The Gender Divide

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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby Jacobs-girl » Fri Aug 26, 2011 6:48 am

smitten_by_twilight wrote:No one has mentioned the pregnancy and birth yet! I had a dual reaction to this. First, as a woman, I find it a little trite to be reading about a pregnancy resulting from a honeymoon night, and especially one so difficult and bloody and life-threatening ... I mean, that's been done to death, people. Some people do have easy pregnancies and deliveries ... lots, or the species would have died off. However, it is pretty logical that a hybrid pregnancy would be physically challenging. It was "realistically" done, with the frequent urination and the borrowed sweatshirt and everything.


Sorry, I meant to return here to write some more in response to your other questions but I've been so busy recently.

Does it [our gender] impact our perceptions of how the pregnancy and birth were written?


If I go back to the first time I read BD, specifically the pregnancy and birth scenes, I found it slightly irritating because the whole blood and gore scene just seemed gratuitous to me. However, I'll try to bear in mind that it is not an ordinary pregnancy.

The main issue I have with this is that SM was happy to write such a graphic birth scene and yet she steered well away from any honeymoon love-making scene. I'm not a fan of gratuitously graphic sex scenes in books but I do think that when bedroom scenes are well-written and tastefully portrayed, they're okay. I would have preferred that instead of the whole birth scene and I can't really understand SM's viewpoints as a writer in terms of this. Sure, this series of books has a wide audience and BD was always going to be read by a younger audience as well as a more mature readership, but I don't see that there is much difference (in terms of age rating) between a tastefully written bedroom scene and the birth scene. If SM was trying to keep the book suitable for younger readers, avoiding sex scenes completely but then writing a graphic birth scene doesn't make sense to me.

Back to the gender issue, I really don't know if my female gender particularly impacts my perceptions of these scenes but I have to say I agree with you: certain parts of it are just too cliched. I think I am the same as you though; I have conflicted thoughts about this because of my points above and also because I guess the whole dangerous pregnancy thing does serve a plot point in that Bella is facing the ultimate challenge from the world to which she was first introduced in Twilight.

Hmm, I'm not a fan of the birth scene though and I really hope they don't over-hype it in the movie.
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Sat Aug 27, 2011 1:09 am

Chernaudi, I think that your point about E+B both not fitting into their worlds well, before meeting each other, is valid. I do think that Edward's problems were of his own making and largely within his own head. And what I mean by that is, he was well accepted by other vampires generally, as far as we know (see the draft-that-must-not-be-named); he had a strong attachment to his family; he was very good at being a vampire, despite his choice to abstain from human blood. But he was desperately unhappy with being a vampire and not content to seek, shall we say, romantic companionship that was not a lifelong bond. Also, hearing everybody else must be maddening, and naturally he had to distance himself sometimes. I do understand his choices; I just think he fit into his world a lot better. Sorry if it seems like I went off on you a bit! I did not mean to make that so long.

Jacobs-girl, I tend to agree with you about your point about Stephenie making this really graphic, violent birth scene, and being so coy about sex scenes. This is a media bias that I've noticed since I was in my early teens, and even now as a parent, it doesn't make logical sense. (I think that it is an emotional reaction; as parents we are squeamish about showing or watching with our children sex scenes ... what if they ask questions? What if they realize why the bedroom door is locked in the middle of the day?) I think that one of the most frustratingly underdeveloped lines in literature is from a BD sex scene; Bella's "My skin was so sensitive to his touch, too." I think the movie may be better balanced between the two, as we know that we have that headboard scene, and that Kristen was disappointed about not vomiting blood.
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby Chernaudi » Sat Aug 27, 2011 4:10 pm

This is a point of discussion in the "worried about BD" thread, the fact that we have no love scene and a bloody gory birth scene in the novel. And it's been theorized that it's easier to have a visual for a love scene than to write it, and it's easier to write a blood and gore scene than to have a visual for it.

And Edward not being happy as a vampire goes with the self esteem issue--he wanted human interaction, as opposed to Carlisle hoping that him and Rosalie would hit it off--after all, Rosalie wasn't too overjoyed about being a vampire though no real choice of her own, either.

It's sort of like the Twilight film tagline: If you can live forever, what do you live for?
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby ringswraith » Tue Aug 30, 2011 7:29 pm

Regarding the sex scene and the gory birth: I think this is also something regional. I have a good friend in Europe and after making comparisons between cultures for oh- over ten years now- we've come to the conclusion that North America is shy about sex but not about gore, while it's the other way around in Europe.

Think about it for a second. Sex in movies tends to be either a) downplayed or b) rated more strongly than gore. It even bleeds over into other forms of entertainment: put out a videogame that lets you "have sex" and it's an instant media supernova. Put out one that has a lot of gore and you don't quite get the same reaction.
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Sat Sep 03, 2011 3:05 am

ringswraith wrote:Regarding the sex scene and the gory birth: I think this is also something regional. I have a good friend in Europe and after making comparisons between cultures for oh- over ten years now- we've come to the conclusion that North America is shy about sex but not about gore, while it's the other way around in Europe.


Abso-effing-lutely. Think commericials that seem lewd in the US, porn stars running for parliaments, and Lego being reluctant to make toys that seem violent - Harry Potter is apparently quite a leap for them, and there is another huge toy manufacturer (name escaping me) that barely sells in the US except among certain parental circles, because they are so normal, no superheroes or actiony characters. It's like we can't restrain both at once - libido forces itself out, if not sexually than violently. Balance would be best, but I think if you have to err, controlling violence is more sensible. Trying to outgrow my native American prudery ....

Anyhoo. So, writing for youth, gory birth scene to discourage sex, and then few actual sex scenes so that we avoid explaining the mechanics. And violent assault and dismemberment scenes. Got it. Maybe :?
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby Jacobs-girl » Sat Sep 03, 2011 5:46 am

smitten_by_twilight wrote:
ringswraith wrote:Regarding the sex scene and the gory birth: I think this is also something regional. I have a good friend in Europe and after making comparisons between cultures for oh- over ten years now- we've come to the conclusion that North America is shy about sex but not about gore, while it's the other way around in Europe.


Abso-effing-lutely. Think commericials that seem lewd in the US, porn stars running for parliaments, and Lego being reluctant to make toys that seem violent - Harry Potter is apparently quite a leap for them, and there is another huge toy manufacturer (name escaping me) that barely sells in the US except among certain parental circles, because they are so normal, no superheroes or actiony characters. It's like we can't restrain both at once - libido forces itself out, if not sexually than violently. Balance would be best, but I think if you have to err, controlling violence is more sensible. Trying to outgrow my native American prudery ....


I think you've both got great points but I will just say that, in England especially, there is a certain mindset of "no sex please, we're British". This phrase stems from a 1971 comedy stage play but it is frequently used in a humorous way in popular culture to refer to British attitudes towards sex. I'm sure many of you have heard the stereotype of "the reserved English" and, to a certain extent, this is true. Obviously I'm talking in general terms here but I don't think the Brits and the Americans have a huge amount of difference in social attitudes towards sex. There are some differences of course but the British are often awkward and prudish about it too.

Also, "porn stars running for parliament"? Yes, a certain porn film-maker did attempt to become a Member of Parliament but it is extremely unlikely that they would actually be elected into Parliament (they weren't elected. No surprises there). IMO, I don't think that example can be used to represent British sexual attitudes as it really was a one-off occasion and that kind of thing doesn't frequently happen!

smitten_by_twilight wrote: So, writing for youth, gory birth scene to discourage sex
[/quote]

When I read BD for the first time, I wondered whether the birth scene has a particular slant in the abstinence direction, such as a message for young readers: "if you have sex, you'll get pregnant and nearly die". I know that Stephenie Meyer has said that she doesn't let her own personal beliefs (religious, moral, etc) encroach upon her writing but even so, I think there is a strong element of conservative morals in the saga. For example, Edward's refusal to have sex until after they are married on the grounds that Bella is too humanly fragile seems to me to have more to do with a 'no pre-marital sex' message than Bella's humanness. When they are on Isle Esme, that issue doesn't come into it at all, which makes me think that there is a certain moral message behind aspects of the saga.
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Tue Sep 06, 2011 2:25 am

Jacobs-girl wrote:I don't think the Brits and the Americans have a huge amount of difference in social attitudes towards sex. There are some differences of course but the British are often awkward and prudish about it too.


Yes, I think of this sexual reserve as one of the things that we Americans inherited/modified hugely from the Brits - have not traveled enough to say for certain the ways in which we differ on these points. But yes, we seem more similar to each other on this point than to continental Europe.

Jacobs-girl wrote:Also, "porn stars running for parliament"? Yes, a certain porn film-maker did attempt to become a Member of Parliament but it is extremely unlikely that they would actually be elected into Parliament (they weren't elected. No surprises there). IMO, I don't think that example can be used to represent British sexual attitudes as it really was a one-off occasion and that kind of thing doesn't frequently happen!


I was actually thinking of an Italian porn star running for member of parliament - or whatever the local term, which was why I didn't capitalize it - several years ago. I doubt that it is typical for Italy either, and I think we have since had something similar happen somewhere in the States, but not sure.

Jacobs-girl wrote:which makes me think that there is a certain moral message behind aspects of the saga.


HUGE moral message. Do you have the Church of Latter-Day Saints in the UK? Really different, and whole different discussion. I have had a lot of contact with Mormon friends as I live in the Southwest - very nice people, not superior, not in your face about religion and morality, but very strict and clear moral code that most do an excellent job of abiding by. That is Stephenie's guiding light in many ways, as being a practicing member of the Church naturally entails trying to live its code.

And since this is the Gender Divide thread, and the Mormons have been known to practice polygamy ... this is, I think, a relatively infrequent practice among Mormons, and most do not display marked gender discrimination. Others would have to address any specifc gender-related religious issues that might have worked their way in ... although now that I write, I see how another way to view the Cullens all in one house would be as a group of couples in a collective ... not exactly polygamous (or polygynous) as far as we know ... hm.

If I have seemed scattered or meandering, I hope it was in an interesting direction.
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby Jacobs-girl » Sat Sep 10, 2011 6:45 am

Sorry for taking so long to get back to this thread. This week has been so hectic! But I am really enjoying this discussion. :)

smitten_by_twilight wrote:I was actually thinking of an Italian porn star running for member of parliament - or whatever the local term, which was why I didn't capitalize it - several years ago. I doubt that it is typical for Italy either, and I think we have since had something similar happen somewhere in the States, but not sure.


I somehow assumed you meant England. Sorry, I was typing in haste!

smitten_by_twilight wrote:HUGE moral message. Do you have the Church of Latter-Day Saints in the UK? Really different, and whole different discussion. I have had a lot of contact with Mormon friends as I live in the Southwest - very nice people, not superior, not in your face about religion and morality, but very strict and clear moral code that most do an excellent job of abiding by. That is Stephenie's guiding light in many ways, as being a practicing member of the Church naturally entails trying to live its code.

And since this is the Gender Divide thread, and the Mormons have been known to practice polygamy ... this is, I think, a relatively infrequent practice among Mormons, and most do not display marked gender discrimination. Others would have to address any specifc gender-related religious issues that might have worked their way in ... although now that I write, I see how another way to view the Cullens all in one house would be as a group of couples in a collective ... not exactly polygamous (or polygynous) as far as we know ... hm.


Yes, there is a Mormon population in the UK. However, there is a tendency to associate Mormons with polygamy (as well as being anti-feminist) but if I am correct, they do not still practice polygamy?

I, too, have wondered about Mormon ideas, messages and beliefs in the Twilight saga.

The gender divide question seems to be a prevalent issue among people who oppose or dislike Twilight because of its apparent moral message, for example, I once read an article which criticized Twilight as "anti-feminist Mormon propaganda" and bemoaned Bella's "Mary Sue" type character, running around making dinner for her dad and cleaning the house, always obeying the male of the species.

However, I disagree with this kind of criticism because a) Mormons believe that men and women are created equal and b) Bella's actions, although sometimes quite passive, do not appear at odds with feminism. Sure, she cooks for her dad and cleans the house but I'm willing to bet that if she was doing exactly the same for her mom, feminist readings of Twilight would not criticize her actions.

Nevertheless, as a woman who firmly believes in equality for women and men, I am sometimes concerned about Bella's extreme dependence on Edward and Jacob because when I first read Twilight, I confess that I had conflicted thoughts about Bella. I wanted her to learn independence and to find that she can stand on her own two feet. I still do think that Bella is overly obsessive about Edward at times and that it is unhealthy for any relationship to be so obsessive, but lots of teenage girls go through similar experiences (okay, minus the vampires and shapeshifters, lol!) and suffer problems with self-esteem which can affect experiences of relationships. Having thought about it over the past few months, I think that it has more to do with Bella's lack of self-esteem than any anti-feminist, anti-empowered women 'message'.
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby Chernaudi » Sat Sep 10, 2011 5:55 pm

And it must be said that Edward and Jacob (!) were equally obsessed at times with Bella, with Edward wanting to die because he believed that she drowned in New Moon and Jacob's persistence with trying to get Bella to be his GF.

Also, if I remember correctly, wasn't Bella sort of like a mother to her own mother?! She seemed to be the parent to Renee and Charlie in equal measure.

So I don't buy the anti-feminist argument, because Bella makes her own choices, and Edward and Jacob seemed to be equally as needy/clingy in regards to her as she was to them. Not to mention being the parent to her parents a lot of the time.
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Re: The Gender Divide

Postby smitten_by_twilight » Mon Sep 12, 2011 4:19 am

Jacobs-girl wrote:
smitten_by_twilight wrote:I was actually thinking of an Italian porn star running for member of parliament - or whatever the local term, which was why I didn't capitalize it - several years ago. I doubt that it is typical for Italy either, and I think we have since had something similar happen somewhere in the States, but not sure.

I somehow assumed you meant England. Sorry, I was typing in haste!


No problem!

Jacobs-girl wrote:Yes, there is a Mormon population in the UK. However, there is a tendency to associate Mormons with polygamy (as well as being anti-feminist) but if I am correct, they do not still practice polygamy?


Ahhh ... some Mormons practice polygamy. Actually there was recently a well-publicized (nationally?) manhunt and arrest of a Mormon man practicing, among other things, polygamy ... I'm not sure of all the charges but I'm pretty sure it went well beyond just polygamy. The arrest was in Arizona, I think sometime this past year, if you want to search it. I don't know how far official approval of such actions extends - I suspect that church officials recommend adherence to the local laws. I think there was recently a reality show or episode about a polygamous family. *squirms in discomfort* Not something that makes me thrilled to be from the Southwest.

Chernaudi wrote:And it must be said that Edward and Jacob (!) were equally obsessed at times with Bella, with Edward wanting to die because he believed that she drowned in New Moon and Jacob's persistence with trying to get Bella to be his GF.

Also, if I remember correctly, wasn't Bella sort of like a mother to her own mother?! She seemed to be the parent to Renee and Charlie in equal measure.

So I don't buy the anti-feminist argument, because Bella makes her own choices, and Edward and Jacob seemed to be equally as needy/clingy in regards to her as she was to them. Not to mention being the parent to her parents a lot of the time.


:clap: :clap: :clap: Thank you, Chernaudi, that's just why a male POV is useful sometimes. It's very easy to get wrapped up in an "oh my poor oppressed gender" mode (No, Jacobs-girl didn't do it, but sometimes I feel like feminists do!), and forget about the other side of the story. Edward is more obsessed than Bella, and Jacob is pretty lovelorn himself. I also got the impression that Bella learned to cook and take care of the house when she lived with her mother. So yes, I never bought the anti-feminist argument.
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