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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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  1. Twilight critics and sex-shaming « The Lady Garden

    [...] just rough sex. And I’m actually finding all the commentary citing the sex as part of Bella’s “desire for all the wrong things” or an example of abuse in their relationship really sex negative. And a shaming judgement on what [...]

  2. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen January 3, 2012 at 6:46 pm |

    There’s a reason a lot of women and girls love “Twilight” — it’s one of the few mainstream literary (if that’s not too strong an adjective) works where a woman’s desire for sex — not just romance — takes front and center stage.

    Then again, there are infinite better books to read, or write. I want a story where a male mermaid has the hots for a woman freighter captain, and agrees to become a *very* good listener in exchange for a shot at dating her. :-p

  3. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho January 3, 2012 at 7:02 pm |

    it’s one of the few mainstream literary (if that’s not too strong an adjective) works where a woman’s desire for sex — not just romance — takes front and center stage.

    Then again, there are infinite better books to read, or write.

    I’m working on one for you, a feminist, sex positive, sci-fi, rom-com novel.

  4. Ashley
    Ashley January 3, 2012 at 7:21 pm |

    It seems like everywhere I go there are either die hard fans, or downright people that hate the series (and many act like elitist snobs I might add). I guess I like the series just enough to see it in the theater during a matinee showing when I had nothing better to do. I mean, it’s ok, sometimes strange, and ooey gooey overdramatic love mush reminds me of myself and peers during our high school puppy love phase which often makes me feel ill, but I guess I understand why it’s so popular. Yeah, there are some unfavorable ideas and messages thrown at you throughout the series, but I don’t feel right if I expect perfection in anything.

  5. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen January 3, 2012 at 7:37 pm |

    I suspect the reactions to “Twilight” (as opposed to, say, “Harry Potter” or “Battlefield 3″) are extreme because… well, the values embodied herein are extreme, without question. Most normal people (i.e. not Santorum or Perry) don’t think brainless clumps of fetal cells should take precedence over maternal survival, and even diehard fans would have a hard time explaining why it’s sexy for someone to watch you sleeping.

    I’m working on one for you, a feminist, sex positive, sci-fi, rom-com novel.

    Soon my life shall be complete. Don’t forget to add feminist ninjas to taste!

  6. Raja
    Raja January 3, 2012 at 10:22 pm |

    Twilight sucks. Vampire Diaries and True Blood are way better.

  7. Yan
    Yan January 3, 2012 at 10:42 pm |

    I would read or watch feminist ninjas in a heartbeat.

    I read the first Twilight book (which I think is actually just called Twilight). Mostly, I was bored bored bored, as the writing was mediocre, the pacing was slower than Caprica’s, and bored teenagers are NOT interesting protagonists. But I lost any hope for the series when Bella finds out that Edward is watching her sleep, sneaking into her room at night and watching her sleep, and she was not even vaguely disturbed by the stalkerific behavior. I finished reading the book, but I was done with it at that point.

    Anyone looking for sex positive sci-fi or fantasy has other options. Lois McMasters Bujold, for starters.

  8. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho January 3, 2012 at 10:43 pm |

    A good friend of mine said, “there are these books, and you have to read them, because they’re god awful, and I need someone else to have read them, so I have someone to talk to about how much they suck.”
    So that’s how it came to be that I read the Twilight series.

    One thing I would say about the article, Meyer didn’t actually write anything about the sexy business, only the resulting destruction. It’s what I have called the literary equivalent of a fade to black, where one paragraph they’re starting to kiss, and then the chapter ends, and the next starts with the next morning. However, every horrific details of the broken ribs, crushed spine, and c-section by vampire are all described in very graphic detail. ::shudder::

  9. WitchWolf
    WitchWolf January 3, 2012 at 11:37 pm |

    These books just frustrate me… The themes for me run through the paranormal romance genre — 100 plus year old vampire stalking a early teen or early 20 year old women — who are most likely virgins… Not to mention the bonding between fetus and adult man — made me want to gag because has creeped up well before — the twilight books came out.

    I couldn’t bring myself to read them but have read summaries of the books, and they scare the hell out of me.

    Yes, Bella’s will is cool but why couldn’t she be like 20 or 30 something where she lived a life, had gotten an education???

  10. MadGastronomer
    MadGastronomer January 4, 2012 at 5:05 am |

    Goths up trees have nothing to do with Twilight. Most goths can’t stand the series, and Real Vampires Don’t Sparkle has become a subculture meme. The more you know!

    (On the other hand, people who loved The Lost Boys probably should not be complaining too loudly.)

  11. ellid
    ellid January 4, 2012 at 7:01 am |

    There already *are* sex-positive paranormal/fantasy/science fiction stories being written. Check out Circlet Press or Torquere, especially Circlet, which is owned and run by erotica activist Cecilia Tan.

  12. Athenia
    Athenia January 4, 2012 at 10:14 am |

    “it’s centered around a young woman’s desire, yes, but it’s a desire for all the wrong things ”

    I don’t think it’s the desire for the “wrong” things. The paradox the author speaks of is present in our everyday lives—the desire for eternal love, but the reality of domestic violence. The desire for kids, but the horror of pregnancy etc.

  13. Kat
    Kat January 4, 2012 at 11:05 am |

    A quote from the article…

    “it’s centered around a young woman’s desire, yes, but it’s a desire for all the wrong things (by feminist standards as well as by normal social ones).”

    FINALLY! Someone admits that feminism is not about supporting women’s choices, but instead “teaching” women to make the “right” choices.

    I am not familiar with the books, but I have seen the movies, and was completely unimpressed (dull, boring, terrible acting), but I did identify with Bella in a lot of the ways in which I, according to the author of this article, shouldn’t. I married young, I had an awesome honeymoon (bruises included, though on both of us!), I did not go to college, and I don’t have a career (I do work part-time). I am proud to be a homemaker, I am proud to be my husband’s wife, I am proud to devote myself to my family and my home.

    My entire life, I was always told I could be whatever I wanted to be, and that my life and my choices were my own. And I believed it. I considered all my options, weighed them against each other, and made choices that I felt were best for me, and never made a single claim that anyone else should follow suit and live the same way I do. Strangely, when I made the choice to marry and devote myself to a more old-fashioned lifestyle, I found that, apparently, choice is only a feminist value when you make the “right” choices, and I obviously didn’t. My friends became outright hostile and ultimately abandoned me. My AP Philosophy/World Religions teacher in high school told me I was “prostituting my intellect,” whatever the hell that meant. Some even went so far as to tell me I was “brainwashed by patriarchy,” because I couldn’t see the horrible things I was doing to myself. And here I thought it was the patriarchy itself that told women they don’t know how to make decisions!

    While I understand that the Twilight series is rather creepy (no matter how old fashioned you may regard me as being, trust that I do find Edward to be an abusive stalker, and the whole Jacob and baby thing is rather nauseating), I don’t like how Bella is vilified in feminist commentary for simply making choices that don’t have the Feminist Seal of Approval on them. I am happy though, that the writer of this article had the “balls” to finally say what few feminists would actually admit. A woman’s right to chose is only valid when she choses the right things.

  14. Esti
    Esti January 4, 2012 at 12:13 pm |

    (It turns out I have a lot of feelings about these books, apologies for the length.)

    It’s a little much to say that the series (and yeah, I read all four books, because I didn’t feel like I could critique the series unless I had actually read it) gives a woman’s desire for sex center stage. Yes, Bella wants to have sex and Edward wants to wait for marriage. It’s not the biggest part of the story, though — her desire to be a vampire is given a much more central role than her desire for sex.

    I think that the problem with the rough sex has nothing to do with the fact that it’s rough (Bella enthusiastically consents, is not at all scared or really hurt the next day, and wants to do it again), it’s that Edward is portrayed as being *unable* to have non-rough sex. He just can’t stop himself from breaking headboards and shredding pillows and bruising her if they’re going to have sex. Bella has absolutely no agency in choosing the type of sex they could engage in — she was told she could have rough sex, or no sex at all. That’s a pretty unhealthy response to female desire.

    And in the same way that Edward just can’t control the rough sex, Jacob and the other wolves just can’t stop themselves from exploding into violent beasts whenever they’re angry. It’s the same way that both Edward and Jacob just can’t stop themselves from holding Bella captive and running off her friends and breaking into her room while she sleeps. Those things are all seen as not just acceptable but totally normal actions. And while the books try to explain those things as part of the supernatural world they all inhabit (vampire and wolf natures are just like that, and Bella is in so much danger, etc.), it still normalizes and praises behavior that is never acceptable, especially when in the real world those reasons don’t exist.

    Kat, I think you’re right that many of the criticisms feminists make of the books are unfair. There is nothing wrong with a woman choosing to be a mother, or to marry young, or even to risk her life for her one shot at having a child if that’s what she wants to do (and Bella does). But there are plenty of good reasons for disliking the books, and one of them is that we never see a counter-example to those desires. Literally every other female character has the same overwhelming desire to be a mother that Bella does — Rosalie and Esme pine for children, and the one female wolf is revealed to be so angry all of the time because her transformation means she won’t be able to have kids. None of them have a career outside the home or express any desire for one, and even Bella’s human mother is shown as simply following her new husband from city to city while he works. We should support any woman who wants to choose that life, but I don’t support a narrative in which that is the only choice women make.

    You can try to position these books as being a subtle triumph of female desire, but I just don’t buy it. Because aside from Bella, not a single female character chooses anything for herself. All of the female vampires were made that way by a man, who did not ask them beforehand (and Rosalie, at least, expresses ambivalence about the choice that was made for her). The female wolf just transforms one day, and never becomes happy about it as the male wolves do; it’s clear she would have chosen to stay fully human, while they would not. And most disturbingly, all of the “imprinting” the male wolves do: they imprint onto a woman (or a child, as is true for both Jacob and a second wolf), but she does not imprint back. Bella actually asks what happens if the woman doesn’t like the wolf who imprints on her, and is told that never happens because it’s “hard to resist such total devotion.” Basically, that if a man loves a woman enough, she will inevitably love him back. Don’t try to tell me that these books are about female autonomy because that, right there, is the antithesis of it.

    And finally, because I think it needs to be said in every discussion of Twilight: the racism in these books is shocking. Given the high rates of domestic violence in Native American communities and the prevailing stereotypes surrounding Native American people, it is unacceptable that Stephenie Meyer decided to position her Native American characters as literal beasts who are unable to control their inner, violent nature (one of them attacks his girlfriend because, I kid you not, he just loves her so much; she, of course, stays with him and has no discernible personality besides “supportive” and “good cook”). In later books, we learn that the European vampires have an ordered (if kind of facist) civilization while the Central and South American vampires were unable to stop warring with one another and eventually had to have order imposed by their European masters. It’s not subtle, and I wish more was said about it when white feminists discuss the problems with the books.

  15. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar January 4, 2012 at 12:31 pm |

    Raja, not to sidetrack, but True Blood’s handling of Tara, and their handling of Jason’s rape (instant recovery, as if it never happened, which others predicted and I did not) have seriously alienated me. I don’t like or trust the writers anymore.

  16. Mama Mia
    Mama Mia January 4, 2012 at 2:29 pm |

    I have no problems with critiques of the writing and story. Fair game. But introducing her as a “Mormon housewife” is clearly intended to diminish her. Housewife is a term used today as an insult, and I don’t care if you think the term is somehow accurate. It is meant to imply she was nothing more than a woman defined by her husband. Obviously she was more than that, as she spent her time writing books that exploded. A woman who thought of herself as nothing more than an extension of her husband and her house would never have attempted to write a book in the first place.

  17. Copcher
    Copcher January 4, 2012 at 2:58 pm |

    Wow, Esti, I’d heard about stereotypes about Native American communities in the books, but I didn’t know anything about the Central and South American vampires needing to be tamed by the Europeans. These books have so many problems with them!

    I read the first book a few years ago because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It felt like a serious chore to finish it and I had no desire to read any of the others, both because the story did not draw me in at all and because it offended me. From what I saw, even the parts that could be interpreted as sex-positive (Bella going after a guy she wants to date and Bella wanting to have sex, mostly) come off as paternalistic. Edward won’t give Bella what she wants because it’s dangerous and he knows what’s best for her. That, along with the fact that he can’t control his violent tendencies (and along with a bunch of other things that people have already said), is extremely problematic.

  18. Buffy, übernehmen Sie! | quereinstieg

    [...] Fiction mit LGBT-Personal im Englischen feministe (besonders einige der Kommentare sind gut): The best thing you will read today about Breaking Dawn AlterNet: The Bloody, Twisted, Inverted World of Twilight: Violent Vampire Sex, Demon-Babies and [...]

  19. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl January 4, 2012 at 3:32 pm |

    I actually read all of the Twilight books. I personally think it’s intellectually dishonest to criticize a book one hasn’t read, and I was curious to see what all of the fuss was about.

    I agree that there are some disturbing aspects to the books, and the religious undertones are especially annoying in my opinion. On the other hand, I didn’t get the same negative impression of Bella that so many other critics have. I think that Bella’s sexual desire for Edward was her main motivation in her pursuing a relationship with him and that she got a serious sexual thrill from what so many people have interpreted as his stalkerish and creepy behavior. I would go so far as to say that I saw some BDSM overtones in the portrayal of vampire/human relations and I can totally see why plenty of readers might find that sort of exciting.

    In the end, Bella does get to be an equal with Edward though, and they get to have crazy, wild vampire sex to their heart’s content in a very sex positive manner (although again annoying that Edward was so insistent that it had to be married sex.) I don’t even know if I want to get into the halfbreed baby vampire pregnancy, there is a whole lot to unpack there and much if it is cannon fodder for the Mommy Warmongers.

  20. PeggyLuWho
    PeggyLuWho January 4, 2012 at 4:56 pm |

    Esti, have you seen this website? http://www.burkemuseum.org/static/truth_vs_twilight/

  21. Echo Zen
    Echo Zen January 4, 2012 at 5:21 pm |

    Hmm… problematically, I admit I found the “Native Americans” in “Twilight” to be the most (well, only) interesting part. Sometimes they even demonstrated a vestige of human characteristics and imperfections, such as domestic violence and class differences — even if Meyers for some reason thought it would be a good idea to assign all the negative characteristics to the Native American characters, and then normalise them with excuses like, “Oh, my partner couldn’t help slicing up my face.”

  22. Purlgurl
    Purlgurl January 4, 2012 at 6:05 pm |

    I think that Bella’s sexual desire for Edward was her main motivation in pursuing a relationship with him and that she got a serious sexual thrill from what so many people have interpreted as his stalkerish and creepy behaviour. I would go so far as to say that I saw some BDSM overtones…

    I agree with you here, Lolagirl. There is actually a lot of “Subella/Domward” fan fiction out there, some of it very well written, that further illuminates this aspect of the story. (Confession: I was able to be open with my husband about my BDSM-y wishes after reading some of said fanfic. And reading it made me realize, in retrospect, that this was probably the main reason that I found the original series…compelling…let’s say.)

  23. Esti
    Esti January 4, 2012 at 6:50 pm |

    PeggyLuWho, that site is fantastic — thanks!

  24. Miss S
    Miss S January 4, 2012 at 9:51 pm |

    But there are plenty of good reasons for disliking the books, and one of them is that we never see a counter-example to those desires.

    Esti, I feel like I see counter examples everywhere else all the time. The “single woman who loves her independence and professional career and doesn’t want to settle down ever because only unenlightened and unempowered women do that” trope is so fucking old and played out to me. Especially because she usually ends up falling in love, but “that’s okay, because she didn’t want that, it just happened, because awesome women should not want to be moms or wives or God forbid, a housewife.”

  25. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl January 4, 2012 at 11:18 pm |

    (Confession: I was able to be open with my husband about my BDSM-y wishes after reading some of said fanfic. And reading it made me realize, in retrospect, that this was probably the main reason that I found the original series…compelling…let’s say.)

    I was kind of disappointed that the hot vampire sex was only alluded to and not laid out in detail. I get that this is supposed to be young adult lit and all, but I bet it could be pretty hot. Hmm, want to point me in the direction of said fanfic, Purlgurl? Sounds interesting…

    But there are plenty of good reasons for disliking the books, and one of them is that we never see a counter-example to those desires.

    I don’t even think this is completely true of the books. Alice isn’t interested in settling down into marriage and family life, and the Alaskan vampire sisters aren’t either. But the thing with escapist lit, and the Twilight series is all about escapism, is that one usually isn’t looking for a story to balance out the characters so that every potentiality is covered. I don’t really see this book series as being any different from any other “chick lit” type book, it’s junk food for the brain and all things in moderation, etc.

  26. Raja
    Raja January 5, 2012 at 5:26 am |

    I actually like Tara from True Blood; she is so willing to give white southern hicks shit and just doesn’t give a fuck. Haven’t gotten to Jason’s rape scene yet but hes already a dick in my opinion given from the first few episodes ive watched. that doesn’t mean he deserves to get raped i just think hes a dick

  27. Lara Emily Foley
    Lara Emily Foley January 5, 2012 at 5:44 am |

    Yeah can you not do the whole yes rape is bad but he’s a dick thing?

  28. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines January 5, 2012 at 6:07 am |

    Mama Mia – Quite. I’m not going to take seriously of supposed feminist critique that starts off snickering about “Mormon Housewives”, especially when there are far more substantive problems, as outlined by Esti.

  29. jennifer
    jennifer January 5, 2012 at 9:55 am |

    @Kat (nothing on twilight)—I don’t think feminism should be just about supporting women’s choices, I think it should be about making sure women have choices. You’re probably right that in the eagerness to expand women’s roles, those who want to choose one of the former roles are not encouraged. I seem to recall at some point there were efforts to recognize in a more formal way the work that women did at home (social security eligibility, etc.), but I haven’t heard much about that of late—I’ve been thinking about it because I’ve become disabled recently, hopefully just temporarily, and if I didn’t work outside the home, with the sick pay and access to disability insurance, our family would be in serious trouble because we’d have to pay for child care without any extra income.

    Your characterization of feminists strikes me as inaccurately unified—there’s not a lot of agreement on feminism (read any of the threads here with a lot of comments). In terms of people’s judgment of your choices, people will do this from any number of value standpoints (people that get advanced science/math degrees and then work for Wall St. are often criticized as prostituting their intellect). Just because some people have criticized your choices using their idea of feminism doesn’t mean you should rule out thinking about feminism as something that could be useful for you.

  30. Esti
    Esti January 5, 2012 at 11:03 am |

    @Lolagirl

    I don’t even think this is completely true of the books. Alice isn’t interested in settling down into marriage and family life, and the Alaskan vampire sisters aren’t either. But the thing with escapist lit, and the Twilight series is all about escapism, is that one usually isn’t looking for a story to balance out the characters so that every potentiality is covered. I don’t really see this book series as being any different from any other “chick lit” type book, it’s junk food for the brain and all things in moderation, etc.

    I have two more general responses to this regarding the impact of the Twilight series and why these critiques matter:

    1) I also read fluffy escapist books of various kinds, and I don’t think every book needs to show a balance of all the various things women can choose and be. But I’m very conscious of the flaws in things I read for fun, and I don’t think they stop mattering solely because they’re escapist. I think that’s all the more true where, as is definitely the case with Twilight, the books are primarily aimed at young women and have likely had a huge impact on many of those girls in shaping what they think are acceptable and desirable in life and relationships.

    2) That all (or nearly all) of the female characters adhere to traditional female roles can’t be looked at separately from the rest of the problems with the books. It’s one thing to write a series of books that affirm the value of relationships and motherhood by making every female character want those things. It’s another thing to do so in a series of books in which GLBT characters do not exist, in which the main characters’ two romantic interests repeatedly engage in abusive behavior (breaking into her bedroom to watch her sleep before they had ever spoken, removing parts of her car’s engine to prevent her from seeing the other guy, having his relatives hold her hostage to prevent her from seeing the other guy, kissing her against her will, threatening to kill himself if she doesn’t kiss him, etc. — Bella is decidedly not okay with many of those behaviors, and some of them take place before Edward had any idea whether she would be okay with them) and that behavior is not just accepted but held up as a romantic ideal, in which most of the male characters just can’t control their violent urges and frequently injure or almost injure the women in their lives, in which men choose a mate and that woman has no choice but to fall in love back, in which all of the characters mate for eternity, etc. These books aren’t “yay, motherhood is a valid choice that should be celebrated!”, they’re “yay, heterosexual monogamous couplings in which women have traditional desires and roles and anything the man does is okay if he did it because he loves you!”

    And then one more specific response (if you’re not interested in the minutiae of the Twilight series, you can skip this):

    3) While you’re right that Alice doesn’t have the same motherhood fixation of every other female character, she also doesn’t demonstrate any interest in a career — Carlisle, the father figure, is the only one who really does — and her primary interests are clothing and makeup. Nothing wrong with that if it’s your thing, but it fits squarely within the stereotypical women’s role in which virtually all of the female characters in the books reside. The Alaska vampires, from what I remember, consist of: 1) deceased mother, about whom the only thing we know is that she loved a dangerous baby vampire and died trying to protect the child; 2) sister who’s really into Edward; 3) sister who was really into that vampire Edward killed; 4) sister who meets and becomes really into a vampire from somewhere else in the fourth book. We never know enough about the three sisters to know whether they want babies, but none of them express an interest in anything else, either (other than the men they like, and their family — again, nothing wrong with being family and relationship oriented, but it’s all we see). Whereas there’s a lot more diversity among the male characters: three of them run the vampire world from Italy (and all of their significant underlings, with the exception of the child vampire Jane, are men), two are Romanian vampires (I think they were Romanian) scheming to take down the Italians, Carlisle works as a doctor, Bella’s father is a police officer, her stepfather is a baseball coach, etc. I haven’t read the books in a while, but I can’t think of a single thing any of the female characters do that isn’t motivated by their mate or their family; by contrast, the men seem to have interest in power for its own sake, doing the right thing, academic pursuits, etc.

  31. Kat
    Kat January 5, 2012 at 11:15 am |

    Jennifer, I appreciate what you are saying, and yes, I was speaking in generalities, simply because I don’t have the time or energy to go into detailed anaylsis of each and every slight I have faced. To do so would probably take the rest of my life. You will simply have to trust when I say that the examples I gave from my own life definately came from a feminist standpoint on the part of people who criticized me.

    I have been involved in feminist causes since I was a teenager. I was part of my high school’s chapter of NOW, I have volunteered at Planned Parenthood clinics and rape crisis centers, and spend a lot of time reading and writing on feminist issues online. Feminism is not a foreign concept to me. I believe strongly in preserving women’s opportunities and choices in all aspects of their lives. Unfortunately, my personal interactions with other self-identified feminists has been overwhelmingly negative. Due to my marital and occupational status, I have been called a “traitor,” “one man’s whore,” “lazy,” “brainwashed,” and told I was personally “setting women back.” It got to a point where I simply stopped talking about my personal life, or even outright lied when asked directly about my life. Some of this criticism was harshly delivered and blatantly angry. Some was more subtle, like real life “concern trolls”- “Oh, we just want to make sure you know that you don’t HAVE to live like that.” How ironic that self-proclaimed feminists can be so damn paternalistic!

    No, I have not encountered every single feminist on earth, but quite frankly, given the encounters I have had, I don’t really want to! The principles of feminism, choice and freedom for all regardless of gender or sex, are solid, and I believe in them. Sadly, I have very little experience with feminists who truly “walk their talk.” That’s why I got a weird sense of satisfaction reading that line in the article. Someone finally laid it all out there, and clearly stated that, by the author’s feminist standards, a woman’s ability to chose is not as important as what they chose to do. A rare moment of honesty, at least in my experience.

  32. Norma
    Norma January 5, 2012 at 12:08 pm |

    Kat:

    No, I have not encountered every single feminist on earth, but quite frankly, given the encounters I have had, I don’t really want to! The principles of feminism, choice and freedom for all regardless of gender or sex, are solid, and I believe in them. Sadly, I have very little experience with feminists who truly “walk their talk.” That’s why I got a weird sense of satisfaction reading that line in the article. Someone finally laid it all out there, and clearly stated that, by the author’s feminist standards, a woman’s ability to chose is not as important as what they chose to do. A rare moment of honesty, at least in my experience.

    If you have the inclination, it’s worth reading more of the OPs on here about marriage. I find that Jill and the rest of the mods do a pretty good job writing about choice, and there is a really wide array of viewpoints among commentators.

    Also, inasmuch as Bella has a “desire for all the wrong things,” as the OP said, isn’t that… a desire to sacrifice her life for a character that you acknowledge is stalkerish/abusive (and a vampire…)? It isn’t really a *feminist* idea that this is a questionable life strategy.

  33. Cara
    Cara January 5, 2012 at 12:23 pm |

    A woman’s right to chose is only valid when she choses the right things.

    1. If a woman isn’t ever adult enough to have a self, she can’t really choose, now can she? A woman who CAN support herself but has decided to stay home with her kids is not in the same category as one who’s gone straight from high school to vampire mate. (Heh).

    2. A woman has a right to choose whatever. That does NOT make all choices empowering, or even feminist. A woman making a choice does NOT make it a feminist choice.

    HTH.

  34. Cara
    Cara January 5, 2012 at 12:25 pm |

    Unfortunately, my personal interactions with other self-identified feminists has been overwhelmingly negative. Due to my marital and occupational status, I have been called a “traitor,” “one man’s whore,” “lazy,” “brainwashed,” and told I was personally “setting women back.”

    Calling Poe on this. I could be wrong, of course.

  35. PrettyAmiable
    PrettyAmiable January 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm |

    “Calling Poe on this. I could be wrong, of course.

    I believe it if Kat is an anchor for Fox or works in some way for the Heritage Foundation for sure.

  36. Athenia
    Athenia January 5, 2012 at 1:36 pm |

    Also, inasmuch as Bella has a “desire for all the wrong things,” as the OP said, isn’t that… a desire to sacrifice her life for a character that you acknowledge is stalkerish/abusive (and a vampire…)? It isn’t really a *feminist* idea that this is a questionable life strategy.

    Bella is sacrificing her human life for power i.e. becoming a vampire She could not be turned and still be with Edward, but of course, that means she would die at some point without Edward.

    I think the more interesting point is that Bella’s power i.e. becoming a vampire finally comes from giving birth (and after getting married). For what I understand, in Mormonism, you can’t be accepted into heaven unless you have kids.

  37. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl January 5, 2012 at 1:49 pm |

    Calling Poe on this. I could be wrong, of course.

    Maybe it’s my SAHM-addled brain, but I have no idea what this even means.

    I don’t think Kat is a troll, nor do I think that she deserves to be snarked. This discussion is devolving pretty quickly, which is prett ott given the fact that the subject matter is a fantasy/young adult book series.

    I’ve also been on the receiving end of way more concern trolling, condescension and general shit from people since I became a SAHM than I ever anticipated when I first made that decision. I get why Kat’s comments upset because of her broad, sweeping generalizations, but I also have been in similar shoes and I share her outrage with the manner in which plenty of feminists denigrate the decision of other women to do what we have done.

    These books aren’t “yay, motherhood is a valid choice that should be celebrated!”, they’re “yay, heterosexual monogamous couplings in which women have traditional desires and roles and anything the man does is okay if he did it because he loves you!”

    I do understand what you are saying, Esti, and I generally agree with you in the bigger picture. On the other hand, I guess I find it easier to let it slide when it comes to junk lit because it’s the sort of stuff I find vaguely enjoyable to read for it’s minimal investment of my seriously lacking time and effort. Maybe that makes me a bad feminist (aside from the SAHM thing, that may or may not count against me as well) but I prefer to get het up about bigger stuff like what Santorum and Paul surging to the top of the GOP nominating process may end up meaning for furthering the cause for women’s equality or the increasing wage gap for middle and lower class women. I’m not saying these things are in any way mutually exclusive, just that the former doesn’t fire me up as the latter two do.

  38. Esti
    Esti January 5, 2012 at 2:04 pm |

    That’s totally fair, Lolagirl, and I definitely have my pop culture loves that are massively problematic (oh Toddlers and Tiaras, why can’t I quit you…). Personally, I have the opposite reaction you do, in that I often get more fired up about critiquing pop culture than what Republican is currently polling highest — I find the latter depressing and demoralizing, whereas conversations about the former give me hope that we can change some of the pervasive underlying attitudes that give rise to the bigger problems.

  39. Lolagirl
    Lolagirl January 5, 2012 at 2:21 pm |

    I find the latter depressing and demoralizing, whereas conversations about the former give me hope that we can change some of the pervasive underlying attitudes that give rise to the bigger problems.

    I absolutely agree with you that it is utterly depressing and demoralizing.

    I also do agree that getting to the bottom of our pop culture’s more damaging aspects is an important mission for feminism to tackle. Again, I view stuff like Twilight to be so silly and trivial to the point that I find it hard to believe that readers would at all take it seriously in the first place (even teen readers.)

  40. ~s~
    ~s~ January 5, 2012 at 6:04 pm |

    I read the first book when it was just starting to get popular–I think I was 18. It was kind of like crack cocaine–you know it’s really bad but you just can’t stop reading. I think for a lot of teenage girls, the sheer amount of agency and freedom that Bella has (at least in the first and fourth books) is pretty intoxicating. (And I think it’s key that Bella’s decision to continue her pregnancy isn’t framed in pro-life terms or the whole thing would unravel.)

    It’s also important to note that when Meyer wrote the series, she originally wrote just Twilight and Breaking Dawn (sans werewolves of course). [including sex scenes in Breaking Dawn that she later had to edit out because so many readers are preteen girls, fyi]. If you read those two books in sequence, it gives a whole different perspective to the events of Breaking Dawn.

  41. Kat
    Kat January 6, 2012 at 4:43 pm |

    Thank you, Cara and Prettyamiable for proving my point. I tell a truth about my own personal life experience, and get accused of not actually existing. You will not see me on this website again, though I am sure you don’t care. Go to Hell.

  42. j.
    j. January 7, 2012 at 5:35 pm |

    Hope you stick the flounce, Kat.

  43. ginmar
    ginmar January 9, 2012 at 12:15 am |

    Yeah, every time I hear a self-described housewife describe how brutally she’s been treated by feminists, I think two things simultaneously: “STFU parents.com” and “That woman who screams, whips out an Uzi, and attacks the poor humble man who just wanted to open a door for her.” The poor abused housewife who always takes pains to describe herself as ultra feminist despite doing nothing but attacking all of them seems to run into the sort of feminists that exist only in Bill O’Reilly’s fantasies—and somehow, despite being so liberated and all—-has no realization that an awful lot of feminists—including the earliest ones—were themselves housewives rebelling against how horrible were the conditions forced on women who had no options other than marriage. The poor, utterly innocent, and completely perfect housewife was just minding her own business when hoardes of hairy-legged feminazis went out of their way to seek her out and attack her.

    And to the very last woman, they all tell the same story. They absolutely LOVE LOVE LOVE something which promotes a decidedly primitive, blinkered, sexist view of women. Those nasty feminazis! Change a few of the nouns and verbs, and you have Innocent Put-Upon Abused Door-Holding Guy. How odd!

  44. REBECCA
    REBECCA January 19, 2012 at 10:28 pm |

    i rea the twilight books. I own them all. I’ll probably read them again. At first I loved them and then I was slowly like wait a minute. The experience was much like my coming to realize that the man I was stuck with was abusive. And I realized that the reason it took me so long to realize that both the fictional and real life abuser was abusive was because I had no frame of reference of what it was to be treated well. also edward was nicer to bella than mine is to me. I find the idea that this relationship is some young girls first idea of true love frightening.
    the only thing I will defend is stop pointing at the honeymoon. edward was a virgin with superstrength. him being afraid he’d hurt her is not exactly unreasonable. him bruising her accidentally aka being a clumsy lover due to it being his first time is not the horrrible part of him. bella could have been turned first before sleeping with him. It was not rough sex or no sex. and with practice edward did gain better control and did not bruise her again. also bella did not enjoy the bruises she didnt even notice them because she was otherwise occupied. and yes it is totally possible to have bruises you dont remember getting.
    why is everone focused on that? oh wait I know why because no one is willing to take abuse seriously unless there is physical violence is involved. thats why no womens group can or will do anything but offer me counceling even though I cannot get away from a man who abuses me every single way but the one way people care about, physical violence or threat of violence.

  45. Twilight: racism, misogyny and desire. « contradictory multitudes

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