I frequent many True Blood forums and blogs and one common I thing I hear among Team Bill fans is that Eric Northman is a misogynist. This really leaves me baffled because it has no basis in reality… NONE… whatsoever.
But they rant about how Eric “forced” Sookie to drink his blood as if it were some sort of show of his dominance over her. They go on and on about how he treated Yvetta, using her for sex and then casting her aside like garbage. These events in no way demonstrate misogyny or a hatred of women. In fact the character of Eric Northman has shown that he does respect women and deeply values those that are lucky enough to be close to him. When you get right down to it, Eric shows more respect for women on the show than he does men.
Some Examples of Eric Northman’s Relationships with Women on the True Blood TV Series
Pam is the greatest example of Eric’s respect for the female sex. When he decided to become a maker he chose a woman to become his progeny. He often does “pull rank” and defer to her the tasks he does not want to do but such is the life of the big boss. Eric not only respects Pam enough to make her his business partner, he loves her enough to leave his considerable wealth to her in the event that he dies. And how does Pam respond to him? She loves him as much as he loves her. The way they treat each other in their rare moments of tenderness leave no doubt that their relationship is one of love, trust, and mutual respect.
In season four when he does not remember her even… or Sookie, he apologizes after he shouts at her saying it was rude of him to do so. Amnesia Eric was actually very well mannered and respectful of the ladies in particular.
Isabel becomes part of the equation when the Bon Temps vamps travel to Dallas to find Godric. Isabel is one of Godric’s subjects AND a woman but Eric treats her with respect. In comparison he shows little respect for Godric’s other companion Stan. Isabel and Eric converse easily outside the FOTS compound and Eric shows interest in her attachment to humans. Never are we left to believe that Eric feels her gender makes her “less than” him.
Eric cannot quite understand his own interest in Sookie Stackhouse but at no time are we led to believe this is because of gender. Rather it is about species. Eric simply does not become attached to humans and this is understandable considering their short years. But despite this, Eric develops an interest in Sookie that even he cannot fathom. He allows Sookie to curse at him and slap him without even blinking. Instead of considering these acts as insults like most would, he admires her strength. It is not strength and fortitude in a “woman” that surprises him it is the display of these qualities in a “breather”. Even when Sookie ignores his advice and gets herself into trouble he does not berate her or talk down to her. He treats her as an equal and when he tricked her into drinking some of his blood he did so only to get closer to her. His own fascination in her made him want to share a deeper bond with her and while it was a sneaky trick, he did not do it out of malice or to subjugate her.
I especially love his reaction to her tears. He does not see it as a sign of weakness and he does not berate her for being emotional. He only expresses his discomfort with her tears because of the feelings they awaken in him. On the flip side he also does not hide his own tears (when Godric died) from her. A true misogynist would be very uncomfortable with showing weakness and vulnerability in front of a woman. Eric took comfort in Sookie’s presence on that rooftop. He looked at her directly with bloody tears streaming down his face, in gratitude for the fact that she was there and would be with his maker at the end. In another show of vulnerability we see inside Eric’s daydream about Sookie. He allows Sookie to be the aggressor and the fact that she smells his memories shows us that he longs for her to know him more intimately than anyone else. Quite simply the idea that Eric devalues Sookie or shows some sort of contempt for her as a woman, is pure fiction. At the end of season three we see that putting Sookie in any uncomfortable situation even when it may mean saving his own life is not acceptable to Eric. In the end he does choose to use her fae blood in a plot… but only to ensure the future safety of Pam and Sookie… two women.
Yvetta is a stripper who works for Eric and Pam at their bar, Fangtasia. When she auditions he makes it quite clear that he wants a professional as well as sexual relationship. Yvetta makes the same thing clear with her demeanor and body language. When Eric thinks he will soon meet his end, he makes preparations and leaves Pam the whole of his wealth in a will. Yvetta becomes angry and demands to know why she is not a recipient and some harsh words are exchanged between the two. Eric tells her he only promised her a good job and good sex and he calls her a gold digging whore. Is this proof that Eric devalues and subjugates women? Heck no! This woman was in his employ for a mere week or two only. His harsh words for Yvetta were well deserved as we can hardly believe that she was in love with Eric after this short amount of time. She was sexually involved with both Eric and Pam at the same time and she was being paid for the work she did for Fangtasia. Eric’s harsh words were directed at someone who felt entitled to his assets simply because she was sleeping with him.
Sophie Anne is another woman in Eric’s life and up until she betrayed and framed him he showed the utmost respect for her as his superior and as a person of authority. This is remarkable given that he is much older and stronger than she is and yet she is his superior. Queen Sophie Anne is also slightly ridiculous with her penchants for Yatzee and lottery tickets yet Eric humors her by playing hours of Yatzee and he helps her pay off her shopping debt by selling vampire blood for her, something that is risky for him to do. Up until her betrayal when all bets were off, he treated her no different than a male superior.
Hadley is used in one of Eric’s plans to learn more about Sookie’s appeal to certain vampires but the fact that he uses her as leverage against Sophie Anne does not show contempt. It shows that he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Out of respect for the fact that Hadley is Sookie cousin AND to show that he meant her no harm, he gave her his blood after feeding on her, which is something we know he rarely does.
Two women have been shown as part of Eric’s human life as well. One was maidservant he was with when his human family was attacked. We are left with no reason to suspect that the maidservant was not enjoying these attentions. Since Eric was in line to be the Viking King I am sure of it. Eric’s actions can be chalked up to the wildness of youth. The other woman is his mother. They seemed to be friendly and affectionate with each other in what little we saw and he was certainly devastated by the death of his mother and baby sister. The fact that he spends the next thousand years trying to get revenge tells us a lot about how much he cared for his family.
Much can be said about Eric Northman but implying that he is disrespectful to women, that he uses and abuses them, or that he is otherwise a misogynist, is way off base.
To further this case we need to look at Eric in an instance when he is showing clear cut contempt and irreverence. When Sam visits Fangtasia we see this. Eric clearly regards “shifters” as unworthy of his time and below his own status. He lounges instead of sitting up to address Sam respectfully. His whole demeanor tells us he is bored with what Sam is saying and that he has no respect for him, despite the fact that they do not know each other. He looks away when Sam talks and avoids eye contact. At no time have we seen Eric act this way with women. Case closed.