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You have a choice and that choice is which uber-hot strong dude can protect your weak little self (Thoughts on the Eclipse Trailer)

March 13, 2010

It starts with Edward declaring “Isabella Swan, I promise to love you every moment of forever.” Wow, if that’s not an unrealistic portrayal of eternal love, I don’t know what is… Won’t there be any tiffs? Any days one of them gets up on the wrong side of the bed? Any fallout from Bella’s menstrual mood swings or Edward’s testosterone aggression fests? (Oh yeah, we are supposed to forget about all that messy body/emotion stuff and see them as perfect marble statues of gorgeous lurve, gag.)

Later, comes the dramatic text “It all begins with a choice.”  I have heard/read so much about the series being all about choice and agency and frankly am sick to death of this claim. It seems to me Bella only is offered ONE choice – choose between the angelic vampire or the hot wolf boy. Either of these choices involve her being first and foremost wife and mother (as when she muses about choosing Jacob and producing a pack of wolf pups with him…)

Where are the choices that don’t involve hitching yourself to man-tacular protector? There are none, cuz, as the trailer points out, she SOOOO needs protecting. Edward assures her “I’ll protect you no matter what” and then Jacob says “I’m gonna fight for you until your heart stops beating.” Well, guess what boys, if she hadn’t ‘chosen’ to be the pawn between you two macho dudes, she wouldn’t need protecting!

I know, I know, it’s a romance – but, sheesh, couldn’t we have a hint of the fact these characters are living in the 21st century?!? Maybe just a little spec of suggestion that Bella is indeed a fully capable human being in her own right?!?

Ah, but of course none of that matters becauseTaylor Lautner looks the buff man much more and he is now legal. Everyone, get your drool on.”

Oh, thank goddess for that, that is just what I wanted to do, partake in some racist fantasy about an eighteen year old man-child forced to pack on pounds of muscle so he could become eye-candy for an exploitive Hollywood machine. Woo-hoo.

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10 Comments leave one →
  1. Roxie permalink
    March 14, 2010 12:00 am

    I have to say I was more than a little disappointed when Bella & Edward got married. For a moment, I really thought they’d be a young unmarried couple for eternity.

    Bella has other choices, but she chooses to ignore them. I can understand how the protection angle can/is grating, but when you consider the supernatural world she inhabits compared with her frail human self, it seems only logical. I mean, if Bella where Benjamin, he’d still need protecting b/c he’s human.

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      March 14, 2010 12:50 am

      Yes, Roxie, I get the supernatural world argument (and this is one Meyer herself makes when defending the novel against accusations of being anti-feminist). However, I see the supernatural element as a foil that justifies making Bella weaker — ie, it allows for a anti or post feminist representation by providing an excuse to keep the female in need of protection… Meyer COULD have had a male lead that needed protecting too (a Benjamin, as you suggest) but she DOES NOT. In fact, no male humans in the book need direct protection. Why not, we must ask. Indeed, having Charlie in a scene where he required direct protection would have been entirely feasible — but this of course is not included. Such a scene does not go along with the Mormon beliefs that underlie the saga — that men are the protectors, the leaders, and women are the eternal wives and mothers who can only get into the eternal life through marriage…

  2. March 14, 2010 2:50 am

    Charlie was protected all the time, he was just unaware of it and kept at safe distance by Bella’s instructions. Bella being in on the secret was what allowed her to know about the protection she desperately needed. In all the books and particularly on Eclipse. Humans are so unaware of this fact that they blame vampire killings on serial killers.

    And Edward is not the only one that protects Bella, Alice is always part of the plans (even the idiotic ones) to protect her. In fact all the Cullens male and female were on the watch to protect Bella from any harm.

    And in any case if Smeyer was so death on making females weaker and men the protectors she would had let Bella stay human, like Edward wanted or maybe had her pick Jacob since he cannot give her superpowers and then she would had stayed weak, soft and delicious forever and rely on Jacob for the rest of her natural life for protection. But she allowed her to become a powerful vampire, stronger than Edward and Emmet that ended up protecting with her power not only her husband and the Cullens, but their witnesses and the spirits wolfs against the most powerful and feared vampires of the world, YMMV.

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      March 14, 2010 5:25 pm

      Good points, Ana. I agree that making Bella stronger in the end complicates things. This is partly why I do see Meyer’s work as a complicated mix of feminist and non-feminist messages, as well as being pro-Mormon and questionning of Mormonism (and religion in general). These complexities are what make the saga particularly fascinating for me.

      • March 14, 2010 10:37 pm

        Indeed.
        Smeyer has a mix of women roles that could be read on both sided. For example Esme being brave enough to leave her abusive husband had her ending up with the man she always loved and made her happy: Carlisle and four kids that were the family she always wanted. Also Rosalie’s revenge against her rapists was rewarded with her perfect mate on Emmet and eventually her dream to be a mother, this could be read as examples of abused women that gained power and their happy endings by being brave and having a chance to take back the violence against them.
        The Cullens are also very gender balanced, all were couples and the women were as strong and gifted as the men.

        Maybe she got a new idea of feminism on the saga? Like feminism being a joined effort by men and women instead of women working on it on their own? or/and that some men could/should be educated to learn better ways to relate to us as equals?

        After all Edward had to be convinced to let Bella to become his equal over the course of the books and in the end her choices gave her a powerful ally, a adorable daughter and brought peace with the werewolves. If Bella would had accepted her role as his lesser companion or if she would had decided to leave Edward and not give him the chance to grow into her, he would had ended up dying and possibly destroying the Cullen coven because of his absence in a few decades and without the chance to be a father himself and being able to stop being so depressed and be overall happy and complete.

        Of course all this are just ramblings it all depends on the POV you look at the story.

      • natalie wilson permalink*
        March 19, 2010 4:31 am

        Ana,
        I agree with you — to a point.
        With Esme, yes, she left her abusive husband, but then tried to commit suicide after her baby died — another message that woman without baby is not worth much (like Rosalie and Leah).
        True that Rosalie finds Emmet, but she is represented as rather bitter and shallow. Though I agree that her vengeance is portrayed in a positive light.
        Well, men joining in with feminism is hardly a “new idea” and I am not sure it’s one Meyer promotes… But, in ways, she does re-write masculinity and I agree that Edward changes positively due to Bella’s influence. Her as the “superheroine” at the end where she is stronger than him certainly seems to indicate a message that females are just as capable/strong as males… (and she does have some pretty strong female villians – Jane, Victoria).
        Thanks for commenting!

  3. March 19, 2010 3:42 pm

    Thanks the author for article. The main thing do not forget about users, and continue in the same spirit.

  4. March 20, 2010 3:23 am

    If you remember, Bella didn’t want to get married. She mad a compromise with the man she loves, because that is what you do in a relationship – compromise! And I have to say that I think Bella is a very strong woman. She isn’t really portrayed as such in the film, but it the book, there are many arguments as to how mature and strong willed she really is. Her “skill” comes into play even before she is turned to a vampire (meeting Aro, for example), and when she realized what her skill was, she was able to save everyone! I found a lot of similarities in myself and Bella. She is a strong, independent woman, who justs want to be able to share that with someone she loves. I am the same, whether my “mate” turns out to be man, woman, child, vampire, werewolf, wizard, whatever!!! I see nothing wrong in finding a someone/thing who makes you strive to better yourself! Bella found that with Edward. That doesn’t make her weak, or a non-feminist.

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      March 20, 2010 4:58 am

      Eileen,
      Thanks for your comment.
      This post is a review of the trailer, not of Bella herself or the series. I was annoyed with the trailer as it does downplay the strengths you mention and depicts Bella as in desperate need of protection (which is a betrayal of much of the text itself if you ask me…)
      I do think Bella is a strong female, yet I think the books and the films often ‘tiptoe’ around this strength rather than display and claim it openly. This is at least partly due to the cultural contexts in which these works well be received… The author and the film-makers know (subconsciously or not) that this is still a “man’s world” and that if they portray females as too strong ire will rain down.
      As to your comments regarding her seeking a “mate,” I do think the impetus to share our strengths within the confines of a monogamous relationships is a bit limited. Yes, love is great, but the way we currently conceive of romance/love leaves a lot to be desired… Love is not always heterosexual, does not require abstinence/monogamy, and need not be “sanctioned” by the state to be real. As you point out, a “mate” should be able to be “whatever” — yet, in the saga (and the film adaptations), even though the potential mates are vampire and werewolf, they are still very much hetero and male — it is hardly a “queering” of relationships. This is ok, but would be better (in my opinion) if placed within a fictional world that did not place primacy on married, productive (as in reproductive) heterosexuality. I agree there is nothing inherently wrong in seeking others to share your life with, but wish that these ‘others’ were less often your typical hetero male savior type…. I also agree that Bella’s choices don’t necessarily make her weak or non-feminist — in fact, I see the texts as sneaking in critiques of the married monogamy model. Given the confines from which Meyer’s writes (not wanting to be excommunicated from her church, for example) some of her depictions are rather radical…
      Thanks again for commenting and welcome to the blog!

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