17 9 / 2014
First of all, the way that this novel is written is intriguing and helpful to the reader. Because she has lost her memory, we are learning about Shori as she is learning about herself. She doesn’t know or understand her identities but before she can even begin to discover these, she has to start with her most basic need of hunger.
Once she is strong enough, she is able to explore who she is and what it means.
Butler starts off by introducing us to Wright, a male symbiont, who is Shori’s first partner. Again, she starts by fulfilling her most basic need of hunger, but their relationship quickly turns sexual (despite Wright’s hesistance due to his perception of her age, but that’s a different story). Shori knows that Wright enjoys when she bites him and she knows she enjoys fulfilling his desires as well. I wonder, though, how the story would have played out if a female had picked up Shori on the side of the road.
Next, Shori realizes she must feed from others. She goes to Wright’s neighbors and finds an older woman, Theodora, whose “aloneness is good, somehow.” She has no problem with being comfortable feeding from a female. The first time she feeds, it is solely a transactional process; Shori does not even allow her to turn to face her. However, she does hold her after in order to make sure she’s okay and Theodora makes “a satisfied little sound.” The event is more tender than she was with Wright, perhaps because Theodora is a woman.
When Shori returns, she has a conversation with Theodora about her job and what’s happening, and then Theodora kisses her. Theodora has no reservations in kissing Shori, and though Shori experiences “a moment of surprise”, she kisses Theodora back. I was amazed that Shori so easily accepted this as part of her identity. We find out later that Theodora’s husband has died and she is lonely. Is it only Shori’s venom that makes Theodora okay with kissing her or is there something more? On Shori’s part, this action must have caused something to click in her memory that told her it is okay to have sexual relationships with both genders, and with more than one person at once (though she knows Wright will be jealous).
Shori and Wright discuss these encounters later on, when Wright asks if she has developed any other symbionts. Wright asks if Shori has slept with any of the others. She replies no, but explains that she spent more time with Theodora (and not with the other four- two men and two women) because “something in her comforts and pleases me.” Wright then makes a snide comment of, “Swing both ways, do you?” Shori is hurt and confused by his tone and then has to let him know that, yes, she will have sex with both male and female symbionts “if both they and I want it.”
It seems to me that any symbiont- male or female- would want to after the venom is injected into them, due to how it makes them feel, but perhaps there was something special about Theodora which made her more susceptible to kissing Shori. Theodora is also pleased and eager to go with Shori when she asks her to become a symbiont. It will be interesting to see how or if their relationship develops because this is the first time Shori has bonded with a woman.
There is also the issue of Shori needing to feed from Celia and Brook in order to save them, but that has not happened yet. I think Shori’s aversion to doing so is entirely because of their “smell”- their connection to Stefan and Iosif, rather than a hesitance because of their gender.
I appreciate that Butler adds in this dynamic to the novel and I am curious to see how she continues to explore it in later chapters.
By: Allison Hyman
12 8 / 2014
Also just a friendly reminder that “virginity” is a patriarchal heterosexist social construct, that having sex (what kind of sex? how do you even define sex?) doesn’t change who you are, and that if and how much sex you have doesn’t say anything about your worth as a human being!
31 7 / 2014
"If they don’t need you, it’s okay. You don’t live for other people."
31 7 / 2014
"The hours between 12am and 6am
have a funny habit of making you feel
like you’re either on top of the world,
or under it."
10 6 / 2014
having to turn on the subtitles on netflix because you’re eating chips