A couple of years ago, after a trip to Costco, my mother came into my room and plopped a book down on my bed, “This was on sale, I thought you’d like it, it’s about vampires.” This book was big and black and had a person holding a shiny red apple on the cover. This book was Twilight. I looked it with much skepticism, wrinkled my nose, said “thank you” and put it on my shelf, never to be read. As the fervor surrounding Twilight grew, the wrinkled in my nose got more pronounced and eventually turned into an eye roll followed by a mime of vomiting. I have no problem with the subject of vampires; I have no problem with chic-lit (I read lots of it with glee); I have no problem with frivolous reading, reading for fun or simply enjoying a book even though you know it’s garbage on toast. What I have a problem with is sexism and objectification and boy is Twilight full of it.
Originally, I crusaded against Twilight’s portrayal of Bella, a girl WHO LITERALLY CAN NOT LIVE WITHOUT A MAN. Seriously, he leaves and her whole world falls apart. Sure, their love for each other is romantic and heartwarming but her devotion to him must have Elizabeth Cady Staton spinning in her grave. I am not of the “Oprah Feminist” belief that men should wait on women hand and foot, nor am I one to scoff at women who choose to be house-mothers. What is important to me, what I think is the true message of feminism is the right for a woman to choose and be considered an equal of men. Bella doesn’t really seem to have a choice in all this, completely at the mercy of Edward’s whim. He leaves and comes back, decides what’s good and what’s bad for her. She lives for Edward and Edward alone and when Edward leaves she falls apart because she has nothing else to live for. Is this really the kind of role model we want for thousands of young girls? I of course do not look down on the older set that reads this, I have many a friend who do, and I understand the appeal of the novel. My concern lies in the 12 year old demographic who aspire to BE Bella Swan, marry a man like Edward Cullen (have crazy, bruise causing sex and like it?) and pop out a strangely named child at 18. On one level, that is their choice, however uninformed. On another it makes me cry.
Twilight is not just a setback for women, but also for men. Jacob is objectified just as much as Bella is, spending the majority of his time shirtless. Furthermore, he is a pawn in BELLA’S game, totally attached to her, hopelessly in love and completely used. As for Edward Cullen- lets just say there is a sparkly Edward Cullen dildo available for purchase on the internet (and you can put it in the freezer so it’s as cold and dead as him!). Interestingly enough, the second film (full of shirtless hunks) is directed by a man. The major complaint is that most film today is shot in the “male gaze” or from the male perspective (the white male perspective to be clear). This is the cause for slutty costumes, close-ups of breasts, male leads, the list of stereotypes continues. However, New Moon has a gaze that reeks of ‘the feminist gaze”- Jacobs lack of shirts for example (do they not HAVE those in werewolf land?). To me, New Moon reeks of feminist stereotyping. A “this is what women like” kind of perspective, straight from the eyes of a man. Telling us what we as females should like? Maybe. Reinforcing and proliferating female stereotypes? Maybe. Either way, there is too much objectification in this genre if you ask me.
And what does this have to say about Stephanie Meyer? Well, for one thing that woman can not write. As previously stated I have no desire to read her books, though I have glazed over passages out of curiosity. Forget the contrived plot, the wording has the depth and scope of a sixteen year old’s. This is literally one womans fantasy thrown up on paper and a blatant symbol of her indoctrination into the male hegemony. Reading the books for escapist fun is one thing but when they become an entire franchise, take over multiple nations, and preach sexism (of both men and women) to young impressionable girls (who need someone to explain that this is a FAIRY TALE, not a work of fiction), I have a problem. At least everyone is equally shallow- talk about equality for all.
I totally hope I don’t lose friends over this.