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Transcript of Twilight
includes both anti-feminist and feminist themes, thus it is impossible to draw a definitive conclusion regarding what the role of women is in
Are women in
portrayed as strong mentally and physically or weak?
Do you see any common gender stereotypes? If so, what?
Are the female characters, independent or dependent on the male characters?
Do you think Bella is annoying or just your average teen girl?
When you think of how society dictates a women should be, do any of the characteristics match up with Bella?
The Ladies of
Aeliya Syed, Carolyn Barrs & Patrick Martin
Lesson on Feminism
Physical Strength of Female Characters
Bella's compared to Elena in
, and Buffy in
Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Bella Makes the Big Decisions
Display of Insecurity
Mentioning a person's physical beauty is not anti- feminist in itself, but there is little to no mention of Rosalie's intelligence or mental capabilities in
In contrast, Bella mentions Rosalie's external beauty on numerous occasions, thereby insinuating that a woman's looks are more important (or at least more notable) than her intelligence.
The Maternal Role is Necessary for Rosalie's Happiness
The Influence of Mormonism
"Last night I discovered that Charlie couldn't cook much besides fried eggs and bacon. So I requested that I be assigned kitchen detail for the rest of my stay. He was willing enough to hand over the keys to the banquet hall. I also found out that he had no food in the house. So I had my shopping list and the cash from the jar labeled FOOD MONEY, and I was on my way to the Thriftaway" (Meyer,
27). Essentially, by cooking for Charlie every night, Bella plays the "typical" female role in the household.
Both Elena and Buffy are super strong women that fight with either against or with the Vampires. Bella compared to these empowering women is ridiculously weak (Click 38-40).
Edward broke into Bella's house and spied on her while she was sleeping without her knowledge or permission (Meyer,
293). Spying on someone without their permission is considered a major violation of privacy and it is clear that Edward does not respect Bella's boundaries. Likewise, Bella does not care if he respects her boundaries.
"Bella is a 'weak' character because she sees herself as less beautiful than Edward, less intelligent, and clumsier than everyone else" (Parke 167). Essentially, her lack of confidence shows she is a fragile individual, and she does not believe she is as capable as boyfriend, Edward.
"As a part of her 'Getting a firm foundation' training, nationally known domestic violence trainer and consultant has developed seventeen behaviors seen in people who abuse their partners" (Parke 169). After this statement, Parke mentions that in Chapter five, Edward displayed the worst of these behaviors (physical abuse) by forcing Bella to get in his car, even though she insisted she drive home herself and resisted his forcefulness (Parke 170).
Female vampires in
are portrayed as dangerous and physically intimidating, just like their male counter parts. In fact, "female vampires are just as aggressive as male vampires. One of my survey respondents, for example, stated about the books, 'It puts women in power. The book makes the female vampires look just as vicious as the males'" (Ashcroft 23). The immense physical strength of female vampires can be seen through out the series.
Mental Strength of Female Characters
One of the main things modern feminists try to achieve is the ability for women make their own choices regarding careers, families, and lifestyles without interference. Yet, feminists are criticizing Bella for making the choices she wanted to make and for doing what she exactly what she wanted to do. Stephanie Meyer explains on her Website, "When I hear or read theories about Bella being an anti-feminist character, those theories are usually predicated on her choices. In the beginning, she chooses romantic love over everything else. Eventually, she chooses to marry at an early age and then chooses to keep an unexpected and dangerous baby. In my own opinion (key word), the foundation of feminism is this: being able to choose...One of the weird things about modern feminism is that some feminists seem to be putting their own limits on women's choices. That feels backward to me. It's as if you can't choose a family on your own terms and still be considered a strong woman. How is that empowering? Are there rules about if, when, and how we love or marry and if, when, and how we have kids? Are there jobs we can and can't have in order to be a 'real' feminist? To me, those limitations seem anti-feminist in basic principle" (1).
Example of Bella's Decisions
"When I thought of his voice, his hypnotic eyes, the magnetic force of his personality, I wanted nothing more than to be with him right now. Even if... but I couldn't think of it" (Meyer,
139). Clearly, Bella wants to be with Edward. That is her choice, even if he is blood thirsty. By making the choice she wants to make, and not letting anyone make it for her, she is embodying feminist ideals. Essentially, Bella ultimately does what she wants, not what her father, Jacob, Rosalie,society, or even Edward wants.
Example of Female Physical Strength
Jane is arguably the most powerful and physically threatening vampire in the series. She can bring any person or vampire to their knees in pain just by looking at them (Meyer,
475). In addition, male vampires, including Edward, fear her (Meyer,
, it is explained that Alice has the ability to see the future, which is an ability no other vampire has (Meyer,
413). This special cognitive ability, which is valued by the Volturi even more than Edward's or Jasper's abilities, proves that Meyer intended women to have mental powers equal to or beyond that of male vampires. Also, her ability to see the future means that she has knowledge others cannot obtain. Thereby showing, Alice is more knowledgeable than male vampires about certain things.
Verbal Relationships Between Males and Females
While Bella, at times, is verbally overpowered by Edward, there are other Female characters who dominate over men verbally. For Example, Rosalie Hale frequently verbally attacks male characters.
Rosalie's Verbal Attacks on Men
To Edward: "What is she to me? Except a menace — a danger you’ve chosen to inflict on all of us" (Meyer,
To Jacob Black: "I’m not going to forget this, dog" (Meyer,
Example of Bella's Insecurity
“I’m absolutely ordinary – well, except for bad things like all the near-death experiences and being so clumsy that I’m almost disabled” (Meyer,
Bella Takes on Typical Female Roles
Edward Polices Bella's Sexuality
Edward is clearly the one who defines their physical relationship. In
, Bella stated, "Edward had drawn many careful for our physical relationships" (16).
Why is Policing Sexuality Anti-Feminist?
"Far from being sexually empowered, Bella is rendered a perpetual victim of her own uncontrollable desires, desires that get her into more and more trouble as the series progresses. The overall ideological message is clear: to be young, female, and sexual is to court danger, destruction, or even death" (Platt 80).
The Importance of Bella's weakness compared to other Vampire Series Heroins
One of the main explanations as to why Bella is so weak at times is, she is fighting supernatural beings, not because she is an anti-feminist character. Yet, both Elena and Buffy fight supernatural being and manage to still be empowering female characters.
Emphasis on External Beauty
Example of the Emphasis on Beauty
"She had a beautiful figure, the kind you saw on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue, the kind that made every girl around her take a hit on her self-esteem just by being in the same room" (Meyer,
Jessica, even though she is friends with Bella, finds the constant need to receive Mike's attention
"Are you sure you don't mind...you weren't planning on to ask him?".....I suspected that Jessica enjoyed my inexplicable popularity more than my actual company"(Meyer,
"In my own opinion (key word), the foundation of feminism is this: being able to choose. The core of anti-feminism is, conversely, telling a woman she can't do something solely because she's a woman—taking any choice away from her specifically because of her gender....One of the weird things about modern feminism is that some feminists seem to be putting their own limits on women's choices. That feels backward to me. It's as if you can't choose a family on your own terms and still be considered a strong woman. How is that empowering? Are there rules about if, when, and how we love or marry and if, when, and how we have kids?" ("Frequently Asked Questions.")
. New York: Peter Lang, 2013.
Click, Melissa A., Jennifer Aubrey, and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz. Bitten By Twilight. New York: Peter Lang, 2010.
Gordon, Sarah Barringer. The Mormon Question: Polygamy and Constitutional Conflict in Nineteenth-Century America. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina, 2002. Questia School. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.
Meyer, Stephanie. "Frequently Asked Questions." The Official Website of Stephenie Meyer. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014. <http://stepheniemeyer.com/bd_faq.html>.
. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2005. Print.
. New York: Little Brown and Company, 2006. Print.
Parke, Maggie, and Natalie Wilson.
. North Caroline: McFarland, 2011.
Platt, Carrie Anne. 2010. "Cullen Family Values: Gender and Sexual Politics in the Twilight Series." In
Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, and the Vampire Franchise
, ed. Melissa Click, Jennifer Stevens Aubrey, and Elizabeth Behm-Morawitz, 71-86. New York: Peter Lang.
A funny and witty article that the class might enjoy to read.
***From a male's perspective
Twilight: the Franchise That Ate Feminism
"Also typical of the female role is the fact that the Twilight novels depict women as having a consuming need to bear children... Rosalie has regrets over being changed into a vampire, one of which is that she cannot have children-and she protects Bella and her baby while Bella is pregnant, making sure no one aborts the pregnancy" (Ashcroft 38).
The author, Stephanie Meyer, is a Mormon. Whenever authors write, a huge part of their beliefs are incorporated into the writing. It is interesting to see where Meyer relates and disagrees with Mormonism in
Issues involving polygamy (believes Bella and Edward are meant for only each other)
Topic of women is controversial (Bella is described as weak, and "in the kitchen")
Men have superior roles (Bella's father, Charlie, in police)
Having children (As soon as Bella and Edward get married, they have a child)
Topic of women is controversial (Rosalie, Alice, Esme are strong women).
Recognize the importance of Mothers, throughout the series. Bella names her child, Renesmee, after both the mothers.
The Traditional Female Role of Lacking a Career