Once upon a time female vampires in novels like Dracula and Carmilla were a force to be reckoned with. But those days are gone, says guest writer KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS, who takes a looks at the trend in television of killing of female vampires unless they successfully attach themselves to a man.
Vampires are a staple of the horror genre, and a favourite monster amongst the masses. Thanks to Bram Stoker in 1897, Dracula is one of the most recognisable characters in existence. Every culture has it’s own version of the toothy villain.
In the last 20 years, vampires have extended from literature and film to television, with shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003) and Angel (1999-2004) paving the way for others, like The Vampire Diaries (2009-present) and True Blood (2008-2014). These shows portray a range of vampires; from vicious to gentle and romantic to bitter, and they’ve also showcased stronger female leads. Gone are the days of Dracula’s brides; women depicted as weak and reliant on a man, despite their immortal status. Today’s girl vamps are strong, independent, and self-sufficient. Or are they?
Take Darla (Julie Benz), for example (featured in both Buffy and Angel). She’s strong, witty, and intelligent enough to actually take a gun to the slayer fight. She’s also submissive to a male ‘master’ and killed by Angel (David Boreanaz), her ex, whom she still loves. They were together about a century, but that didn’t factor in when he killed her to save his crush – virtuous human Buffy (Sarah Michelle Geller). Darla was resurrected in Angel, only to be rejected by him after he punches her through a glass door and then has sex with her (because, you know, you always have to punch someone through a door before you get it on). Despite mystically becoming pregnant with his child, she still isn’t the woman for him, and she dies again.
In The Vampire Diaries, Damon (Ian Somerholder) and Stefan (Paul Wesley) reject Katherine (Nina Dobrev), both in favour of her human (and sexually inexperienced) doppleganger Elena (Nina Dobrev). Her fate? Hell, presumably.
But that’s got nothing on True Blood, a show that axes more chicks than a butcher.
Let’s start with the lesbians. We have Queen Sophie-Anne (Evan Rachel Wood), who happens to favour the ladies. She ends up betrayed and killed by Bill (Stephen Moyer), a male vampire that she trusts. Then there’s Tara (Rutina Wesley). She gets all vampified, eventually rejects men and oh.. look at that. Dead. In fact, despite being in the show right from the beginning, she doesn’t even get an on-screen death.
Then there’s Lorena (Mariana Klaveno), who remains desperately in love with Bill, whom she was once involved with for many years. Bill physically assaults her (he even goes so far as to twist her head around the wrong way during sex). Later on, he kills her. He loves Sookie (Anna Paquin). She was a virgin when he met her. Hmm.
The only female vampire who gets her man and her happy ending is Jessica (Deborah Ann Woll). She rejects the love of her life, Hoyt (Jim Parrack) and goes off exploring blood sucking and her sexual needs. She realises the error of her ways, but it’s too late, Hoyt hates her for breaking his heart and being all slutty. In the end though, via the power of making Hoyt completely forget about her, and therefore her dirty doings, she ends up actually marrying the guy. So what’s different about Jessica? How come she didn’t get staked in the heart before metaphorically fusing it to Hoyt’s? Well, I’m glad you asked! Before Jessica was ‘turned’ she was a virgin, and since vampires have remarkable healing capabilities, her virginity..er…grows back, after every sexual encounter. She’s an eternal virgin, and therefore, eternally pure, and therefore, good enough for a man to love her.
Quick recap: sexually experienced yet single Darla… dead. Sexy but single Katherine… dead. Lesbians with no interest in men… dead. Lorena… dead. Meanwhile, Buffy, Elena, and Sookie (all virgins or at least inexperienced when they meet their bitey boyfriends) survive, as does eternal virgin Jessica. Plus, they don’t get punched through doors, walls, or anything else on a regular basis. Buffy’s Drusilla (Juliet Landau) is the only exception, but since she’s insane that excuses why she wouldn’t want a man, the poor, silly, crazy woman! So she’s let off the death penalty.
Unfortunately, much like the real world, the vamp world is still stung by the stigma that a sexually-liberated woman deserves some sort of punishment. No wonder Dracula’s brides didn’t mind sharing him, they probably figured out that there was safety in numbers.
KAYLEIGH MARIE EDWARDS is a freelance writer and entertainer based in South Wales. She has been published in several anthologies, and specialises mostly in comedy/horror. She has had two theatre plays staged, and is working on that pesky first novel. She likes cheese, but that doesn’t have anything to do with the writing. Read Kayleigh’s blog at her Kay of the Dead website.