I was reading C.L Stone’s Ghost Bird series today and it got me to thinking. A lot. And unfortunately, not in a great way.
I blew through all seven available books, so I think it’s safe to say that I enjoyed them. I also signed up for the newsletter so I can one-click as soon as I get news of the latest installment.
Despite that, I have these faint sensation of …I don’t know, guilt?
I almost feel like I shouldn’t like them on principle. Despite the funny. Despite the great writing. Despite a lot of things that C.L Stone did right.
There’s this notion, perpetuated throughout the books thus far, of scarcity. The idea, that Sang is so very special in so many ways, and she is so absolutely sweet and adorable and amazing, that all nine men are completely crazed about the fact that she might be stolen from them.
Because, you know, of course, there’s no other sweet, adorable, amazing, wonderful women out there. And of course, these incredibly hot, gifted, able, sexy young men have this one shot at having a relationship and if it falls through, poof, their romantic lives are over.
So the guys are all part of the The Academy. And they’re all involved in doing a lot of undercover, kinda dangerous, could pull them away at any moment kinda things. Their team is considered their chosen family and they’re expected to interact with each other in perfect love and perfect trust and they share almost everything and are pretty much so deeply in each other’s pockets that they can’t breathe without jostling everyone else.
It’s sweet, really. The whole thing is really adorably sweet and funny and it’s why I love it, but still.
They meet Sang and immediately every. single. one of them is smitten with insta-love and this need to protect her and keep her for always.
At some point they adopt her into their family, without letting her know precisely, IIRC, and then shit gets real. Shit being that she’s a “ghost” because her familial circumstances, really truly oddly enough, made it so that she has almost no documentation of her existence. And shit being that she’s so amazingly special and wonderful and awesome and talented and clever that all the other teams of the Academy are almost certainly going to want to entice her to their teams.
This is a huge part of the drama, guys. Huge.
So because they don’t want to lose her and because apparently there’s only one instance in which a girl (bird) joined an all boys (dogs) team, they start freaking out over how to keep her. This instance, apparently, in which the girl married all four of the dudes and they lived happily ever after. In all other instances, apparently either the girl left the group, or the group got split up (oh noes!) or something equally tragic happened. And of course, if there’s a bird in the group, the guys can’t have outside love interests because of course the outside love interests would never be able to cope with their man being so intimate (say it with me folks, perfect love and perfect trust) with another woman.
*heaves a sigh*
I have a huge problem with this. I really do.
It doesn’t help that Sang literally doesn’t not have any close female friends for the entire series thus far. She meets one nice girl, but she still isn’t capable of actually opening up to her. ONE. One of the love interest’s sister is also nice, but she clearly portrayed as younger, so not really in the picture either. Her half-sister doesn’t care for her, betrays her, is envious of her, etc. One other girl that shows up a lot is really villainous to the point where she’s almost a caricature and the other one is just …yeah no.
Then whenever the boys talk, it’s nothing but how awful other girls are and how the rest of them are shallow, manipulative, gold-digging, evil creatures and Sang is like the last drop of purity on this benighted earth.
I have a lot of “hell the fuck no” here.
We women are already trained to endlessly compare ourselves with each other from a really young age. We’re trained by society to believe in scarcity.
Scarcity of high level jobs open to women. Scarcity of “good men” to go around. Scarcity of a lot of things, including deep and abiding friendship between women as equals.
Media teaches us that other women are out to get us. Our indoctrinated world view teaches us that it’s always the female’s fault, either our own or the fault of the other woman, never the man’s.
Husband strayed? Must have been enticed.
Passed over for a job opportunity? The other woman must have slept her way to the top / been a complete and utter ball-busting bitch.
Bosom buddies? Think frenemies instead.
If all else fails, it’s clearly our own fault. We weren’t nice enough, pretty enough, sweet enough, skinny enough…
I’m not saying blame the guys. I’m not a man-hater.
I’m just frustrated by this atmosphere of fear that many of us live in and I’m frustrated that often, instead of campaigning for equal rights, instead of insisting on higher standards for significant others, we instead are encouraged to compete for the few golden seats. As if it were some kind of preordained shit, that there only be so many female CEO positions, that there be only so many good men to go around, that women were made to backstab each other while smiling sweetly in each others faces.
And I cannot help but feel that even if the Ghost Bird series doesn’t contribute to the problem, it also doesn’t try to solve it. Oh yeah, don’t forget that they keep brushing off the idea of her joining an all bird team because apparently there’s a lot of in-fighting and catty shit that goes on with those teams and the guys just don’t want her mixed up in that.
*face palm* ORZ
For one thing, I get that Sang is amazing and all — but do compliments to one woman really necessitate putting down all the other women in the world?
For another thing, it’s really, truly, not helpful to encourage women to disbelieve that men can have non-fucking friendships with another woman. The whole intersection of this with bigoted views of homosexuality is another rotten kettle of fish. Just because someone could fuck someone doesn’t mean they would or would want to.
For yet another thing, I hear SEAL teams need to really trust each other. I also hear that they don’t have like a 100% divorce rate. I’m pretty sure that of the ones that do have their HEA, they don’t need to share wives to make that happen.
Yeah, yeah, the idea is that guys and a gal working together somehow creates this magical alchemical process that pretty much necessitates wuv, true wuv. Not buying that either.
And again, can I repeat my utter disbelief that these nine hot guys can only find true happiness with this one person? Nine?
And having nine men worshiping at her feet isn’t sufficient, but somehow this one small woman is going to be irresistible crack to all the Academy guys?
You know what? I would have loved to have read that the all bird teams were just as amazing with each other. I would have loved to see Sang join an all bird team and then have them go on awesome adventures together and then each find a “dog” to pair up with. Or two. Or three. Or four if it just had to be done.
I’m just going to point out that there is such a lack of female companionship in this series that it is one of the love interests who plays with her hair, puts on her makeup, and does her clothing makeover. *sighs* It’s also not-great that they keep driving in the point about the Academy being mostly guys. Well why is it mostly guys? Seems to me that a lot of what they do could be done just as easily by women and since Sang does appear to be good at things… again, why/how is she so special? Does she really need to be that amazingly special? And truly, again, do we really need to rub in the whole scarcity complex to death? There is not a dearth of amazing women out there. There is, also, in fact, not a dearth of women warriors. As someone said once, women fought; they have always fought.
You know what else I would have adored? If even two of the guys weren’t interested in her romantically. Two out of nine ain’t bad, right? And hey, it could have been the two older handlers. Show that men don’t need to be romantically interested in a girl to find worth in her. That men can cherish a woman without his smaller brain prompting it.
Again, I really like the series. I do. I really like Stone’s writing style and her sense of humor.
I just wish that instead of painting this view of the world, she could have done something else. Something more hopeful. Something that could serve as a blueprint for happiness for more women, not just the one.