I was planning on doing this post, though probably over at the fan blog, and then some of you asked about my best/worst from the years reading. Well, this doesn't cover the best but it definitely covers the worst. Which is actually pretty sad for me.
Back when I was in...middle school/high school I was introduced to this new series that was being published. The series was about this character, Anita Blake and she lived in an alternate reality where vampires, werewolves, etc. were all not only real but everyone knew about them and they had gained citizenship (at least in the US). Anita was an animator (someone who was born with an innate magical talent that allowed them to raise the dead as zombies) who also hunted down rogue vampires. It was great. I loved it and I ate it up.
Anita was this strong, tough woman who did a job that was mostly a male dominated position and was good at it 'in spite' of her being a woman. She was pretty, and smart, and tough and everything that girls want to grow up to be. She had a gorgeous man panting after her but she turned him down time and time again. You would read reviews and hear about how this character was a great roll model of feminism. But I didn't care about any of that. I just thought that it was great that she got to kick bad guy ass and have boobs at the same time. I was easy, okay?
Fast forward to today.
All authors put something of themselves into their characters. But there's this phenomenon known as the Mary Sue in writing. It boils down to a female character being introduced who is just...perfect. Absolutely, utterly perfect. Everyone loves her. Everyone wants her. She just happens to have each and every odd and obscure skill that might possibly be needed. And if she doesn't? It magically appears in her. Because she is Mary Sue! Basically it's REALLY BAD AUTHOR INSERTION!
Why is this relevant? Because that's what Anita is. Heck, that's what the other female lead in LKH's other series is as well. They are stand ins for LKH. Even their physical descriptions sound remarkably just like the author. Which, okay. Not the worlds worst sin.
But it is a problem when you are using your work as therapy and getting it so horribly fucking messed up.
Going back to Anita. About 7 books into the series Anita finally 'gives in' and sleeps with the man who has been courting/pursuing her for years. Does she do it because she's realised how deeply she's felt for him? No. Does she do it because she's got an itch to scratch? Nope. She has sex with Jean-Claude because her boyfriend, the one she 'really loves' is a werewolf and he ate someone. So she gets all wigged out (which is not beyond the realm of understanding. I mean, ew) and flees to Jean-Claude and his hotness knowing that this choice, having sex with him will drive Richard away for good. Righty. Kind of iffy choice, but it was her choice. And then a little later on she starts sleeping with both JC and Richard. Again, questionable from certain points of view but all parties know that she's sleeping with both of them and they're working out their power structure. Whatever.
We're now at book, what? 19? I don't even know. It doesn't matter. Because Anita went from being a woman who fought alongside the men. Who was sometimes overpowered and hurt and needed help to being the freaking Wonder Slut. LKH chose to give Anita powers (from the clear freaking blue sky) that make her literally irresistible. It's like the ultimate date rape drug. It goes into effect and it doesn't matter if you even like women in a sexual manner or not, you will be having sex with Anita. And she can just roll over your mind like that. Eat your personality basically so that all you want to do is please her.
Keeping in mind that Anita is a fictional projection of LKH, can we see where this is a problem that probably needs therapy?
Anita is 'stronger' than all the men around her. But why? Because LKH has created all the men in her world as broken. They've all been abused and so they need Anita to be in charge in different ways. She's their 'Princess Charming'. But, dammit, she's still abusing them! Her magical hotness makes it impossible for them to even make a choice. And once they've been whammied there's no way for them to go back to the way they were before. She's addictive.
So LKH has basically made it clear that the only way she feels women can be equal to or stronger than men is if the men are badly broken in the first place and then all of her power is through sex. *rolls eyes*
Also, Anita (like her creator) lost her mother when she was six to a car accident. I do not in any way deny that this is traumatic and painful. Her father remarried someone who looked nothing like her mother and so Anita/LKH has felt like the odd person out her whole life. I'm sorry. But that's not abuse. That is not an excuse to have this 'giant burning pool of hate' inside of you all the time. It is not. It does not give you equal footing when the man you're talking to has just told you that he was beaten and raped and pimped out by his own father and then watched his older brother be beaten to death. Your 'I lost my mother' does not actually compare and all the men should not all of a sudden be all, 'oh, poor you! your trauma is so deep and scaring!' No. Do you know what that makes you? A selfish bitch who cannot empathise with people who have actually suffered deeply. Because it is ALL ABOUT YOU.
I think it's absolutely wonderful that LKH has discovered she likes a little slap with her tickle. That doesn't mean that she has to keep defending it as 'perfectly normal' through her characters. It is normal. Some people like one thing, some people another. The diversity of sexual behaviour is normal. However it's clear that someone has told LKH that it is perverse and some part of her still believes it or she wouldn't feel the need to defend it every five seconds.
And don't get me started on Anita's ability to pull a new power out of her ass every five seconds. Do you want the hero to win? Of course. But upping their power level every time is just poor writing. Can't think of a clever way out of a scenario? *bam* New power.
There are plenty of authors who have strong female characters and don't fall into this trap. So I'm forced to conclude that it's a problem with the author and not the concept.