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19 November 2011

Breaking Dawn, Part 1 (Review): “She is Conquered: The Non-Existence of Bella”

Barely in her twenties, Bella decided to wed a vampire and join one of the oldest patriarchy in human history. Her other option was to be part of another competing patriarchal tribe, a pack of domineering wolves.  Oddly, Bella did not come up with a third option nor did anyone offer her several alternatives, like becoming the future Nobel Prize winning novelist, or a country doctor, or a high school teacher married or unmarried, her choice. 

As we all know, Bella decided to choose immortality devoid of human warmth but in the arms of a 100-year old vampire who wanted to bed her only after marriage.  And so they wed, but before she embarked a life of the living dead, she chose to experience the pleasure of womanhood.  To her surprise, she found satisfaction in her new awakened female sensuality but she had to continually beg her vampire prince to be granted satisfaction.  All of a sudden, her pleasure as a woman rested in the hands of her supposed beloved, obviously, in the guise of protecting her physical mortal body.  It is always her body, isn’t it?  Then Bella became pregnant and the child in her womb was relegated as “the thing” rather than “her child.”  All the men in her life wanted to dispose of her child for the sake of saving her.  Bella struggled to fight for her right to keep her unborn child. Who would have guessed that Bella would turn out to be pro-life or pro-choice, depending on how you look at her pregnancy. 

Fortunately, her spouse had a change of heart when the child in Bella’s womb communicated telepathically with her husband. Yet, Bella had no access to the mind of her child and must contend to use her husband as a conduit.  The female child must go through the father in order to reach the mother.  Symbolism symbolism symbolism.

In the end, after all the hoopla, male posing, power struggles, and lengthy contest of masculinity, Bella gave birth to her daughter, Renesmee.  Bella died a human death but she was resurrected as a youthful, beautiful undead vampire mother.  Unfortunately, before her daughter could become a complete woman and make her own path, she was involuntarily “imprinted” by a rival male, the alpha wolf; thus  she was then destined to be under the protection of a man whether she chooses it or not.  Two rivaling patriarchal families were then finally united under Bella’s blood and womb. 

The big question is “where is Bella in this entire struggle?” The answer is nowhere.  Bella does not factor at all.  She is not a whole person but the site of struggle between two opposing masculine ideas, between two symbolic phalluses.  Bella is probably literature’s [and film’s] most regressive female protagonist.  Despite all the choices that she made, she always ended up in worlds that would never be her own.   She was just moving from one cage to another.  Now that she is a vampire mother, the old patriarchs want something from her, her daughter Renesmee.  The reason maybe is Renesmee is the symbolic new woman, the result of Bella’s one and only authentic choice in the story.  Therefore, Renesmee is a threat and must be destroyed.

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In a way, Bella failed as a female protagonist and her daughter is bound to follow her track unless author Stephenie Meyer made some quick revisions or director Bill Condon grew ovaries and rewrite the ending.  Ironically, the Twilight saga was written by a woman and supposedly for teenage girls.  Judging on the loudness of sighs and the redness of the blushes on the cheeks of teenage girls in cinemas all over the world, Simone de Beauvoir must be rolling in her grave [but don’t take my word for it, after all I have a penis.]

Bottom-line, the Twilight Saga has never offered Bella a world of her own.  She is not a person but a piece of property to be owned, protected and romantically loved.   We have to keep in mind though that romance does not necessary mean true love based on true equality.  Sometimes, the best way to camouflage inequality and women subjugation is through old fashioned romance being peddled to prepubescent girls.  Shame on us for letting our daughters and sisters watch this crap.   

My only hope is Stephenie Meyer continue the saga with Renesmee rejecting Jacob’s protection and making a life of her own.  She would form her own clan of powerful immortals consisting women, men, gays, lesbians, bisexuals, transgender and so on. They would work to enlighten the old vampires and wolves all over the world.  Perhaps then, Bella’s death [literal and figurative] will not be in vain.

What would be a good title for that book? Let’s help Stephenie Meyer out.

Sarah and Hillary's Review of Twilight by Rob on GoAnimate

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(First published in “The Chair” Blog)

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