Content note: rape culture
In this chapter, the slow descent begins. Today’s feature: Mary Sue traits.
“Mary Sue” is a term for a very specific kind of character, one found very often in beginning fanfiction and other amateur writings. Mary Sue is an author stand-in; she’s beautiful, perfect, all the male characters love her, and she often has special powers nobody else gets. A number of traits have become associated with the character archetype over the years: she often has a tragic backstory so she’s “more realistic”, though she never shows any sign of trauma since she’s so “beautiful inside”. Often she’s “not like other girls” or doesn’t fit in because she’s too beautiful/perfect; she “doesn’t wear makeup” because she’s just so naturally gorgeous, and her love is always True Love whereas other girls are often portrayed as sluts waiting to steal “her man”. Often she’s the focus of love triangles because of course, every male character wants to be with her. In other words, think Bella Swan on steroids.
I’m not saying Elena is a sue, just that she’s starting to share certain… characteristics as of this chapter. Already we’ve had the not fitting in due to having superpowers, but that makes sense for the genre.
Anyway, we begin the chapter with a digression about werewolves:
By necessity, most werewolves live in the human world […] The human world provides them with food, shelter, sex, and other necessities.
Can we talk about “sex” being listed alongside “food” and “shelter” as a “necessity”? That’s kind of a troubling indication of Rape Culture. “I couldn’t help myself, I was starved for sex!”
They view human interaction as a necessary evil, with attitudes ranging from contempt to barely concealed amusement.
But they have sex with humans anyway. They hate interacting with people, they view humans with contempt, but somehow obtain sex. This. Doesn’t sit well with me.
Mary Sue trait number 1: angsty past.
I grew up in foster homes. Bad foster homes. Not having had a family as a child, I became determined to create one for myself.
Mary Sue trait number 2: Everyone loves her despite her flaws
I knew what I was. I was difficult, temperamental, argumentative not the sort of woman someone like Phillip would fall for.
(with a side order of trait Number 3: flaws that aren’t flaws. We’ll see how it goes, but those are the sort of informed flaws that could easily be virtues in disguise. “argumentative” == “strong willed”, “difficult” == “moral in an amoral world”, et cetera).
Mary Sue trait number 4: “Nobody understands me.”
The Pack didn’t understand why I chose to live among humans. They couldn’t understand because they weren’t like me.
Mary Sue trait number 5: Special snowflake syndrome.
At last count there were approximately thirty-five werewolves in the world. Exactly three were nonhereditary, including me.
Me. The only female werewolf in existence.
All werewolves are men except her. Remember that rape culture thing from earlier? yeah.
Mary Sue trait number 6: All the men are fighting over her
When you’ve got a species with three dozen males and one female, that one female becomes something of a prize. And werewolves do not settle their battles over a nice game of chess.
Back to the patriarchy/rape culture:
Nor do they have a history of respect for women. Women serve two functions in the werewolf world: sex and dinner.
No wonder she’d rather be human.
We get some more glimpses into her pretend-human life: she eats food on the way home so that she’ll eat a normal-sized dinner and not be hungry; she doesn’t work out in front of people because she’ll slip up and lift weights that are too heavy.
Another nice passage, while watching TV:
The show’s writers had peppered the piece with words like “savage”, “wild”, and “animalistic”. What bullshit. Show me the animal that kills for the thrill of watching something die. Why does the stereotype of the animalistic killer persist? Because humans like it.
Finally, the plot intrudes: She gets a phone message.
“Elena? It’s Jeremy. [snip narration] Please call me. It’s important.”
She explains him away as family, and Phillip insists he’s eager to meet them. Elena doesn’t want to call back, but now that Phillip heard the message, she feels like she must, to keep up appearances.
Weird Werewolf Fact of the day:
Werewolves share some degree of telepathy. Most werewolves ignored it, preferring less mystical ways of communication. Jeremy had refined the ability to an art
She’s been shutting him out, so he called on the phone. Jeremy, it seems, is the Pack Alpha, so she really doesn’t want to get sucked into this. She calls back, but gets the answering machine. Over and over again over the next few days, she keeps getting the answering machine. I’d figure it wasn’t important after all, but I don’t appreciate mind games in the least and would refuse to put up with them. Phillip, on the other hand, thinks family is the most important thing in the universe (side note: I hate people like that, they never understand my need to keep my family at bay) and insists she go to see him to find out what’s wrong.
Who DOES that? Who flies from Toronto to New York State based on a single, vague phone message? That sounds totally unreasonable to me. But I understand doing things because you want to be the kind of person who would do them, even if this is kind of a strange situation.