Commander Root [...] had decided to take offense at the fact
that the first female officer in Recon's history had been assigned to his
squad. [...] Root didn't think it was any place for a girlie. (3.3)
It's a little hard to
tell, but since this idea is coming through Holly's mind and contradicts Root's
belief in her competence, it is possible the book is suggesting Holly is
imagining more prejudice than there is, at least from Root.
"You are the first girl in Recon. Ever. You are a test
case. A beacon. There are a million fairies out there watching your every move.
There are a lot of hopes riding on you. But there is a lot of prejudice against
you too. The future of law enforcement is in your hands." (3.41)
This same conversation
happens a lot in real-world gender problems—is it fair to ask Holly to
represent her entire gender in the police force, and, if not, is there any
other alternative for changing the structure of the all-male LEP?
You had to be careful with elfin ears [...] No dry skin there.
That was because [Holly] had a daily moisturizing regime, not like some of the
male LEP officers. (4.62)
Here's where some of
Colfer's writing about gender gets a little strange. A lot of the conversations
about Holly deal with her being female in a male-dominated field, but here even
Holly's own inner monologue is about her being a girl, as though that's always
at the front of her mind.
A female. He hadn't expected that. A female, like Juliet, or
Artemis can't think
about women as people in themselves without comparing them to Juliet (a sister
figure) or his mom (i.e. as women connected to himself). It's a pretty limited
scope for understanding women.
"Oh, I've no doubt you would have passed as men during
the famine. But by today's standards you're little more than a pack of
blouse-wearing weaklings." (5.127)
Here's a tricky one: is
Butler actually insulting the dock workers by calling them girls, or is he
exploiting their interest in being super masculine by saying something he knows
will set them off? Or both?
"A female Recon officer. The test case. Well, I don't
think you'll have any problem justifying a tactical situation." (6.160)
What is Cudgeon
actually saying here? That the only female officer on the force is worth the
same nothing as a bunch of humans to the fairy population? That the Council
would be totally cool with killing her as long as they pretended it was
Like some members of the reptile family, dwarf males can
unhinge their jaws, allowing them to ingest several pounds of earth per second.
This is certainly
impressive (and impressively disgusting), but we wish we knew what the lady
dwarfs can do too.
Sprites were like that. Give a fairy a pair of wings and he
thinks he's God's gift to women. (8.193)
If you haven't checked
out the "Symbols" section, you should—we've got all sorts of stuff to
say about body parts and gender in this book.
"I wouldn't wanna be that Recon babe if she gets in the
way of this [troll]." (8.200)
Here's Holly, a highly
trained Recon officer who took on that very same troll alone in a restaurant,
and here she gets referred to as "that Recon babe." The problem with
being the only female officer is that Holly doesn't get any respect from the other
The troll faced a dilemma—which female to eat first. [...] The
beast squatted low, tilting the girl's chin with one yellowed talon. [...] It
turned the talon sideways, so that the edge pressed against soft human flesh.
One sharp swipe and the girl's own heartbeat would drive the blood from her
This makes no sense
whatsoever, right? The troll nearly kills Butler and should be more interested
in finishing the job and removing that threat entirely, but instead stops what
it's doing and somehow has the mental capacity to choose which girl looks nicer
to eat. Also, Juliet's hobby is wrestling—we doubt she's really a whole lot
softer than Butler.