Team Rosalie (a guest post by Allie Garcia)
Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight saga has become a household name. Mothers and daughters alike—and even some fathers—have fallen in love with the romantic vampire novel. However, as Carmen Siering points out in her article “Taking a Bite Out of Twilight,” fans typically fall for either of the two main male characters—Edward or Jacob. The female protagonist of the saga, Bella Swan, does not seem to draw as much of a fan base and many fans actually seem to be annoyed by her. She is always in need of being rescued by a male—typically Edward—and rarely makes her own decisions. The few times that she does make decisions, she tends to make bad ones and again is in need of saving (Siering 52). Bella plays into typical female gender roles throughout the saga. She is quiet, submissive, domestic, modest, and dependant on the men in her life.
Bella is not the only female character that plays into these roles. Most of the other females—human or supernatural—fit into these roles as well. However, there is one female character that resists these gender roles. Rosalie, one of the female Cullen vampires, is the only female who seems to “break free of the male-dominated power structure” in the saga (Torkelson 14). She is the only female character who does not seem to mind voicing her opinion. In Twilight, Rosalie makes it clear to Bella and the entire Cullen family that she does not want Bella around. In this way, putting herself before Edward’s happiness (which, of course, should never be allowed considering that Edward is a man). Rosalie is far from modest. She is not afraid to admit that she is incredibly gorgeous and she seems to find pride in her looks. She also shows agency when it comes to choosing a mate. Inside of becoming Edward’s mate—which is what Carlise had intended when he changed her—she chose Emmett as her mate. In addition, Rosalie is the only female vampire in the Cullen coven who does not fully accept her life as a vampire (Torkelson 13), thus acknowledging that she had no choice in the matter, but rather her fate was left up to a man. To add to Rosalie’s power as a woman, she takes action to avenge herself once she becomes a vampire. Although Esme and Alice faced similar abuses in their previous lives, Rosalie is also the only one of the female characters who sought revenge on the men who raped and abused her while she was human (Torkelson 13).
It is interesting that the one female character that is actually seen standing up for herself, making her own choices, and not falling into the typical gender roles that the other female characters do is the one that is portrayed negatively. Rosalie is portrayed as being very snobbish, rude, and arrogant. In Twilight, she refuses to switch clothes with Bella to distract James from tracking her, which makes her seem like a cold-hearted, selfish person. In the film adaptation of Twilight, Rosalie is made out to be especially rude and stuck up. The scenes in which Rosalie is featured typically show her giving Bella dirty looks and being the only Cullen who is not welcoming or friendly. Even Jasper, who has the hardest time resisting human blood, is portrayed as being kind and welcoming to Bella. So why is it that the one female character that can actually be seen as empowering women is the one character that is portrayed in a negative fashion? Meyers’ development of her characters and portrayal of Rosalie highly reflects the way that our patriarchal society views women who resist gender roles. Rather than drooling over Edward or Jacob, more mothers and daughters should be sporting “Team Rosalie” shirts. By supporting Rosalie, they will be empowering themselves to be independent, outspoken, and to question the structures that oppress them.
Siering, Carmen D. “Taking a Bite Out of Twilight.” Ms. Magazine Spring 2009: 51-52.
Torkelson, Anne. “Violence, Agency, and the Women of Twilight.” : 1-24.