Women being objectified as sex symbols, or portrayed as damsels in distress in literature and the media, has occurred throughout history. These industries are predominantly white middle class and male-dominated. We only need to look at the current bond film franchise, in which countless men masturbate over the latest bond girl. Topless Page 3 models in The Sun, which is also the most widely read newspaper in the UK, and not to forget the weak and feeble heroine of The Twilight Saga; who cannot live without her man, and the undead kind at that. Great role model for teenage girls, don’t you think?!
What I want to discuss is if this new craze of vampire literature, films and TV series are actually setting feminism back, or is it just pure romanticism within a society where technology is surpassing physical human interaction? And where more women are opting out of the idea of marriage and children? There have been many feminist critiques of Twilight; I’m not going to claim that I’ll add any new insight, but I thought I’d throw my two-cent in.
The one thing all these Vampire TV series, films and books have in common is quite frankly the female heroines are not that likeable. Now just to clarify, I have read all the Twilight books and very much enjoyed them. Ultimately they are about female teenage sexuality; eroticism is integral to most vampire stories, as it is a genre about unleashing our dark sexual fantasies. This is definitely the aspect of the True Blood series I enjoy the most and the books are so must darker and graphic (I’ve only just started reading the books so am mainly going off the televised version). One of my favourite books is Interview with the Vampire, though this is arguably in a completely different league and is actually well written, but my point is: I’m a vamp fan.
I wouldn’t necessarily see Bella or Sookie as weak characters, or even anti-feminist to an extent. For example, Sookie from True Blood is stubborn and independent, and constantly putting Bill (her love interest) in his place when he upsets her #SPOILER ALERT (though she did still have sex with him after she discovered he killed her uncle, which is slightly disturbed!). I just feel that both characters are sadomasochistic, and honestly, love the pain and torture of their chosen situations. This quality makes them really hard to emphasize, if you keep putting yourself in danger after a while danger will follow you! I can sit here and analysis these books, films, TV series objectively (hopefully) as 23-year-old woman who is arguably well-educated, but what about impressionable 14/15-year-old girls. This truly worries me; these girls idolize the character of Edward Cullen as ‘perfect’, which is a tall feet for any man. There are Moran connotations that promote purity and abstinence throughout the book. Yet strangely these qualities are not associated with Bella but Edward, who is funnily enough described as ‘perfect’ by the author. #SPOILER ALERT Bella is stubborn, and to an extent independent, choosing to become a vampire against Edward’s wishes. She is also apprehensive about marriage and wants to lose her virginity before becoming immortal. Edward refuses, you know, because he could kill her, but more importantly because he doesn’t believe in sex before marriage! But Wait! All of a sudden, once she’s married and has a half human half vampire baby, which almost killed her by the way, she realises that this is the life she wanted all along.
I could make sarcastic jibes about these characters till I’m blue in the face, and I can’t honestly say what specific qualities these heroines hold that makes then so unlikable, especially Bella. Gone are the days when you could read a good romance novel like Pride and Prejudice and admire Elizabeth Bennett, because you loved the character and not just because she ends up with Mr Darcy. Even Juliet for all her teenage whingeing had more likeable qualities than Bella and Sookie.
I think what surprises me the most is that these are female authors creating bad female characters. Even in the Harry Potter books Hermione is the most unlikable character out of the three leads (though I must say Emma Watson‘s interpretation was surprisingly enjoyable in the Deadly Hallows). What is wrong with these female authors? Do they have no sense of obligation to young impressionable teenage girls to create strong, well-rounded, likeable heroines that they can look up to? This is a call to all female writers out there, of books or otherwise. Bring back the Elizabeth Bennett’s of the world and give us a heroine we can believe in.
- Twilight (mcubed15.wordpress.com)
- “New Moon” Book Review (ferashare.wordpress.com)
- Dead to the World, by Charlaine Harris (mrsaubergine.wordpress.com)