Last weekend, Twihards gathered in theaters across the country to watch Edward and Bella get married and consummate their romance, and I am slightly ashamed to say that I did the same. I have no desire to read the books, but I guess my quest for being culturally relevant gets the best of me, and for the past three movies, I have found myself in the theater, watching the teenage romance unveil, and desperately hoping no one I know will see me as I park myself in the last row of the theater.
This movie franchise really does a number on my feminist heart and mind. I must have not been fully conscious watching the first two movies, but this most recent one, Breaking Dawn: Part 1, really made me sick. As I was watching, all I could think was “Wow Bella, you have no self-respect, do you?” And it makes me really sad to think that preteen girls are flocking to this movie and dreaming of growing up to be like Bella when in reality, they should want to be anyone BUT Bella Swan.
**Spoilers from here on out, kids. Protect your mortal eyes.
The movie starts with Bella Swan and Edward Cullen’s wedding frenzy, from Bella trying on her wedding day shoes to Edward’s bachelor party, something that I am happy to say did not seem to be stripper-filled. But the whole notion of their marriage was painful to watch.
Bella is 18. Barely an adult. Barely graduated high school. All her school friends, who are not tuned into the Cullen’s immortal characteristics, assume she’s pregnant. Despite Bella’s friends not really knowing anything about her life, and Bella’s father having no clue as to what has gotten into his seemingly normal daughter, he walks her down the aisle as Bella begins the first of many passive actions in her quest to please her demanding lover.
Bella has to change her entire life for Edward Cullen, a man who she falls in love with over the desk of her high school science class. Seriously. It seems almost too ridiculous for words, yet Stephanie Meyer has spent thousands of words explaining this romance.
The wedding is only the beginning of Bella’s submission into Edward’s life. Once they leave for their honeymoon, Bella knows that not only will she never see her pre-Cullen friends and family, she will be turned into a vampire herself, all for the joy of spending the rest of eternity with Mr. Bloodsuck.
The next part of this movie is what really bothered me. On Bella and Edward’s wedding night, the night that Bella has been waiting for since she met Edward, Bella has to repress her sexuality because Edward is so scared of hurting her. Really? You’re telling me that a man, even an immortal one, doesn’t want to have sex with his beautiful bride when he has literally waited centuries for her?
It’s not just this that irks me; rather, it’s the fact that Bella can’t stand up for herself and say that she wants to have sex with Edward. She just waits…and waits… and waits. Female sexuality is something that to this day is incredibly misunderstood, and Bella just perpetrates this myth that women don’t really crave sex in the way that men do. She seemingly has no choice but to wait for her vampire in shining armor to come to her aid and meet her sexual needs.
The symbolism of this blockbuster just adds to the weakness of Bella’s character. Not only is her sexuality seen as a sin on her part, once they do finally have sex, the consequences are deadly- at least until she becomes immortal. Bella gets pregnant, and immediately it becomes clear that not all is well in Bella’s belly.
Edward becomes infuriated, which therefore infuriates me. I’m sorry, but it takes two to make a baby Edward, and if you were that concerned, there is such a thing as birth control. Nonetheless, he realizes that this baby is going to kill Bella if the vampires do not intervene, and once again, Bella is a damsel in distress that needs to be saved by the vampires, not a strong female character who has control over her own fate.
I do not want young girls watching this movie and thinking that this is what true love is. True love is not something that happens from one smoldering look, and sex is not something that only men get to decide when and how it happens. Furthermore, girls do not need to base their lives around a man, even a man that you want to spend forever with.
I do not plan on watching the final installment of Twilight when it comes out next year. Rather, I will look elsewhere to get my Kristen Stewart fix, perhaps in her role as Snow White in Snow White and the Huntsmen, which treats women like the powerful characters that they deserve to be seen as.