The Things That Fly in the Night: Female Vampires in Literature of the Circum-Caribbean and African Diaspora

By Giselle Liza Anatol | Go to book overview

4
“Queering” the Norm:
Vampirism and Women’s Sexuality

My character, Gilda, is a lesbian because I’m a lesbian. Even though some
lesbian-feminists have challenged my choice, suggesting it was too negative
an idea to connect to lesbians, I feel I can remake mythology as well as
anyone
.

—JEWELLE GOMEZ

As innumerable feminist critics have stated, battles for patriarchal control have often been fought for and on women’s bodies. The bodies of women of African descent are especially fraught sites, and the ideology surrounding these bodies is a legacy that must still be combated in the twenty-first century. Not only are there individual and state attempts to influence reproductive potential (as is the case with almost all women), but the experience of enslavement meant specifically racialized readings of the Black female body—one that was moved from place to place at the “master’s” will, one ever-available for and allegedly ever-desirous of sex, one able to be manipulated for the reproduction of “property,” and one, especially in the cases of circum-Caribbean women and women from the U.S. Deep South, often compelled to migrate to and from the “metropoles” to seek economic opportunities for supporting family “back home.” Significantly, the soucouyant moves herself. Tracing the movements of this vampiric trope across time—stretching back to the incipient Americas colonies—and across space—both between the Caribbean islands and from them to continental American locations in the United States and Canada as well as in contemporary Europe—reveals a linked network of images, ideologies, and narratives that coalesce around a Black female subject at the center of discourse, not off in the margins as Caliban’s mother, “woman,” or daughter.

Numerous postcolonial writers, including authors of the African diaspora in the United States, have sometimes challenged colonial belief systems and the oppressive sexual history and legacy associated with

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