'86 Rabbit

A FANGirl's Forkstress of Solitude

Feminist Male College Graduate: Chapter 8

I think I should probably hold my tongue for Chapter 8. I don’t think I’ll be able to though. What do you all think about his remarks? Port Angeles is a pretty important scene for Bella and Edward.

But at a discourse level, I’m not sure I like the implication that a woman can’t walk down the street without getting stalked by these kinds of people. Meyer presents this as something Bella has worried about before, but apparently not enough to remember to bring her pepper spray, which Bella has not unpacked yet.

Maybe this is a gender difference showing here. Women are taught to be wary, especially when walking by themselves. I can’t tell you how many talks and seminars we had about this on my all-girls floor in the dorms Freshman year. The bigger the city, the more wary you should be. Bella is from a pretty big city. It would have been drilled into her head. The seemingly slow, country feel of Forks seems to have lulled her into a false sense of security and she has an error in judgement in Port Angeles.

There’s an element of alarmism that I’m not sure I understand or am comfortable with. While I’m not so naive as to think these kind of things never happen, this idea of ubiquitous sexual predators is offsetting.

I don’t see an element of alarmism here. This sort of thing does happen. Twenty years after the fact I still hear about Central Park Jogger on the news from time to time. It’s one of those landmark cases that is used to illustrate “wilding” and mob mentality. One in six women are victims of sexual assault in their lifetimes. For men it’s 1:33. I think this is a worry that as a man you are not used to facing, but that a great many females live in fear of on a daily basis. That being said I hardly think this one scene conveys an idea that gangs of sexual predators are ubiquitous, in Port Angeles or anywhere else. It merely helps illustrate that Bella is a magnet for trouble.

This scene in particular seems to be complicated by my readerly gender—as a male, I’m placed in the role of the men who are implicitly just waiting around the corner to rape high school girls, and that makes me really uncomfortable.Ben’s End of Chapter Awards

That’s interesting to me. I’ve often read about nasty, predatory women and never did I consider it a slight on my gender. Nor did I feel I was meant to place myself in their role simply because I’m female and they are female. It is not as if Stephenie Meyer is saying these men represent all men. I can guarantee you that at no part in this saga are you going to find that Charlie Swan, Jacob Black, Phil Dwyer, and Mike Newton have formed a rape gang.

So in this moment, from my reader perspective, Bella is saved from a group of dangerous predators by another, more dangerous predator. The problem is, Bella idolizes Edward instead of fearing him. This scene, more than any other in the book, has demonstrated to the extent to which I am not a part of Meyer’s intended authorial audience, or, more accurately, the fact that I’m perhaps not reading these characters in the way that Meyer intended me to.

You’re absolutely right. Bella has jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire here, and she is rather blinded by that fire. No one is better at trying to ignore a man’s flaws than a twiterpated teenage girl.

Speaking of intended authorial audiences, Stephenie has gone on record as saying she never intended to write Young Adult fiction. She just wrote a story and hoped people would like it. It was the publishers who chose the category. The intended audience is anyone who would enjoy the book. You maybe be right about not reading the characters they way they were intended. You’re reading into them, coming to them with preconceived notions on feminism etcetera. We all filter books through our own experience, but when you pick up a book with pure literary criticism in mind a lot of it is lost on you. I took a film class once in which there was an assignment to go to the theater and write about one of the five movies on the list. Silence of the Lambs was the only one I was remotely interested, but scary movies are usually not my thing. About halfway through the film I realized that I was so consumed with analyzing editing, music, framing, and everything else that I was missing the experience. I believe any book or movie, any work of art really, should be experienced first, analyzed later.

Oh, oh, and this chapter had the word “dazzle” in it three times.

Dazzle is a Twilight buzzword. It is to Twilight as “May the Force Be With You,” or “I have a bad feeling about this,” are to Star Wars.

Best Self Defense Advice for Young Girls: “Heel of the hand thrust upward, hopefully breaking the nose of shoving it into the brain. Finger through the eye socket—try to hook around and pop the eye out. And the standard knee to the groin, of course” (161).

I don’t know if you really mean Best or if you are poking fun. Poking fun, I think. I wonder if you would have called Bella a defenseless and weak damsel in distress if she hadn’t thought about how to defend herself.

Best Indirect Suggestion that Bella and Edward Are at the Olive Garden: p. 166-177

Nope, they are really at http://www.bellaitaliapa.com/. Sadly there is no Mushroom Ravioli on the menu.

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May 8, 2009 - Posted by | Bella Swan, Edward Cullen, Stephenie Meyer, Twi-blogs, Twilight | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

3 Comments »

  1. I just want you to speak for me from now on, lol. When I’m reading what he said and think of a point to make, I then read that you’ve already got it covered! It’s a little convenient for me!

    I just want to expound on this: “I’m not sure I like the implication that a woman can’t walk down the street without getting stalked by these kinds of people”

    Yeah, I don’t like it either, but this is not purely from Stephanie. This is a real fact, that depending on where she lives, women have to deal with daily. When I say daily, I mean (in my experience), more than once a day too. I have carried pepper spray on my key chain as soon as I could, and I avoid jogging alone.

    I could write an entire essay on this, but I will direct you to a few links that will make my point for me. Since you are interested in feminist issues, jezebel.com is a great online magazine that discusses these kinds of topics every day. To show you how prevalent sexual assault or rape is, read the comments on any article written about it (http://jezebel.com/5231386/when-youre-not-sure-if-someone-is-masturbating-against-you-in-a-crowded-subway). Even I had no idea, as I have never lived in a big city, that things were that bad.

    “This scene in particular seems to be complicated by my readerly gender—as a male, I’m placed in the role of the men who are implicitly just waiting around the corner to rape high school girls, and that makes me really uncomfortable”

    I’m going to be blunt here, this irritated me. I really don’t understand why (or how) you could possibly feel this way. I mean, I can’t speak to your life experiences that may have had an influence on how you read this, but in NO way was the author’s intention to imply that all men are rapists. But the fact is that men make up the majority of rapists. It would have been a little silly to have a pack of women following Bella around in that scene.

    Comment by Whitley | May 8, 2009 | Reply

  2. @ 86 Rabbit,
    This is definitely the kind of discussion that interests me.

    @Male Feminist,
    It is a sad truth, that women are taught from a very early age to FEAR men. I am not trying to be an alarmist, it’s just the simple truth. We are taught that men are stronger, and are easily able to inflict harm when they desire to. We are also told/shown (TV has helped perpetuate this fear) that sexual assault is the ultimate violation and must be avoided at all costs. At every stage in my life I’ve been given a talk about how certain men can and will harm me. Not that all men are rapists or molestors, but that any one of them could be, and that I as a female need to be smart and not misplace my trust. I don’t know if you have a sister, or a close female you talk to, but I would definitely talk to them, and see what their experience has been. I know that I always walk around alert (especially at night), always have a plan for defending myself and always try my best to avoid situations where things could possibly go wrong.
    Guys simply do not think this way, There is little to no chance that while walking alone late at night in a parking lot that you might be sexually assaulted (robbed maybe…but you definitely don’t worry about being raped). You might be surprised to know that if you were in that dark parking lot, and there happened to be a lone female there as well, that you were the Boogie Man. 😦 and she was probably scared…even if only a little…and trying to think of a way to stay safe…
    Just my $.02

    Comment by Mrs. P. | May 11, 2009 | Reply

  3. Really, thank you for your comments.

    @Mrs P – It certainly is a sad truth that we are taught this way. I know that it would hurt a great many men to know that I crossed the street to stay out of their reach. I am not at all distrusting of men. I don’t generalize them all to be the boogie man, but as you said any one of them *could be*. That’s the crux of how we are taught to defend ourselves–be aware, stay out of reach, and know that any one of them could try to hurt you. Not all, but any one of. It’s an important difference.

    We are also taught that people in groups, especially groups of men, are trouble, as people will behave in packs in ways they wouldn’t act on their own, hense my comments about Central Park Jogger and wilding boys.

    If you see a group of men down the street you are going to behave exactly like Bella did, if you’re smart. You are going to be aware that they could be a problem, you are going to stay out of their reach, and if you even feel the slightest bit like you are being followed you are going to try to run away. If you don’t you are running a risk. To assume that they don’t mean you harm out of some feeling that we shouldn’t stereotype men that way could very well be suicide. Unfortunately for Bella, she allowed herself to be alone in an unfamiliar area. She didn’t know the terrain, so did not know where to run. This is also something we are taught not to do.

    This is why women travel in packs, yes, even to the bathroom. I know a girl who was raped in a public bathroom at a very crowded college bar on a Friday night. The man was watching, knew there was no one in the Ladies’, and followed the next girl in, knowing she would be alone. He was done before the next girl came in. That’s how fast it can happen. That’s why we’re taught to be aware.

    Comment by '86 Rabbit | May 11, 2009 | Reply


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