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You are such a tease: are there gendered dimensions to all the Breaking Dawn Teaser Trailers?

June 3, 2011

Teaser trailers are commonly used to advertise upcoming films. However, the term “teaser” in the context of Twilight makes me think of the words gendered connotations – especially as Bella is sometimes framed as a “tease,” particularly in her dealings with Jacob.

Urban Dictionary defines “tease” in the following ways:

A member of the opposite sex, ussualy (sic) a female who entices you into thinking you have a chance. Almost always ends with you having blueballs and feelings of sorrow, resentment and bitterness.”

“A girl who knows she’s wanted… but just wants to play with the guy’s head.”

“A girl who likes to flirt a lot without the intention of giving it up to you.”

“A girl that sexually excites a boy but leaves him with out sexual stimulation; a girl that acts interested in another boy just to seduce him.”

“A girl who flirts with you, with no intention of giving it up.”

While all the “teasers” coming out in regards to Breaking Dawn Part 1 don’t rely on such negative notions of females as “cock-teasers,” this etymological background to the word is interesting in relation to the way the saga circulates around not giving it up while constantly wanting it, an undercurrent that has elsewhere been called “abstinence porn.”

Though Edward is in ways more of a tease than anyone, constantly putting his sparkly self out there for all to adore and then announcing himself off-limits, it is Bella that bears the brunt of teasing accusations – as when she flirts with Jacob on the beach in order to get him to tell her about the Cold Ones or, more generally, via her constant ‘begging for it’ with Edward when she knows he is gonna keep things G-rated until he puts a ring on it (to use Beyonce’s parlance).

But how do Twilight “teaser trailers” feed into this gendered paradigm? I don’t know that the trailers themselves do, but fan responses certainly speak to the titillating nature of the content. In effect, the teasers can be read as (female) objects used to excite and allure fan subjects (and note active subjecthood has been historically coded as male).

Yet, as Twilight has proven in spades, female fandoms matter and can be just as active, influential, and relevant to wider popular culture as male fans. Given this, might the gendered connotations of the word “tease” become more egalitarian, with males thought of as just as able to “tease” as females? Twi-shirtlessness and six-packery certainly indicates the real tease is not Bella, but the many males who frolic around her with their icy-hard bodies and hot wolfy (yet hairless) chests.

Yet, when Hollywood Reporter gives us the tagline “Watch a tease like no other” and notes “The biggest tease of them all just entered the world of teaser trailers,” wouldn’t you say that the use of “biggest tease” makes you think of a female or female behavior?

This is certainly the case in this post, where Bella is framed as “a monster cocktease.”

After this image

the author asks,

“Who Do You Think She’ll String Along Next?

Im putting my cash on a hunky Mummy.”

Grammatical errors aside, this author displays the typical sexism that frames and BLAMES women for teasing (and note the failure to consider the fact it’s the males who are the MONSTERS!)

The above post and image speaks to how there is no equivalent “vaginal tease” terminology to balance out “cock tease” or use of the term “blue ovaries” to indicate a female based sexual frustration akin to “blue balls.” (I would like to see an image framing Edward as a tease… if you know of any, dear readers, please post them in comments!)

So, there is a lot of Breaking Dawn teasing going on (as here, here, and here) and this critic-fan is in hopes that maybe, just maybe, all this Twi-teasing might serve to break the double standard where females are the only ones negatively framed as teasers while also simultaneously bolstering an active female gaze, one in which women and girls are no longer the (teasing) objects viewing themselves via the male gaze, but where gazing, looking, desiring, and yes, teasing, is coded as something HUMAN rather than gendered to the benefit of males and the detriment of females.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Ana Bastow permalink
    June 3, 2011 4:24 pm

    Heh Oh yes. Edward is the poster child for male tease. I remember on the first book when he was “tempering” Bella’s memories by kissing her and dazzling her, I was like “Yeah Edward she totally get over you really fast…you sparkly teasing bastard” You should see the notes on my books I love Edward…well I love everyone in the saga except for Jacob. But I totally tell it like it is when they are being idiots.
    Then on Eclipse the guy buys a golden bed, has music and candles and he is totally sweet and touchy and kissy and he is totally flabbergasted that Bella assumes they are going to have sex and agrees enthusiastically…Oh Carlisle did you skip on “the talk” with him or something?

    The problem with male as a tease is that popular culture in USA never depicts males as struggling with their sexuality (unless they are gay) or having a motivation to wait for sex, so they are never in position to tease. I mean when was the last time you see a male virgin? The TV trope: A man is not a virgin is pretty self explanatory: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AManIsNotAVirgin

    Of course Edward and The 40 year old virgin are examples of this, so maybe we are going to see males in this position more often.

    One of the things I didn’t liked about Buffy was how Angel having sex with her was treated, Joss Whedon is also guilty of teasing with all his couples being separated for contrived reasons, for the sake of DRAMA! I’m totally expecting him killing one of the love interests on The Avengers mostly because I doubt he knows how to write a happy/functional relationship, YMMV.

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