Sleeping Beauties: Part 2, Chapter 2

[Sleeping Beauties Content Note: Trans Exclusion and Erasure, Misogyny, Violence Against Women]

Sleeping Beauties Recap: When this book first popped up on my radar, I expressed some concerns about the content on Twitter. This week, I purchased the book and read through it. As I read, I live-tweeted my thoughts on Twitter. This is a compilation and expansion of my tweets. The live-read will be spread out over multiple posts.

Sleeping Beauties, Part Two: I'll Sleep When I'm Dead. Chapter 2

(Tweet Link) Midway through this novel, someone in my mentions brings up the upcoming book The Power in which women develop electricity magic. According to this review in Strange Horizons, transgender and intersex people are ignored. Per this review in the NYT, the powers are XX chromosome based. Again.

Cis people, I love you, but please stop obsessing about chromosomes. It's weird and it isn't socially relevant. You cannot tell someone's chromosomes by looking. There isn't, like, chromosomal privilege and chromosomal prejudice. "XX chromosome" doesn't mean "women+". You cannot just replace "women" with "XX chromosome" and work around trans existence that way.

You certainly can create some kind of plague that only affects certain chromosomes if you want, but trans people still exist in the world. King's premise isn't bad because "XX chromosome gets cocooned", it's bad because everything that follows needs trans people not to exist. I understand some cis people don't want to write about us, fine, but that means you can't write realistic global gender-illness stories? Because everyone reading along who knows trans people exist will be confused by your nonsensical setting that erases trans people.

Disclaimer: I haven't read The Power, I'm just basing this random ramble on those two reviews and this (bought) excerpt.

And there are a few boys with chromosome irregularities who have it, too. Sometimes they like it, and sometimes they don't.

[TW] I have a lot of feels about boys with dysphoria being told surgery can only reduce, not remove, the thing causing the dysphoria? And that they've learned through experimentation that trying to remove the thing in order to treat dysphoria kills them. That's... ouchy. Here's some more reviews (link) that are very much worth reading.

Anyway. All that to say. Stop with the chromosomes? Maybe? My two cents. Do whatever you want!

Be a free butterfly.

Back to Sleeping Beauties, I'm... really uncomfortable with the racial dynamics of this book. I'm white, I could be out of my lane, but. Frank is calmly discussing his plan to physically restrain and assault Eve as if she were an animal.

“Cutting the cocoons is dangerous,” Terry said. “People have died.” “Which makes it damn lucky that you’ve got a certified animal control specialist on your team. I’ve dealt with some mean dogs in my time, Terry, and once I got called out to deal with a very pissed-off bear that managed to wrap himself up in barbed wire. To deal with Ms. Black, I’ll use my biggest catch-pole, the Tomahawk ten-foot. Stainless steel.

Spring lock. Drop the noose around her neck before snipping the shit over her face. Yank it as tight as I have to when she starts to buck and snap. She might lose consciousness, but it won’t kill her. The stuff’ll grow back, and when it does, she’ll go sleepy-bye again. All we need is a look. That’s all. A quick look.”

Eve tells Jeanette she'll be safer if she sleeps, and I think King keeps forgetting he randomly wrote in Burning Gangs? The sleeping women aren't safe. They're utterly helpless and men are murdering them. Clint doesn't care. Our protagonist doesn't CARE.

“You’re beginning to hallucinate. That’s what happens when you don’t sleep. You should go to sleep, Jeanette. It’ll be safer for you if you’re asleep when the men come.” Jeanette shook her head. “I don’t want to die.” “You won’t. You’ll sleep, and then you’ll wake up somewhere else.” Evie’s face lit. “And you’ll be free.”

Reminder for those just joining us: Eve has made a deal with Clint. If he can keep her alive until Tuesday or Wednesday or Thursday (she's not sure which) [Note: Her uncertainty about the time is never relevant and indeed this time limit ends up never being used.] and if the women agree to wake up, they will. Clint has access to cars and nighttime exists in this world. He could easily drive Eve away from here into the country. He doesn't. He keeps her in the one place where people know she is. This is baffling. There's nothing physical making him stay here. He could drive her to another city and find a nice home owned by a single woman and be a needle in a haystack while the clock ticks down.

[TW] Moving on, the rapist Don Peters has been deputized along with the high school bully Eric Blass. Great. They're driving the neighborhood terrorizing the few women who are still awake and out jogging. Individually. They're jogging alone. W-why? Why are the women not banding together for comfort and support and safety? Men are attacking them, killing them, raping them. Chaos. I don't understand why they would all be out alone, individually, stumbling around in a helpless stupor? The cops' job is to catalog which houses have sleeping women in them. That should be... most of the houses.

They had a list of streets to be canvased, tucked into a notebook where they wrote down the addresses of houses containing sleeping women, plus their names and some form of ID.

In the dream world, which is a Future World Without Mankind setting [Note: Which variously appears to have been Without Mankind for six months, a couple years, or several decades. The timeline is never clarified.], the women survive and thrive as Our Ancestors Once Did. Lila considers bobcat meat and berries grown near asphalt to be safer than canned goods, and I defer to @NeolithicSheep. [Note: Per NeolithicSheep, the issue is not asphalt, it's the tire dust from the cars that the berries will have absorbed. Not recommended.]

They had taken shelter in the remains of Mrs. Ransom’s house, not trying anything from the dusty canned goods in the pantry because Lila was afraid of botulism. They subsisted for the next two weeks primarily on berries they picked from the bushes in their former suburban neighborhood, and tiny ears of wild corn, tough and almost tasteless, but at least edible. May was too early for berries and corn, but there it was

All the women cooperate and bygones are bygones and the former convicts are welcomed with open arms. Kumbaya, my Lord.

That Kayleigh and her education had emerged from inside the fence of Dooling Correctional was not an issue. The woman had never committed a crime in this new place, under these too-bright stars.

Look on ye womanly paradise and rejoice, yes yes, but do they have tampons is what I want to know.

A hunting and gathering group was formed. There was a great deal of game—deer and rabbit, especially—as well as plenty of wild fruits and vegetables. They never came close to starving. There was a farming group, a construction group, a healthcare group, and an education group to teach the children. Each morning a different girl stood out in front of the little school, ringing a cowbell. The sound carried for miles.

Is this what men think women sound like.

Mostly, though—they all agreed on this—they missed men.

These are town women from 2018, they're living on dead deer, and they have time to make a school and a newsletter (no really!) and miss men. By the way, you may be wondering if the dead / murdered women are in this dream world. I CERTAINLY AM!!!! No idea. Can't say. Don't know.

I love my husband but he would not be on my mind in Dead Deer For Dinner world. I'd go into Katniss mode. Like, sex? I do not have time to think about sex, I am doing the back-breaking labor of picking berries and locating wild vegetables and gutting deer. How do they even know archery? NO, WAIT, THEY'RE USING GUNS? The canned food is ancient but the guns still work?????? Everything is rusty and old and the guns haven't been cleaned in ages because nothing has been but they're gunning down deer for din-din.

h e l p

They've figured out that time passes differently here: two people who fell asleep hours apart are separated by days in the dream world. But we're three or four months in... Women should be arriving as they sleep... There's no suggestion the other women are hungry for news??!

This makes no sense!! It should be a big deal when a newcomer arrives! They'd pop in "three days later" in Physical World Time and "months" later in Sleeping World Time. They have all their mental faculties, their brains haven't been messed with, so why isn't this a thing? The authors put no thought into it! You'd crowd the newcomer and ask everything they knew. "What was happening back home? Is there talk of a cure? Did the president do anything?"

She kept her head down during the lively discussion of life as it was now lived, and news of a wonderful discovery at the local UPS shipping office: nine boxes of Lunapads, which were reusable sanitary napkins. “No more cutting up tee-shirts to stuff in my underwear at that time of the month!” Nell Seeger exulted. “Hallelujah!”

Where are they finding t-shirts but not tampons? How did moths and time not ruin the shirts?

“I just want to say I miss my daddy. I went into Pearson’s Barber Shop and found some of his aftershave—Drakkar Noir, it’s called—and I smelled it, and it made me cry.” The front of the supermarket was dead silent except for a few sniffles. It would turn out later that Nana hadn’t been the only one to visit the aftershave shelves at Pearson’s. “I guess that’s all,” Nana said. “Just . . . I miss him.

Oh no. Remember how I thought King had handled Frank the domestic abuser of his wife and daughter well? I was wrong. Frank's daughter creeps into a meeting, knowing her mother wouldn't like this, and confesses she misses her dad. The women applaud.

They don't hug her.

They don't kiss her and coddle her and comfort her.

They applaud her bravery for admitting she misses a man.

I can't.

"It would turn out later" that other women furtively sniff aftershave, because it's so shameful to miss a man, am I right, ladies? What is this book?? It's like it's perfectly designed to make everyone hate it. The women are weird straw feminists and the men are evil and stupid. We haven't seen any of the f/f couples from prison and I still don't know if the murdered women are present in the dream world.

Also, since I started this thread to talk about trans things, I'm super uncomfortable with this kumbaya land having no trans women in. You can be like "well, take it up with biology, Ana" but this is a magical spiritual plague, asshole. Biology didn't do this. And hey, you women miss men? THERE ARE MEN IN YOUR MIDST. Trans men! Who are men! Many of whom may be cis passing! I just. Do cis people not Google what trans people look like? Please do so before you assume we all look a certain way. Kthx.

Oh fuck. Oh fuck. Oh fuck. I'm going to actually vomit oh my god hang on.

Next section starts: "Our Place was no utopia."

[TW] One of the f/f couples from the prison, the only sapphic couple mentioned so far, ended in murder-suicide. To fucking "prove" a woman-only place isn't a utopia, King had a mentally ill woman 'crack' and murder her queer lover.

This world is different, but I am the same. You will be better off without me. I have killed Kayleigh for no reason. She did not aggravate me or start anything. I still loved her, like in prison. I know she was useful to you. I could not help myself. It came on to me to kill her so I did. I was sorry I did it afterwards.—Maura

[TW] Fuck you, King. Fuck you for killing the queers. Fuck you for reducing this tragedy to "our electrician!" Fuck your mental illness rep. I feel like I've been stabbed. The description of the corpse is brutal and way more detailed than any of the dead men got. Fuck this shitty, shitty book. I don't care if saying that makes me "mean". Call me mean if you want. I'm crying in a bathroom so there.

@thequeengeek Wait, the one who asked Eve to put her to sleep cause she missed her love so much? That one?

Yes. God. That one. I'd forgotten that. Yes. Eve sent her specially here to reunite with her lover. I STILL DON'T KNOW IF THE DEAD WOMEN EXIST IN "OUR PLACE". How is this possible? How did they not think we'd care?????

Search results for "Ree Dempster".

Ree Dempster was shot during a zombie rage and her name NEVER APPEARS AGAIN?? When you have a body in one world and a mind in another, people want to know what happens if one breaks! The Matrix was how many years ago?? What's one of the first things Neo learns in training?? What's one of the most agonizing scenes in that movie?

scene from the Matrix when the bad guy unplugs his team and they die while Trinity watches

"Not like this."


My god, you could have had actual horror here with this idea! The women watching helplessly in the Sleeping World's extended time as their community members die from the Burnings outside. And then they have to agree to come back? Knowing how many of them are dead, killed by the men they'd be returning to? THAT'S HORROR, KING. That is how horror works! That's dread and helplessness and unknowable awful time!

This isn't a horror novel! It's a mess! It's an insult to horror novels! I'm going for a walk!


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