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Addressing the "Bella is an anti-feminist and terrible heroin" issue

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Initial post: Nov 27, 2008 8:25:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2008 2:54:13 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2008 9:53:00 PM PST
*cannot resist correcting funny spelling error*
Uh, not to be mean, but heroin is a drug. Heroine is what Bella is, allegedly. XD

The main reason so many people see Bella as an anti-feminist protagonist (I'm sorry but I refuse to call her a heroine) is that as soon as a hot guy comes along, she drops everything else in her life to be with him. She decides she doesn't want to go to college, she doesn't want to hang out with her friends, and she will even leave her family forever to be with Edward. Okay, I understand that she thinks she's in "love", but honestly, how much evidence is given that she loves Edward for anything more than his appearance? I've read the first three books and I don't recall a single instance where she says "I love him because he is [insert adjective: funny, sweet, kind, caring, etc.]." Yes, she says he's "romantic". But that's not a good reason to fall so in "love" with someone that you are willing to give up your whole LIFE to be with them. Does she ever describe him using words other than variants of "beautiful" and "romantic"? (Yes, "charming" counts.) How deep can a love possibly be if both parties only talk about how beautiful each other is, rather than focusing on their likes, dislikes, dreams, and desires? Edward and Bella aren't in love, they're in lust. Pure and simple. If you're really in love, you're willing to see the flaws in a person and love them because of those flaws. Edward has flaws all right, but Bella can't see them through the mist of lurve.

And she DOESN'T fight James & Co. - that's the thing. She gets her precious vampires to do it for her while she stands around and does nothing. That's not strength, that's being a coward, and she didn't even give them any ideas for what to do! She just ran over and went "OMG halp teh big scary vampires r gunna eat meh!!11!!!1! save me edward!!!1!!1!!"

And another thing. Bella whines ALL THE TIME. If she were really so strong emotionally, she would've been able to get over her problems with minimal whining. I mean, when her mother's life is in danger that's one thing, but as I recall the first 6 or so chapters are full of her whining about something that was HER CHOICE (moving to Forks). If you make a choice to do something, it seems rather bratty to me to start complaining right away. Seriously, she had nothing to complain about. Everyone at Forks High was either attracted to her (male) or found her interesting (female). And yeah, it rains in Forks. Okay, so why whine about it? Suck it up, Bella, and get used to it. It's not going to go away and she's wasting energy whining about it. She's always saying how "mature" she is...that doesn't sound mature to me, that sounds like a two-year-old who needs a nap.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2008 9:43:14 AM PST
Pardon my spelling error, I was afraid I might have made that mistake. But, aside from that I have to completely disagree with you. She did not drop everything as soon as a hot guy came along. If you recall in the first bundle of chapters, she was greatly irked and annoyed by him. Although she was intrigued and attracted to him, she couldn't stand him! If she was the kind of person to drop everything as soon as someone shows interest in her, she would have been with Mike, Eric, Tyler or Jacob. And those people at the school aren't really her friends, in the true sense of the word. They are people she associates with so she won't be completely alone. And she doesn't want to go to college, hang out with "friends" and is willing to leave her family because she in love. The love that is shared between Bella and Edward isn't just the typical love that most people experience in their lifetime. It is a true and fated love. It is more along the lines of Romeo and Juliet, Antony and Cleopatra, Cupid and Psyche. This isn't teenage infatuation, I mean have you actually read Breaking Dawn? In case you haven't (and I'm guessing spoiling it wont' be an issue with you) Bella marries Edward and goes through a particularly nasty and painful pregnancy to give birth to his child. These two are committed and you know it. She chooses Edward over Jacob in Eclipse. Jacob who could give her an easier life. She wouldn't have to leave her family, she could go to college, she could have children (which now that she is a vampire she can no longer do), she could live a more natural life. Jacob would be the easier choice. But she didn't choose Jacob, she chose Edward. She chose the more difficult and painful path because she was in true love with Edward. And she does realize Edward's faults, if you read Eclipse this would be more evident. But she loves him so much that she accepts them and loves them as a part of who he is.

You are right when you say she doesn't fight James and Victoria and her brood. Sort of. In Twilight she sacrifices herself for her mother, thats fighting. In New Moon she sacrifices herself for Edward. In Eclipse she DOES help to fight and especially in Breaking Dawn! She saves everyone numerous times in the end. She does not stand around like a coward. Plus, you have to keep in mind, the fight isn't fairly matched until Breaking Dawn. She is a human trying to fight against the supernatural. This isn't your typical fight.
And about her supposed "whining" in Twilight about her decision to move to Forks, she doesn't outwardly complain, she only does so in her mind. I don't believe you for ONE MINUTE if you said if you had to make a decision that was unpleasant you wouldn't be unhappy with it. She moved to Forks so her mother could be happy with her husband. Another form of self-sacrifice. You would complain to. Everyone would. If you hate rain, if you hate cloudy days, if you hate the cold, you're going to complain about it! She didn't just wake up one day and decide for no reason to move to Forks. And not complaining about it to anyone else, that is mature. Doing something that makes you unhappy so someone else can be happy, that's mature. No two year old would do that.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2008 4:59:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 28, 2008 5:00:31 PM PST
Okay, so she spent like 6 chapters being annoyed by him. But then the instant he saved her life she was all "ZOMG EDWARD!!!1!11!!!!1!"
About Mike, Eric, Tyler and Jacob: they're not hot. Or at least, not what SHE considers hot. Therefore they are beneath Queen Bella's notice. Didn't you ever notice that the second she sees Eric she thinks "eww, he has acne, get him away from me!" and when she sees the Cullens she thinks "ooh, how pretty! I wanna talk to them!" Yet another quality that makes Bella a bad protagonist/role model: she will only talk to people she deems attractive without even bothering to get to know the ones who maybe aren't the prettiest, but might be really great people anyway.
And that's really not okay, to have no other friends besides your boyfriend and his family. I mean, yeah, you should be really close to him, but you also need to be friends with OTHER people. Like maybe Jessica and some of those others from school, who seemed like really great people (if not as dazzling as the Cullens)? Even married people have interests other than their spouse, you know. They have friends, hobbies, jobs, LIVES. Bella has no life outside of Edward, really; no interests, no reason for living. And that's a sad, sad thing.
Interesting you use those three couples in particular as comparisons. Cupid and Psyche have a happy ending, as far as I know, but the other two? Committed suicide. Therefore they're not valid comparisons. Romeo and Juliet in particular is a very bad example, because the "love" those two share was simply an intense lust. What did they know about each other, other than that they were beautiful people and they spoke eloquently? I don't recall a single instance in that play where Juliet says "You know, Romeo, when I was younger blahblahblah..." They spend no time getting to know each other, it's just "Ooh, you're hot!" "You're hot too!" "Wanna get married?" "Okay!" Likely as not Shakespeare actually intended their story to serve as what NOT to do when you're in love. It always makes me laugh when people say that they had true love, when in fact all they are is a couple of horny teenagers who killed themselves. You want true love, an example of real sacrifice? Look at Aragorn and Arwen in The Lord of the Rings, look at Will and Elizabeth in Pirates of the Caribbean. The former woman gave up her immortality (a REAL sacrifice) for her love, the latter spent uncertain years waiting for her love to return.
No, I haven't read Breaking Dawn, I couldn't take any more of SMeyer's scientific fallacies. And how exactly is her life as a vampire "difficult"? It's not. I mean, yeah, there was her pregnancy, but after that it's a shiny happy life with no worries for Bella. She'll never grow old or ugly and she doesn't even have any trouble with bloodlust (the mark of a Mary Sue if I ever saw one). That's not a sacrifice, that's being incredibly selfish and forsaking her humanity and family because SHE wants to stay beautiful and young forever.

Yes, she saved the day in Breaking Dawn because she can do that...NOW. But what about when she was a human? When she found out there was a vampire holding her mom hostage she should've either called the police or other law enforcement or brainstormed with the Cullens to come up with an idea to save her mom. Going after her herself is one of the stupidest ideas I've ever heard of (heroic, but really really stupid). That's kind of like putting a big sign on your forehead that says "Yes, I'm an idiot putting myself into a dangerous situation without a plan or backup, please eat me!"
You want to know why Bella REALLY moved to Forks? She says it's because she wanted her mom to be happy with Phil, but it's really because her mom found a new person to lavish attention onto besides Bella, and Bella is such a selfish brat that she can't stand when she's not the center of someone's world. Thus, why she's so attracted to Edward. He is willing to make her the most important thing in his life, which is something she enjoys and reciprocates. In fact, why did she even NEED to move to Forks? I can't think of a single reason why her mom and Phil couldn't be happy with her in the house also. Except, of course, that SMeyer needed a plot device to make Bella Sue run into the sparkly vampires and find twu wuv.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2008 5:38:44 PM PST
L. Kolosky says:
Jessica wasn't a great person at all. She's a social climber who uses people to get popular. The only reason she wanted to be Bella's friend is that she thought it would bring her popularity. She does have friends outside of Edward. She has Jacob whom she's still friends with in Breaking Dawn. There was also Angela as well. She has her hobby of riding motorcycles. Before she got married she cooked for Charlie and helped to keep the house in order.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2008 5:39:09 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2008 5:41:43 PM PST
L. Kolosky says:
I'm gonna say something controversial. So what if Bella isn't a feminist? Not everyone likes feminism. There are those of us that are beginning to see it as just a sexist movement. If feminism is so much about equality then why don't they fight for equal responsibility and not just equal rights? Why won't they admit that adult domestic violence is reciprocal and women are just as capable as men at getting violent? Why do they insist in keeping us [women] in the victim role? Feminism might claim to be about equality, but they sure don't show it.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 28, 2008 7:17:26 PM PST
I, as a woman, do actually agree with what you're saying. Which is why I said we don't all have to be bra burning, man whipping, CEO's to be feminists. I also heartily agree with the fact that keeping us in the victim role isn't making any progress. Thanks for your input!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2008 12:06:51 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2008 12:09:04 AM PST
"Ok I'm not even going to address each of your issues this time, because we aren't having an actual conversation, you're just being insolent and condescending. There's no reason why you can't be polite and still state your opinions. I think you have Bella completely twisted and wrong and I also think your view on Romeo and Juliet - one of the greatest literary pieces humankind has ever written - is just downright sad and pathetic. I truly feel sorry for you that you lack that much depth. I shudder to think what your views on other such masterpieces might be. Don't waste your time responding because I won't bother reading it, let alone replying. It's to bad you can't just have a peaceful debate. The mark of a bitch if I ever saw one."

Look, I'm truly sorry. I didn't mean to come off as condescending, I'm just so sick of everyone worshipping this stupid series that isn't any more than a knockoff of R&J, and not even a good one (IMO). But I do have a couple of politely stated questions for you: how precisely is it okay for Bella to have no other interests besides Edward? And how is it okay for her to snub everyone who she doesn't consider to be "beautiful"? Those, to me, are two of her worst offenses.

btw, L. Kolosky: When I said Jessica was a good person I think I meant Angela. My apologies - the characters have kind of blended together in my head.
And about feminism...I'm not one of the extreme feminists who don't think we need men. I just prefer the heroines of my books to be on equal (or near equal) footing with their male counterparts. Of which there are only about two in this series, as I recall (Alice and Jane).

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2008 3:17:07 PM PST
Well, in my opinion what is so intriguing about Bella is that she is real. She is somewhat shallow and we, even as readers, do not TRULY know what draws Bella and Edward together; which I find intriguing. There is no explanation, except that there is this raw magnetism that neither can escape.
I think that people make general assumptions about feminism.
I consider myself a feminist; I fight for female rights, yet, honestly, I would give up college (among other things) if I found my Edward because if he was really and truly my better half he would accept me for who I am and support my beliefs. Does being a feminist mean one cannot be with a man?
Choosing Edward does not make her an anti-feminist.

The defination of a heroine is: a woman admired and emulated for her achievements and qualities and/or the principal female character in a literary or dramatic work

While Bells does not have MANY achievements, she has admirable qualities, such as her selflessness. And, she is the principal character in the Twilight saga- which would qualify her to have the title of the heroine.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2008 4:40:20 PM PST
"Does being a feminist mean one cannot be with a man?"

You bring up a good point, Stessa. No, that's not what it means, not unless you're a psychotic feminist like, say, the Amazons in Y: The Last Man. The thing, though, is that it's not healthy to have no other interests EXCEPT your man. Bella has no interests, no friends, and no LIFE outside of Edward. That was about where their relationship crossed over from a little unsettling to downright creepy for me. She wants nothing more than to be with Edward forever. I'm sorry, but that's just not realistic. Everyone has some kind of dream or desire for their life, other than to find their soulmate. They have some goal they work toward, something they fight for, whether that's a cause like saving endangered animals or a personal goal like getting themselves noticed in the world. But Bella doesn't have that. All she has is Edward. She's obsessed with him to the point that he's the only thing she wants anything to do with and once he leaves, she feels like there's no point in living anymore. Not only is that a terrible example for girls who read this book ("ZOMG my bf left meh, i have no reason to live, im gonna keel myself now!!!1!1!!") but it's indicative of just how screwed-up Bella and Edward's relationship is. SMeyer seems to have the idea that without a man, you have no purpose in this life. That was everyone's thought process, oh...back in the 1800's? Not such a great message today, when girls can do basically everything that boys can do, within reason of course.
In some situations, it's okay for the one you love to be your everything. Let's take Aang and Katara from the show Avatar: The Last Airbender for an example. (By the way, no comments about how this is a "children's show" and therefore irrelevant. It's more mature and well-done than most live-action adult programming. Anyway, Twilight is a YA novel, so there you go.) Katara is the most important person in the world to Aang, so much so that when he is offered all the cosmic power in the universe if he will only give up his attachment to her, he declines ("How can I choose cosmic energy over Katara?"). The reason he feels such an attachment to Katara is that he is the only surviving member of his race, the Airbenders. The simple explanation is that he "came home" to find everyone gone, dead for 100 years, and Katara was the first person he saw when he opened his eyes. I suppose you Twilight fans might take that as a kind of "imprinting", which in a way it was. Katara became Aang's anchor, his best friend and his main cheerleader, as it were. She is the one person who completely believes that he can save the world, even when he doesn't believe in himself. In this way she's more important to him than anything: she reminds him that he is the Avatar, and that even though it's going to be hard, he CAN save the world. Also, even though Katara is the most important person in Aang's life, he also has close bonds with his other friends (Sokka and Toph, and later on, Zuko). They know each other better than any other person on earth, and are each other's Most Important Person. Their love and bond is based on living through horrible experiences, including a war, and being extremely close friends through it all.
Now, stack that up next to Bella and Edward, whose love is based on mostly physical attraction, and I don't really see how it compares... (just IMO, not being condescending, kthxbai.)

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2008 8:15:39 PM PST
CB says:
For some reason, this is some huge hot button topic for people! Why?! It's not a big deal. I think she's the heroine of the book, she does over come many adversaries and threats against herself and her family (adopted and blood). Sure it's little weird that she dosen't have many friends outside Edward but she gets close to his family, she and Alice bcome good friends. And honsestlly her human friends were extremlly shallow, they used her for popularity. And she keeps Jacob! Right there is a fantasic example of her figthing to have a life outside Edward. He didn't want her hanging with Jacob, especially on the land he couldn't go on. But she did, all through out the books.
But really, what does it matter?
It's a fiction story, not a bible or how to!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2008 10:19:49 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2008 10:21:01 PM PST
"But really, what does it matter?
It's a fiction story, not a bible or how to!"
If it were any other book in the world, I wouldn't care and would be ignoring it. But the problem with Twilight is that it has SUCH a huge, rabid, and dedicated fanbase. Most of the girls who have read this book aren't that into reading and haven't had a lot of literary influences outside of SMeyer's characters, so they think that Bella's decisions are justified because she's in "love" with Edward. A lot of them are getting the idea that it's okay to let your life revolve around a guy when it's really not. And not ALL of her human friends used her...Mike and Angela seemed to genuinely like her as a person, for reasons which are beyond me, but whatever floats their boats. I don't remember the specifics of her relationship with Jessica, but still...Bella had options for friends outside of the Cullens and Jacob. (One friend besides your boyfriend and his family, by the way, still isn't healthy.)
You're right, her wanting to hang out with Jacob is the ONE point at which she actually wants to have a life outside of Edward. But didn't you notice that the instant he tried to give her some space (IE filled out a college application form or something of that nature - it's been a while since I've read the books so the details are a little sketchy), she threw a hissy fit and was all "NO! I WANT TO STAY WITH YOU! SCREW COLLEGE!" She's so obsessed with Edward that she threw away every other aspect of her life to be with him, including things that would be for her benefit in the future.
And another reason why I don't like Bella as a heroine: she acts horrible to her father, who is clearly just a nice guy trying really hard to get to know his daughter. But even when he gives her a freaking CAR, she's all "Eh, thanks, but this still sucks and I still don't like you." She acts like a disrespectful brat towards her dad for no good reason. Now, if he were an abusive jerk who paid no attention to her that would be another thing; but he's not. Charlie is a great guy, maybe a little rough around the edges because he hasn't done the parenting thing before, but he's at least trying. And Bella? Bella's throwing him whatever little crumbs of her attention she deems worthy of him...which aren't much. In Bella's world, she's the queen, and she deems who is "worthy" of her. Mere average-looking mortals need not apply.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 29, 2008 10:50:30 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 29, 2008 10:55:16 PM PST
L2T says:
I am a successful professional female working in a field that is still predominantly a man's world, yet I do not worry about Bella presenting a bad, "anti-feminist" example. In fact, I was even more shy and bookwormish than Bella when I was her age AND remember being much more focussed on my love life than my homework. I think for many kids that age (boy and girl) their ultimate character strenghs are, like Bella's, still relatively latent. Bella's behavior with her father? Come on, now, compared to what many parents have to go thru during their teenagers' hormone driven rebellious phase, she's a pretty mild case. Did I wish she were not in such a hurry to become a vampire? Did I wish she wanted to go to Dartmouth? Did I feel she acted pretty childish at times? Yes. But I did not see her as a weak character even at the outset and felt this was vindicated in the final installment when her latent strengths came full force, maturing into the special, very powerful gifts she would possess as a supernatural.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2008 11:44:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Nov 30, 2008 11:57:23 AM PST
Diane Ellen says:
That this book and series is being read by young woman and a majority of them see Bella as a strong, healthy, young woman with desirable traits and characteristics is worrisome to me. I dislike the lead female character Bella in this series, and I'm only up to the third book now and it doesn't seem to get any better. In fact it seems to get worse. Putting that aside for the moment I will say that the author Meyer can certainly tell a good tale, but the writing needs a severe editor, and it suffers from "MaryJane fan fiction" problems. The biggest problem however is Meyer's version of a heroine, which is more than disturbing to say the least.

Bella's character spends most of her time being cared for like a child, she is infantised, constantly needing to be looked after. She is always falling down, being picked up and carried around, and put to bed and even sung lullabies. It's disconcerting that this behavior is considered and accepted as normal by the characters in the book and fans of the book, and more frightening that it's accepted as the behavior of "being in love".

When anyone breaks into your room, watches while you sleep, invades your home and privacy, picks you up or blocks your way, makes unilateral decisions for you or "for your own good", even uses their strength against you---that's not "love" that's a psychotic stalker and an abusive relationship. And the fact that such behavior is being accepted as normal and the epitome of "real" "true" "love" is beyond disturbing. Perhaps even more insidious is the other through-line in books one and two, that Bella and the other human woman-the werewolf's wife, need to be wary of setting the males tempers off, thereby making the women responsible for the males temper. That's an abusive relationship based on control and domination. It's not romantic and it certainly isn't "Love".

Bella is supposed to be smart-but we never see her excel in her own interests, hobbies or even academia. She has no interests other than obsessive self-destructive behavior to gain the attention of the male she so-called "loves". Bella always needs to be rescued by the stronger, wiser, male. Even her human friendship was unequal. The soon-to-be-werewolf, knows all about cars and motorcycles and Bella just sits there watching him while he actively does....she just sits and watches. Too bad only in passing are Bella's own supposed capabilities mentioned, I never get to see them in action in any real sense. But that's the author's fault, as Meyer purposely put Bella in a situation where she is inferior to even someone "younger" than herself. There's even a whole conversation that his skills make him actually older than Bella. And of course Bella needs the human/werewolf to build her a motorcycle, to guide her through the woods etc.

Bella never seems to use the smarts we're told she has. Walking alone in an unfamiliar place---she "somehow" winds up in the worst part of town...twice!! The first she's almost raped, and the second she lucked out that those men weren't rapists. She walks in the woods, knowing she'll get lost and all too often seems to become weak to the point of being immobile. It's really rather tiresome to read. Bella didn't even have the smarts to put together, using the clues given by the other Vampire with the visions she had seen, that her mother was not with the bad vampire. Nope, she doesn't even ponder why the vampire is watching videos, she doesn't think about anything...once again she's weak to the point of immobility. Until she runs away without a real plan or thought except to let the vampire kill her in hope that he then won't kill her mom. And of course it's really just a set up for her vampire to come and save her... again.

It's not only her vampire boyfriend who protects her though. Her human male friend also protects and guides her-it seems nothing Bella decides to do she can actually accomplish on her own without the assistance of the more-capable male, or if she goes off on her own, then needing to be rescued by said males. The only thing that seems to motivate Bella-that in the book I hear her talking about being good at, is cooking. She has to get home to get Charlie's dinner on. She's a good cook apparently, but she doesn't cook for herself or for the enjoyment of the doing of cooking. It's just something she does... or rather what human women are supposed to do as the werewolf's wife's main job seems to be cooking for all the boys and being motherly. Which is fine in the context of a well-rounded person but women in this series are hardly seen as well-rounded full fledged human beings with talents and interests outside of caring for their superior males. They're inferior to their males and behave as such. And while some defend it as a "choice" I see it as a sad commentary on the author's part of what young women have to accept to be "loved" and "accepted" by those they find attractive. Also, the superficiality of that attractiveness and "love" is nothing but vapid shallowness, altogether another major problem with Bella in the book. And after all that, there is still no character growth and development from book one to book two at all.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 30, 2008 1:09:25 PM PST
Thank you for helping back my point! You seem to be much more familiar with the books than I am and therefore have a stronger argument, which I'm grateful for as most of the events in these series seem to have been purged from my mind (as a defense mechanism?)...
It's not that I don't think women should be nurturers and's when, in this day and age, they think that's all that they can be that I take offense.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2008 4:33:08 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2008 4:35:07 PM PST
J. Codde says:
Absolutely love your points here. Although I can sympathize with those that do not enjoy the series and see it merely as a glorified fan fiction story, I cannot understand those who decry it as an "anti-feminist" statement. The accusations of the title character, Bella Swan, being "dominated" by her love interest, the vampire Edward Cullen, are sadly off base. Feminism is the right to choose. The right to choose to be independent or to be entirely happy cooking for those you love. It is not about judging other women for choosing a life more domestic. For anyone to suggest that she isn't acting the way they believe a "woman" should act is misogynistic in and of itself. They are telling her that she is not acting as they believe she should. True feminism allows each woman to choose her own path, not to be forced down a path of other's choosing.

I feel that it is refreshing to see a heroine cast into a "traditional" role. I believe many women dream of having a partner who will respect them, protect them, and nurture them, as Edward does for Bella. I don't believe these women are given a voice in contemporary literature as they are told their beliefs are "outdated" and "sexist". It really angers me that people would believe that by wishing to take care of those around her, Bella is somehow less of a woman. I think that there is a strong case to be made for Bella's courage and desire to do right, and to hear that anyone feels that she is a weak minded character is maddening.

I personally enjoyed reading this book. I felt it was a welcome distraction for a world telling me that I must open my own car doors, rely only on myself, and not expect to find a man who wishes to take care of me. I enjoyed reading a story where the female lead was allowed to be taken care of. Bella, in her own way, is strong and independent.

I am sad that there are women in this world who believe that to be dependent on a partner for social, physical, and emotional support somehow equals weakness. I, for one, am glad to finally have a story that better identifies how I would like to be seen by a man. I am married to a man who wants nothing more than to be my hero, to be my superman and my support. The funny thing is, I want nothing more than to be his hero, his superwoman, and his support. Does this mean I can't cook for him, can't enjoy being scooped up in his arms, can't enjoy the fact that he saves me, protects me and keeps me safe? I think not.

The moral of this rant was, true feminism is understanding that ALL women have the choice to lead whatever kind of life they wish, without judgment or persecution. So I would say to all those who feel Bella is a "weak woman" please, do not waive your feminist flag as you condemn fellow women for living a life that you don't agree with. You are only perpetuating the stereotype.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2008 5:23:42 PM PST
So then...the fact that she chose to turn her back on her family, her friends and her humanity is a GOOD thing? I mean, she did basically do that, by asking Edward to turn her into a vampire. I'm just a non-fan, I'd like to see how a fan views that choice of Bella's. Do you think it is to be applauded when a heroine gives up her humanity and turns her back on her family simply so she'll remain beautiful and young with her man forever?

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2008 8:11:06 PM PST
(Before I write, I warn you that there are some SPOILERS of Book 3. Do not read this post if you don't want to read SPOILERS.)

"Although I can sympathize with those that do not enjoy the series and see it merely as a glorified fan fiction story, I cannot understand those who decry it as an "anti-feminist" statement. The accusations of the title character, Bella Swan, being "dominated" by her love interest, the vampire Edward Cullen, are sadly off base. Feminism is the right to choose. The right to choose to be independent or to be entirely happy cooking for those you love. It is not about judging other women for choosing a life more domestic. For anyone to suggest that she isn't acting the way they believe a "woman" should act is misogynistic in and of itself. They are telling her that she is not acting as they believe she should. True feminism allows each woman to choose her own path, not to be forced down a path of other's choosing."

You echo my thoughts exactly. *thumbs up* Feminism is about choices. People seem use "feminism" as a blanket term for women defying traditional gender roles and playing the victim while shirking equal responsibilities. There are many waves of feminism, and if someone is going to come out and make sweeping generalizations, the least s/he can do is Wiki search & quick-read before posting.

While I do agree with this reasoning, I haven't quite decided how I feel about Bella. I once tried to read Twilight, and I was put off by it, but I picked it up recently for another try, and I'm now nearly done with Eclipse.

I think there is no "right" or "wrong" role for Bella to choose. If she wants to take care of those around her and be a more traditional wife/mother figure, then that's fine. She's not obligated to go to an Ivy League college and become a professional careerwoman. To each her own. I rather enjoyed reading her perspective, as I'm more in column B, and it's a breath of fresh air.

What did bother me, though, is her level of dependence. I read through Twilight and New Moon without many notes--love can be powerful, and losing it can be debilitating--but, sure enough, I had to take out my pencil much more often for Eclipse. One of my majors in college was English, and I have been a critical reader for a long time, keeping a pencil handy for notes in margins and such. *grin* Sure enough, I scrawled notes by certain passages:

- In the first half, when Edward on many occassions simply says "No" to her plans, and she listens to him. This frustrated me more and more each time. One does not simply say "No" to his girlfriend when she says she's going to visit a friend. In my opinion, it doesn't matter how traditional the relationship is, this is overbearing, and I'm glad the situation changed later in the book. (I actually wrote, "Go, Bella, Go! Woo!" in the margin when she defied his command, haha.)

- When Edward disconnects the cables to her truck or had Alice kidnap her. Her somewhat ambivalent reaction (maybe some frustration) isn't nearly enough. Her freedom was being curtailed; yes, he is doing it out of love, but people commit crimes and do insane things "out of love." I was a little disturbed by her calm reaction.

- When Edward and Bella bargained for who would make her change. The ceremony Edward wanted her to take part in as his prerequisite is not something to be entered into lightly, especially not as part of a bargain. Everytime this conversation occurred, I had to wince. This is something you do because it just feels right, and you feel ready, not because you want something else in exchange.

Like I said, I was glad some of these situations were resolved throughout the book. I was beginning to worry just how submissive Bella would become.

As for the Jessica situation, she does seem superficial, but I think it was about more than popularity. When Edward left, Bella shut down, and ignoring a friend for months does not always end in forgiveness. I can't say it was right of her to ignore Bella when Bella decided she wanted to be friends again, but I also don't find her reaction unreasonable. It can hurt quite a bit to suddenly be completely ignored by someone you thought was your friend.

As for Bella being a "heroine" in the books, she can be one without having to save the day with fists of fury. The theme of self-sacrifice for others is a strong one that I've seen throughout the books. I don't think someone can deny Bella being a heroine, unless s/he can also deny the third wife being a heroine in Billy Black's story.

Anyway, this is all just purely my opinion. I'm not trying to say Bella's decisions are right or wrong, just that personally, I worried about her as a heroine for a bit. I haven't read Breaking Dawn yet, but I look forward to it. I hope Edward's understanding streak and Bella's agency continues.

Also, note about the Romeo & Juliet discussion. One of the best parts of studying literature is that one piece can be interpreted a variety of ways, as long as the the points are wisely argued. If one wants to argue it's an ideal, true love between Juliet and her Romeo, then it is up to him/her to use good points as support. Romeo & Juliet is first and foremost a tragedy, a tale of woe. To me, it is not merely about love, but about "star-crossed love," doomed love, destined to be thwarted by a malign star.

I can, however, see how parallels are drawn to Bella & Edward. The theme of forbidden love is strong in both, as well as the strong but somewhat inexplicable connection (like Bella's smell, maybe that's explained in Breaking Dawn?) as love. The allusions to a potential tragedy as a result of the romance is yet another parallel.

One last thing... Maybe it is not my place, but forum etiquette suggests staying away from ad hominem arguments. Everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. Insulting someone who disagrees does not discount his/her argument, but merely demonstrates the manner of the arguer.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2008 8:54:09 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2008 8:57:05 PM PST
L2T says:
As I said previously, I don't see Bella as a feminist anti-hero, even though, in my own life choices I AM of the gender-breaking rather than the "nuture" brand of liberation. But I very much see the series as a fairy tale, albeit a modern one with a vampire genre twist.

I am seriously beginning to wonder whether it's condescending and sexist to assume that girls are so stupid that 1) they can't see that Bella is in many ways seriously blindsided with infatuation and 2) they can't distinguish between fairy tale and reality... i.e. do we assume they will go all out to commit suicide because Juliet did it or marry prince charming, no questions asked, because he simply shows up with the right sized shoe? In fact, my own 13 yr old daughter seems to have healthy misgivings about a lot of Bella's behavior. It appears that I'm more tolerant of Bella than she is.

And 3) Is it sexist to obsess over the effect of this on girls. but assume that our boys are intelligent enough not to be taken in with the casually violent, over simplistic and psychotic stuff they are constantantly bombarded with?

Finally, for those of you who haven't yet read the 4th in the series -- Bella matures (and not ONLY b/c of her transformation) into a very strong and independent young women who is more than an equal to her partner and others around her. Also, I felt my notion of the latent strengths of otherwise fairly shy teenager were vindicated... it was precisely some of her subtler attributes -- i.e. not allowing people into her mind and a headstrong determination not to allow those she loves to be hurt -- that form the basis of the supernatural powers she acquires.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2008 9:12:23 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 1, 2008 9:14:27 PM PST
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In reply to an earlier post on Dec 1, 2008 9:56:45 PM PST
"I hope anyone who has any negative notions about Bella can read this discussion and change their mind." was certainly an interesting discussion. Change my mind, you have not, but hearing about things from a different point of view is always a good thing.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2008 6:13:35 AM PST
Canis Diligo says:
This discussion does seem to get a little heated. At least people are thinking about what they read. Circe Sonne, I really enjoyed your post, you gave your opinion in a very polite way.

LT, I just wanted to mention (as someone who thinks this book isn't that great of a message) that I think people are centering on the effect to girls and not boys, because girls are the major readers of the books. For boys who enjoy the series, I think we would all say the same to them. Also, I really don't think of it as condescending because younger girls don't have the amount of experience as someone older. No one is saying (or at least I'm not) that they're dumb, just impressionable and inexperienced. I can understand why they get a little perturbed about that, I know I probably would have at that age. I do agree with you, there's no problem in allowing your child to read it as long as you have discussions about it.

I'm glad to hear Bella becomes stronger in the last book.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 2, 2008 4:57:35 PM PST
Good points. The boys are learning other things from these that girls think it's "romantic" when you stalk them, do everything for them, and don't let them have any other friends besides you. But that is neither here nor there...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 3, 2008 5:43:17 PM PST
dots says:
yeah. i think the main case for her being an anti-feminist is how she reacts when edward breaks up with her (or nobly parts his ways..barf). literally, he says he doesn't need her and she says, "ok, im sorry for getting in your way" and cries for 4 months.
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Discussion in:  Twilight forum
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Initial post:  Nov 27, 2008
Latest post:  Nov 30, 2012

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Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1)
Twilight (The Twilight Saga, Book 1) by Stephenie Meyer (Audio CD - September 27, 2005)
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