Vampires and crosses


There’s something I alluded to in my Big Idea essay that I meant to expand upon. Unfortunately, it didn’t fit the theme of the essay, so I’m inflicting it on you here.

Writers, do not make your vampires cringe away from/burn at the touch of crosses and crucifixes.

Why? Well, let’s talk about honor killings. Seriously.

In Jordan, as much as one-third of the murders of women are honor killings. Women who are raped are not treated as victims–they’re treated like criminals and killed.

In our own culture, we’re still trying to get past the idea that women are at least partly-responsible for sexual assaults against them. We still still have people who want to what a woman was wearing or what she did to cause the assault. It’s taking a long time to excise that attitude from our culture, but I like to think that most people, if they stop to think about it, understand that you don’t blame the victim.

And here’s why I think these two topics are related: You (man or woman) are walking home from work at night when someone jumps out of an alley, drags you in and kills you by draining your blood. Or maybe you (man or woman) meet someone sexy and interesting and decide to invite them back to your place; once there, things go way too far and you end up the victim of an attack.

And how does God treat you afterwards? God burns you every time you touch one of his symbols.

I know, it’s a trivial thing, really. It’s a silly vampire story, and it isn’t a patch on the real misery real victims endure. Still, it’s a relic of an older, awful time, when crime victims were held at least partly culpable for their victimization. It enshrines a culture where the highest, most exalted being repudiates someone because of a thing they had no control over, because of a choice and an action that fell on someone else.

It turns God into a blame-the-victim asshole. Really, the Supreme Deity really ought to get his public relations department to work on this.

If I weren’t an atheist, I’d be seriously annoyed. As an atheist, I consider it simply inconsistent characterization and a cultural relic of awful times. Also as an atheist, I have to admit that, while I consider vampires dangerous and scary, I don’t think of them as “evil.” Certainly not more evil than a shark or a tiger–they’re hungry, and people are their prey. As soon as The Lord starts turning away crocodiles with the power of faith, I’ll accept it with vampires.

So, God=one of the good guys. In theory, at least, right? Then maybe he should stop setting fire to crime victims who come too near him in our stories.

2 thoughts on “Vampires and crosses

  1. 1) “Blaming the Victim”

    I don’t find the analogy persuasive. Being the victim of an attack doesn’t give someone a carte blanche to then do harm to others. The crucial component that is missing in the rape issue is that women who are raped don’t then go out and commit other crimes — or if they do, their victimhood should not be used as way to excuse the crimes. Vampires prey on other human beings, turning them into food, which is to say, property. And the fundamental basis on which all modern morality rests is in the sanctity of human life.

    2) Your assumptions are based on the fact that vampires are basically the same people they were prior to becoming vampires. They aren’t. They aren’t even human. Do they have a soul? Did they have a choice in their conversion — the Embrace of White Wolf / Anne Rice fiction.

    3) The author is making a choice when they write about holy symbols harming vampires. Either they are making a comment on the cruelty of God, such as you are, or they are making a comment on the fundamental nature of vampirism — that it is outside Nature, no longer under the Will of God.

    I think most moral people can agree that blaming a woman for being victim to a rape is a horrible thing. But that doesn’t absolve all victims from any complicity in the crimes to which they are a victim of. For Example, take the Joker’s version of the Prisoner’s Dilemma in Dark Knight Returns, or a version of it anyway.

    The Murderer puts his two victims in adjoining chambers. In each chamber is a speaker, a vent, and a button. When they wake up, the victims hear the voice of the Murderer out of the speaker. The Vents are hooked up to toxic gas that will kill the victims in horrible ways. Either victim can press the button to save themselves, but if they do so, the other victim will die by inches. And the button presser will have to watch.

    If they don’t press a button, both victims will die in one minute.

    If one of the victims presses the button, he becomes complicit in the murder of the other victim. Not guilty of murder, morally, but he made a choice to kill an innocent person to preserve his own life. He has become complicit in the death of another person.

    Anyway, I rambled for far too long. I really enjoyed Child of Fire, and look forward to the next one. Noir and magic are like chocolate and peanut butter.

  2. Toby, thanks for reading my book, and thanks for dropping a comment, too.

    To clarify: I’m not really commenting on the cruelty of God, only on the a common story-telling trope that writers use unthinkingly. Most people believe in a God of Love and Forgiveness, and I’m suggesting that setting people on fire with the touch of a cross because they’re vampires flies in the face of that idea.

    And while it’s true that vampires feed on people, so do sharks and tigers and grizzlies. If the power of God can protect people from being vampire food, why not crocodile food, too?

    Finally, why would God set fire to people who turn to darkness and sin? The God I grew up learning about–who would forgive any transgression, as long as your confession was sincere–should be ready to accept every sinner, even ones who Embraced.

    But that’s me.

    Thanks again for reading the book. Please do tell folks about it–authors rely on word of mouth, especially new authors like me.

    Best wishes.

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