So for some reason or another, Ariel and I are actually working on a “Proud Supporter of Blow Jobs” mug. Which basically means we’re struggling with how the hell to make such a thing in a way that is more so about feminism, female empowerment, and against slut shaming than it is, say, pro-blow jobs. Which, in turn, basically means we had a pretty hilarious Facebook conversation where somehow this was how our brainstorming progressed:
- Proud supporter of blow jobs if that’s what you want to do
- Proud supporter of blow jobs, presents, and other things that are your choice to give and receive
- Proud supporter of blow jobs, grilled cheese, and other things that are your choice
top: “Proud Supporter of Blow Jobs”; middle: stick figure human and stick figure vampire; bottom: “Suck what you choose to suck”
Are we on… I would say “the right track”, but we’re talking about designing a mug about blow jobs, and I’m not entirely certain how my life has led up to this point. [Ariel says: But seriously, give us your opinion. We want to make something that people won’t misinterpret but also makes people laugh. But if our problems seem big to you, just wait till you see what Zoey’s in for! Being a vampyre teenager is haaard.]
The last chapter ended with Zoey’s friends from the first two chapters – Kayla and Heath – returning to break her out of the House of Night, which made no sense because vampyres cannot physically leave or they’ll die. Zoey also inferred that her BFF Kayla and ex-boyfriend Heath are together now, which made no sense because why would they both want to get Zoey back? Zoey scared Kayla off, offended by her being a bad friend, which made no sense because why is it only the girl’s fault that the girl best friend and ex-boyfriend got together after she was gone? [Ariel says: Zoey’s been gone for like three days, weren’t they busy being in school!] Heath refused to leave, however, talking about how much he loves Zoey, and Zoey reminisced about the feelings she once had for him, which made no sense because this is literally the first time she’s ever spoken fondly of Heath and has in fact spent the entire novel previously talking about how they were never actually boyfriend and girlfriend. [Ariel says: She also regularly points out how unappealing she finds him nowadays.] [Matthew adds: Except for literally just right now.]
Now we’re all caught up on what happened. Or something.
And thus, Zoey has her first significant scene alone with her male love interest, Erik Night. Cue the Young Adult Fiction! Although it starts off strangely promising when Zoey realizes she might be wrong about slut shaming?
“I wish you hadn’t [seen the scene between me and Aphrodite in the hallway]. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about me. […] I just want you to know that she and I are not going out anymore.”
I almost said that it sure looked like Aphrodite wasn’t aware of that, but then I thought about what had just happened between Heath and me, and with a sense of surprise I realized that maybe I shouldn’t judge Erik too harshly.
HOLY FUCKING FUCKBURGERS, BATMAN. Did Zoey just suddenly learn that judging people based exclusively on their sexual past is a bad way to judge people? Is this character growth??? [Ariel says: I thought the same thing when I read this! I read this part like five times thinking I’d opened the wrong document on my computer to read.]
Hahaha, fucking of course not!
[Erik] took his finger from my chin and […] traced the shape of a pentagram softly over my darkened Mark. I liked the way his finger felt against my skin – warm and a little rough. I also liked that being near him didn’t set off all the weird reactions I’d had to being close to Heath. […] Not that I’d mind if he kissed me…
Hell! Was I becoming a vampyre slut?
Yes, Zoey. Wanting to kiss a boy even when a different boy has kissed you recently makes you a skinny, mini, blondie, booby, girly girl like slaggy slaggy Lindsay.
[Ariel says: So close. Instead it was like when Travis was like, “I’ve stopped bagging random women,” and we were like, “yay?” But then he just followed that up with, “I bagged Abby instead!” And we were all like, “Oh, so you’re still going to go with that word choice. Huh.”]
Yes, I skipped over about a third of the chapter to set up that joke, but I feel like it’s kind of an important point to make. Zoey has a brief moment of understanding that slut shaming is maybe a bad thing (since Erik could come to the same conclusions about her that she previously did about him), and then it somehow gets over-corrected into even more slut shaming?
Hell! Was I becoming a vampyre slut? What was next? Would no male of any species (which might even include Damien) be safe around me?
Again… what? Just… okay, just to try to see what on earth her thought process was here, a boy she used to be involved with kissed her, but now she wants the boy she’s currently interested in to kiss her, so therefore the only logical conclusion is NO MAN CAN RESIST THE SIREN THAT IS ZOEY REDBIRD?
Okay. Let’s move on from this, because there are so many more things in this chapter to get pissed off about. Before Zoey’s 180 on slut shaming, Zoey explains to Erik that she isn’t okay because she’s freaked out by how good the blood tasted to her. Erik explains that vampyres develop bloodlust as they mature and that’s what she must have experienced, and usually only fully-grown vampyres experience it. Zoey laments being different, but Erik comforts her, explaining to her that being different isn’t a bad thing, but she says she can’t help feeling embarrassed anyway. Erik shares a story about the first time he tried blood at a Dark Daughters ritual and he thought he was hot shit because he was going to a big acting competition but he threw blood up everywhere. It’s actually all sweet enough until the Casts put on their homophobia hats again.
He paused and then, with a quick smile added, “And Heath sounds like the name of a gay soap opera star.”
Okay. Apparently you were super confused about this, Kristin and PC Cast. So we’re just going to take five, and I’m going to explain how human communication works. Just because you say you are something, for example “I hate homophobes”, this doesn’t mean that you are that something, like not homophobic. This is especially the case is you repeatedly do that thing you say you don’t do, like make homophobic comments. So even if you declare yourself not to be a homophobe, your actions do, in fact, make you a homophobe. This is the “Yeah, I used the N word, but it’s okay because I have black friends” argument. It’s incorrect. [Ariel says: But, Matt, Zoey has a gay friend and the Casts have like twenty gay friends, so it’s fine!]
Now, to cover my bases, there is a valid counterargument. These are characters in a book. It isn’t “bad” for there to be homophobic characters in a story who aren’t self-aware of their homophobia, so long as it serves some purpose. The story could, for example, be written in such a way that the reader picks up on this character flaw that the main character does not, and the reader observes the character’s error (this is much more common than my abstract explanation makes it sound – the reader is aware of Hamlet’s inaction and observes how his flaw results in the death of almost all of his family and friends; the viewer is aware of the racist characters of West Side Story and observes how their disinterest in doing anything about their prejudice results in tragedy). On one level, attributing the thoughts of a homophobic character in a text to the author inherently commits the intentional fallacy, which is a fancy English major term for “not how art works”.
But in the case of House of Night, I seriously doubt this is relevant. Male love interest makes a homophobic joke, female main character laughs at it, the sun rises in the east. It’s a throwaway gag, like the many, many other homophobic jokes contained in this book. It is a book that constantly dehumanizes gay people without any indication of consequence, while it simultaneously brags about how progressive it is. It is very easy to imagine the Casts being super proud of themselves for writing a single line about how people should be accepting of other peoples and therefore putting a good message in their book, and not even noticing the hypocrisy when they undo it a few lines later with a gay joke like this. [Ariel says: You know, I bet the Casts were writing all the anti-pot messages while smoking a joint and then patting themselves on the back for sending the right message to the kidz.]
No, seriously, it is very easy to imagine this. Here’s how I imagine the writing process going down behind our personal favorite “[Damien] was cute. Not in [an] overly girly way” line:
Cast #1: Hey, let’s have Damien be gay!
Cast #2: What a great idea! That will make the cast more diverse and progressive!
Cast #1: Yeah! Especially for the impressionable audience we’re writing for, this will be a good model for tolerance!
Cast #2: Exactly! High five!
Cast #1: High five!
(CAST #1 and CAST #2 high five)
Cast #2: So how should we describe our gay character?
Cast #1: Well, not like… gay…
Okay. Let’s move on from this now, because I’ve already written 1300 words about slut shaming and homophobia, and we really have to cover these two wacky kids flirting with each other. It’s important.
They debate the possibility that Heath was in a trance, which is apparently a thing vampyres can do to humans in this book even though I’m pretty sure this is the first time it’s been mentioned. Even though their logic for it is insanely stupid:
“Well, that rules out two things that could have been making him act weird. One – if he was just high then he would have been like that the whole time. (Because drug-induced behavior is known for its consistency.) Two – he might have been acting like that because you’re really pretty, and that alone could make a guy feel like he’s in a trance around you.”
Guys, I legitimately can’t even summarize this shit because I can’t understand it. I have no idea what the rules of a trance are or why any of their deductions are legitimate reasons for why it would or would not apply. You’re just going to have to be lost on this one and hope it never comes up again, like Kayla and Heath.
Speaking of Heath, Zoey is noticing that she feels differently about Erik than about Heath or any boy before.
His words made something flutter low in my stomach again – something that no guy had made me feel before. Not Heath the Jock, or Jordan the Sloth, or Jonathan the Stupid Band Kid (my dating history isn’t long, but it’s colorful).
WE FUCKING GET IT, ZOEY. YOU’RE BETTER THAN EVERYONE ELSE.
“what you’re saying is that he didn’t seem entranced until after blood came into the picture.”
(Entranced – hee hee – he actually said entranced.) I was too busy grinning stupidly at his use of complex vocab
I’m sorry. What the shit? Jesus, this book is like shooting fish in a barrel sometimes. “Entranced” is “complex vocab”? [Ariel says: It is for someone who thinks the word “sperms” exists and whose favorite word is “poopie”.] This really says a lot about how the Casts have no idea how to write for whoever the fuck their audience is if they think “entranced” is an impressively long word in a book that also discusses oral sex.
They realize it’s close to sunrise and Erik walks Zoey back to her dorm. They talk about how it’s impossible for vampyres to get drunk off of alcohol, because fucking of course they don’t. The Casts would not stand for such immorality. They also talk about how a vampyre feeding off a living human causes a strong bond that can lead to infatuation and blah blah blah young adult fiction contrived soul mate mechanism blah blah blah. Erik drops her off at her door, telling Zoey that “I’m the guy for you if you decide you might like to try another sip of blood”, kisses (and/or licks) her wrist, and then leaves.