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EDITORIAL 8/7/2010:
FEMINISM ECLIPSED?

By Andrew L. Urban
Obviously, you can’t please all feminists all the time ... One of them at least has put finger to keyboard to give the finger to the Twilight movies (including the latest one, Eclipse) as anti-feminist. Ms. magazine’s Carmen Siering is searing in her critique, saying: “Bella (Kristen Stewart) continues to be less a person than a puppet, a character who is pulled from scene to scene, rarely making a move except at someone else’s suggestion or desire. She is not a contributor to the action sequences and is a prize, not a participant, in the love-triangle romance around which the series revolves. When all is said and done, Bella isn’t much of a hero.”

YOUR RESPONSE

and

“The film centers on the life-altering (or ending) decision Bella must make – choosing between chivalrous, reserved vampire Edward (Robert Pattinson) and hot-blooded, muscular werewolf Jacob (Taylor Lautner). If looked at from a less romantic perspective, one might suggest she take a breath and reconsider making any choice at all. The fact is, both men show signs of becoming potentially abusive partners.”

Well, if your potential husband is a werewolf or a vampire, marriage would normally call for some caution. But this is a fantasy world; these guys are hardly stereotypical. Or real. Get a grip Ms Siering.

or

“For example, only moments into the movie, Edward disables Bella’s truck in order to keep her from visiting Jacob (a trip endorsed by her father, the local sheriff), because he feels it is “too dangerous” for her. Later, in another attempt to “keep her safe” from some impending danger, he whisks her off for an impromptu visit to see her mother, never giving her the whole story nor giving her the opportunity to make her own decision about whether to stay and face what is coming or to move out of harm’s way.”

Given that Edward has superhuman powers, this does not offend my sense of gender equality. I’m sure Edward would do the same for a fella, given the dangers, rather than stand and say, “OK, decide if you want to get out of harm’s way and give me a call…”

Anyway, while I am a MM (mere male), I find this sort of analysis far too artificial. If we analysed films from preconditioned postures, every film would fall into a sin bin somewhere. Good grief, even Noddy got the guillotine under the terror of political correctness. And fairytales are probably the most extreme cases – you can slice them any way you like. How about Snow White and her retinue of servants; not only is it disrespectful to dwarves, the story portrays Snow White as the typical princess, done in by an evil stepmother (whoa, stepmothers unite!) using an apple (whoa, apple industry revolt!) via a mirror (whoa, glass manufacturers get uppity!) and saved by a handsome prince’s loving kiss (whoa, can’t the girl do the kissing!).

And isn’t Twilight a fairytale – a long one granted, and intended for adults, but a fairytale. The chaste romance is a dead giveaway, it is populated by fantasy beings with superhuman powers who are Bella’s suitors, and it exercises endless possibilities of the impossible ….

I suggest that, like children reading fairytales, we are quite capable of separating fantasy from reality. We (if not the Sierings of the world) can deduce that the story is specific; it’s about THIS cruel stepmother, and that not all stepmothers are cruel. We also give broad licence to filmmakers so that what we see on screen is not confused with real life. We know, for instance, that not all men are serial killers, just because so many on screen killers are male. We also know that not all cops eat donuts, not all whites are racist and not all women are jezebels . . .

Siering is talking about Bella as a role model – and a bad one for women. But she is only touching the surface of the story. Bella’s choice (and yes she does have choices) is more about her own needs than mere romantic role playing with the two men. She seeks a certain, unique fulfilment. If that’s anti-feminist I’ll eat my skirt.

But I’d like to hear YOUR RESPONSE to Siering.

Here is her article in full

Published July 4, 2010
 

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Kristen Stewart as Bella

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Carmen Siering's article in full

YOUR RESPONSE


... with Edward


... with Jacob







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