Newsflash, Vampire Bill: Rape is Neither Romantic, Nor Charming

Those of us who watch HBO’s True Blood would have a hard time denying the show’s sex appeal (or at least, sex). After all, Bon Temps, Lousiana (the fictional setting for the show) is one seeexxxy town. Vampires banging humans? Check. Humans banging shape-shifting farm animals? Check. A racy sex website hosted by a main character? Check. A crazed ancient goddess who makes everyone around her bang each other? Check. But female rape fantasies realized by gentlemanly Civil War-era vampires? Um, no, actually.

The current issue of Nylon Magazine features an interview with Anna Paquin (main character Sookie Stackhouse), Stephen Moyer (her boyfriend Vampire Bill), and the show’s creator Alan Ball. Much of the interview revolves around Anna Paquin’s nipples and hair color (thanks, Nylon! I guess blondes really do have more fun!) but this final quote from Stephen Moyer has me sharpening my stakes (and not just because I think Vampire Bill is kind of a douche):

Epilogue: Stephen Moyer, on Vampire Sex:
The thing about vampirism is that it taps into a female point of view – you have an old-fashioned gentleman with manners who is a fucking killer… it’s an interesting duality, because in our present society it would be an odd thing for a woman to say, ‘I want my man to be physical with me.’ How, as a modern man, can you fucking work that? It’s one thing to be polite and gentle… But when do you know it’s OK to crawl out of the mud and rape her [as Bill does in one scene]?… It’s difficult stuff for a bloke, but a vampire gets away with it…. I think that’s the attraction of the show – it’s looking back at a romantic time when men were men, but they were still charming.”


Behold, Sookie Stackhouse living out every modern woman’s fantasy (or… not). Image via Icons of Fright

WTF, Vampire Bill? Was raping women a “gentlemanly” activity when you were growing up during the Civil War? (Yes, he grew up during the Civil War.) Do you think that forcing yourself on a woman and sucking her blood is the “romantic” realization of every frigid, non-Vampire-dating woman’s fantasy? And am I the only one who read that coming-out-of-the-grave scene as completely consensual (if a bit unhygienic)? Let’s discuss.

For those readers not yet dedicated to this blood-soaked soap opera, here is a video clip of Vampire Bill emerging from the ground (where he was hiding out from potential murderers) and getting it on with Sookie. For background info, they have been seeing each other for a while at this point. Not that that negates the rape possibility or anything, it’s just helpful data to have for analytical purposes. (Apologies for the inclusion of Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer” in the video; it was the best version I could find.):

True Blood Ep. 8 Graveyard/Closer

So, what do you think? As a True Blood watcher I have to be honest and say that that scene did not come across as a rape to me. Sookie seems genuinely into the sex, and I think the obvious intensity comes from the fact that she thought Bill was dead and then found out he was, well, undead. However, my own reading of the scene doesn’t change the fact that one of the actors construed it as a rape, and he thinks that is what women want. It’s just that modern men are somehow unable to give it to them.

Moyer’s claim that True Blood incorporates a lot of sex fantasies into its plots is a valid one. A running theme in the show is the fetishization of vampires (by both men and women) because of their primal sexual urges (and supernatural abilities). Vampire stories, from Bram Stoker’s Dracula on down to Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight have often flirted with the idea of blood-sucking, fang-penetrating, dirty, undead sex. No surprise there; the smut practically writes itself.

Where Bill goes off the rails in this interview, IMHO, is when he implies that the modern woman fantasizes about rough sex but is unable to realize that fantasy (if she wants to) without a vampire in the mix. Do some women fantasize about rough, animalistic sex? Sure. Do some women fantasize about rape? Sure. But that doesn’t mean that rape is “romantic”, or “gentlemanly”, or “charming,” or that women are secretly begging for it. It also doesn’t mean a woman needs a vampire in order to get her kicks. And what’s up with Moyer’s statement that a modern woman can’t ask for her “man” to be rough with her. Why the hell not?

Also, why does Moyer see this “duality” as a problem for men (or blokes, as he puts it)? When he says that navigating rough sex and rape is “difficult stuff for a bloke” it sounds like he is lamenting the fact that modern-day men are not given carte blanche to run around raping women and emerging from graves. Sorry dude, I’m just not that sympathetic. And I don’t think most men are, either.

At any rate, rape is nothing to joke about (though you could have fooled The Huffington Post, with their headline “Anna Paquin & Stephen Moyer Talk Rapey Vampire Sex”) and though I am reluctant to say that True Blood glorifies rape in any way (since I didn’t perceive the scene as rape), Moyer’s comments have still left me cold. (Pun, however bad, intended.)

by Kelsey Wallace
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Kelsey Wallace is an editor in Portland, Oregon. Follow her on Twitter if you like TV and pictures of dogs.

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23 Comments Have Been Posted

What a Terrible Headline! (From Huff Po)

I mean, really, Jinkies.

When I first saw that scene it did give me pause. They *had* been dating, and she *did* think he was dead, but it happened so fast that she would have had a hard time stopping the situation from progressing -- particularly given his supernatural strength. And though I believe the intention was, as you wrote, meant to be a consensual sex scene -- and it was supposed to be some sort of passionate ravaging -- what gave me pause was the way it was filmed. Sookie is screaming, a hand from the grave grabs her, a man gets on top of her and removes her clothing. It COULD be read as rape - but again, I didn't think it was meant to until you shared Moyer's comment.

Jinkies again.

Jennifer K. Stuller

I don't think that scene is

I don't think that scene is a rape scene at all. I think the problem is with Moyer's verbalization of his opinion, which frankly makes little sense. I don't think his personal confusion and perversion of what women want should deter people from watching the show.

Moyer seems to be getting

Moyer seems to be getting "rape" confused with "rough sex." Newsflash, Moyer: "Rape" is NONCONSENSUAL sex that is NOT enjoyed or desired by the victim. "Rough sex" is CONSENSUAL sex that has an aspect of violence to it, but IS desired by both parties. Big difference, there.

Ugh. I could go further with this. But I can't even begin to parse the ridiculous assumptions made in Moyer's statement about women and female sexuality, not to mention sexuality in general.

i agree

i don't think he meant what he said. i think he meant rough dominating sex. not forced sex. it's a serious linguistic problem. it is also why people think that being raped by someone you know without them hurting you isn't rape. it's fucked up.


Yeah the word rape is an unfortunate choice for the context. It sounds like he had a few too many lattes. Actually it may well be that--as is often the case--the actor is not as smart as the writers. (Remember the dumb sh*t Sarah Michelle Gellar said once not being a hairy legged feminist?) IMO, the writers, directors and actors of True Blood are not making rape sexy, they are making sex sexy which is way over the heads of most porn writers.

No confusion!

"They talked about how in the books Bill came out of the ground & raped her, but she went along with it & pretended to be into it because she thought he was going to kill her. Then later on she pasted a smile on her face because she was in denial & basically convinced herself it was consensual. He also totally raped her in the van when he nearly drained her in season 3. They didn't want to make any of these look like real rapes because they said as a good guy main character, if they did that in the beginning, there was no coming back from it. No one would like Bill."

Stephen Moyer is apart of the show AND has read the books. He's speaking as someone who knows the character he's playing & their motivations as dictated to him by the script, the author of the books Charlaine & the series creator Alan who tells them how to portray their characters. Alan Ball tells him how he's supposed to act & how to feel during scenes. You know, "In this one you're a ruthless monster! Act as though....yada yada" "Now you have to think about if letting her go is the best thing to do because" yada yada, you get the point.

I didn't consider that scene

I didn't consider that scene quite rape, but I just read the 3rd True Blood (/Sookie Stackhouse book) And bill did rape her there. She was screaming No & Stop but he was not in his right mind/realizing who she was. Rape all the same. =\

In the books it really is

In the books it really is not clear whether it was consensual sex or not. After reading that particular section of 'Dead Until Dark' I stopped and thought, "wait, what just happened there?"

Rape perhaps if NIN weren't in the way

A vital part of this scene missing due to the anachronistic inclusion of NIN's "Closer" is the dialogue before Bill bites Sookie. Sookie says to Bill as his fangs are readied "not tonight," meaning she doesn't want him to "feed" on her--part of the supernatural sexiness of vampire coitus. In the show/episode's narrative, this is a reunion between the two budding lovers and only the second time they have sex (I believe), the first time did included Bill feeding on Sookie. So it's not quite "rape" in that they are acquainted and she doesn't say "stop" or "no," but she does say "no" to his fangs and yet he bites her. I remember thinking this scene was discomforting the first time I viewed it, though kind of ridiculous with how "dirty" they make it.
It's an interesting line between the rape or no rape in that "feeding" on someone during sex is an integral part of vampire-human sex. Though the sex may be consensual, the act of feeding (a metaphor for something deeper, perhaps, but I'll spare you all that nonsense) is sometimes non-consensual in the vampire world of "True Blood." Perhaps Moyer is speaking to this element of vampire sex in the show as he attempts to describe the rough nature in slightly blunter and more confused terms. I don't care for his thoughts on rough sex in contemporary society and cringed at much of what he said in that excerpt, but still thought it was worth clarifying that this scene has elements of non-consensual sex.


btw, I heard her say "Not the neck" Not "not tonight" but that might just be wishful thinking.

Now what I'm struggling with is the fact that not washing the grave dirth off your dick before putting it into somebodys vaina doesn't seem very gentlemanly at all.

Shame on you vampire Bill, you pay for the meds it takes to cure those infections...

Me too!

I remember hearing "not the neck" as well during that scene. That doesn't mean the situation couldn't be read as rape, but I agree that given the prior fang-marks-in-the-neck situation, it makes sense that Sookie would say that to Bill. Plus, doesn't he then bite her elsewhere?

Living Dead in Dallas *SPOILERS*

I do not consider this clip a rape scene because it was not written as one. I have not seen into season 2, but I have read all nine books and there is a rape scene in book two between Bill and Sookie. Maybe this is more what he was talking about in the interview? After that, Bill falls out of favor, but mostly for going with his ex girlfriend, not so much the whole rape thing. It is a pretty graphic scene; she is screaming and crying telling him to stop, but he can't because he is too hungry...
After this, I became an Eric girl

The person that posted on

The person that posted on August 26, 2009 at 11:40pm is confused. Their refering to the first book titled "'Dead Until Dark" and they said it was not rape. But when Ameya said there was an actual rape committed in the books she was refering to the scene in the third book titled "Club Dead" in which Vampire Bill clearly does rape Sookie while they are stuck in the trunk of a car. This was nothing like the cemetery scene in the show. It was nonconsencual and Sookie was physically and emotionally hurt. She was terrified, crying and dissapointed in Bill. He almost drained all of her blood which would have killed her but he snapped out of it just in time and regretted what he had done to her. He wasn't himself because he had been kidnapped and starved so when he attacked Sookie he was in a violent raging trance. I think the author included this rape in the book to show the readers that no matter how polite Bill is he will never be a real human and that he will always be a vampire.

Stephen does often give

Stephen does often give interviews where in a bid to be frank and interesting he comes off as a bit of a jerk. In some interview he was asked who he would bite if he were a vamp. He was like in the True Blood universe, a baby/virgin's blood is the best so he would bite his daughter on her thigh. And then there was an interview that where he was kidding around and called i think he Rob Pattinson a pussy or maybe it was his character which would have been funny except he's way older than Rob and came off as a bit off an ass. I don't think he has ill intentions but it often doesn't translate.

Say whaaat?

I thought that scene was hot!

He wasn't raping her. I'm sure IDEALLY, Bill would've gone home, taken a shower, then he and Sookie would've had a nice fuck.
But Sookie thought her man was dead. All of a sudden, WOAH, there he is, naked and dirty crawling out of the ground.
Soo, not rape, but relief sex! :)

By the way, LOL @ "Stephenie Moyer"

The Difference Between Rape and Ravage

I would never call the graveyard scene a rape scene by any means. There is a big difference between being raped (forced to have sex against your will) and being Ravaged (screwing one another uncontrollably without reason, recourse, and stopping to wash off the graveyard dirt)! This was definitely a ravaging type of sitution where you don't care that the guy is covered head to toe in rotting corpse dirt, you just want to feel the sweet sensation of a good screw to take away the grief of thinking the dude was a gonner. I'm pretty sure the only harm in this situation would have been the impending vaginal infection afterwards.

Just my two cents!

Not Rape Idiot.

That scene was not rape. >> In fact, I do recall Bill and Sookie discussing "makeup" sex in one scene of a show, and Bill commented if she thought it was any better than the sex they had when she thought he was dead. And Sookie said, that was really good, but at the same time it's something she'd never want to experience again simply for the fact that she thought he was dead and never would see him again, therefore even though the sex was good, the passion behind it was something she'd never want again. So there. Not rape.

Its coming...

In the third or fourth book, he does actually rape her...though somehow he does it by accident out of starvation from blood. The defense is that he just couldn't help himself - boys will be boys right? Women have to cater to them, and make all the right moves, so that we don't become victimized (just ask Elisabeth Hasslebeck). It will be interesting to see if HBO will include that scene in the show. Right now they are portraying Bill much better than the books do, as if he is somehow fighting to save her life (trying to make it a little more Twilighty I think). He never does that in the book, but the rape fantasy is rampant in this series. I don't see how that concept is sexy, manly, or desirable in any way and perpetuating it as such doesn't help the plight of women who have been sexually assaulted.

Book Comments are SPOILERS

Geez, to everyone who posts, "It's coming, I read it in the books! Let me tell you what happened!" STOP. You're posting spoilers, or at least possible spoilers, and definitely things that I don't want to know.

Romantic Rape?

I don't think people are under any delusion that all women (or even most) secretly want to be raped. But I do think there are a number of people of both genders who fantasize about that. Of course, it doesn't mean they want ANY kind of it, I think in particular people want to be raped by someone they find attractive under specific kinds of circumstances.

Furthermore, I think that since it is based in fantasy, it could highly deviate from reality and should it happen, people might find out that they don't enjoy it at all, just as the vice versa could also be true (I could think I wouldn't enjoy being raped, but perhaps I would because I'm a secret masochist? I dunno)


You make a good point. I totally know what you mean. There are websites full of people who want to simulate rape or find the possibility of being raped or raping someone else arousing, but only by (or to) a person they find sexy. It by no stretch of the imagination applies to MOST women. Not even close, but there are thousands that it does. Like a sick daydream fantasy. Good point you made!

Reason it was Rape

They talked about how in the books Bill came out of the ground & raped her, but she went along with it & pretended to be into it because she thought he was going to kill her. Then later on she pasted a smile on her face because she was in denial & basically convinced herself it was consensual. He also totally raped her in the van when he nearly drained her in season 3. They didn't want to make any of these look like real rapes because they said as a good guy main character, if they did that in the beginning, there was no coming back from it. No one would like Bill.

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