Does “Shori’s First” Give Consent?

While reading Butler’s novel, Fledgling, there were multiple references to Wright as “Shori’s First” (72). I was confused by the intense level of devotion and feeling that seemed to be attached to this label. As Shori slowly starts her journey of discovery, taking in bits and pieces of the Ina culture to which she is connected, she also learns about what will happen to her symbiants. Iosif clarifies the connection Wright feels to Shori by explaining, “Wright smells of you- unmistakably. The scent won’t wash away or wear way. It’s part of him now. That should give you some idea of how we hold them” (73). As her father shares information regarding the feelings that have already begun to overwhelm Wright, Butler’s readers are drawn, once again, to the issue of consent.

Neither Shori nor Wright had the prior knowledge of the bond they would share to be able to fully consent to the formidable, unbreakable type of relationship symbiants and their Ina share. Neither understood the commitment they would have to make to the other in the first bite that would eventually bind them. In that moment, Shori just bit Wright because it felt good. Shori’s lack of understand of what she is even influences the first bit. She first notes his smell, pondering, “I didn’t have the words to say how good he smelled. Breaking his bones would be wrong” (10). In this surge of emotion, she does not understand her attraction and her quick reaction.

It could be argued that Shori does take Wright’s feelings into account. Although she does bite him, and her continued bites bind him to her, Shori was never fully aware of the uncontrollable connection this would foster when she first bite him. Despite the title afforded to him as “Shori’s First”, Wright is not her first priority (72). The lack of consent and conscious choice to bind them together causes Shori to feel slightly unconcerned attitude toward Wright’s emotions.

Shori does not feel overly bound to Wright, despite what his title as “Shori’s first” suggests (72). Clarissa touches on their relationship in her post, “Yes Means Yes”. In this blog post, Clarissa asks readers to question Wright’s intent, and his right to be sexually involved with Shori, who appears to be a young girl. Iosif brings Shori’s true immaturity into account by explaining, “She has at least one more important growth stage to go through before she is old enough to bare children” (64). The issue of consent is weaved throughout more than one aspect of their relationship. Clarissa touches on the physical nature of how they look… the right that a grown man has to be with a child, who clearly needs assistance. From this view, Shori is the one who is unable to give consent. This issue is turned upside down when it is revealed that Shori’s venom, is actually addictive, and Wright will die without it. From this viewpoint, Wright is unable to fully give consent. He had no idea that Shori’s bit would eventually take away his freedoms and ability to live a normal life. Butler asks readers to question this relationship and how both players’ consent comes into play, Wright’s consent is later stripped from him. Clarissa reflects that “what we feel like is an inappropriate relationship between Shori and Wright” can easily be argued that neither of them had enough knowledge to fully consent to each other.

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