Anyone who’s read my snarks may have picked up on a subtle theme: I hate Bella Swan.
Granted, I hate almost all the characters in Twilight. Well, that’s not strictly true – my feelings about most of the characters range from total indifference to hate… except for the characters I’m SUPPOSED to hate.
But I have a special place in my hate-filled heart for Bella Swan, the Mary Sue heroine we’re supposed to be rooting for. I hate this character. I hate a lot of literary characters, but this character just hits every single rage button that I have, and it takes a lot of effort for me to not just respond to everything she says and does with “FUCK YOU, YOU MANIPULATIVE ANTIFEMINIST LITTLE WHOREBAG!” Simply EVERYTHING she does makes me hate her. Every interaction makes me hate her. Every word out of her pouty little mouth makes me hate her.
But the weirdest aspect of Bella’s character is how completely contradictory she is. Some of her qualities contradict OTHER qualities. And I’m not talking about how “Oh, the author says she’s smart but she’s actually stupid,” or “the author says she’s nice but she’s actually bitchy.” No, I’m talking about contradictory BAD qualities!
In fact, at times it feels like there are actually TWO Bella Swans vying for Hitter Of Most Rage Buttons.
The Anti-Feminist Doormat
There’s been a LOT of virtual ink used to describe all the ways in which Twilight is sexist, and I pretty much agree with all of it. Bella is a misogynist’s dream girl, and you can totally tell that Smeyer was raised in a very misogynistic environment throughout her life – she doesn’t even think that the antifeminist crap is a big deal, or unusual at all.
Among the fun characteristics:
- Bella as damsel. She never rescues herself, or even TRIES to rescue herself. No, she sits there passively waiting for a man to save her whenever something bad happens.
- She has no ambitions except to be an appendage to a man. College? Career? Pshaw.
- She has no real friendships with other girls, and is hostile to all women who might be potential competition.
- She has no identity for herself as a person. Without Edward, she claims to have nothing and no one that that matters.
- Nor is there any part of her life that DOESN’T revolve around him, no substance that doesn’t come from Edturd. This is depicted as being natural and normal.
- She allows men (especially Edturd) to laugh at her, mock her, manhandle her, and sometimes sexually assault her. This is depicted as mildly annoying at MOST.
- The one time she fights back, she gets hurt. Let that be a lesson, you stupid little women! Don’t fight back against sexual attackers, cuz if you try, you’ll get HURT!
- The only woman she idolizes are Esme and Emily, who are paragons of the misogynist’s ideal woman. They have no hobbies, interests or ideas that don’t revolve around being a Happy Little Homemaker; they have no personal problems or ideas to disrupt Their Man’s life; they never say or do anything that doesn’t echo Their Man’s opinion. Hell, they barely even SPEAK. I think Emily has maybe two lines in the whole series.
- Bella immediately bends to all Edward’s wishes (except one; more on that later), and if she dares to disagree, he sexes her into submission.
- Infertility is depicted as the worst thing that can befall a woman, presumably because she can’t pop out dozens of kids to populate her husband’s new domain as a god. Not kidding. A woman’s REASON FOR BEING is boiled down to “She can have babies, and without them she’s unfulfilled, jealous and miserable.”
- Rosalie and Leah, the strongest and most independent-minded of all the women in the story, are punished with complete infertility. That’ll show those uppity women!
- A woman tries to commit suicide? Mildly displeasing. A man tries to commit suicide for the same reason? OMG STOP THE PRESSES THIS IS A DISASTER AIEEEEEEEEE…
- When men are talking, she never interrupts. She just sits there with her thumb up her ass.
I’ll admit that Smeyer does show a few signs of being resentful towards the misogynistic standards of her life. For instance, Smeyer got married very young and immediately started popping out lots of kids. So she writes in a heroine who keeps whining that she doesn’t WANT to get married, that only barefoot hillbillies get married right out of high school and blah blah blah.