Heternormativity and Race in Fledgling

Theodora’s reaction to Shori when she asks her to live with her: pg 91: “You are a vampire”, she said. “Although, according to what I read, you’re supposed to be a tall, handsome, fully grown, white man. Just my luck.”

Her reaction seems to indicate more than a comment on traditional vampire lore. Rather, she seems to comment on their sexual relationship. It is clear and obvious that Shori is attracted to Theodora, and evidently vice versa. I wonder then, if this initial reaction to what Shori is is Theodora stepping back from what she seems to perceive as unexpected. In their sexual relationship, Shori’s dominance over her (something else I would like to talk about later in this post) seems to be typical of the masculine quality of a heterosexual relationship. Her aggressiveness is unexpected, her control over Theodora ‘should’ only come from a man. From Theodora’s comments on her family, it seems that she had lived her life up to that point as heterosexual. She has children, I believe her husband died. However, this is again presumptuous and my assumption reeks of the societal acceptance of heteronormativity as “expected”, rather than the tolerance of all types of sexual and non-sexual relationships (asexuality) that encompass the scope of intimacy. Nevertheless, this reaction to Shori’s advances seems to point towards the atypicality of homosexual relationships. The inclusion that Shori should be a “white man” also points toward her atypicality of her race, another comment on society’s unacceptance of “unexpected” relationships, this time interracial ones. This is despite the growing rights both groups have achieved. Studies like Project Implicit, a Harvard study that tests for implicit racism come to mind when I think about how far we are from full acceptance of race and sexual orientation. Futher, it seems that Butler has indeed used vampirism as a way to talk about the “unexpected”: issues of race, family, birthright, and sexuality, something I thought was missing from the novel. I understood that Shori’s blackness and memory loss were metaphors for talking about complicated issues, but I was so used to writers of vampire lore to use the alien-ness of vampirism as a metaphor for other things that are “foreign” to the majority; in the same way a Black woman would be viewed as “foreign” or “non-human” to prejudiced whites through colonialism and post-colonialism, a Black Ina would also be seen as “foreign” and “non-Ina” to prejudiced vampires.

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