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Twilight: The Texts and The Fandom, re-cap of weeks 6 and 7 (femininity and sexuality)

October 14, 2010

Last week, students were given a list of questions to consider in relation to particular female characters in the saga. In groups, they answered these questions and formulated unique ways to present their findings to the entire class, including a Renesmee/Breaking Dawn skit (where Alice manically photographed Bella holding Renesmee), Alice as a guest on a talk show, a Quileute female discussion panel, diary entries from Rosalie, and Twitter feeds from various female vampires including Jane, Victoria, and the Volturi wives. I continue to be impressed by their creative, engaging analysis of the saga.

This Monday, we were surprised when ABC news showed up to film the class and ask questions of the students and myself. As the reporter was taking the angle that the class seems ill-advised in these times of educational budget cuts, I was pleased that the resulting story was rather positive.

Class discussion this week was rather heated as we considered the saga’s representation of sexuality, abstinence, and chastity. I admitted my own view that the saga suggests female sexuality needs policing and depicts Edward as a knightly virginity warrior. While I and others shared that we felt Bella is punished for her desires (her black and blue body in Breaking Dawn being an example), others noted that Edward suffers too – that he goes into a state of depression echoing that of Bella’s in New Moon after harming/impregnating Bella.

This week we also watched the film Blood and Chocolate, comparing and contrasting it to the Twilight saga. Many felt the film offers a stronger female role model in Vivianne and is more condemning of controlling/domineering male behavior. Others noted it likely did not gain as much popularity as it doesn’t play into the sexualization of the male body that seems to drive many a Twi-fans wild.

Student papers have been particularly strong these last two weeks. As such, I will be sharing a number of them as guest posts. Hope you enjoy!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. October 15, 2010 12:48 am

    I haven’t seen the other movie, but I want to comment on the part about the body making Twihard fans go wild. While I certainly had NO problems with Taylor Lautner showcasing his abs in “New Moon” or “Eclipse,” I liked “Twilight” when their bodies were covered. I sincerely just like Taylor Lautner as an actor (he’s the ONLY person who could ever make me give “Sharkboy and LavaGirl” a chance, which I watched for the first time last night). It’s easy to dumb down fans enough to believe that it must be the body that makes us/them like the movie, but the story carried itself quite nicely without it. I’ve seen good-looking actors in films before, and I flat out thought the movie was boring and never wanted to see it again. “Takers” is a prime example of that. Eye candy EVERYWHERE with folks like Idris Elba, Michael Ealy and Paul Walker, but I have no desire to see the movie again.

    As far as Bella being “punished” for her desires, I’m not buying that either. It wasn’t like she mentioned she wanted Edward in conversation once or twice. She made a point of bugging him about it repeatedly and then giving him the ultimatum. I refuse to believe she was a “victim” or being “punished.” If the tables were turned, I also don’t think we’d think the woman was a “virginity warrior.” That’s just what he was, a virgin. It’s a breath of fresh air to finally see a male character that’s not trying to claw a woman to death in the first three chapters.

    I actually stopped reading many of my favorite authors because there were sex scenes before we even knew much about the characters. We had to get through four books before Bella and Edward finally had sex. Every time I read about someone feeling bad for Bella and trying to sympathize with HER wishes, it seems like such a contradiction. I never hear/read this kind of talk for men who are trying to paw all over women. Should they be considered “punished” for withholding their desires until the woman is ready, too? Should they be considered “punished” for making ultimatums and saying they won’t marry that woman until she gives up the goods? Abstinence activists would be appalled at the notion.

    • October 15, 2010 4:34 am

      I also can’t see Bella as a victim (and I support her POV I think both Bella and Edward were right on their own positions which makes the situation complicated) but I also agree that if Bella would had been the one wanting to wait with Edward constantly pushing her no one will be on Edward’s side.

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