Feminism, movies, and Twilight

There’s a great post by Ide Cyan over on Feminist SF: The Blog! on two recent vampire movies – Låt den rätte komma in (Let the Right One In) and Twilight. Though I haven’t read Twilight or seen the movie, I was very interested in her analysis of its popular appeal:

Twilight’s popularity is intimately tied into the gendering of romance. Love stories do impress women with the importance of finding a lover of the opposite sex, to fortify the institutions that are at the basis of a patriarchal society. Because we live in a patriarchal society, it is with individuals from the class of their oppressors that women are encouraged to find romance. The mystification of oppression consequently blurs the distinction between the ideal lover and the lover as he represents a source of oppression for a woman.

There’s good discussion in the comments, including the opinion of a feminist SF fan from Sweden on genre movies there.

7 thoughts on “Feminism, movies, and Twilight

  1. After seeing Twilight today, and reading all of the books, which in the end were mediocre, I find it ironic how Feminism is connected to the novels. That was the enjoyment for me in reading the novels, the irony.

    In the second novel, the female protagonist, Bella, falls in love with a second person. The irony lies within the fact that the first book was littered with descriptions of the beauty of the person Bella was in love with at the time. When I say littered, I mean several on every page. When this character leaves in the second book, Bella spirals into a deep depression. How is this supposed to represent female independence? At some point during this depression she falls in love with another man, while still being in love with the first man. Again, how is this supposed to represent independence?

    It is almost as if the author is trying to influence her readers, who are mostly teenage girls, extremely susceptible to being influenced by what they read and see in the media, into thinking that they will always need a man and some infatuation with to survive.

    The irony = romance novel which almost caters to the egotistical male

    The plot: A beautiful young teenage girl becomes completely infatuated with several men she met, pledges devotion to, begs for sex.

    Sounds like the dream child of every sex-crazed and egotistical guy I’ve ever met. All written by a woman.

    It’s great to see how far female independence has come.

    If I were to win the HP Magic Giveaway, I would keep the HD Laptop for myself. But donate the rest to the organization Invisible Children Schools for Schools. A program that collects money for under developed schools and raises awareness for the atrocities occurring in Northern Uganda where everyday children are being abducted and used as soldiers.

    Here is some of my writing:

  2. I haven’t seen the movie version, but I have read most of the first novel. I agree with Steve about the irony in the novel.

    What I’m most interested in is the relationship between Bella and the author Stephanie Meyer. She is a Mormon mother with three sons. Her view of gender roles and love and romance are interesting.

    I don’t believe she intended the novels to be anything more than young adult fiction. You might want to check out her adult novel (The Host) if you wish to judge her literary ability (she graduated from Bringham Young with a BA in English).

    Another Mormon fiction writer is William Shunn. He has a podcast in which he describes his work as a Mormon missionary. It’s a fun listen.

  3. “I find it ironic how Feminism is connected to the novels”

    …yeah, seriously, you’d think they were symptomatic of oppression or something, and what the hell has that got to do with Feminism? Sheesh! Independence! Strong Women Characters! Why do women write so much about female characters depending on men? Ya’ll should be independent!

  4. Hey,
    I saw Twilight and was left somehow unaware of what happened. The movie is not fantastic. The acting is a bit over the top at times and I have a feeling that they did not deliver when the book is in question. I am going tomorrow to get the book so that I can compare.

    I must say that I was expecting more from this movie especially after all the hype.

    And also, a few of my girl-friends were literally obsessed with Twilight so that may have further upped my expectations of the film.

  5. I think the Twilight novels are deeply antifeminist, despite a veneer of feminism. Bella repeatedly talks about her "choices" as if simply being able to make a choice makes her independent or strong. But she's completely unaware of how her choices are conditioned (she never considers choosing a woman, or even, for that matter, a regular human guy, for example). In fact, the series as a whole seems devoted to denying choice in romantic relationships–in volumes II-IV, we learn about people (shape-shifting human/wolves) who "imprint" on human females–that is, who *must* be united with these girls/women, even if they are children. They wait for them to "grow up," as if folks don't grow or change. Bella and Edward also speak of their relationship as if there were actually no choice involved–they are simply fated to be together. This in a novel that actually quite smartly recognizes how sick & unhealthy the romantic relationships in Wuthering Heights are!

    Plus, Edward glitters. Puh-leeze!

  6. When I think of feminism and independence, the first thing that I think of, or rather the first person, is Bjork. The theme of her last CD, Volta, was all about being a woman, and with songs like “Declare Independence” it’s quite obvious of her feelings towards the gender.

    Twilight, on the other hand, does not make me think of feminism. I will be honest and say that I have not read the books, nor plan to, due to the overwhelming female population currently obsessing over it and Edward Cullen. I did see the movie, only because I get in free (yay!), but naturally the movie as a whole was very disappointing, with a poor plot and poor acting. But naturally some people are in love with the movie just as much as the book.
    A lot of answers to why people love this book so much has often come back to the idea of who the characters are. People find Edward Cullen to basically be the perfect, man, despite the whole vampire thing, and many people have even suggested that men should read the book just to see how they should treat women. Furthermore others have observed how a girl like Bella, who is no where near perfect, could still end up in a fantasy world with a man that everyone gushes over. Naturally then some people relate to the feeling of not being perfect, yet still having that glimmer of hope for the dream guy.
    So if feminism is present in such a phenomenon of today I find it to be such a trivial amount, for when I hear people saying how they’re in love with Edward and want to marry him, it seems like a cry to feel desired and surrounded by love-an inward need that does not scream independence. And while there is no such problem with the desire to feel wanted, it does not represent the sort of feminism that is allegedly represented in the novel/film.
    I haven’t, unfortunately, been able to see the other vampire film, but would have no hesitation in seeing what it has to bring to the table.

    and now for something completely different!
    ~When I first caught wind of this contest I couldn’t help but think that magic of the holidays would just stop in the hands of 50 winners, but I’ve noticed that each blog is asking for the winners to not horde or sell their winnings. The holiday spirit is really captured in this contest, and I was truly touched, seeing as there are souls out there who could put the products to good use. I would keep a laptop to myself, for I am going into college next year and need one, and my family simply cannot afford to buy me one, but the rest of the goodies I would donate to my church, which is going under major reconstruction right now on a super tight budget, and I would be filled with such a delight to be able to contribute to my church family with new and fantastic technology.


  7. Very interesting commentary/analysis she wrote!

    Liz: I’m very surprised you haven’t read Twilight or watched the movie. I’ll be honest with you, I’m a boy and YES I’m reading Twilight. It was my own decision. I can see why girls like the book. Just the way it’s written, how the author portrays Edward and his unique, split personality. Truthfully it’s an excellent book, I really like it. I really thought I would hate it. 😛

    What fascinates me is how our culture (boys–at least here) attacks the book making it seem like a pointless waist of time. When a guy seems me reading it they yell at me, really. When they see a girl reading it no one pays attention. Obviously we all have our disagreements, however, why is Twilight socially and culturally unacceptable for guys? I mean seriously, it’s almost like a guide on how to make a girl happy (honestly).

    I’ve also noticed the deep feelings that girls teenage girls have especially when their dependence is shifted to a guy they have a huge crush on. It’s like they latch on. The series does an excellent job on showing this and really opens up my mind. The author literally brings you into Bella’s mind and emotions. I won’t lie my emotions have changed reading the book, they were actually affected.

    I honestly feel that all guys should read it. It’s our turn. Really.

    I am so grateful to have this opportunity to hopefully win the HP Give away. I would give away everything but the laptop. I have a super close friend who is struggling financially (and nothing seems to be going right for them in their life) as well as tons of other people I have the ability to reach out to. I honestly want to make a different in my area, some people are getting a good Christmas, I’m looking to change that! 🙂

    I did have a website (techdatamcs.com) but it’s been closed because of my stupid host; so instead here is my IMEEM music profile: http://www.imeem.com/people/AlKnhxX

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