Target Women: Vampires

// 5 December 2008

Comments From You

sharifa // Posted 6 December 2008 at 4:15 am

i very much enjoy this site during work. thought provoking stuff. people who insinuate a feminists work is done piss me off as much as those who refute racism.

Ruth // Posted 6 December 2008 at 10:29 am

I wish I could be shocked, but I used to be on the fringes of Buffy fandom…there was some serious ‘vampires are so sexy and tragic’ pathology going on there, and the show-writers? Played right up to it.

My view is that all of this says much more about how women are socialised to be perpetual victims/rescuers than anything about innermost female desires. Plus, *every woman in America* is ‘in love’ with this character? Way to imply that if you are not, you are not normal…

Sarah // Posted 6 December 2008 at 2:15 pm

This is awesome, thank you for posting this.

I can’t be the only women who thinks abusive = exotic & sexy

Anne Onne // Posted 6 December 2008 at 8:04 pm

Spot on. Light, not much cover of the disturbing elements, but the ‘would you want your daughter to date a vampire’ element was a good way of trying to get people to look at it from another perspective.

There’s something to be said about how it makes a change that women are putting this fantasy out, in that so often it’s men designing women’s fantasies and pretendng to know what we want/telling us to want, something others such as Ide Cyan have talked about. These fantasies about being controlled, and how men’s power over women is sexy is an element of the patriarchy and how women have internalised so much programming, as well as how men learn to take that role.

I won’t say I find it subversive, because it’s nothing original, and although the book was written by a woman, and the film is directed by one, it doesn’t make it less problematic as a whole, in my opinion.

I’d like to see more discussion of the series in the feminist blogosphere. Mostly it’s been picked up in Feministing’s community by various less experienced bloggers, but I’d like to see even more of an emphasis and criticism. Especially since the arguments in defense of this published work of bad fanfiction-level writing amount to ‘but it’s just fantasy! shut up already!’, ‘I think it’s feminist/pro-choice so you have no right to criticise it!’ and ‘I don’t have a problem with it so you shouldn’t’. Personally, when I see anti-feminist anti-logic methods of defending something, I break out in metaphorical hives. You wouldn’t accept that kind of defense for anything you don’t find anti-feminist, so don’t use the same slack non-logic to defend something just because you like it.

I can see why it would be a guilty pleasure for some people (Feminising have a regular feature called Unfeminist Guilty Pleasures which is a great idea, encouraging people to think about problematic aspects of things they like, and discussing them openly, without pressure to hate it), and there’s nothing wrong with reading mediocre vampire erotica if that’s your thing.

The problem I have is with people (some feminists included) who because they don’t feel it’s problematic, ignore all the valid criticisms others make because they like something, or derail conversations about the problematic aspects.

But I think criticism of fangirling is a bit silly, since traditionally male ways of fawning over something aren’t seen as wrong (football crowds, anyone?), and there’s nothing wrong with women expressing an honest interest in something.

@Ruth: Yeah, Buffy has those aspects, but this series is a huge step back from the ethos of Buffy as a whole. Buffy was occasionally subversive, and at worst flawed but still had believable, fleshed out female characters. Though I guess you’re talking about the fans. Every fandom has its creepy elements.

Laura // Posted 6 December 2008 at 9:32 pm

AWESOME! Just watched all her videos I could find on youtube! Now back to the exam revision…

JENNIFER DREW // Posted 6 December 2008 at 11:21 pm

Yes indeed ‘bad guys’ are so edgy – no need to see how they control and manipulate women. Says a great deal about how the media reinforces messages to women they should be selfless and seek to ‘save the bad guy.’ Because of course he just needs a ‘good woman’s love in order to redeem him.’

Sounds like an adult version of fairy tales for children – similar plot – female character is the one who has to redeem evil male but the only way she can do it is by being passive and selfless.

Sarah Haskins is right to critique Twilight because it promotes male violence against women as ‘erotic and sexy.’ Ah but that is what all women want is it not? A ‘bad guy’ who controls and manipulates them, treats them badly etc. but hey it is ‘sexy and soo hot it must be okay.’ No need to critique Twilight is effectively saying women are masochists who enjoy being treated as dirt.

maggie // Posted 7 December 2008 at 10:18 am

My teenage daughter used to love these books. I suggested she go with a friend to see Twilight. Her reaction was swift. No way. I was curious to know why the change of heart. ‘Mum’, she said, ‘It’s all about the ‘little woman’ falling for the great guy and I can’t stand that.’

That’s my girl.

Anne Onne // Posted 7 December 2008 at 1:46 pm

Jennifer Drew: I know! And the common excuse from defenders: ‘But he’s a vampire!’ Oh, that’s OK then. ‘Cause abuse is OK if he’s a vampire! It’s so funny how far some people will go to defend textbook abusive partner behaviour because it’s fiction. Ah, but he was doing it to protect her!

No need to talk about why an author would choose to write a story in which the female lead is so helpless and doesn’t manage to fight back or gain power through other means, or why the woman is the one who isn’t a vampire. What about why the author chose to have the main male character posessive, with no boundaries, be a stalker, and set up the plot in such a way where he was rewarded and justified in stalking the main female character?

No need to ask why the author chose to write the story in such a way that instead of portraying it as a messed up relationship, chose to literally frame it as perfection, Sure, because plots aren’t written by people, they just fall out of the sky, ready-formed.


What really gets my goat is people claiming the books are *feminist* or not really unfeminist, because She makes like one choice once, and why shouldn’t she choose a damaging relationship? Or to keep a foetus that is literally killing her? Apparently a ‘feminist’ book should be one where women make at least one choice, even if that choice is as patriarchy-influenced, as possible, plays to sexist stereotypes,

Sorry, but that’s not a feminist book, nor are female characters above criticism, because they are a literary device. It’s ironic that the same people who think I’m reading too much into fantasy literature then chastise me for not being feminist enuogh if I critique a female written characer instead of respecting her ‘choices’ as I would a real woman. I respect the choice of a real woman to try and get through her life as best she can. I do not believe that a character chooses their choices: their choices are chosen by their creator, to make a point. They are a literary device, and criticism of a plot (feminist or otherwise) not anti-feminist.

Feminist writing in my opinion needs to portray women as complex. As being more than the stereotype of what a girl or woman should be. Love or ‘girly’ things can be in a feminist book, but the female characters should have depth: flaws and strengths, and their motivations should be analysed from a feminist perspective. Simply rehashing Mills and Boone stereotypes with added vampires does not a feminist or feminist-friendly novel make.

Anne Onne // Posted 7 December 2008 at 3:29 pm

And I feel I have to mention that Mzbitca and Ouyang Dan are liveblogging the Twilight book(s), which is to say they are blogging about their impressions as they read through the book. If anyone’s interested in more detailed analysis through the books as they progress, I’d recommend checking their blogs out. :)

MB // Posted 7 December 2008 at 10:48 pm

maggie – “My teenage daughter used to love these books. I suggested she go with a friend to see Twilight. Her reaction was swift. No way. I was curious to know why the change of heart. ‘Mum’, she said, ‘It’s all about the ‘little woman’ falling for the great guy and I can’t stand that.'”

This just sort of made my day (and raised a big smile) Thanks.

I have two daughters and I just love it when they come up with gems such as this.

OuyangDan // Posted 8 December 2008 at 6:36 am

Hey, Anne Onne, thanks for the link love!

Anyone who wants to discuss the books w/ us is welcome to join!

Katrina // Posted 8 December 2008 at 10:11 am

Hey, can I complain about love being a ‘girly’ thing? Both men and women want love. And books, movies, etc etc. for men and women include romantic elements.

However, the ‘romance genre’ is another matter–full of arrogant men and passive virgins written so that they can be read while doing the hoovering. But the fantasy point of that isn’t the arrogant bit (that often feels like real life) it’s the bit where he changes at the end, and the heroine never has to do the hoovering while feeling under-appreciated again.

And this is surely the point of the vampire novel. The fantasy of change.

Anne Onne // Posted 8 December 2008 at 1:42 pm

OuyangDan, You’re welcome! I couldn’t pass I haven’t read them, and don’t currently have the time to, but I’ll keep reading your liveblogging and probably comment!

Katrina, I agree, that’s why I put ‘girly’ in qoutation marks, to emphasise that mainstream thinking always implies that romance is ‘girly’ and women always want love in their stories. I should have made it clearer, though. :)

Ruth // Posted 8 December 2008 at 7:25 pm

MB, so jealous here. I got two XYs, have to fight a constant rearguard action against them turning into Typical Male (TM), societal pressures are so huge. Must have got the catalogue number wrong…

mzbitca // Posted 9 December 2008 at 2:15 am

I also want to say thanks for link love as well. It’s made reading the books pretty fun and better than what i expected them to be. My new favorite issue is how people are jumping all over the “they’re abstinent” guideline and not realize what the blood drinking and such is supposed to represent

NorthernJess // Posted 9 December 2008 at 9:09 am

My teenage sister and her friends are all obsessed with these books and the film. I have read about 50 pages of the first one and couldn’t to be honest bare to read any more because I thought it was so badly written! What worries me is my sister’s attitude to the main guy who everyone is supposed to be mad for (But he doesn’t suck her blood, he is holding back from sucking her blood until she can leave her dad and they can marry, even though he really really wants to- he’s such a gentleman) Maggie, your daughter and my sister need to have words, she don’t listen to me cos ‘I’m a big embaressment, and will I please stop talking about politics infront of her friends’!!!!Arg!!!!

Rosa // Posted 10 December 2008 at 12:55 am

I read about this on The Woyingi Blog sometime last week. I stumbled on it (I don’t know where from) but she was talking about Twilight. She described what happened after Bella and Edward have sex. She said, “the morning after Bella is all bruised up because, you know, vampires are strong. Edward feels bad and refuses to have sex with her again but Bella is persistent and like true Victorians the young lovers don’t know how to use protection properly and Bella gets knocked up with a half-human, half-vampire child.”

Fantastic. That’s exactly what we want girls to swoon over: prove your love by how many bruises you can take! Yaaaay. Ugh.

jil@pepole // Posted 9 April 2009 at 2:34 am

the reason I’m prasuming the movie was a bust of some sort tho I havnt seen it yet is because they tried to many smooching up go away googo stuff when all they needed was a hotter guy and a bit of light hearted wimsicle air abot him when bella was angry or awed like with other people that gave it that shootheness feeling everone likes.

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