So my darling, darling daughter, while I'm okay with sexist fantasy peanut butter getting on my feminist fantasy chocolate, I am not okay with you taking a bite of a Reese's and mistaking it for a Hershey Bar. I mean, what if you develop a peanut allergy? Heck, you could go into anaphylactic shock. Here's one thing you need to know: Vampire stories are often seen as rape metaphors and when those stories involve compulsion (or thrall or, in this case, a sire bond) the metaphor becomes more vivid, even if there is no sex between a vampire and a human. One of the reasons Buffy Summers thrills me is not just because she's a strong female monster-killer, but because she is, in particular, a vampire slayer.
I'm getting ahead of myself, though. Look, like me, you've grown up with some pretty terrific men in your life, men who respect you as a human and as a woman. And I expect that most of the men you meet in your life will be in the same vein. But they won't all be. Some will be sexists. And the worst part of it is -- so will some women.
Daughter, while I'd rather you grew up in a world free from sexism, we don't live in that world. The obvious sexism in your future doesn't trouble me all that much. I'm already confident you know how to spot it. It is the unintentional sexism -- the mild sexism couched in pretty words and gentle gestures -- which worries me. Subtext is important, and I want you to be able to spot it and be on your guard.
You know, I've never been President George W. Bush's biggest fan, but he once used the phrase: "the soft bigotry of low expectations." I don't even remember the context, which is probably good because I'd likely get ranty about another subject entirely, and yet it's an otherwise great phrase and one that keeps coming to mind, here. It's unwitting, unintentional sexism that's so insidious, because it often goes unnoticed or is otherwise excused. So my girl (and yes, other feminists, I can call her that as she is still a minor and I call her brothers my "boys") take my hand and let me walk you down the garden path, so I can point out all the snakes hiding in the verge.
Damon wakes in an empty bed, but it's not empty for long. Elena bounds back in the room and joins him. They talk, kiss, cuddle and then have sex. Once again, their sex scenes are intercut with Caroline's rant to Stefan about Elena being sire bound to Damon, infusing the term "anti-climactic" a whole other layer of meaning.
The fact that Elena is having sex with someone who seems to be controlling her every action (albeit mystically and unwittingly) is the first disturbing element of the episode. It's also largely what the episode is about though, so it may surprise you to know that on one level, I mostly give it a pass. It is not anti-feminist to engage with such ideas and ask, "What if? What are the implications?" I do believe the writers want us to go there as we watch this. So there is a SNAKE, my girl, but it's not poisonous.