Thursday, June 2, 2011


Huzzah, I got accepted to the one doctoral program to which I applied! I have decided to approach my dissertation from an entirely different angle (i.e. Researching prison inmates for signs of Autism Spectrum Disorders, and working backwards via public record and inmate interview, as well as contact with representatives from the legal system, etc.): Exploring incarceration rates of people with ASDs compared to other diagonses (primarily personality disorders). This is obviously not going to require documentation of Twilight's gender stereotyping.

I will not need this blog for any dissertation purposes, so I will resume writing it relatively soon. I can't give an actual time-frame, because I'm procrastinating in every facet of my life at the moment, but it will be soon!

I'm sure everyone's drooling with anticipation. /sarcasm

Well screw you! It's my blog!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Hold up a minute-

I am working on publishing parts of this topic (more specifically, will be drawing from this blog directly) in a journal article, and potentially expanding it into a doctoral dissertation. I need to do some more research before I continue on whether I can use previously-published materials (i.e. this blog) for such purposes. If so, I'll be back. If not, I'll still be back, but will work with material not published here in my article and/or dissertation.

Write to you soon! =)


Monday, November 29, 2010

Book 1, Chapter 4:

          Chapter four begins with Bella describing a dream from which she has awoken, in which Edward (who will soon become a repeat leading man in her dreams) is walking away from her in the dark, and no matter how loudly she calls to him, he does not react, neither can she catch up with him no matter how fast she runs. This sets up a thematic neurosis for Bella, whose hyper-vigilant focus on and attachment to Edward intensifies, and she begins fearing his abandonment nearly constantly. After indicating this upon waking from her dream, Bella goes on to describe the atmosphere at school following her close call with the van.
          Logically, Bella becomes a focal point of concern and gossip. Uncomfortable in the spotlight, Bella attempts to redirect her peers’ attention to Edward, her self-described “hero,” but this effort is futile. All of Forks High School remains attuned to Bella, now more than ever, as they have been since her arrival only a month or so ago. Bella decides that not only is this attention embarrassing, but the other students’ lack of interest in Edward’s participation in the van incident is somehow indicative of a character flaw on Bella’s part: That she’s too attentive to him, that “nobody watched him the way she did.” She chides herself as “pitiful” for this fixation on Edward, and then melodramatically and sluggishly pieces together elements of plot action via self-deprecating prattle surrounding the internal discord she experiences as she attempts to re-normalize her daily interactions with her peers, while unfalteringly vying for Edward’s attention.
          Edward is immediately cold to Bella, sitting as far away as possible from her in their assigned seats in biology class, refusing eye contact or verbal recompense of any kind as Bella silently spirals into panic. Her school days begin to parallel her nightly dreams of Edward, with him always proximally present, but just out of Bella’s reach. This fusion of reality and para-reality cause Bella to become entirely socially non-functional. She refuses to engage in widely accepted “normal” rites of passage (such as committing to an upcoming dance), and she avoids social contact with her friends. Bella goes so far as to advise Jessica to ask Mike to the aforementioned dance in an effort to keep him from asking Bella, which would put her in the difficult position of hurting someone’s feelings by saying “no,” playing the martyr and being miserable and saying “yes,” or moreover, hurting Jessica, who is romantically interested in Mike, while simultaneously forcing Bella out of her Edward-fueled neurosis (this appears to be the propelling force in Bella’s encouragement of Jessica to invite Mike to the dance herself). Bella quickly becomes alarmed as she notices strangeness between Jessica and Mike, and Bella begins to worry that Mike had refused Jessica’s invitation.
          During biology class, Mike reveals to Bella that, of course, he had told Jessica he “had to think about it,” leaving her hanging and probably as neurotic about him as Bella is about Edward, and wanting to make sure Bella hadn’t planned on inviting him herself. Bella assures Mike that she will not be going to the dance at all, that she plans to go out of town that weekend, and that he should accept Jessica’s invitation. He grudgingly agrees, and slumps off to delight Jessica with his sudden willingness to tolerate spending the dance with his runner-up.
          Meanwhile, Edward is apparently eavesdropping on the conversation from across the room, but manages to spit out a correct answer when called upon by the teacher, despite his inattentiveness. He then looks at Bella and this time, does not drop his gaze. Bella is frazzled and unable to tolerate his stare, and she shields her face with her hair as she silently calls herself “pathetic” yet another half-dozen times. After class, Edward approaches Bella and apologizes for being rude, but insists that it’s “the best thing” for both of them. His cryptic pseudo-apology somehow leads Bella to believe that he is regretful for saving her life, and they become angry with one another and engage in a brief verbal spat, typical of what is to be expected during a high school passing period. Bella ends up tripping and dropping her books, and although she and Edward are still clearly angry with one another, he comes to her rescue once more by retrieving, organizing, and handing Bella her scattered schoolbooks. Bella then goes to gym, consumed with anger and a myriad of angst-driven inner monologue, and fails miserably at all sports attempted. Caught off-guard during class, she is asked to the upcoming dance by yet another of her male friends, Eric. She politely declines, offering him the same out-of-town excuse she gave Mike. Eric is devastated, but Bella remains consumed by thoughts of Edward, who passes by, snickering to himself, as Bella rejects Eric’s invitation.
          As Bella prepares to leave school that afternoon, she finds herself furious with Edward. She sees him in his car, pulling out from his parking space near hers, and is tempted to ram her truck into the rear of his car as he pulls in front of her (thankfully, despite all that angst and egocentrism, Bella retains a degree of rationality). Toward the end of the chapter, Bella is startled by a knock at her truck’s passenger window. Lo and behold, it’s Tyler, the boy who nearly killed her during the icy parking lot van incident, and he has come to invite Bella to the dance as well (it is interesting that so many boys are inviting Bella to a dance that is classified as a “ladies’ choice” event); rather, they are asking Bella to invite them, nullifying the entire concept of a ladies’ choice event. Bella becomes irritated, but remains polite, even as Tyler arrogantly announces, “Oh well, there’s always prom,” and returning to his vehicle. Bella notices Edward watching her in his rearview mirror, appearing to be laughing at her, and she is once more tempted to total his car with hers, and choosing once more to remain civilized and refrain from committing a felony. Bella spends her night cooking dinner for her father and obsessing (fuming) over Edward. She endures one more intrusive question about the school dance when her father asks if she is attending. She reminds him of how uncoordinated and incapable of dancing she is, and he mutters a one-word response and leaves her to her thoughts.
          The next morning at school, Bella stumbles out of her truck and into the parking lot, dropping her car keys into a puddle. Edward appears out of nowhere, and when Bella questions him about his preternaturally sudden appearances and physical movements, he dismisses her assessment and blames her “exaggerated” perceptions of his abilities on her being “exceptionally unobservant.” Despite the fact that Edward is being offensive, Bella loses herself in his eyes, and requires a moment to compose herself before confronting him about his attitude the previous day. Bella becomes furious when Edward tells her he had deliberately dawdled in the parking lot in order to allow Tyler the opportunity to ask her to the dance. Again, Edward and Bella have a spat, and Bella walks away. Edward catches up to her, apologizes, and asks her if she would like a ride to Seattle on the day of the dance, since she had been telling the multitudes of boys from whom she had refused invitations to the dance that she was going to Seattle. Bella describes the manner in which Edward speaks to her as, “if he were talking to someone mentally handicapped,” when she takes a moment to process his question. Edward declares that he doubts her truck can make it to Seattle, at least on one tank of gas the way his pricey Volvo can, and masks his attempt to get her to ride with him behind an obnoxious faux-concern for “the wasting of finite [environmental] resources.” Bella becomes internally ecstatic as she nods in acceptance to Edward’s invitation. Yet, before he turns to leave for class, Edward calls to a dumb-struck Bella, “You really should stay away from me.” This is describes as being stated in a warning tone, and follows a series of roundabout, non-committal dialogue about whether Edward had said he wanted to be friends or didn’t, or whether it was a good idea or bad idea or whatnot. Having secured Bella’s company for the weekend and also having warned her that it was best to stay away from him, Edward turned wordlessly and walked to class, leaving Bella alone in the rain.

Reaction: Aside from the overtly antifeminist recurrence of Bella's disempowerment as boys repeatedly approach her in an effort to win her as their date for a "ladies' choice" dance, a more ominous developing issue lies in Edward, who is becoming increasingly frightening in his treatment of Bella. Edward has firmly established himself as a manipulator by this point in the novel, with his role clearly established as Bella's personal emotional roller coaster (and it’s only chapter four). Throughout the chapter, most scenes are internal reflections from Bella’s perspective, circulating around Edward’s odd behavior, his consistent and deliberate “just-out-of-reach” proximity to Bella, and his socially inappropriate destruction of boundaries surrounding Bella’s interactions with the boys who had asked her to the dance. Edward is within earshot (that’s all the reader understands about Edward’s ability to “hear,” at this point, anyway) of every conversation Bella has, particularly with male peers, and without fail, offers a condescending, cruel, or mocking response after each outcome. He clearly understands his effect on Bella, appearing to relish the frustration she displays when he interferes with social life and/or daily interactions in general. He knows it upsets her when he avoids her in class; at the end of the chapter, he acknowledges that calling her “absurd” was rude of him; surely, he understands that alternating between avoiding her altogether and interjecting himself into her social transactions (during which he behaves like a sociopath) is entirely inappropriate. Likewise, feigning aloofness and casually dangling himself in front of Bella, then repeatedly disappearing (knowing he remains a constant in her thoughts) is emotionally abusive and beyond “rude” or any other adjective Edward uses to excuse his behavior during this chapter.
          Yet, like a beaten dog, Bella shines in the attention she ultimately receives from Edward at the close of the chapter, in his bizarrely-veiled warning disguised as an invitation to drive to Seattle with him. Despite the blatant disrespect he had only moments before admitted to heaping upon her the previous day (when he placed her in the uncomfortable situation with Tyler for his own amusement), Edward is able to appeal to Bella at such an emotional level that she is not even able to verbalize a confirmation to his invitation for Seattle. Rather, she nods, half-listening, half understanding as he tells her he just “can’t stay away” anymore, but she “really should” stay away from him.
          So far this novel, particularly in this and the previous chapter, Bella has been dragged through an emotional wringer by Edward, who is entirely aware of his emotional impact on the girl. However, as is commonly referenced, it does “take two to tango,” and Bella once again loyally positions herself to be wrenched all over the dance floor by a self-interested, manipulative, controlling man who cannot reconcile his feelings for Bella and the reality of Bella’s safety. At this point, the reader is unaware of Edward’s age, supernatural status, etc., and true, some of his rather asinine behaviors are simply exemplary of adolescent melodrama. Many of Bella’s behaviors are equally obnoxious. The difference lies in to whom and how such actions are influential. Bella’s incessant brooding and refusal to attend a school dance upset a few boys and confuse a few friends, but these behaviors do not extend beyond the scope of age-appropriate, socially appropriate negativity. Edward, however, is a different kind of monster entirely. His attitude toward Bella, as evidenced by his disregard for boundaries, his manipulative behaviors, and his conveyance to her (both verbally and nonverbally) that she is unintelligent or of lesser intelligence than he clearly deviate from teenage normalcy to the antisocial or narcissistic end of the behavioral spectrum. Therein lie the behaviors of an abuser, manifested in Edward Cullen not only in the fourth chapter of this first book, but throughout the Twilight saga.

Monday, October 11, 2010

MIA- sorry!

I just moved from Chicago to the suburbs. It was a nice move- I miss the atmosphere and freedom of the city, but I love the openness and ability to breathe (mentally and physically, I suppose!) of the suburbs. However, my updating on this blog needs to improve! My internet access is shoddy; we haven't set up any extras at home yet (cable, internet, etc.), so I either have to go to a coffee shop or Panera to use the internet, or I use it at work, which limits my availability to blogging, social networking sites, posting stuff. =) Sometimes I'm able to steal WiFi from a neighbor, but it's a really weak signal, if it's there at all, so...yeah. Not so helpful. When I get internet back at home, I should be less MIA and more productive. I've definitely got a lot written, but I need to post it! One chapter at a time, one day at a time. If anyone's still following this blog...soon, my dears, soon. =)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Happy birthday, fictional Bella!

Sorry I haven't posted in awhile, but I've just been so distracted by Bella's birthday! Actually, I haven't been; I've just been busy. But while I was checking my email just now, Yahoo! alerted me, via it's "trending now" feed off to the side of the page, that "Bella Swan birthday" was the #3 searched item for the moment. I Googled it to see why, because that's a weird thing to be "trending," and according to the Twilight series, Bella's birthday is, in fact, September 13, 1987. Her "vampire birthday" (when she is turned into a vampire) is September 10, 2006 .

Just FYI. Oh, and the movie industry is re-releasing Eclipse into theaters for a limited time "to celebrate Bella's birthday."

Happy birthday, Bella. I hope nobody tries to kill you on this one.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Book 1, Chapter 3:

               The third chapter of Twilight begins with Bella awakening to a light dusting of snow outside, and immediately fretting about not only the cold, but her questionable ability to remain upright while maneuvering across the snowy ground throughout the day. This reaction isn’t entirely surprising from someone who grew up in a desert climate, but her mention of having “enough trouble not falling down when the ground was dry” serves to remind the reader of what a klutz Bella is, and sets a tone for potential catastrophe when Bella meets snow for the first time, in addition to foreshadowing significant events later in the chapter.
            Bella begins her day by heading downstairs to make herself some breakfast and immediately begins introspectively berating herself for viewing Edward as motivation to hurry to school, as well as for being socially incompetent and a poor conversationalist with him the day before. She reminds herself that Edward is out of her league, and proceeds to leave the house, concentrating very hard on not falling down as she walks to her truck, where she slips on the ice and does fall, but catches herself on the side mirror and concludes that she is going to have a horrible day.
Driving to school, Bella finally acknowledges the response she elicits in her new male peers. She considers possible reasons for this, among them that these new boys had missed her awkward early adolescent phase, but more notably, she suggests, “Possibly my crippling clumsiness was seen as endearing rather than pathetic, casting me as a damsel in distress.” She moves on to professing her discomfort with the attention, stating that being ignored by males may be preferable to conjuring alien and uncomfortable social transactions with them.
Once safely at school, Bella notices that her father has placed chains on her tires to ensure her safety on the slick roads, which is why she was so able to successfully transport herself to school. As she stands outside her truck considering the her father’s thoughtfulness, Bella notices Edward across the parking lot, staring at her in horror. She hears squealing tires, and looks up to see her friend Tyler at the wheel of a completely out-of-control van, skidding toward her, ready to violently sandwich her between her truck and the van. Suddenly, she is on the ground. She has hit her head, but does not appear to be seriously injured. She notices that she is pinned there, and sees “two long white hands, shooting protectively” in front of her, pushing the skidding van away as it collides with her truck bed. It is, of course, Edward Cullen, and he lies on top of Bella on the pavement, using one hand to hold her down, and one hand to wrangle the renegade van safely away from her. She attempts to sit up, but he holds her down, warning her to be careful. He informs her that she has hit her head, alluding to his plan to negate his participation in her miraculous death defeat by implying that she suffers from blunt force trauma-induced delusions. When Bella asks Edward how he got to her side so quickly, he insists that he was next to her the whole time, despite the fact that she had clearly seen him on the other side of the parking lot moments earlier. Onlookers begin panicking, and Edward releases Bella, allowing her to sit up. When she tries to stand, he continues holding her to the ground. They again begin a brief conversation about his being on the other side of the parking lot as the van spun out of control. He continues to deny this, and Bella continues to insist that she knows what she saw. Edward becomes snappish, and noncommittally agrees to explain the incident to her later if she corroborates the fictitious story he is about to offer the EMT and hospital staff.
At the hospital, Bella’s father is waiting frantically, bumbling around for information in a manner reminiscent of Barney Fife, lending to the “Charlie is aloof and well-intentioned, but clearly at the lower end of the male character hierarchy” motif. The EMTs advise Charlie of his daughter's heavy blow to the head and possible concussion, as reported by Edward. Bella is treated accordingly by Edward’s father, Dr. Carlisle Cullen, who happens to be on staff at the hospital. Bella denies feeling pain, claims to be “fine” several times, and asks if she can go back to school. Dr. Cullen insists that she go home with her father to rest. Bella notices Edward smiling at her patronizingly, which is unusual and a little unsettling to the critical reader. Bella climbs down from the hospital bed, stumbles and nearly falls (out of sheer non-coordination, not head trauma symptomology, as Dr. Cullen appears to suspect as he catches her mid-collapse), and storms to Edward, politely demanding to speak to him alone. He becomes subtly hostile, glaring at Bella and speaking through clenched teeth. Initially, he directs her to join her waiting father. As she presses him, however, he rigidly and wordlessly concedes, turning his back to her and stalking to a private area.
Bella is caught off-guard by Edward’s coldness toward her. She is unable to invoke the stern tone of voice she’d intended. Instead, she meekly asks Edward for an explanation, to which he replies that he saved her life and owes her nothing. He then reminds her that she hit her head and has no idea what she’s talking about. Bella becomes angry, exhibiting a rare boldness, and insists that her head is not injured and she knows what she saw. Edward becomes irate and spews a slew of commentary questioning her sanity (although he obviously understands that she is quite sane). Bella refuses to budge on the issue, and Edward shuts down emotionally, speaking cryptically, not quite admitting or refuting that he has defied the laws of physics by stopping a half-ton van in its tracks in order to save Bella's life. In response to Bella's theory, Edward flippantly replies that “nobody will believe that.” Bella insists that she doesn’t care; she just wants to know the truth. Edward refuses to confirm or deny her suspicions, and the two engage in a scowl-off. Bella, of course, becomes distracted from her anger by Edward’s “glorious face.” When she asks why he bothered to help her, he cruelly replies, “I don’t know,” and walks away, leaving Bella alone with her anger and unanswered questions. She goes home with her father, who watches her like a hawk all night, unconvinced that she is undamaged. Rather than spending time with her father, exhibiting any acute traumatic stress responses, or considering the implications of her frightening face-to-face with death, Bella ruminates on Edward Cullen, dreaming about him even, despite his antagonism, derision, and callousness at the hospital.

Reaction: While the “damsel in distress” scenario is prevalent in multitudes of classic and popular media, this chapter takes it a step beyond "savior in a strong and mysterious male" to a place of discomfort. After unwillingly playing the part of the hero, Edward flat-out tells Bella, “I saved your life; I don’t owe you anything.” Likewise, he calls her very worth into question by replying, “I don’t know,” when Bella questions why he bothered to save her life at all. Edward vacillates between appearing a strong, unbreakable, life-saving hero to embodying a detached, begrudging drudge who simply performed an irritating and obligatory task. Edward is easy to dislike at this point in the novel, though he is more often pitied and sympathized with as a misanthropic martyr, putting himself and his family at risk for the life of a gawkish, obtuse, and inconvenient girl. Certainly, readers later understand the risk Edward poses for himself and his family by performing a public feat of the supernatural. However, this absolutely does not excuse his disdainful and hostile treatment of Bella. Edward’s decision to save Bella from the skidding van is his own. His resentment is unjustified at best, and reprehensibly manipulative and abusive at worst. Attempting to guilt or shame a person who has very nearly been killed in an accident for “forcing” herself to be saved is deplorable. Yes, Edward carries the heavy burden of an unimaginable secret. In a microsecond, Edward decides that saving Bella’s life is more important than defending his family’s secret. If this decision causes him anxiety or self-loathing, a mature and appropriate response would be to leave the hospital, or the scene of the accident before the arrival of the ambulance, for that matter, to avoid uncomfortable questions. In reality, he wants Bella, and resents her for the intense attraction he feels, rather than accepting responsibility for his feelings and hashing them out either internally or with the help of family or other confidants. Edward's allows his cognitive dissonance to manifest as hostility, and sadly, Bella accepts this negative attention with open arms, more than ever allowing Edward consume her world. 
               At least he saved her life, one might suggest. Yes, this is undeniable. It was literally the very least he could do, aside from watching her get splattered all over the high school parking lot. Is Edward a hero? In the rawest sense of the word, I suppose he could be called that in this instance, in that he prevented Bella’s death. “Hero,” though, carries connotations far beyond physical acts. Not often do you see the knight in shining armor chiding the damsel in distress for requiring his intervention, much less telling her he “doesn’t know” why he bothered to save her life. Inciting shame and humiliation in Bella by rashly dismissing her request for answers and questioning her sanity is flat-out abusive. Were this a real-life relationship between two human beings, I would be quite concerned for the girl. Again, suspension of reality allows me to not hate Edward (though it doesn't prevent me from disliking him), as I understand the multi-layer rationale surrounding his behavior. I am an adult reader, though, and am concerned for younger or more impressionable readers, who may be less inclined to perceive the dark nuances beginning to develop in the Bella-Edward relationship.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

In lieu of an actual post:

Today was a super-long teacher inservice day at my job, so I didn't get any time to post here (I should probably be sleeping now, but I became engaged in some striking conversation on the topic of my blog so figured I should at least add something for the moment). In the meantime, here are some interesting readings similar to what I'm doing on this site:

-Remarkably Unremarkable
-Elizabeth Esther
-Seduced by Twilight
-Sad Robots (love the snark here- scroll down a bit for the misogyny stuff- very witty)

And of course, the ultimate re-write of the Twilight script. Grab some beers and some friends and take your shot at acting! It could be your fifteen minutes of fame! In fact, I will consider posting the top 3 interpretations here on this blog. Ripping good time. Anyway, go here:

-If Twilight was 10 Times Shorter and 100 Times More Honest

And finally, with all the words in this and the above listed blogs and satire sites, we must also remember that a picture is worth 1,000 words. Here are a few movie stills and advertisements that present some...interesting images of potential sexism and/or misogyny in the Twilight saga:

Fun fact: The average person has a comfortable sense of "personal space" ranging from 1.5 to 3 feet. Uninvited invasion of this space is instinctively interpreted as aggression.

Edward throwing a tree in trunk in an outburst of temper at his "situation," reminding Bella, "As if you could fight me off!" I would run. like. hell, even if my human boyfriend acted this way.

"Just close your eyes, depend on me to keep you safe in this hundred-foot tree, even though we've only just met and you have no reason at all to trust me. Just hang there...good girl!"

"What do you mean, 'did I get contacts,' you dumb bitch?"

I wish all new people I met greeted me by glowering at me disgustedly and covering their nose and mouth.

You can't dance? That's okay. Stand on my feet and I'll do all the work, as usual.

A choke hold is the sincerest form of flattery.

Now she has TWO severe looking big, strong men looking out for her. She'd better stay back there- she is a helpless "lamb," after all. For shit's sake.

Hey, remember that thing about personal space? I'm willing to bet it's compounded when you're alone with someone in a creepy, isolated forest and they keep asking if you're afraid of them as they tower over you and use proximity and body language to corner you.

AHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!! It's like a twisted domestic violence shelter flier.

"You can't dance? It's okay. I can 'always just make you.' I discount your personal preferences on frequent occasions, and physically control you in other ways, so dancing should be a non-issue."

That's all I've got for now- goodnight! I hope you had a good laugh, but still...I mean, really Bella? *I* want to beat you up, and I am a feminist.