This is the second installment in our guest blogs provided by the wickedly talented Ardeur contributors. This time we’re offering a post from Heather Swain, the writer of the Ardeur essay “Girls Gone Wild” (which is up for your reading pleasure today and throughout the week).
Heather’s essay and her post below make a great point about the uniqueness of Laurell K. Hamilton’s character, Anita Blake. The stronger her sex drive, the stronger she becomes, which is unfortunately not the case for most women in the spotlight today. The American media make Britney Spears (and plenty of others) out to be sleazy, but, as Heather asks, “Can’t [she] just like sex?”
Anita Blake is a bold and sexual woman, and there’s something to be learned from her. Not just by other women but by everyone who forms opinions about female sexuality.
I’ve always been fascinated by how Laurel K. Hamilton walks the line between writing erotica and writing social commentary. Some people think her Anita Blake series is just monster porn, but I see something different in her work. Strong women, ostracized social groups, religious musings, and lots of sex. For example, her treatment of the shape shifters reminds me of how AIDS was viewed in the late 80s and early 90s, when people who were infected had to hide their blood disease for fear of retribution.
In particular, I’ve always loved Anita’s transformation from a celibate monster killer to a free-wheeling sex maniac. Hamilton is not the first writer to explore this topic. The story of the fallen woman has titillated readers from Biblical times through classic novels and has found a whole new life in current day tabloids. Every year another good girl gone bad dominates the headlines of celebrity gossip rags with Britney Spears being one of the most talked about in recent history. But Hamilton has managed to take this kind of story and turn it upside down, which is indicative of her brand of genre busting. Far from undoing Anita, her shift from celibate to swinger empowers her and kicks the series into a souped-up, super sexy, and yet still serious thrill a minute ride for the reader. In tabloids, the headlines have to always be fresh, so women like Britney are continually replaced, but Anita has staying power.
I would argue that this is because Hamilton turns on our brains as much as our sex drive when we read her work. Like any great author, Hamilton can be read on many levels, from pure pleasure to thoughtful social critique. I would guess that that, as much as all the titillating sex scenes, is why she continues to sell books after nearly two decades of writing.