Twilight the Texts and The Fandom: Females and Femininity Questions for Week 6
Students got into groups of 3 or 4 on Monday to discuss the questions below in relation to the saga’s female characters. (I hope some of you will respond to some of these questions in comments and keep the lively and thought-provoking discussions that have been taking place in comment threads going!)
- If Twilight can be seen as “constructing femininity” (or teaching a new generation of readers what it means to be “properly feminine”) what types of femininity is it constructing? What are the positive/negative implications of “Twilight femininity”?
- Think about the “real man box” we discussed last week (i.e. the notion that “real men” are brave, macho, strong, etc). What would go in a “real woman” box? How do the female characters of the saga accord with/depart from some of the mythologies of ideal womanhood/femininity?
- How does the saga promote (via its representation of female characters) what is known as “The Cult of Domesticity”? (i.e. females should cook, clean, nurture, mother as their primary and most important role)
- In what is known as the “Curse of the Good Girl,” (as documented by Rachel Simmons) girls are pressured to embrace a version of selfhood where there is a great emphasis on being “good.” This “good girl” paradigm, Simmons argues, curtails girls’ agency, power, choices, and potential. Arguing girls are encouraged to be nice, polite, modest, selfless, submissive, and nurturing, Simmons suggest that “good girl identity” is damaging and profoundly limiting for females. She argues it has a poisonous effect leading to self-criticism, the stunting of vital skills and habits, and the tendency to attack/turn against other girls/women. How do you see this “Curse of the Good Girl” playing out in the saga in relation to your chosen character(s)?
- In “Odd Girl Out: The Hidden Culture of Aggression in Girls” Simmons documents how girls who are openly confident and assertive are sometimes labeled as “all that,” a negative descriptor that indicates they are conceited and too full of themselves. These “all that” girls go against the good girl norms described above – they may be assertive, confident, sexually active/aggressive. They might resist self sacrifice or put their own needs/desires first. They may be confident about their appearance and bodies and/or refuse to dress/act in socially sanctioned ways. Do/does your groups chosen character(s) represent “all that” femininity? How does the saga in general promote or resist the condemnation of “all that” females?
- How do/does your chosen character(s) link to the concept of “Rape Culture” and the widespread violence against women in contemporary culture?