While reading Fledgling, I’ve been struggling to accept Shori and Wright’s sexual relationship. When we first meet Shori, Wright thinks she looks about ten or eleven (8). Later, Shori tells Wright she’s pretty sure she’s older and remembers having sex before, and even though she still looks physically young, they have sex (21-22). I think part of that definitely has to do with the venom in her bite which links humans to Ina, but there’s still part of Wright that is attracted to her. This made me feel, for lack of a better word, “icky” because Shori seemed so young. I know we were having conversations about consent in class, and the issue arises because Shori looks like a tween, but is really 53, so technically she can consent, but does that make it okay for Wright to have sex with her? Butler wants to push us on this, especially when we consider that Shori actually has more power over Wright, so I keep trying not to let myself get caught up in how it bothers me. Even as the book develops, their relationship still makes me uncomfortable because Shori is still very-childlike in her physical appearance.
I thought I’d share with the class some things I rationalize to help with the “ickiness,” in case it bothers anybody else. Wright undresses Shori and says, “No breasts…Pity. I guess you really are a kid,” implying that if she had breasts he would think she was older and be more comfortable with his connection to her (18). However, many woman who have gone through puberty and are well past their teens years don’t have developed chests, but that doesn’t make them any less womanly, and any less capable of controlling their own sex life. It also doesn’t make their partners sexual predators. Later, Shori tries to explain she’s older than a preteen, but Wright isn’t so sure because she has no body hair (21). Some people don’t have a lot of body hair in general, but there is also a multi-billion-dollar industry centered around hair removal, so it’s not far from the norm for men to be having sex with women that lack body hair. Finally, Shori’s small body and stature adds to her child-likeness and is part of the reason her and Wright would be “conspicuous together” (119), but Celia describes Wright as a “big bear of a man”, which shows his own height emphasizes their differences (122). The average height for a 11/12-year-old girl is about 5’1” which is the height of some fully-grown women including Lady Gaga. Shori is short, especially compared to Wright, but that doesn’t mean Wright’s interest in her is totally inappropriate.
There are a number of things about Shori’s physical appearance that make her look too young for Wright, but those characteristics and womanhood are not mutually exclusive. Shori is an adult woman, and like any other woman, has the right to make any choices about her body that she wants. Their relationship, especially on Wright’s part, seems less creepy the more I rationalize it. Even if it does make me uncomfortable, Wright is not taking advantage of Shori.