, but as he and other artists including Jay Z ("Who You Witt II") and Son Doobie ("XXX Funk") construct them, they are part of a commercialized landscape of desire. Sistas and mamis are "their" women to be consumed.  

Here we have the beginnings of the transcultural reality of the "I-want-them-all" mentality, where women are not real subjects, complex and distinct, but interchangeable; "infinitely substitutable beings" (p. 145).

Tim Ward illustrates this concept clearly. In his book Savage Breast: One Man's Search for the Goddess (2005, p. 28) he recalls a translation of old Tibetan meditations that contained his ultimate sexual fantasy:
The sutra instructed the reader to visualize a Bodhisattva sitting in meditation while he projects 200 emanations of himself, each one appearing to a dakini, a powerful and beautiful female spirit. Immediately the 200 dakinis become sexually magnetized to his 200 emanations, and they couple in passionate embrace. To each feminine spirit, the Bodhisattva appears as if he is the only one, and each of them gives herself completely to him. But the true Bodhisattva, he sits alone in his meditation in perfect detached repose. I realized that this was my fantasy, to have every beautiful woman magnetized to me so I could enjoy them all, while giving myself emotionally to none of them. That's what I wanted with the women I had affairs with. Not that I ever once said that I loved them, ever once tried to fool them. Is that evil? I don't know. I don't think so. Is it shitty? Well, I imagine the dakinis would be pretty pissed off at the Bodhisattva is they knew... 
He wanted them all - all for his consumption.

In the sphere of the commercial consumption of female sexuality, women are "indispensible as members of the collective at the core of male pleasure - females, honeys, hotties, bitches, hoes, freaks, chickenheads, pigeons, chicks - they are branded with the 'mark of the plural' that makes them expendable and easily substitutable as individuals" (Rivera, 2003, p. 147).   

Sookie deflects Eric's characterization of her as being consumable; his leering gaze as he utters the phrase, "Well, aren't you sweet" suggesting that she is, in fact, as Rivera (2003, p. 127) writes of the six chocolate-drenched young women [of color - chocolate caliente] swirling in a cup of hot cocoa on the cover of the 1998 rap album The Rude Awakening "sexily awaiting ingestion". Sookie replies, "Not really." (S1E4 Escape from Dragon House)

So she's seen as consumable alright, even though she's like not to be - but perhaps not so interchangable. There's something different about her that sets her apart, that makes her extra-special-tasty. References to Sookie's "sweetness" are constant; no doubt, they are a marker of her "alignment with the good" which makes her not unlike Dracula's Mina Harker. In the words of the character Abraham Van Helsing, the fictional Mina is: of God's women, fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is a Heaven where we can enter, and that its light [emphasis mine, sound familiar?] can be here on true, so sweet, so noble...(p. 226)
According to Susan Parlour (2009), the text of Dracula is littered with references to Mina's sweetness, who, though she transgressed the role of women in Victorian society to a certain degree, was readmitted to the patriarchal machine due, largely in part, to her sexual reticence and acceptance of the sexual mores and etiquette of the times.

Likewise, might Sookie be seen as an avatar of virtuous and virginal [white] womanhood? After all, according to prevailing stereotypes at least, women of color are more primal and sexual but in the world of True Blood the taste of virgin blood is the best of all, second only to baby's blood. When she was a virgin, Sookie's blood was covetted, to be sure...but like butta pecanness, her fairy blood's got an enticing flavor all its own that makes her a highly sought after commodity.       

She does it again, thowing off amnesia Eric's hungry advances in Season 4's 3rd episode, yelling at him, "I'm not your fucking dinner!". Later in the episode, she reminds Eric of how he tasted her against her will; that he basically "fang raped" her. He seemed genuinely taken aback and sorry.

Must we be seen as essentially edible? And if we are, does this essentialism isolate us within our conmumable bodies from other facets of ourselves, i.e. the "masculine" brain and the "feminine" body?

Atwood's character Joan rejects the multi-breasted Diana of Ephesus as a symbol of "the essence of femininity itself"(2003, p. 80).

It is, rather, a "paradigm of the patriarchally controlled female body"  (2003, p. 80):
She had a serene face, perched on top of a body shaped like a mound of grapes. She was draped in breasts from neck to ankle, as though inflicted with a case of yaws: little breasts at top and bottom, big ones around the middle. The nipples were equipped with sprouts, but several of the breasts were out of order.
I stood licking my ice-cream cone, watching the goddess coldly. Once I would have seen her as an image of myself, but not any more. My ability to give was limited, I was not inexhaustible. I was not serene, not really. I wanted things, things for myself. 
Sanchez-Grant writes that Joan's assertion is a protest against a society that situates her as a reproductive machine, suggesting as the food imagery and the character's unromantic terms imply - to be endlessly giving, to nourish and sustain others is "simply to be edible" (2003, p. 80).

My conclusion is that woman can be drained, she is not just a font of nourishment for [male] others.

Here's some other references to the edible & the consumable in You Smell Like Dinner:
  • When Sookie walked in on Jessica feeding on a man other than Hoyt in the ladies room at Fangtasia, the baby vamp spat, "I can eat who I want"
  • Bill's response to Nan Flanagan when in London, 1982, she asks him why he doesn't kill his prey: "They might be dinner but they don't deserve to die"
  • The conversation within Sam's new shifter entourage about the ethics of factory egg farming and the bourgeois attitudes of some animal rights activists
What do these themes mean to you? We'd love to hear your thoughts. Please share them in the comments space below.

~ Rachel


Parlour, S. (2009). Vixens and Virgins in the 19th century Anglo-Irish Novel: Representations of the feminine in Bram Stoker's Dracula. Journal of Dracula Studies, # 11.

Rivera, R. Z. (2003). New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. New York: Palgrave.

Sanchez-Grant, S. (2008). The Female Body in Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman and Lady Oracle. Journal of International Women's Studies, Vol. 9, #2.

Ward, T. (2006). Savage Breast: One Man’s Search for the Goddess. New York, NY: O Books

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