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.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Gendered Judgmentalism

When Jason's Hot Shot rape arc first launched, our friend Amy (webmistress of the clever and hilarious She Liked Imaginary Men Best of All) was justifiably outraged.

She commented on Facebook that if a woman were strapped to a bed and used as a breeding mare, people would be going nuts. Rebecca responded that she felt people were supposed to be disgusted and outraged by this depiction of the repeated violation of a man by a string of (I would argue also exploited) women.

And during Sookie's (hot! hot! hot!) Bill/Eric dream this past Sunday, she admonished the two of them for buying into the double standard that she must be one of theirs, but she - as the proper lady she is -shoudn't even entertain the idea of having both of them be hers.

And forget the idea of a vampwich with Sookie in the middle; that's just too far outside the boundaries of society's standards for acceptable female sexuality (but as Sookie said, it's OK if the threesome consists of girl-boy-girl, even if the players barely know each other)!

It was her dream, so ultimately they both caved. I wonder if that had anything to do with the fact that she emphasized how her desire for both of them to love her was born out of her total, complete love for the two of them. Because women are hardwired to conflate love and sex, right...and to reserve intimate relations for partners with whom she is in love, rather than in lust, with?

Now, I'm not advocating for indiscriminate, lust-driven sex outside of a caring, mutually consenting, adult relationship. I'm just interested in seeing more expansive options for women to express ourselves and our sexuality outside the constricted bounds of our society's gender-based norms, is all.

This idea of double-standard and reversal got me to thinking...

...If a woman were carrying on a purely physical affair or two while still in love with, or hung up on an ex-lover (as Bill had been doing with Katerina and Portia) how would that be viewed?

How is it viewed when he's doing it?

Does it negate his continuing love for Sookie?

She sure let him have it for "sticking his fangs and God knows what else into every girl in Bon Temps". S4E6 I Wish I Was the Moon

Is it OK because he's a man, and as such, has needs for
companionship and sexual gratification that must be satisfied?

Granted, he has been upfront with these women and has not led them on.
He even told Portia outright (albeit rather coldly) that he could never love her, and although it was she who suggested that they casually add sex to the equation of their already successful and friendly professional relationship, I'm pretty sure I saw her flinch.

Yet she accepted Bill's terms for taking their relationship to the next level.

Does this diminish her femininity?

Reduce her to a cliché with all the fixins expected of the (in her words) "smartest and most powerful" professional woman in Bon Temps, i.e. ballbuster, bitch, etc.?

She goes after what she wants. She's willing to enter into a "friends with benefits" situation. She's a self-described "terrier", as a lawyer and a lover.

Does this make her emotionally bankrupt (an undesirable trait in a woman)?

Would these pitbull qualities make others see Portia as being too much like a man to be a real woman?

Now, since Bill found out that Portia is actually his great-great-great-great granddaughter, we're not likely to be seeing her again (at least not in his bed) any time soon. But honestly, don't you think his brush-off was a little silly and condescending?

Sure, Portia was very aggressive in her rationalization of incest. And yes, he's got an awful lot on his hands, what with his kingdom facing the witch crisis, and all. To top it off, Bill was not overly invested in their brief relationship; he had promised her nothing.

Even so, no matter how busy Bill was, however eager to short circuit their dance around his desk, with him in retreat as she gave chase he may have been, didn't such an intelligent, sophisticated woman deserve a letdown that didn't involve being glamoured to scream at this sight of him?

Please weigh in below!

~ Rachel

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Character Spotlight: Hoyt Fortenberry - Hall of Shame

Hoyt Fortenberry, you have been charged with numerous counts of verbal, emotional, and psychological abuse. How do you plead?........

     It is with a heavy and utterly broken heart that I place Hoyt Fortenberry in this installation of our True Blood character Hall of Shame. We have created this space for those characters who at one time garnered nothing but respect and admiration but through a series of uncharacteristic behaviors have fallen from our good graces. We here at the PPT believe in the redemptive qualities of the human (or not so human at times) spirit; and reserve the right to remove any character who can rise above and move beyond their previous and or current offenses from these Halls. That being said let's take a closer look at what landed Hoyt here in the first place.

     How could you do this to us, Bubba? How could a man once so gentle, loving and kind turn into this angry, hate filled, abusive person that we saw last week? You were the only person in Merlottes with a kind thought for Dawn after her murder in the first season. You stood up to your mother calling her out for all her  racist beliefs (secret or otherwise). You have been a good and loyal friend to Jason, even when he referred to Rene-the murderous, misogynist, psychopath as his best friend (I know how much that must have hurt!). You met and fell in love with a beautiful, strong, smart and caring women who just happens to be a vampire.  Throughout all the discord you were our rock, a constant reminder of how good people can actually be. You gave all the bad boys of the world something to think about, proving that the nice guy COULD get the girl. These and many other selfless acts of blind love, and dedication to your moral compass are what made us all (Jessica included) fall in love with you.
     At the beginning of this season we saw a side of Hoyt we thought we'd never see. He has been argumentative, moody, insensitive, emotionally and verbally abusive towards Jessica; cutting her down to the quick with his words. He has violently lashed out, punching walls, throwing lamps and God knows what else around the house, and even though these actions can't physically hurt Jessica they can leave a very visible scar emotionally and psychologically. These abuses rank among the top offensives in most cases of domestic violence! He has made several unsubstantiated claims of Jessica's infidelity allowing his own self-consciousness to bubble up and pollute their relationship. This unhealthy pattern of behavior lead us to this scene as it played out last Sunday night. Re-watch this clip taken from True Blood season 4 episode 8: Spellbound for the last straw that landed Hoyt into our Hall of Shame.


      Couples fight all the time, but it is the way Hoyt fights that upsets me so much. He knows that he is not a physical match so he attacks Jessica verbally and emotionally. He tears into her, accusing her of sleeping with another man. Hoyt then goes on to commit what I consider to be a cardinal sin....he calls Jessica a bitch. While many women feel as though they have "taken back" the sting of being called a bitch, softening the blow by making the word theirs, I still find this word offensive and hurtful. When we think of the archetypal "bitch" what do we see? Does she come anywhere close to resembling Jessica or her actions in any way, shape, or form? I think not, which is precisely why the use of this word is so offensive. How can you say this to someone you love? "You don't deserve me" he yells "and I sure as hell don't deserve you". He goes on to list all the reasons he deserves someone better than Jessica. He attacks her nature both feminine and vampiric. "I deserve someone who's not gonna be a fuckin virgin for all eternity." Women have been simultaneously revered and shamed for their virginity; we are expected to be pure and virtuous yet taught to feel unwanted or inadequate if still a virgin. "I deserve someone I can have a normal life with, with babies....and daylight!" These are all things Hoyt was well aware of while falling for Jessica, things she cannot be held accountable for. Note her reaction as she hears these words. It's as if his words are literally wounding Rachel pointed out, stabbing her like a knife in the chest. As if this weren't bad enough he lands his final blow by exclaiming he deserves someone who's "not fuckin dead" then with a look of disgust on his face revokes Jessica's invitation to their own home. When Hoyt slammed the door on Jessica, leaving her demoralized and sobbing on the front porch, did he also slam the door on any hope that this relationship can be mended? I, for one eagerly await the answer to this and would love to see if Hoyt has it in him to redeem his character's good name. Still a few hours until our next hit, just enough time to see what everyone else is thinking....Thoughts?? ~ Rebecca

Saturday, August 20, 2011

O Lafayette, Lafayette! Wherefore art thou, Lafayette? Tokenism on True Blood - Oh, Hell No!

In Shakespearean terms, "wherefore" actually means "why", as in, why must Romeo be a Montague - why must he be of the family that is the sworn enemy of his star crossed lover Juliet's House of Capulet?

In True Blood terms, it means why oh why must Lafayette's dialogue over the past few episodes - and especially last week's Spellbound - have him teetering at the precipice of being "the token black guy", uttering nothing but silly exclamations like "damn!", "snap", and "oh, hell no!"?

See Exhibit A below from Not Another Teen Movie and tell me LaLa's meager lines from last week don't put him squarely in this category.

This is a major disappointment because we need more from this erstwhile dynamic character and the gifted actor who portrays him, Nelsan Ellis. Rebecca and I have been talking about this all season, but last week's episode really solidified our stance.

Where has the Lafayette who entranced Tara and Jason with his intoning of a poignant Inuit prayer over Sookie's unconscious body as she lay in the hospital last season gone?

Here's the prayer:

"I think over again my small adventures, my fears.
Those small ones that seemed so big.
For all the vital things I had to get and to reach,
and yet there is only one great thing.
The only thing.
To live to see the great day that dawns
and the light that fills the world."

Listen to him recite this beautiful, poetic verse and as YouTube poster SilverfoxG wrote, you can't help but be moved by the depth and meaning with which he delivered it.

Now, I'm not saying that it's Lafayette's duty as a person of color on the show to be the exoticized psychopomp, the Wise Other that breathes spirit and life into the worlds of others while they (and we in the audience), for the most part, are free to just be regular Joes going about their everyday lives.

But I know that there's more to LaLa than what the writers have been giving us lately, and I want to see our favorite short order cook continue to grow and develop. Yes, he's just discovered that he's a medium. Yes, he has considerable, as-yet untapped magical power. But these new revelations about who Lafayette is and what he's got in him have not translated into scenes with much meat for him, in my humble opinion.

What's up with the pendulum swing in the writing for Lafayette? I realize that the witch-vampire war and Eric & Sookie's romance have taken center stage in recent episodes, and I know that Lafayette is considered a supporting character, but I don't want to see him recede into the background of the show. His character has been too important and stereotype busting to allow him to take the token backseat I fear he has been receiving.

If the writers don't step up for LaLa soon, it's going to be ME saying "damn!" and "oh, hell no!"


~ Rachel 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Guest Bartending at The SookiesDiary™ Daily

FYI, our Legendary Monsters to Fellow Citizens piece below excavating the shifting image of the vampire and the growing social acceptance (and lust!) for what used to be considered the vilest of fiends, the most menacing of monsters and considering the monstrous images of inhuman beasts dominant society spins to create hate and fear of those it demonizes has made the Society Page of The SookiesDiary™ Daily!

It's a well done news roundup, you should check it out!

~ Rachel

From Legendary Monsters to Fellow Citizens


I recently discovered a curious statement about the show on
"In True Blood, vampires have gone from legendary monsters to fellow citizens overnight".
I, personally, would amend this to read sexy, desirable (and sometimes sparkly) fellow citizens...

...quite a change from the way vampires used to be envisioned, huh?

Nothin' sexy about that, no siree!

Contemplating the shifting image of the vampire and the growing social acceptance (and lust!) for what used to be considered a vile fiend, I began thinking about the monstrous images dominant society spins to create hate and fear of those it demonizes.

A five minute Internet search turned up a horrendous cache of offensive visuals, here's a few:

WWII anti-Jewish propaganda

Can you see the common threads tying these Nazi anti-Semitic propaganda posters to the Nosferatu images above?

The ugly, distorted facial features?

The cannibalistic, devouring mouth?

Nazi Cross killing the Jewish rat

The Nosferatu's gnawing, rat-like incisors as corollary to the image of the Jewish vermin that must be exterminated?

And then, there's the image of Other as dim-witted, primal beast:

The Negro a Beast or In the Image of God by C. Carroll
published in 1900

Described on the Cowan's Auctions website as, "382pp of racist propaganda", this deplorable book deems, "The Negro a beast, but created with articulate speech, and hands, that he may be of service to his master-White man."
anti-Muslim propaganda

These dehumanizing tactics have been employed by obvious bigots and hate-mongers like Nazis and white supremacists, colonial occupiers, and racially motivated crackpots like the Oslo shooter linked to a British anti-Muslim organization.

Less expected (but still morally challenged) are the benign-by-comparison entities like the WWII allied forces that stooped to using such propaganda.

Did you happen to notice how great a threat these inhuman brutes appear to pose to white womanhood?

Much has been written on how vampires - starting most famously with Dracula - have been stand ins for the threat of the invading foreign Other.

For instance, in his essay "Pure Blood", Joseph McCabe writes that Dracula belonged to a difficult historical moment when unease permeated the nation; there was a mounting concern in England that the British Empire had passed its peak. Decline was signalled politically by a series of failed military adventures.

McCabe quotes Stephen D. Arata's "The Occidental Tourist: Dracula and the Anxiety of Reverse Colonization" (2010, p. 103):
Dracula enacts the period's most important and pervasive narrative of decline, a narrative of reverse colonization...This narrative expresses both fear and guilt. The fear is that what has been presented as the "civilized world" is on the point of being colonized by "primitive forces". Such fantasies were all the rage in Victorian England (as evidenced in everything from H. Rider Haggard's She to H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds). 
In this context, the undead Romanian Count presented the Victorian male's worst nightmare - one in which the Eastern European invader, from a supposedly less civilized land, would assail his country and take his women.

Yet, this most menacing of monsters from a century ago has nearly been welcomed into the fold of humanity. It seems mainstreaming can pay off, after all! Much has also been written about the evolution of the vampire from inhuman, monstrous outcast to sensual, darkly seductive - and very human - object of desire.

What about those who the propagandists have tried to sell as monsters? Are they yet our fellow citizens, fully? What will it take for them to be?

We'd love to hear from you on this!

~ Rachel

McCabe, J. (2010). "Pure Blood". In Wilson, L. (Ed.), A taste of true blood: The fangbanger’s guide. (pp.  101-110). Dallas: Smart Pop.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

As much as I love it, every bad thing that has ever happened to me is because of sex

Jason Stackhouse's relationship to sex is complicated and conflicted, to say the least.

And after narrowly escaping his breeding mill ordeal at Hot Shot, he knows it.

Flashback to Season 1. Do you remember the Cold Ground scene when, after Gran's death, Jason tried to lose himself in an empty, hollow, loveless tryst with a blond woman - a virtual stranger he couldn't remember the name of - who rode him reverse cowgirl-style? His bid to mindlessly fall back on predictable Stackhouse sexcapading as a means of escape backfired terribly. The two of them never made eye contact; while she moaned, "I love you", Jason softly cried.

His rape at Hot Shot felt to me like an extreme, twisted, alternate universe redux of that scene; his facial grimaces and sounds as he was repeatedly violated in the breeding shed reminded me very much of that scene.

While it’s true that he’s had lots of fun romps (with lots of different women) in the sack, Jason’s also had his share of sexual experiences that were exploitative and devoid of real emotion; where no true human connection or bonding took place – as in the two instances above.

And it seems to be going from bad to worse.

It's a good thing Hoyt and Jessica found him lying battered and bruised on the side of a deserted rural back road; the baby vamp's blood was his salvation. Having been miraculously healed by Jessica's blood, a restored-to health-Jason told his best friend over breakfast at Merlotte's:
As much as I love it, every bad thing that has ever happened to me is because of sex, (counting on his fingers) jealous boyfriends, becoming a drug addict, being accused of murder… Maybe God’s punishing me for having too much sex. He’s like "Jason Stackhouse you have fucked too many hot women, now let’s see how you like it."

*Transcription credit to Thought Catalog.
And now, part of Jason seems to think that maybe he's been the victim of reverse objectification, his studly past having finally caught up to him and put him in God's punishing crosshairs. 

In her online piece On Rape in True Blood Kat George addresses this concern:
Firstly, this insinuates that sexual "sins" are tantamount to punishment by rape. Secondly, the delivery of these lines is both humorous and cutesy on Jason’s part. Thirdly, since when was it ever OK to deserve rape (and how would we feel listening to a woman declaring that a rape was her just desserts)?
Good points, all.

But let’s remember, as Kirsty Walker (2010) writes in her essay "True Stud: Jason Stackhouse in Search of Masculinity", Jason is often the comic relief on the show. His light, funny tone with Hoyt is perhaps in keeping with this role and persona. Moreover, his use of a comical “God voice” - Jason Stackhouse you have fucked too many hot women, now let’s see how you like it - may very well be a defense mechanism. He’s been traumatized, and he knows it, but he's got to maintain some semblance of control - humor may be Jason's way of doing that, as it is for many people.

Ms. George takes the position that True Blood has trivialized the male experience of rape. While I agree that it is often underplayed in our society (as I wrote in my last post on Jason & Hot Shot) I don't think the show has treated this topic lightly or brushed it under the table.

In fact, I think it's brought new dimension to the mainstream discourse around sexual assault, particularly in light of the FBI’s 80-year-old, outdated definition of rape: "the carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will." Each year the FBI omits hundreds of thousands of rapes from its Uniform Crime Report (UCR) based on this limited definition.

The FBI’s flawed definition of rape excludes any form of sexual assault that falls outside of the narrowest understanding of heterosexual sex, including the rape of men and boys as well as transgender people.

The FBI's stance on what rape is and isn't is evidence for the idea that in our culture, it is often questioned whether a red-blooded, virile guy like Jason can even be raped. Men are supposed to be into sex under any circumstance; expected to enjoy it every which way, with as many partners as possible. Under this paradigm, most will allow that maybe boys or weaklings can be sexually abused, manipulated, or dominated, but surely not young, strong ex-jocks who are seen as being in control, and insatiable in their hunger for sex.

Jason told Hoyt his experience was horrible; some might argue that a stud like him probably wouldn't (or maybe the right word here is shouldn't) have thought being forced to have sex with dozens of women was so awful if they had been hot women, and that he only protested because the women forced into the breeding line didn’t measure up to his standards of feminine beauty or sexiness.
But this thesis falls flat when one considers that the first woman to violate Jason had been the object of his desire, Crystal Norris, whose (in his words) "cute butt" he had chased all the way to Hot Shot.

He didn't want it, not even with her. Men can be raped, after all. Even by hot women.

I found out about the FBI's definition of rape from an action alert from You can sign their petition to tell the FBI to update their definition to include all forms of rape, by doing so you can help ensure that the resources law enforcement receives to aid survivors and apprehend perpetrators is based on real crime figures instead of dramatically underestimated statistics.

We've been trained to see Jason Stackhouse as a Louisiana Lothario, a "horn dog" who lets his penis guide him through life. Yet as Walker (2010) points out, while in his very first Strange Love scene Jason is depicted as a sexual creature, he is also shown to be perhaps not quite as experienced as he would have folks believe – and as his reputation would suggest (he was easily shocked by unconventional sexual behavior, i.e. the bite marks on Maudette's inner thigh). 

When it comes down to it, Jason is a man in search of his own masculinity in a world that no longer feels quite so stable or knowable; a world that has been upended by the appearance of vampires on the scene. Even for a guy like Jason, having been brought up in a patriarchal, heteronormative society where those in positions of power were for the most part other white males, navigating through a culture in flux is no easy task. (Walker, 2010). 

And up until now, he’s attempted to define himself through sex and violence (his Light of Day Institute adventure); both failed ideologies by which Jason could become self-actualized, according to Walker. As she writes, by the end of Season 1 he had come to experience sex as a bonding, as opposed to purely physically gratifying, experience. And he’s still learning and growing.

About his character, Ryan Kwanten has said, “it was important for Jason to have a sense of vulnerability and for the audience to be able to sympathize with him, and not to see him as…a piece of meat or just a dumb redneck, that there is really some soul and some hurt deep inside” (Walker, 2010, p. 122). 

The hurt in him has been exacerbated by his now conflicted relationship to sex, and his victim/survivor status.

So, despite the humorous tone Jason used to make some light of his dreadful experience with Hoyt and the racy distraction of his dream-sequence encounter with his buddy's girlfriend vampire Jessica, I am certain that his Hot Shot ordeal with have a profound and lasting impact on his continuing personal development. I am looking forward to seeing how this shakes out for him.

I just hope that since Jason now sees sex as the root cause of his troubles that he doesn't take what some might view as the next logical step and assign to women the wholesale label of temptress, she who leads man (i.e. him) down the garden path to ruin; the devil's door. 
Woman, The Devil’s Door
12th C. CE, France

Jason did say, “As much as I love it, every bad thing that has ever happened to me is because of sex”, and that worries me a little.  Could Crystal's betrayal set him on the course of viewing all women as deceivers, as Eve's daughters, as portals to the corruption of men?  
“Do you not realise, Eve that it is you?

The curse of God pronounced on your sex weighs still on the world. Guilty you must bear its hardships. You are the devil’s gateway, you desecrated the fatal tree, you first betrayed the Law of God, you softened up with your cajoling words the man against whom the devil could not prevail by force. The image of God, Adam, you broke him as if he were a plaything. You deserved death, and it was the son of God who had to die!”
                                                                                                              ~ Tertullian
I don’t think it will. Despite his puffed-up bravado when it comes to hooking up, I think Jason genuinely likes women - women in general, and the ones in his life.

And as Wayne Koestenbaum,  author of Humiliation, remarked in his 8/1/11 NPR, humiliating experiences, if you survive them, are capable of being reinterpreted. When most of your recognizable personality or sense of self worth is decimated and you wake up from that experience still alive - as Jason has - a kernel or residue of the self is left and gold can be spun from this straw.

Now, the self-depreciating Jason may never let on that he's been rocked to the core; he may well continue to bemoan the horrors of Hot Shot and joke about it in the next breath as he has with Hoyt. This is the guy who, last season, told Hoyt he never thought he was smart enough to be depressed, after all. But he is smart enough, sensitive and emotional enough - and human enough - to have been deeply impacted by his rape experience. And he has surely come through what Koestenbaum calls a "kiln of shame and suffering" which can lead to transfiguration.

Koestenbaum allows that not everyone can spin the experience in this way, but I think Jason can. And I think he can do it without vilifying all women in the process. Hopefully, although his rape was in no way his fault, he will also grow from this experience and learn to make better choices, since, as he admitted to Sookie in I Wish I Was the Moon, he's not always so good at controlling his impulses.

And I, for one, am pulling for him!

~ Rachel

Monday, August 1, 2011

Pam's Taken the Veil

So Pam's taken the veil.

And last night, she was hiding under a blanket to evade Eric's gaze when they were thrown in King Bill's subterranean slammer together.

Did she really have much of a choice?

Ever the style maven, last week's Pam—dressed in funerary black lace with a heavy veil covering her decaying face (“Even when her face is putrefying, she comes up with an outfit for putrefying,” Kristen Bauer van Straten remarked in an interview posted to The Vault)—had to deal with the aftermath of a spell cast on her by possessed witch Marnie that has caused her immortal vampire body to rot.

And this week, it's only gotten worse!

I found it interesting that HBO on Demand's description of last Sunday's episode, Me and the Devil, makes mention of this fact with the phrase, "Pam takes the veil".

What's so intriguing about this verbiage? defines this term as the life or vows of a nun.

And when I think of  becoming a nun, one of the first mental pictures that comes to mind is that of a woman retreating from the world and hiding (or being confined) behind the imposing walls of the convent.

Let's take a look at's definition of veil:

1. A length of cloth worn by women over the head, shoulders, and often the face.
2. A length of netting attached to a woman's hat or habit, worn for decoration or to protect the head and face.
3. The part of a nun's headdress that frames the face and falls over the shoulders.
a. A piece of light fabric hung to separate or conceal what is behind it; a curtain.
b. Something that conceals, separates, or screens like a curtain: a veil of secrecy.
v. veiled, veil·ing, veils
1. To cover with or as if with a veil: Dense fog veiled the bridge.
2. To conceal or disguise.

One word in particular is repeated over and over: conceal.

This is significant because it speaks to what a woman must do when her beauty is marred. She must hide, separate, screen herself off. As The Vault interview "Kristin Bauer talks about her 'face-off' states, "Having her skin peel off in ribbons of goo is a massive blow for Pam"; an affront to her vanity.

And for a woman whose priorities include Eric and her appearance (not always in that order), this presents quite the predicament.

Pam: "I can put up with a lot, but fuck with my face and it's time to die!" S4E5 Me and the Devil

To understand why this fate is worse for Pam than, say, her maker's would be, let's take a moment to consider the core difference between the spells the possessed Marnie cast on both vampires.

The spell cast on Eric wiped clean his mind, that part of the self envisaged in Cartesian dualism as being characteristically male. The one cast on Pam disfigured her body, that which is associated with the female; the second-mentioned and therefore lesser valued of the male/female pair of lhierarchical dualisms.

Applying this framework of gendered hierarchical dualisms, the biblical Adam is revealed as a soul type, while Eve is of the flesh (Stone, 1976). In Christian theology, it was asserted that women must become more "like a man" (more "rational" and "spiritual" than is her "nature") to come into relationship with God, who was envisaged as masculine.

Feminist scholar Carol Christ writes that according to poet, essayist and feminist Adrienne Rich, such views have made the body "so problematic for women that it often seemed easier to shrug if off and travel as a disembodied spirit" (1997, p. 148). If only it were so easy for Pam; if only she could escape the prison of her rotting flesh like her ghostly harasser Antonia has. But there can be no such simple solution for Pam. As a woman, she is, as Rich writes, controlled by being lashed to her body - "the carnal flesh to which the elevated mind is shackled" (Sanchez-Grant, 2008, p. 78).

As Sanchez-Grant writes, if the mind is allied with culture and reason, it follows that the body is associated with all that is "other"; if woman is inextricably associated with the body, and the body is regarded as inferior to the mind - then surely woman is the inferior Other.

This theme has run through several of my last posts.

That's why the curse Marnie (under Antonia's influence) uttered, "Corrupt unsanctified corpse who walks behold your true self" is so torturous for Pam; for woman, dualism insists that the body is the true self, the essentialized ground of our being.

Under this logic, had the spell beset Pam's mind as the one cast on Eric did, it wouldn't be so bad.

This sexist construction of gender holds that the [feminine] body is entirely separate from the true inner self.

Intriguingly, under the witch's magic, amnesia Eric has become more endearing - he's playful, gentle, contrite for past offenses; he openly displays emotion and seems perhaps more his authentic self.

You know something? The more I think about it, maybe in his current state amnesia Eric is even more than his authentic self. He seems transcendent, self-sacrificing. Godric-like, even.

And he gets the girl, since he is more attractive to Sookie than when he is cold, cruel and calculating, swaggering "real" Eric.

While it's true that he must hide in Sookie's house for fear his vulnerable state may make him an easy target for anyone gunning for him (i.e. the witches, Bill, etc.) Pam must truly hide behind a mourning shroud - lamenting the death of her "true" self since the face a woman shows the world is how she is judged.

This connects to Sam Trammell's uneasiness at his character's yelling "damn, you're ugly" at a female bar patron as he crashed into Merlotte's fresh off his bender; hung over, agitated, and over-the-top belligerent. In my post on Dragon * Con 2010 I noted that it seemed Mr. Trammell sensed the egregiousness of assailing a woman's appearance, since aside from impugning her sexuality (i.e. labelling her as promiscuous, a whore, a "dyke", etc.) it's is one of the most cutting attacks someone can level at a female in our culture.

And here's a (depressing) dose of reality: Nearly half of men questioned in a recent poll of 70,000 people said they would ditch a partner who gained weight, compared to only 20 percent of women. Talk about how the body "feeds" identity, how a woman's "corporeal experience" influences her overall experience (Sanchez-Grant, 2008)!

Pam's own maker has made constant reference to how he could never harm Sookie because she is so beautiful. Where you suprised that in last night's I Wish I Was the Moon Eric recoiled only slightly from Pam, that he didn't all-out reject her ruined visage?

She has become the dreaded Rotting Goddess.

Hecate, She who repels. "A hideous hag and flesh-eating ghoul, her skin pallid and decaying, her robes a shroud...the repository for all the dark and fearsome forces of the feminine divine" (Ward, 2006, pp. 152-153).

She is Rot. Ooze and decay may have no place in the life of the disembodied [rational, male] mind, yet the messiness of birth, sex, and death - the cycle of embodied life - refuses to disappear. This is Hecate's realm. To exhume Her is to face the death aspect of the Goddess and the fusion of need and fear She arouses.

According to Ward (2006), the fear we projected of the Rotting Goddess onto witches long ago we now put onto ordinary women. He writes:
I get a flicker of something vile when I contemplate the image of the Rotting Goddess. She viscerally repels me, yet draws me, as if she holds a secret for me inside her fetid mouth, a flicker of truth about men's revulsion towards feminine flesh. I remember a friend of mine - he was only in high school at the time, and yet he understood this all too well - he told me he had found an easy way to break up with a girlfriend after he no longer wanted to be with her. When they started making out he said he would keep his eyes open, and he would just examine her, as if through a microscope. He would stare at the glistening pores, pimples, blackheads, the creases, hairs, erupting moles and folded skin. He would feel nauseated, and that would be the end of his attraction for her. In my 20s, in India and Thailand, I learned Buddhist techniques for eliminating sexual desire that followed much the same course. I was instructed to imagine a woman's body split up into five heaps of skin, nails, hair, teeth and internal organs, or to visualize a woman as nothing but sacks of blood and pus and shit. Feel sexual desire for that? Thus men learn that it is to treat women like dirt (as matter, not Mater) and break their spell over us.

Perhaps, in her current spellbound state, Pam can teach us about how men at large have been socialized to see women.


Christ, C.(1997) Rebirth of the goddess.  New York: Routledge.

Sanchez-Grant (2008).  The Female Body in Margaret Atwood's The Edible Woman and Lady Oracle. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 9, #2, 77-92

Ward, T. (2006). Savage breast: One man’s search for the goddess. New York: O Books.