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I eagerly devoured Twilight by Stephenie Meyer, which I mentioned in a previous entry, and hoooooo boy, it was even better than I expected, which is to say that it was gloriously horrible!
The narrator Bella kept whining, tripping over things, fainting, making uninformed decisions and brushing off her human friends in order to be with the vampire Edward. All other characters both mortal and immortal hovered around Bella adoringly, but I don't know why. She was just a zero with strongly suicidal impulses who defined herself solely in relation to Edward.

As for Edward, he was constantly described as a paragon of physical beauty who was good at everything he did, from schoolwork to sports to music, but he didn't have much personality. Despite Bella's insistence on his charisma, goodness and gentleness, however, he was severely lacking in redeeming qualities. Moody, unpredictable, domineering, condescending and supercilious, Edward constantly laughed at Bella, teased her for her weakness and spouted sexist, macho assumptions that he should take care of her by dictating her every movement. Never has such a supposedly perfect exterior concealed such an amazing black hole of character development.

Because Twilight so clearly follows the lineaments of a modern romance novel, as I read, I constantly compared Twilight to Warrior's Woman by Johanna Lindsey, one of my favorite books that I love to hate. It's a romance novel about a police officer from a liberated egalitarian society who crashes on a planet full of hierarchical hunters whose society subjugates and controls women. She meets "dominant maleness personified" [that's a quote from the book], and they spend most of the book torturing each other physically and psychologically until they finally admit that they really enjoy this sadomasochistic lust. In a very general sense, then, Warrior's Woman provides the template for Twilight's plot, in which a woman feels a burning attraction for "dominant maleness personified" and, after fighting internally, finally admits that she likes being possessed and objectified.

Warrior's Woman differs from Twilight, however, by making this plot actually work. No matter how much the characters piss me off with their sexist assumptions, they always remain psychologically consistent and therefore believable. Most importantly for me, Tedra in Warrior's Woman relishes the attention from Challen, no matter how torturous it seems. She looks cheerfully forward to reaming him out and to him punishing her; therefore the entire story is basically her telling her inner feminist objections to shut up so she can be happily dominated. Whether you agree with Tedra's mindset or not, Lindsey takes pains to show the reader that Tedra and Challen both enjoy his dominance, her submission and their adversarial relationship. They eventually agree that they prefer their kinky master/uppity slave relationship, and they accept it.


Frank from RHPS would like to remind you, "Don't judge a book by its coverrrrrrrrrr!"

By contrast, the domination/submission plot in Twilight never really works because Meyer never convinces the readers that Bella consents to this type of relationship with Edward. Bella is an independent, assertive character, at least in the beginning; she chooses to move by herself from Arizona to Washington to live with her dad. She toughs it out at a new school and takes over kitchen duty from her dad, all actions that suggest a person with grit, stubbornness and a need to control her life and the lives of those around her. She's used to caring for other people, and she gives no indication that she wishes for someone to be "dominant maleness personified" for her.

So, initially, Bella has no interest in or predisposition toward a submissive role. All of this flies out the window, however, when she hooks up with Edward, who rescues her, physically overpowers her, tells her what to do and otherwise keeps forcing her into the submissive position. Her great lust for him short-circuits her assertiveness, but she always feels uncomfortable when her dominates her. For example, all throughout the book, Bella makes it clear to everyone in earshot that she doesn't want to go to the prom. Naturally, because he's some sort of second-guessing, mind-fucking idiot, Edward surprises her by dragging her to the prom at the end of the book [p. 484]:

My face and neck flushed crimson with anger. I could feel the rage-induced tears starting to fill my eyes. ... "You're taking me to THE PROM!" I yelled.

It was embarrassingly obvious now. If I'd been paying attention at all, I'm sure I would have noticed the date on the posters that decorated the school buildings. But I'd never dreamed he was thinking of subjecting me to this. Didn't he know me at all?

...He pressed his lips together and his eyes narrowed. "Don't be difficult, Bella."

..."Why are you doing this to me?" I demanded in horror.

...I was mortified...

I'd guessed there was some kind of occasion brewing. But PROM! That was the furthest thing from my mind.

The angry tears rolled over my cheeks...

If you pay attention to the bolded phrases, you'll notice that Bella does not want to go. She is furious at Edward because his assumptions about her prove how little he actually knows her desires. She also feels terrified because she is being forced to do something that she obviously doesn't want to. Edward beats her down by beguiling her with the Captivating Vampire Eyes of Magical Hypnotism, but that doesn't erase the fact that Bella was absolutely panicked. This sort of thing happens throughout the book -- Bella says she doesn't want to do something, but Edward forces her into it anyway -- but never so disturbingly as in this passage. Bella's long-standing objection to prom, her terror when she realizes that she's being taken, even her framing of the event -- something she is "subjected" to -- suggests a violation and deep betrayal akin to rape. This is why Twilight's plot of humiliation and submission doesn't work. We have no indication that Bella accepts the role placed upon her. In fact, she vehemently rejects it, but, for some reason, Meyer thinks it's romantic to violate and betray her heroine over and over again.

Comments

( 16 comments — Leave a comment )
aquagirl2988
May. 20th, 2008 10:07 am (UTC)
Preach it, sister. The book blew.

(Found you on Google searching for "Mary Sue" and "Bella." Fun fact: Twilight is actually mentioned in the Mary Sue article on Wikipedia!)
(Anonymous)
Jul. 5th, 2008 02:16 pm (UTC)
The book kicked ass and the other ones do too! Some things tie in when you read the other books; DUH! Try REALLY getting into it rather than reading it from such a negative stand point and criticizing it! It seems to me that you have a problem with men...are you a disgruntled female who has been done wrong by a man : (...well BOO HOO get over it...Edward is being protective in the book for the most part not as you say "sexist" the author of the book is a woman for God's sake!?! You wrote a whole hell of a lot about the book giving up a good amount of your time, why is that if you just hated it so, you must have no life and are just bored to death all of the time!?! I think you're just being hateful and critical for no apparent reason, though you ARE entitled to your silly little opinions I suppose! A piece of advice OPEN YOUR MIND, not everything has to make sense to you or go by your standards...it's a BOOK...FICTION...NOT REAL...DUH!!!
(Anonymous)
Sep. 18th, 2008 04:22 am (UTC)
...it is a piece of fiction that has been poorly done over and over and OVER again in many fan fiction fandoms. Twilight looks like a poorly done Quizilla story come to life.

You need to read more books out there. There are much better fiction than this. Bram Stoker's Dracula is a good one. Quite a classic, and hell of a lot better than this rubbish that is Twilight.

Now YOU are the one who needs an open mind. Stop screaming like a raging prepubescent girl. Twilight haters have the right to make critical, negative reviews as much as hardcore Twilight fans have as much the right to make a positive, in-depth Twilight critique.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 17th, 2008 06:25 am (UTC)
I'm a heterosexual male, that thinks rape and subjugation of women is wrong. Romantic vampire stories are nothing but an allegory for rape. Sorry, but its true.
(Anonymous)
Feb. 13th, 2010 03:58 pm (UTC)
Thank you!
Thank you so much for writing this in.... you had me pissing myself laughing at how ridiculous you are. Really made my night.
I actually don't think I've ever read anything so stupid in my life... DUH!
lmaao

and I agree with everyone who has commented after you.
I'm not even an intense twilight hater. I read the first three and thought that they were funny and entertaining... though badly written and encourages women to submit to a man and give up everything for a man.

DUH! hahahaha. i hope you're joking.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 15th, 2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Shut up Anonymous. You suck. You don't know a good read anyways. Twilight fucking sucks.
(Anonymous)
Jul. 19th, 2008 04:01 am (UTC)
Completely right! To that first anonymous, I respect everyone's opinon as long as it makes sense. Blogofstench presented her opinions in a wonderfull and intelligent way. You just came in hear screaming and making false accusations. Go and leave us senible people alone and enjoy your preteen girl fantasies.
(Anonymous)
Aug. 6th, 2008 03:39 am (UTC)
I felt this needed to be said... it is a work of fiction. merely for those who enjoy it if you hate the book put it down and don't waste your time, no need to read it and poke millions of holes in the plot and charecters. It's fiction, I think it's pretty decent fiction too, and while Edward might not be of perfect character who is really? Everyones entitled to their opinion so I'm not saying yours is wrong, just don't dog out those who want to voice theirs. That's domineering
shmeiliarockie
Aug. 26th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
Bella's long-standing objection to prom, her terror when she realizes that she's being taken, even her framing of the event -- something she is "subjected" to -- suggests a violation and deep betrayal akin to rape.

I agree with everything you said, but I do have an issue with your comparison to rape here. Rape is the worst thing one person can do to another person. I would have to say that it may even worse than murder because once the person is dead, they don't have to deal with the emotional fallout. Their family will, but the actual victim suffers for a much shorter amount of time. Rape is something that never leaves a person. They may move on, but it's always there.

It is total violation, an unspeakably horrible violent act done to gain control of and in some cases totally humiliate another human being. The more we compare things that aren't rape to rape, the more we trivialize rape itself. After a while the meaning of it may be lost, because if everything is akin to rape, then everything IS rape, and then rape is nothing because it is everything. Does that make any sense? It is not an accusation to fling around willy-nilly, it's a serious problem that should always be treated as such.

Yes, he betrayed her. Yes, he stripped her of her control. And yes, it is a violation of her trust and her desire. BUT it will not haunt her for the rest of her life. She will not bare the emotional scars of that event until the day she dies. If the book wasn't so awful, it would have been an issue to be worked through. She would have had to learn to trust him again. Or if the series was actually worth its inexplicable popularity, she would have dumped his ass and found someone better, learning and growing from the experience in the process. But sadly, this is not the case.
sassydash
Aug. 26th, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)
Actually, rape does not ncessarily refer to the phsyical act of forcing intercourse on someone.

Rape is truley defined as:


rape 1 Audio Help (rāp) Pronunciation Key
n.
The crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse.
The act of seizing and carrying off by force; abduction.
Abusive or improper treatment; violation: a rape of justice.

tr.v. raped, rap·ing, rapes
To force (another person) to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse; commit rape on.
To seize and carry off by force.
To plunder or pillage.

In its rawest form, rape is simply to violate something. So did Edward rape her? In a way. He raped her free will.

I know that's not how this author meant it, but I felt like pointing it out.

Either way, you preach it, sister. Good job.
shmeiliarockie
Aug. 26th, 2008 08:33 pm (UTC)
Yes, but it's such a culturally loaded word that "crime of forcing another person to submit to sex acts, especially sexual intercourse" has become the unofficial definiton of the word in the eyes of the general public. That's the first thing that comes to mind, at any rate, so that's what I went by.

Thank you. It is a subject about which I feel very strongly, if you can't already tell. I think I do tend to get a bit preachy about it sometimes.

Edited at 2008-08-26 08:39 pm (UTC)
sassydash
Aug. 27th, 2008 04:52 am (UTC)
Oh, I can tell, and I don't mind at all.
It's a terrible crime.

Nothing wrong with taking a stand against something that needs to be stood up against.
(Anonymous)
Dec. 16th, 2008 08:39 am (UTC)
Edward and Bella's sadomasochistic relationship
Really good piece. I got sick to my stomach reading the honeymoon scene in Eclipse. It is a horrifying view of sex. Bella has bruises all over her body? What's up with that? She has to beg Edward for sex. Ew.
(Anonymous)
Nov. 16th, 2009 03:19 am (UTC)
Re: Edward and Bella's sadomasochistic relationship
I love their relationship
i mean is sooo strange but
the important thing is that they love each other so much maybe is something even deeper its like an infinite and sick adoration and necesity and sexual attarction and maniac fixation for each other.
I have to admit that in the way they are, i like that!
Its perfect!
I mean i would be so disspointed if in a relationship both people are so cheezy corny happily smiling as if they were perfect and naive bearable of each other all the time,...that really sux i mean is boring!!and people are not perfect!!
Relationships needs passion and it comes sometimes from a mix of negative and desperate feelings! come on relationships consist in good and bad things that can be tolerated between each other, it can succeed when both people are mature enough to accept each other's lacks,pros and cons. Relationships are not always the pinky flower. They are something very very complex.
I love the way Edward is and i defend both characters because they are not perfect and eventhough they both do what they think is perfect for both. They are both selfish in the name of love, they are both passionated people regardin sex and edwards taboos and *barrier* he has regardin this. Bella desperately wants him in body and soul! i really like when they are together and they argue is so sexual and funny
i really like Edward but i think we need to know more about him cus the book is all about bella's feelings. After readin midnight sun i realized how much i love him.Is like he is the soul of the story! Hes a vampire and his feelings and senses are 100% stronger than Bella's in every sense!!!
Both do whatever they consider to be good for their relationship in the name of love.I just insanely admire it and would love to be them! I dont think you ar thinkin about rape or about the hurting honeymoon it was sooooo sweet!!!! i think when he forced her to go to the prom is because he sees things from a different POV.Bella doesnt like the prom but because she hasnt been in one at all! her doubts and fears come from her low self estime and from her ignorance about it. Edward is the man of the experience until certain point. He is more open to expose bella to the things he never did. He thinks hes a monster and none of them accept their reality very well. and they know it. So i dont consider these situation as rapes at all. At the end Bella always wins and she got always whatever she wants she always does just aas she pleases both with Jacob and Edward and shes only 17!!
i kind of disagree with the pregnancy and the baby stuff but still is like a secondary complement for the story just as jacob or the cullens...Its all about Bella and Edwards love and thats worth to read and feel!
Marilyn tati
donsgurl
Dec. 9th, 2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
I have not read the books, only seen the movie. The story line and relationship you are describing above does not come thru int he film at all. In the movie it's very much left up to the interpretation of the viewer since so much is left out, and it seems consensual in the movie with her even saying "I know what I want". So, it differes that much from the book, eh?
(Anonymous)
Feb. 11th, 2010 10:10 am (UTC)
edward is incredibly contolling. if any man in real life tried to do what he does to bella just emotionally, all the girls that are rooting for him now would be out for his blood. but because he's hot (which seems to be one of the only things she's concerned about), bella trips over her own feet into his arms.

he demeans her, laughs at her attempts to muddle through human life, forces her to do stuff because "he knows better", and makes her beg for things that she wants, including sex. he ignores her requests that he not do things, like give her gifts. he won't even let her visit a friend that stayed with her when he left "for her own protection". and he WATCHES HER IN HER SLEEP. thats something a perverted old man would do.

in reality, edward would be the epitome of an abusive boyfriend and bella would be encouraged to dump is ass as soon as possible. but since he's hot and rich, tweens everywhere root for her success. the worst thing is that the young girls who read this series will believe that this is a healthy relationship. this kind of dating isn't healthy, and we shouldn't advocate it by creating books that revolve qround such things.
( 16 comments — Leave a comment )

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