Consent between Claire and Jamie
By Fany Alice
Illustration: Gratianne Garcia
The Outlander saga portrays the carnal and spiritual connection of a couple standing the test of time and the outrageous violence of a war era. The first volume, The Thistle and the Tartan, lays the foundations for Claire and Jamie's relationship: trust, honesty, self-giving. However, this first opus sparked controversy around the sensitive notion of consent: what really emerges from the stylized and evocative writing of the author, D. Gabaldon?
The analysis covers the first five volumes of the literary saga, up to the rape of Claire (chapter 34, T6, Snow and ash), in order to be in harmony with the filmed representation of the first five seasons. To remain in the purity of the novels, the original version is the reference so much so that the proposed translation may differ from the official French translation. Sometimes English language expressions will be preferred over any translation.
It is important to note that consent is a somewhat anachronistic notion for the 18th century. It presupposes an individual freedom that the determinism of birth, sex or social class rarely allows at this time. The individual is subject to the wishes of his family, his village or his clan. His future is part of the imperatives negotiated without him to obtain land, title, money. So it is with Laoghaire or Lady Geneva and others before and after them.
Marriage is therefore a contract and if it does not exclude love, it very often encloses sexual relations in a standardized framework which is more a matter of duty than of carnal fulfillment. Female sexuality is ignored and male sexuality belittled the Church condemning the pleasure of the flesh. The repression of the impulses and the guilt of the body are anchored in the minds even more in the woman guilty of original transgression. The husband finds his enjoyment as quickly as possible¸ without worrying about the expectations of a wife dedicated to procreation and male gratification.
Deprived of pleasure¸ the woman is also summoned to submit to the man. “Women¸ be submissive to your husbands” proclaims Saint-Paul¸ tormenting young consciences¸ that of Marsali who confides in Claire on the contradictions that tug at her¸ between the words of the Church and her thirst for pleasure with Fergus (Chapter 47¸ T3 The journey). The normative framework of marriage dictated by the Church is subtle because it does not ask men to submit their wives but women to submit in a process of voluntary subordination. And this submission has for finality that the fickle men¸ inconstant¸ reluctant in front of the engagement¸ take their share of responsibilities.
By also declaring that “men should love their wives as their own bodies” ¸ that men and women are equal in Jesus Christ Saint Paul nonetheless enacts truths which were not taken for granted in the pagan Roman world where the Christian Church is rooted.
Because without departing from the misogyny anchored in the customs of ancient paganism, the Church paradoxically offers a protective but tightly fixed framework. The woman remains an eternal minor (Jamie gently reminds Claire that her word is worthless in court for legal consequences following the death of husband Beadersley in Chapter 32, T5 The Cross of Fire) and masculinity locks in. in a brutal manhood¸ authorizing legitimate violence on the children and the wife. It takes particularly cruel or inappropriate acts¸ such as beating the young Rabbie (Chapter 31¸ T2 The Talisman) or the suspicion of mistreatment of a pregnant Marsali (Chapter 27, T6 Snow and Ashes) for an outside authority feels legitimate to intervene. What's more, infidelity is tolerated if it is masculine¸ the Church condemns but kings and princes show the example. After all, everyone sees it as a sign of revitalizing virility.
In an era tense over masculine duties woe to puny or fearful men, often objects of feminine contempt or toys of skillful women; at a time when the woman who has knowledge is a witch, the one who has desires a prostitute, woe to independent women!
The power of the man and the subordination of the woman also find their legitimacy in the dangerousness of the XVIIIth century where the least of the vital functions gives priority to the masculine and to his physical strength to plow¸ build¸ hunt¸ fight…. A peaceful society and technical progress will help women to think of themselves as equal to men. For now¸ she often internalizes her condition in voluntary servitude: many women of this time would be frightened by the mental load of modern women and Claire is never represented as a model.
The twentieth century that Claire is experiencing is not totally that of legal equality, but two world wars have largely undermined the phallic power of masculinity while the conflicting dynamic of couples unable to reconnect is rumbling, announcing the explosion of divorces.
At the confluence of these two centuries¸ what about the couple formed by Claire and Jamie? He borrows from both eras in an indefinable timelessness: “On your feet¸ soldier! »¸« on your way¸ soldier! »¸« I love you soldier! »… Beautiful semantic finds of the screenwriters to signify the recognition of the conquering power of the male sex dear to the XVIIIth century¸ incarnation of virility in Jamie¸ but also the affirmation of the influence of Claire in her possessive role of approving the facts and gestures of her man¸ in a contemporary modernity.
Relationship to sex¸ conjugal discipline¸ infidelity: three areas where the scenario is largely written in advance for men and women of the 18th century, and in a sense unfavorable to women, but redefined by consent within the framework of the couple formed by Claire and Jamie.
Consent becomes a point of permanent balance between the expectations of one and the other: for Claire¸ an egalitarian partnership in everyday life but the sexual desire of an enterprising man¸ powerful and male that she values passionately. ; for Jamie¸ the unwavering confidence in the other which allows him to expose his faults, to accept to be helped, without seeing it as a questioning of his virility but¸ on the contrary¸ with the conviction that he cannot be fulfilled only if Claire also feels satisfied in bed and respected in all respects. On the happiness of one depends the happiness of the other. Consent is therefore an interactive dynamic that conditions their well-being.
So how does he express himself between the two protagonists?
The consent is first verbal (Part I) ¸ essentially in the first volume where their relationship is a matter of learning and knowledge. We find it naturally in the third volume¸ after twenty years of separation¸ when the rediscovery of the other makes gestures slow and timid in a quest for approval. But it is also non-verbal (Part II) ¸ from the first volume and the main mode of expression beyond: it is a permanent listening to the body of the other and his mental universe in his silent language.
The most immediate consent is therefore that offered to readers through the words used: it is verbal consent. It is naturally at work during intercourse but it is just as essential before and after¸ in everyday moments.
The wedding night is obviously the favorite moment when consent is repeatedly reaffirmed between two young people married out of interest. Right from the start¸ Jamie¸ full of youthful insolence¸ asks: "To bed or to sleep?" ". Then shortly before their first rushed report: "Tell me if I'm too brutal, or tell me to stop completely, if you wish." Anytime until we are joined, ”says Jamie. He is hungry for carnal pleasure after 23 years of abstinence but always makes sure of the agreement of his partner: "Knowing that once is enough for it to be legal, but ... He stopped timidly. Do you want to do it again? Would that bother you a lot? (…) No, I say gravely. I wouldn't mind ”(Chapter 14¸ T1 The Thistle and the Tartan).
Very quickly¸ they experiment with sexual intercourse where the attitude and the words pronounced by Claire were considered equivocal. Verbal consent is always present in these scenes but¸ for some critics¸ it is too hesitant or overruled by contradictory words. These critics denounced an apology for marital rape and the author's ambiguity that would make Claire's posture a position of waiting until she is convinced by Jamie¸ transforming an endured insistence into consented foreplay. What about the writing of D. Gabaldon and the words spoken by Claire?
Three scenes in particular from the novel The Thistle and the Tartan attracted attention. This is the stealthy intercourse after the attack on the clan in the Scottish heath (chapter 17) ¸ the reconciliation scene at Leoch castle (chapter 23) and the final scene which closes the first volume after the convalescence of Jamie (chapter 41).
To grasp them in all the beauty of the voluptuous and erotic writing of D. Gabaldon¸ it is first necessary to understand that the sexual relationship of Claire and Jamie follows a progressive and educational rite of initiation which leads the reader to the paroxysmal dimension contained in these three scenes.
It is Claire who initiates Jamie and offers him a real learning lesson during the wedding night. She doesn't hesitate to show him that a certain pain is compatible with pleasure: “What are you doing? he asked, shocked. (…). Not moving. After a few moments, I started using my teeth, gradually pressing harder until he caught his breath with a high-pitched hiss. I stopped. Did I hurt you? I asked. Yes a bit. (…). Do you want me to stop No ! »(Chapter 14¸ T1 The thistle and the tartan). Jamie also discovers that female pleasure exists. He is pleasantly surprised. He understands that an unexplored part of Claire is waiting to be revealed: "If I did this to you, would you feel the same?" Well you know I said slowly I do not really know. »An unsuspected territory opens up before them. See you in chapter 17 and especially 23 ...
In the meantime¸ the lesson resumes in the following days and this time¸ Claire is more sure of herself in her expectations: “He showed concern for my safety that I found both endearing and irritating. (…). You're not going to hurt me, I said impatiently. And if you did, I wouldn't mind. Seeing the puzzled incomprehension on his face, I decided to show him what I wanted to say ”(Chapter 16¸ T1 The thistle and the tartan).
Jamie is won over and certain that the pleasure will be shared for the greater benefit of both. It is the moment to escape from the professorial tutelage of Claire and to take initiatives. The other's body is a playground, but now it takes turns: "Actually, Madam, you have me at your mercy." Truly ? I say softly. (…). Not moving. His fingers dug deep into the crumbling dirt, but he obeyed. Please, he said after a while. (…). No, I say, having fun. (…). You're going to pay for it, he said shortly after. (…). Truly? I said. What are you going to do ? (…). I don't know, but… through Christ and Saint Agnes… I will… think of something! God ! Please ! (…). All right, I said, releasing him. And I let out a little cry as he rolled over me, pinning me against the ferns. Your turn, he said with considerable satisfaction ”(Chapter 16¸ T1 The thistle and the tartan).
At that moment we can guess them both at the same level of maturity of their desire: "He rolled over me and I opened my legs, wincing slightly as he entered me. He laughs softly. Yes, it hurts a bit too. Do you want me to stop I wrapped my legs around his hips in response and pulled him closer. Do you want to stop I asked. No. I can not. We laughed together and cradled slowly, lips and fingers exploring in the dark ”(Chapter 17¸ T1 thistle and tartan).
However, if Jamie turns out to be an excellent lover who always wants to make love¸ in an innocent candor that moves Claire and delights her¸ she does not quite know what to do with it¸ not being ready to blow her up. inhibitions. She has not yet ventured into this territory with Frank.
However, Jamie is more and more enterprising¸ fully emancipated¸ and in a dominant posture that surprises Claire in chapter 17: "Now," he said in a tone that tolerated no opposition, "don't move. I felt exposed, invaded, helpless and like I was about to disintegrate. (…). Please¸ I said, not knowing if I meant "please stop" or "please continue". It didn't matter; he had no intention of stopping. (…). Well, it's a little better (…). It takes a bit of effort to make yourself properly submissive, doesn't it? ". Claire seems for the first time surprised by the ardor of a man, taken aback in a way that the first two chapters of the first volume centered on her relationship with Frank did not suggest. At the beginning of the novel¸, in fact, she appears as the initiator. Here¸ she is caught off guard by Jamie's ardor and finds herself receiving pleasure without having to ask for it.
But it is above all the sex scene in the same chapter¸ after the attack on the Mac Kenzie clan in the forest¸ that is perceived by some critics as the archetype of the domination of the conquering man over the woman reduced to the rank of Warrior's Consolation Prize: “Jamie! Not here ! I said, squirming and pulling my skirt down again. (…). There are twenty men sleeping right next to us! I cried in a whisper. "
Claire is torn between her desire and propriety: “Twenty-seven years of decorum were no match for several hundred thousand years of instinct. While my mind might object to being taken to a bare rock next to several sleeping soldiers, my body clearly saw itself as spoils of war and was eager to complete the surrender formalities. (…). You want me, don't you? he said, pulling back a little to look at me. It seemed unnecessary to deny it, with all the evidence at hand. (…). Uh ... yes ... but ... (...). I dug my fingers firmly behind his back and latched on, biting into the fabric of his shirt to muffle any sound. "
The consent of words and of the body is there, but the mind is languid! The naughty young woman who offered herself to Frank the bare crotch¸ without underwear¸ in chapter 2 of the novel¸ has visibly found her master (Need it be said that when Jamie asks him to call him "Master" in chapter 23¸ has nothing to do with unequal status but everything to do with Jamie's erotic power to satisfy Claire?).
The Claire, with her libido yet assumed, still has trouble disconnecting herself from the social regulators of good manners and modesty. She is also not ready to admit that she is reaching a level of pleasure never experienced with Frank as little by little an emotional bond is forged stronger with Jamie. It will take the attack by the English deserters so that Claire's guilt vis-à-vis Frank is openly expressed and lectured. But she is undoubtedly in gestation around chapter 17: hoping to be taken by force ("spoils of war"), she persuades herself that she has no choice and can enjoy without the guilt of being at it. origin of the report. To relieve his conscience vis-à-vis Frank in an unacknowledged desire to forgive himself for the pleasure received.
All this reveals a point of contention in suspense that will condition the tragic chain of trials until the scene of domestic violence: Jamie needs to go through the feelings to make love, when Claire can make love without accessing to feelings. The moment will come when they will have to agree ...
It is exciting and frightening to see that she becomes attached to a man she has a duty to leave. Chapter 17 is a break showing Claire in the throes of contradictory body / mind injunctions which lead her into hitherto unknown ground and which call into question many certainties. As for Jamie, he kept his promises, "Oh, so is there something you don't know?" Well, we'll find out then, aren't we? »He had proposed on the wedding night (Chapter 14¸ T1 The thistle and the tartan). Beyond real inhibitions¸ she realizes that each moment of carnal complicity with Jamie separates her a little more from Frank and gives him a glimpse of a future in the 18th century that her reason fears as much as her body aspires: “Because, say- I, I can't do without you, Jamie Fraser, and this
Comes chapter 23 of the first book and its pivotal sex scene from the book and the entire Outlander saga. Jamie is in the emotional state of one who is consumed with a love that he perceives not shared by a woman indifferent to his psychic (his need to be loved) and physical (his endangering in Fort William) suffering. Oath¸ alliance¸ fidelity: he offers himself entirely to secure Claire in recognition of the fact that he injured her during the scene of domestic violence. He asks her to make a commitment: "Do you want me? (…). Yes, I say ”(Chapter 23¸ T1 The thistle and the tartan).
Commitment means the recognition of the sacredness of their union¸ in the gift of oneself¸ sentimentally and physically. He asks her for her consent to be his as he is already hers: heart, body and soul. Claire agrees to surrender completely for the first time¸ turning her back on the latest inhibitions. "Blood of my blood¸ bone of my bone" ... She finally lives these words fleshly.
Their sexual frolics then seal the communion of souls in the submission of bodies. They start with Jamie's dominance over Claire to achieve mutual and egalitarian possession. This consented submission is based on trust and allows a mental freedom which gives a feeling of victory to the two lovers. It is about entrusting your pleasure to your partner who knows the destination perfectly: “Yes, implore my mercy, Sassenach. You will have it, but not yet ”(Chapter 23¸ T1 The thistle and the tartan). Claire is afraid and envious at the same time. She falls into an exciting stranger. Jamie's body is a challenge and a promise.
In this chapter, Jamie is first in the posture of the Dominant who takes control of the act to decide how he is going to satisfy Claire. It is up to her to live the experience in return with a feeling of abandonment, a form of outlet which will allow her to access enjoyment more easily by giving power to her partner: "You are mine, mo duinne," she said. it gently squeezing itself into my depths. Mine, now and forever. To me whether you like it or not. I pulled against his grip, and sucked in my breath with a weak "ah" as he pushed even deeper. Yes, I want to use you hard, my Sassenach, he whispered, I want to own you body and soul. "
Claire does not let it go easily¸ should we read a non-consent or rather the means to increase his excitement in a docility and a submission all relative? “I struggled slightly and he squeezed me, pounding me, a solid, inexorable pounding that hit my stomach with every blow. (….). I want to make you mine ”. Sex is between pleasure and pain: “No! I was panting. Stop, please, you're hurting me! (…). My thighs were bruised from the repeated impact, and my wrists felt like they were going to break, but his grip was inexorable. When she perceives Jamie's desire to be violent¸ strong and powerful¸ it increases her own desire tenfold. It is not the hammering of the moment that challenges her, it is the power of desire that she sees in her partner. Self-control is annihilated in the pure demonstration of instinct and cravings. She is burning with desire and feeds on the intensity of desire in Jamie.
She incites her to the violence she needs and comes the moment when submissive Claire controls Jamie who dominates her: "I could feel the jerk of every blow deep in my stomach, and I was moaning, even as my hips. rose treacherously to welcome him. He sensed my response, and redoubled his assault, now pressing my shoulders to keep me trapped under him. »There¸ the dominator is no longer the one we believe because it is up to him to succeed in bringing his partner to surpass himself¸ to cross his barriers and limits for his own development more than his own:“ He pushed my legs out flat again and carried me past the pain and into pure sensation, on the verge of surrender ”. (…). Yes! I cried, oh my God, Jamie, yes! »She perceives that« in the body or the soul, somewhere, it struck a spark, and a response of passionate fury and need arose from the ashes of surrender. "
What is most beautiful about the final moments of this scene¸ is that Jamie proves to Claire that he can engage in sexual activity without the aim of reciprocity, thus putting his wife's wants and needs above. his.
The roles can then alternate so that everyone can experience in turn letting go or a feeling of power that comes from a certain animality: “I bit her lip and tasted the blood. (…). I scraped him from neck to butt, pushing him back and screaming too. "The gestures are brutal because they want to devour and hold back in a surge of greedy possessiveness:" We fought in desperate need, biting and clawing, trying to draw blood, each trying to draw the other in ourselves, tearing the flesh of the other in the all-consuming desire to be one. My cry mingled with his, and we finally got lost in each other in this last moment of dissolution and completion. "
From this scene¸ we retain two essential points: from Claire's point of view¸ the more submissive she is¸ the more powerful she is. The more defeated she feels¸ the more fun and desired she feels. His defeat¸ is his strength. She accepts to mold herself into a sort of regressive state where she is guided, held, taken care of to finally experience a sense of security in Jamie's enveloping warmth. For him¸ the private sphere becomes the only place of his male domination over Claire: obedience¸ threats to take her by force and marital discipline are banned. He brings her the excitement of being physically possessed and in return gets what is necessary for her own satisfaction. The pleasure of one is given to live at the same time as the pleasure of the other.
Jamie is not a calculating or sophisticated lover. He gives everything to the point of making himself vulnerable and dependent¸ agreeing to expose himself emotionally. He assumes the reciprocal submission in which the mutual satisfaction of their desires places him: “I am your master… and your slave. It seems to me that I cannot own your soul without losing mine. And by Claire¸'s admission Jamie has achieved what Frank never understood.
Jamie's male dominance is therefore quite different from traditional patterns. It is first of all intrinsically linked to loyalty, perceived by his peers as a lack of virility, as evidenced by the dispute in chapter 17 of the second volume, Le talisman. It is also registered in the pleasure of his wife and it is because Claire knows how to say the pleasure that it gives her that she manages to make him live his virility without violence. Conversely¸ guided by their impulses and seeking only their own satisfaction¸ the men of his time can be sexually violent and conclude¸ like those of the Mac Kenzie clan¸ that women do not like sex.
Small return on the (bad) advice received by Jamie during his wedding night: it emerges a deep ignorance of female pleasure and a conception of coupling based on male pleasure alone. The very night¸ an exchange between Jamie and Dougal absent in the book and proposed by the series, but totally in the spirit of the saga, reveals this asymmetrical conception of the couple where the man must bind himself to the sole satisfaction of his sexual impulses, in an emotional restraint vis-à-vis his wife, both to guard against any dependence and to deprive the woman of any power. Keeping Claire in her place¸ is what will never cease to attempt several groups of men¸ English officers¸ Jacobite chiefs¸ French aristocrats, settlers from North Carolina.
The day after that scorching night of reconciliation at Leoch's Castle¸ Claire and Jamie are going to have another sexual encounter¸ again a source of criticism. As they examine the remains of their hugs from the day before on their respective bodies - bites¸ bruises and scratches - ¸ Jamie invites him to resume their antics. " Oh! no, we're not going to do this again, I said, stepping back. I can't, I'm in too much pain, ”she answers immediately. But the sexual intercourse does take place and D. Gabaldon triumphantly lets go: “James Fraser was not a man to be told no. (…). He knew how to be gentle but we should not refuse him (…) with a gentle insistence which was only the continuation of the lesson learned so brutally the day before. "
There are obviously abusive attitudes, blackmail and dangerous insistence all the more reprehensible as the man takes advantage of the physical weakness of the woman who fears being abused in the event of refusal. But why can't this apply to Claire?
First, because Claire is a woman who knows how to say no without ambiguity. It is in his strong and determined character not to be imposed by anyone. She fought like a lioness in front of Jamie on the night of the domestic violence scene¸ leaving his nose bleeding with several bites¸ and shortly before that reconciliation sex scene¸ she struggled vigorously when¸ injured through his suspicions of infidelity¸ he threatened to take her by force.
Then¸ she understood that Jamie is not the man to take pleasure without giving it to him¸ he just proved it to her. It is a very strong feeling that he quickly expressed with pure and touching satisfaction: “It is a gift and a wonder for me to know that I can please you, that your body can awaken to mine. I hadn't thought of such a thing before ”(Chapter 16¸ T1 The Thistle and the Tartan). Later¸ when Claire is at an advanced stage of her pregnancy¸ it will be embarrassed that she can give him pleasure without being able to do the same and will prepare for abstinence (Chapter 23¸ T2 The Talisman).
Claire feels narcissistic satisfaction in realizing that he still wants her: is it still permissible to admit that a woman can rejoice in having an insatiable partner? A partner that it is impossible for her¸ to refuse? Isn't there a joyful contemplation in perceiving that desire does not dry up and that she is and will always be the happy chosen one¸ young bride¸ pregnant or menopausal, beautiful or swollen, swollen or skeletal? Claire likes the idea that giving in feels like an absence of choice, that she can't resist because Jamie is too powerful, too good-looking, too male, because her embrace embraces more than a body but the promise of l 'exclusive, lasting, infinite love that she needs: "If I were a horse, I would let him ride me n' no matter where ”she had already sensed from their first encounters (Chapter 4, T1 Thistle and tartan). The only real question is the one they already have in Chapter 17 when Jamie asks Claire if the desire between them will ever stop. No¸ will they understand twenty years later. Because it has to do with Faith… or the law of thermodynamics.
In the first two chapters of the first volume¸ while they have seen each other only three times in six years of war¸ no sex scene is described between Claire and Frank (unlike the series). The few attempts, always at the initiative of Claire, are aborted. We will have a few moments of tenderness but it remains succinct. Frank runs in a polite app¸ far from Jamie's savage purity. He is more concerned with his ancestry than his ancestry and Claire is bored. The question of fidelity presides over Claire's letting go in chapter 23 and in a troubling parallel¸ presides over her restraint in chapter 2 between an angry Jamie and an indifferent Frank. Jamie is bold, fiery, demanding. The diligent student is able to lead the lesson "learned so brutally the day before" which is nothing other than the secret of mutual possession, which Frank has never discovered. Claire has stripped Jamie of her male dominance in the public sphere on the rocky path to reconciliation to Castle Leoch, but she claims it in the private sphere.
It is also possible to think that it is not sex that she does not want immediately in her response to Jamie but “wild sex” ¸ the one they have just experienced¸ and that to the extent where the two do not negotiate their limits in advance¸ she is curious and eager to know how he is going to satisfy her, taking into account her preferences. And Jamie decodes perfectly¸ setting his rhythm on his¸ knowing how to be soft and caressing "as only great men know how to be". No¸ the subtlety of desire absolutely does not suffer from the harshness of the speech in volume one.
Before evoking the last scene in debate¸ the one after Jamie's convalescence¸ the question that we can now ask is to know why Claire and Jamie need what the Anglo-Saxons call "wild sex" .
These moments of wild sex come from the instinct of survival. They are already clumsily claimed after the attack on the English deserters in the first volume. Claire also expresses her immediate need to make love after the ambush in the streets of Paris (Chapter 18¸ T2 The talisman ) ¸ to replace the memory of apprehension as quickly as possible with the security of mutual possession.
These scenes therefore arise at very specific moments of the saga of D. Gabaldon¸ in the anguish and fear resulting from the fear of losing oneself: in addition to the scene of reconciliation and that following the rape of Jamie by Randall¸ we find this intensity after the rape of Claire by Louis XV to free Jamie as much as to make him suffer (Chapter 29¸ T2 The talisman) ¸ during the reunion after twenty years of separation (Chapter 26, T3 The journey) ¸ after the discovery of the marriage of Jamie with Laoghaire even if Jenny interrupts the impulse of passion (Chapter 35, T3 The journey), after Claire's injury in the turtle soup scene (Chapter 56, T3 The journey) ¸ or after their argument in the River Run Stables (Chapters 43 and 49, T5 The Cross of Fire) and Claire's Rape (Chapter 29¸ T6 Snow and Ash).They then voluntarily enter into a form of disempowerment and loss of control necessary to find themselves in a reassuring state of fusion.
Claire and Jamie share a nomadic and unattached experience¸ very quickly confronted with daily violence¸ with the only horizon of the immediacy of death and the fragility of life. For Claire¸, it was the experience of the Second World War that left a lasting mark on her; for Jamie¸ it is a hostile world which distances him from what he so desires to be a husband and father surrounded by his relatives in the tranquility of Lallybroch, who spurs his quest for the absolute. The liberating sexual act allows you to forget for a while the control and the tension of everyday life. It is their only space of controlled violence in a world of uncontrollable violence, the only violence synonymous with security and pleasure¸ the only territory where trust is entirely¸ unalterable¸ far from betrayals. Mark the body of the
We may not like this relationship but there is no need to lend it a reality that is foreign to it to turn away from it. Because with D. Gabaldon¸ we know perfectly well when we leave the territory of consent to enter that of imposed violence.
We first have these two scenes of unwanted sex¸ when Jamie is forced to make love with Geneva¸ a woman who threatens his life and his family (Chapter 14¸ T3 The trip) ¸ and the one where¸ angry with the memory of Laoghaire and half asleep¸ he turns on Claire and imposes a “dry” penetration on her ¸ without making sure that she is physiologically ready¸ in a brutal mechanical¸ impersonal¸ gesture that provokes her immediate and furious reaction (“Who the hell do you think I am?”) And Jamie's apologies (Chapter 101¸ T5 The Cross of Fire).
Also three times in volume one and nowhere else in the sequel to the saga¸ between the rescue of Fort William and the reconciliation in the room of Castle Leoch¸ the reader is confronted with non-consent. Claire is reminded of her duties of obedience and submission in a Pauline conception of marriage¸ shaken by the shoulders¸ threatened with reprisals (slapping¸ beating ...) before taking action (belt shots) and finally¸ threatened with relations forced sex.
We know that from the reconciliation scene, Jamie has evolved. The arguing scenes that are described later, on the discovery of Jamie and Laoghaire's marriage (Chapter 35, T3 The Journey) or in the stables of River Run (Chapters 43 and 49, T5 The Cross of Fire) have nothing more to do with physical violence or verbal threats: arguments are sexualized.
The question of who is right or wrong ends in a draw, in mutual possession. If there is a winner and a loser, like after Jamie beats Claire, the risk is getting lost. To the slaps or verbal aggressiveness of Claire in the two scenes of volumes 3 and 5, Jamie responds with desire (the kiss) and not the threat, with the sexual drive (the embrace) and not the blows. We enter the realm of healthy aggressiveness, freely granted¸ vital energy which maintains the desire between Claire and Jamie, maintains the connection, provokes the carnal approach, begs the bodies. Most notably, the scene in the stables at River Run (Chapter 49, T5 The Cross of Fire) is part of a relentless and highly imaginative display of the dominant male's quick possession, with a "Look down - Watch while I have you. take !
Thus¸ the limit posed by D. Gabaldon emerges through the approach of the dispute between volume 1 and the other volumes: if aggressiveness is repressed, it dulls the relationship and generates frustrations but if it is excessive and unhealthy, it turns into physical violence.
When there is consent¸ the fantasies of submission and domination¸ the game of being scared¸ the bites or scratches create the emotion that stimulates the erotic imagination in an energy respectful of its partner. If there is a risk of having hurt and of falling into non-consent¸ Jamie does not hesitate to make sure of it and Claire's response is always the same as on the wedding night: "I am sorry, he whispered. I did not want to hurt you. But I want to be in you, to stay in you, so deep. (…). I leaned firmly against him. You will not hurt me ”(Chapter 24¸ T1 The thistle and the tartan). Frank communication and a similar response are always called upon: “He was silent and brutal at first, his anger whetting his love. Ooh! I said, at one point. Good God, i'm sorry, mo duinne. I couldn't ... It's okay. I stopped his apologies with my mouth and held it tight, feeling the anger ebb as the tenderness grew between us ”(Chapter 45¸ T2 The Talisman).
Frank and direct tone is a hallmark of their relationship. We do not procrastinate and we do not spare each other. Whether it is during arguments where the names of birds fuse happily ("bastard", "Scot stubborn" against "bitch" and "silly woman") or during their everyday exchanges: love is strong enough to that we dispense with any state of mind. Jamie can tell her to take off "her red bitch dress" and castigate her tight pants, use natural, saucy speech, bringing her responses back to her raw, primitive, earthly feelings in a touching animality, it echoes the authenticity. of Claire who can't think or feel a thing without Jamie reading it right off her face.
Other disputes¸ less spectacular than those recalled above¸ show this same need to possess the other because the pleasure that we give ourselves allows us to accept the compromises inherent in married life that could separate them.
In the scene where Jamie is wrongly accused of infidelity by Claire¸ it is in bed that the debate ends (chapter 17¸ T2 The talisman) ¸ in the one where jealousy towards Frank once again unleashes passions¸ c ' is a deep kiss which has as much the merit of triggering the desire as of closing the mouth: "You are mine, damn it, Claire Fraser!" Mine, and I won't share you, with a man, or a memory, or whatever, as long as we both live. You won't tell me the man's name again. You hear ? He kissed me fiercely to make the point. And Claire then asks Jamie to take her… to bed (Chapter 45¸Q2 The Talisman).
The scene where Claire and Jamie disagree on the hunt for Stephen Bonnet (Chapter 10, T5 The Cross of Fire) is instructive because the witnesses see only the tender exchange of a couple in love. But the bodies are well in tension, in their sexual expression, the power for Jamie, "a core of hard steel that would make him a deadly projectile, once launched on any course", the resistance excited for Claire and the kiss that extinguishes any discussion as much as it gives the assurance that nothing is serious as long as they are together.
Regarding the last scene of the first volume, it follows a narrative very close to the reconciliation scene of chapter 23. In the numbing and sensual setting of the hot springs, it in turn demands its due pleasure in a claimed animality.
Its peculiarity is to learn from Jamie's comments which show that he has perfectly decoded the expectations of his partner and that he knows how to respond to them with remarkable erotic skill: "When I come towards you fierce and eager¸ that you moan under me and fight like you want to run away, then I know it's only that you're struggling to get closer, and I'm fighting the same fight. Jamie reassures her so that she feels emotionally safe¸ free to indulge and reveal herself in total disinhibition: "Not yet. We have the time. And I want to hear you moan like that again. (…). I want to make you sigh as if your heart is going to break, and scream by dint of wanting, and finally scream in my arms, and I will know that I have served you well (Chapter 41¸ T1 The Thistle and the Tartan). The final word falls on Claire: "And I heard her own cry back, helpless, and I knew I had served him well." "
We find all the ingredients of wild sex: male domination, the call to violence as an amplifier of excitement, the even more ardent response then reciprocity. The vocabulary is intended to be colorful, with its evocative oxymoron ("exquisite torture") and a certain animality (the cartilaginous jellyfish in front of the massive shark).
Each sex scene allows Claire and Jamie to prove to each other how far they are willing to go for each other because there is a deep and powerful connection between them - of which sex is an extension. It is therefore never an element which is given to live in an isolated way in the saga of D. Gabaldon¸ it is part of a much larger whole. This is what makes it possible to understand that these scenes - in particular those of wild sex - are not reduced to the submission of the bodies but are above all the embodiment of a pre-existing emotional bond. It is the words they exchange not only during but also before and after the act itself that give meaning to their demonstrations.
We will also see (in Part II) that a silent language is also at work but by focusing only on the words they say to each other¸ we are already aware of the emotional tsunami that is released on a daily basis¸ outside of any sexual act. "Because it's not your body that matters when I pick you up," he said. And you know it, Sassenach! »He reminds him in America (Chapter 47, T4 The drums of autumn).
Because the words reflect the strength of their love. They are ordinary consent. Difficult to be exhaustive as the various novels are full of these words which feed the erotic imagination of consent on a daily basis. They can consolidate intimacy, sharpen desire nurture desire, heighten enjoyment, or curl up in fantasy.
Poetry is omnipresent, Jamie knows how to capture the moment that maintains the ardor even in the most mundane situations. Fusion as a source of happiness is constantly claimed: "As long as my body lives and yours, we are one flesh" (Chapter 16, T4 The drums of autumn). We find a mixture of gratitude to the Lord and mystical adoration for what Clare represents for him: “We are linked, you and I, and nothing on this earth will separate me from you. For I give you my spirit until our life is fulfilled ”(chapter 10¸ T2 The Talisman).
With Claire¸ the vital character draws from the analogy with the medical world¸ when the need of the other is as necessary as oxygen or blood flow, when she likes to caress the lines of the body to feel the pulsations, veins , arteries that irrigate the heart, when one's own psychological state is conditioned by the warm solidity of the other's presence: “Being alone with Jamie was happiness, adventure and absorption. To be alone without him was ... to be alone ”(Chapter 23, T4 The Drums of Autumn).
The touching humility which consists in regularly expressing their need for love and protection, self-sacrifice but also fantasies are the regular expression of a desired, sought-after, consented dependence: "I want to keep you like a kitten in my room. shirt, mo duinne, and yet I want to spread your thighs and plow you like a bull in heat. Do you think it's different for me? Do you think I don't feel the same? I asked. That I sometimes don't want to bite you hard enough to taste the blood or scratch you until you scream? " (Chapter 17, T2 The talisman).
And it all had (re) started with a shy, almost fearful, verbal consent, like in the early days: "I'd love to kiss you," he said softly. Can I do it? ".
What do the other wild sex scenes in the different volumes teach us about consent?
First, the confirmation of the feeling in the first volume; that a good management of the consented aggressiveness requires the acceptance of its primary impulses in an active sexuality; that the sexual energy refuses all that hinders it, the conveniences and the established patterns but also the anger and the repressed reproaches. The mind is not in control, there is no intellectualization of aggressiveness, it is the unforeseen, the unexpected, the fortuitous and sudden embrace, the amorous ambush that makes this insistence attractive. .
The scene that follows Claire's rape by the King of France in an attempt to make Jamie suffer, with Jamie more hurt by Claire's lie than by the act itself, confirms that a conflict is no longer resolved by the punitive ascendancy of one over the other. Jamie doesn't need it to restore his broken masculinity (Chapter 29¸ T2 The Talisman).
Mais elle apporte aussi un élément nouveau. Elle montre que le consentement nécessite parfois le décodage des injonctions contradictoires : si Claire consent rationnellement à être punie avec des orties, elle n’y consent pas charnellement. Son consentement est un appel à l’aide pour trouver le chemin de la déculpabilisation, pas une adhésion. C’est à Jamie de faire le tri dans l’âme troublée de Claire et de dire quel organe est aux commandes du consentement, l’esprit ou le corps. Il lui offre ainsi d’affronter ensemble la douleur et la guérison. Ce qui importe dans cette confrontation où ils dénudent autant leurs corps que leurs âmes, c’est de se protéger mutuellement. Le consentement est toujours dans l’équilibre de leurs attentes.
The scene of the reunion after twenty years of absence (Chapter 26, T3 The journey) mirrors the scene of chapter 23 of volume one. After the discovery of wild sex¸ now comes the rediscovery. In chapter 23¸ Jamie proposed to experience mutual possession: "I will not… I cannot… Claire¸ I cannot be gentle. »There¸ Claire's thoughts echo word for word in volume 1, D. Gabaldon leaves nothing to chance:« Do it, I thought (…). For God's sake, do it now and don't be gentle! I couldn't tell. I saw the need for it on his face, but he couldn't tell either; it was both too early and too late for such words between us. But we had shared another language, and my body still remembered it. "
We find this harmony of bodies and their complicity in a ritual that time has not weakened. Twenty years later, Claire is in that same state of excitement and expectation over Jamie's wild and rough charm: "But as strong as lust was the desire simply to be taken, let him dominate me, choke my doubts in brutal use, take me hard enough and fast enough to make me forget myself. The memory of the bodies is there, vivid, rooted in their flesh, as if they had parted the day before: "My hips stirred against him, and stirred again, urging violence. I turned my head and sank my teeth into the flesh of his shoulder. His body heard me and responded in the same language. "
The scene following Claire's rape (Chapter 29, T6 Snow and ash) recalls the scene of chapter 41 of volume one. Sex is urgent, brutal, after the stain resulting from the rape of each one. It must take place so as not to get lost, in an act of necessity more than of love, not to remain weak in suffering but to become strong in fusion, washing away the memories of evil in the purifying savage embrace.
The difference is that Jamie is so bruised by what happened to Claire that he cannot consider himself brutal: “He WANTED [in all caps in the English version] to be gentle. Very soft. He had planned it carefully, worrying every step of the way on the long way back. She was broken, he must be careful, take his time. »But Claire shows him another way:« And then he came to her and discovered that she did not want any part of sweetness (…). She wanted frankness. The brevity and the violence. (…). For a moment, two moments, he struggled, trying to hug her and kiss her tenderly. She squirmed like an eel in his arms, then rolled over him, wriggling and biting. "
With a very contemporary resonance around the issues of the involvement of disinhibiting substances during rape¸ the question of consent is also posed from a new angle during the turtle soup scene (Chapter 56, T3 The journey). Claire is in a show of erotic power but she is feverish¸ injured and drunk. Jamie is mad with desire but hesitant. At each provocation from Claire¸ he procrastinates. He makes sure several times that she has all her faculties before succumbing in turn.
The moment is brief, intense and reaches its goal. " How do you feel ? (…). She looked at him directly for the first time since he had brought her home. Safe, she whispered, and closed her eyes. "
Drawing by Silvia Mesas.G
The writers have chosen to show neither the scene of chapter 41, volume one, nor that of chapter 29, sixth volume. They invented a fictitious trauma during Claire and Jamie's stay in France in season two and only captured the final moment of a Claire secured in Jamie's arms in season five, admittedly in an aesthetic particularly successful naked bodies. They miss the redemptive dimension of wild sex in the couple formed by Claire and Jamie.
The abstinence offered at the start of their stay in Paris is totally against the spirit of their union. Surrounded by immensity and threats, they always claim fulfillment in each other, that state of semi-consciousness where thought is slowed down and physical sensations amplified in a beneficent stupor. Neither can escape it since scene 23 of volume one. The moment of the alliance, which Jamie will seek in this same chapter in a voluntary and highly symbolic step, to seal their mutual possession, has also been swept aside in favor of a comic escapade of the two Scottish troublemakers, Rupert and Angus, with a blacksmith before marriage. An unwavering alliance that resists Frank and Claire's return in 1948, to Stephen Bonnet (it is Frank's alliance that is stolen from the book),
To conclude this first part¸ the criticisms leveled against the saga want to silence the body and its desires¸ as if they were suspect¸ as if we did not want to give a man the pleasure of giving pleasure to a woman. What must be kept in mind¸ is that the writing of novels¸ between the 1990s and today¸ is part of a societal context torn between two contradictory trends: on the one hand¸ violence increased sexuality which led to a purifying wave of rejection of any fantasy of submission in fear of enslavement¸ and¸ on the other hand¸ a media escalation encouraging sexual performance¸ a consumerist view of the female body¸ pornography proposing a desire sexist and technique of sex far from the expectations of each partner.
A third element of context¸ specific to D. Gabaldon's narrative choice is added: the patriarchal thought pattern of the 18th century.
Now¸ so that consent is only the expression of two beings who love each other only concerned with their own well-being¸ we must free ourselves from this hostage sexuality¸ stop intellectualizing it¸ make it a stake of struggle of the sexes or reduce it to technical feats. It is this liberated writing that D. Gabaldon proposes through the course of Claire and Jamie¸ sweeping both the prohibitions of modern post feminism as the tyranny of appearances on female stereotypes or the outdated shackles of eighteenth century morality.
The author then shows us a relationship where Claire appropriates the pleasure which gives her an intense, lasting, unforgettable experience of the perfect completion of a deep, free, uncensored self. D. Gabaldon accepts all the ambiguity of desire. Thus¸ because Claire is not subjected in her social life by Jamie¸ she can be subjected in the game¸ the fantasy and the staging in bed having decided it freely. To achieve enjoyment, she accepts to be dominated by a man, to let go of her defenses and to let go. This is not incompatible with the equality that presides over their relationship¸ on the contrary¸ Jamie's respect for Claire is not confused with the indifferentiation of the sexes in the erotic domain and with the subtle disrespect of sexual play, d 'especially since the dominant / dominated relationship is never a game with fixed roles.
And even when Jamie is presented as active¸ as the one who chooses and takes while Claire receives and gives himself¸ he is always listening to the rise of his partner's pleasure¸ he is constantly renewing himself in the diversity of sexual aspirations. : the author pluralizes the expressions of desire¸ describing a sexuality that is no longer only normalized and punctuated by male penetration alone but values oral sex and clitoral orgasm¸ as the writers have been able to stage in this memorable scene of season 1 where Jamie fingers Claire and has no other pleasure than to give it to her. D.
Drawing by Silvia Mesas.G
A certain violence of desire does not exclude respect either. What does Claire expect from Jamie? Let him desire her without being selfish or insensitive. What does Jamie expect from Claire? That she wants it by showing him that she is satisfied with him. How does Jamie behave as a respectful man who desires? How does Claire behave as a desired and respected woman? Everything is in the articulation of consent around notions such as the relationship to sex¸ marital discipline and fidelity.
Above¸ it was also alluded to the consumerist vision of the female body which imposes standards of beauty; it too must be evacuated in the same way as feminist prohibitions and the chauvinist straitjacket of the 18th century to allow the expression of a pure¸ authentic¸ consent hampered by any social norm. Jamie loves Claire the way she is¸ her desire does not hang from what today would be called glamorous and stereotypical representation of women. He loves her just as much un-shaved¸ with messy or silvery hair¸ swearing or with dirty and torn clothes. He still desires her when her body bears the scars of her rape¸ or when, later in the saga, she is sick with her hair shaved.
Claire does not fit into the diktats of the bourgeoisie of her time either - in the tyranny of fortune and the good situation that a man must obligatorily bring to his wife. Jamie still has no money or a fixed roof to offer Claire at the start of the fourth book, but whatever¸ they are sufficient on their own: "Maybe one day I'll adorn you with lace and jewelry¸ he said softly. I could never give you much except a little silver ring. You gave me much more than that, I say ”(Chapter 9¸ T4 The drums of autumn).
Anchored in reciprocity, verbal consent is a renewed declamation of pleasure in an indefatigable appetite for the body of the other.
And what about silent consent?