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Part I is here. Part II is here.

All right, I've fired my first salvo: to wit, Breaking Dawn breaks rules of good fiction by being inconsistent with the logic established in earlier books. Now my second reason for despising Breaking Dawn shall be detailed here. As I mentioned earlier, I find Breaking Dawn "philosophically objectionable." 

This is because the book uses the plot line of Bella's pregnancy to empty out her character of all thoughts, intelligence and personality [not that she had much to begin with]. In place of an identifiable character, Meyer leaves us with an individual so fixated on having a child that she is willing to sacrifice her life. Through the example of Bella, Meyer argues that nothing is so important in a woman's life as getting pregnant and having a kid. In the person of Bella, we see Meyer's true, misogynist view of the "ideal woman:" a mindless baby incubator. Now that's philosophically offensive.

In order to idolize Bella as the model baby incubator, Meyer first starts by taking away Bella's personality, perspective and status as a fully fledged character. For most of the Twilight Saga, Meyer writes in first person from Bella's point of view, allowing the readers to sympathize with her as a distinct character whose fate they are interested in. Meyer cuts this sympathetic tie between readers and Bella by writing Bella's pregnancy and delivery from Jacob's point of view. Because Meyer chooses to remove the readers from Bella's head, we have no idea what she thinks and feels when she's pregnant. Meyer's shift in perspective from Bella's view to Jacob's view turns Bella from a character that we experience the events WITH to an unconscious body that we look at. It's hard to sympathize with someone whose head you're not inside. By denying Bella the chance to tell readers firsthand about her pregnancy, Meyer takes away much of Bella's status as a character and turns her into an object.

As the second step in her project to transform Bella into a walking womb, Meyer literally destroys Bella's bodily integrity, reducing her to a life support system for a fetus that could kill her. We hear in excruciating detail how the fetus' movements sap Bella of her vitality and consciousness. Even more gruesomely, its kicking forms "webs" of bruises on her abdomen. As it shifts, it breaks first her rib, then her pelvis, then, finally, as Bella tries to push it from her body, it breaks her spine. Meyer chooses to inflict an almost comically horrific catalog of injuries on her supposed main character to break Bella off from her pre-pregnancy activities. Her shattered bones prevent her from driving, riding her motorcycle, screwing with Edward or doing any other physical activity that she enjoys. Her frequent unconsciousness largely prevents her from telling Edward that she loves him, making pathetic jokes at her own expense and otherwise talking the way that she enjoys. So, to recap, Meyer objectifies Bella by showing her pregnancy from Jacob's view and then further reduces Bella by physically paralyzing her and shutting her up mentally. Immobilized and mentally checked out, Bella can do nothing except for serving as a temporary holding pen for the Voracious Halfbreed Fetus of Doom.

Finally, to complete her elevation of childbirth as the highest vocation a woman can ever know, Meyer writes it so that Bella accepts her objectification. When Jacob points out that the fetus is "a killer," Bella pays no attention, insisting, "It's not just having a baby. It's...well...THIS baby" (p. 193). That is to say, Bella ignores her bruises, broken bones and weakness. She ignores the fact that Jacob is telling her the truth. She insists that "THIS baby" is more important than her own health, sanity and life. In fact, she aids in her own objectification when she downplays her health in comparison to that of the fetus: "He's not [a killer.] It's me. I'm just weak and human" (p. 193). Like a mindless object, she has no regard for her own bodily integrity and her own life; she claims that she is "weak and human," ergo unimportant. The important thing is "THIS baby," which is actually a fetus. It is a parasitic entity incapable of supporting its own life and, therefore, in the pro-choice perspective, it is not as important as the independent, fully cognizant individual in whose body it currently resides. But Bella and the Cullens, who eventually support her, don't think so. Who cares if the mother dies? At least a baby results. Yes, yes, I know that Bella turns into a vampire and, tra la la, she gets to be alive and have a Miracle Baby, O joy! However, that does not erase the fact that Meyer basically turns Bella from a psychologically interesting character into a completely thoughtless incubator who's willing to die so that she might achieve the ultimate pinnacle of womahood, which, in Meyer's mind, involves having a child.

[For a more detailed discussion about Miracle Babies and their deleted mothers, please investigate my comments on the Divine Screw, in which a god-like male character impregnates a female mortal, and no one cares about the mother. This theme appears in countless books and movies, including the British TV show Hex and Tanith Lee's Tales of the Flat Earth.]

Meyer is wrong. The ultimate pinnacle of womanhood is NOT having a child. Do I really need to mention that women have a wide variety of paths to satisfaction in their lives? Some of us have kids and find happiness and strength in raising them. Some of us make friends with our peers, finding support and fulfillment in friendship. Some of us follow careers, pursue creative endeavors, devote ourselves to religious journeys, pursue knowledge and scientific experimentation, etc., etc., etc. Heck, as amazing as it may seem, most of us do several of the above! Just because some women are biologically capable of having heterosexual intercourse, getting pregnant and giving birth to kids does not mean that all women should do so. Nor does it mean that all women find heterosexual intercourse, pregnancy and child-rearing interesting or attractive. 

In the example of Bella, however, Meyer shows only one path for women to achieve happiness: 

1. Find a sexy abusive guy.

2. Become obsessed with him so that you have no other hobbies, interests or even friendships, beyond some weird love/hate relationship with another abusive guy.

3. Lie and cover up to your parents about the whole thing. 

4. Get married directly out of high school. 

5. Avoid human experiences explicitly offered to you such as a college education, a chance to learn new skills, a period in which to make friends with some normal human beings your own age and to expand your horizons.

6. Instead, just get knocked up.

7. Then nearly die while giving birth. 

8. You'll live sparkly ever after, you, D.H. and baby, in an isolated cocoon of heteronormative bliss completely divorced from reality!

The Twilight Saga promotes an unrealistic, narrow-minded view of the happiness that women can hope to achieve. Because the books basically say that you can only be happy if you're heterosexual, married out of high school and having kids, they, like so many other supposedly "romantic" fairy tales, are philosophically bankrupt. Hence, we need to expose the stupid assumptions underpinning them and the limited, insulting views of human capability that they portray.

 

 

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