“Twilight” rant 5: Bella versus Rosalie

by Jasper on May 18, 2009

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

What’s up with Bella and Rosalie?

They are less than friendly in the first novel, “Twilight.” Yet by the close of “Breaking Dawn,” they’ve become the best of buds. For much of the series Bella is preoccupied with Rosalie’s beauty and seems very self-critical in comparison. We finally learn in “Eclipse” that Rosalie is completely envious of Bella’s humanity and ability to have children. By the end of the series, Bella has had a kid and become a beautiful vampire herself. Rose then acts as a kind of nursemaid/proxy mother for Renesme when Bella is recovering from her vampire transformation. The apparent dichotomy is solved.

shhh don't tell! we're a lot more alike than it looks

don't tell! we're a lot more alike than it looks

I just don’t buy this antagonism, or its resolution. Bella, despite all of her protestations to the contrary, is very conflicted about marriage and motherhood, especially early motherhood. As we learn more about Rosalie, it’s also obvious that she has a lot of “beauty issues.”

I’ve recently chatted up some of my female friends about this whole conundrum. As a guy, I’ve never quite understood this woman on woman competition in the looks department. My friends’ consensus seems to be that women do in fact compete with one-another about looks. This is then complicated by the fact that sometimes men’s and women’s views of feminine beauty do not correspond, leading to additional tension. (Personally, I think there’s a similar problem with guys, though most of us would never dare admit it.)

Then there’s that childbearing bugaboo. One of my friends tells me that it’s just sort of assumed that a woman could potentially have a child, whether she chooses to do so or not is beside the point. With this basic assumption, the idea that it is impossible for a woman to bear a child is so disturbing that it almost challenges a fundamental aspect of female identity. In this way, willingly, or unwillingly in the case of Rosalie, to give up this god-given right seems bizarre if not completely insane.

I feel like the fairy tale ending of the series glosses over some serious problems related to perceptions of beauty and biological motherhood about which both Bella and Rosalie struggle. Is it enough for Bella to “become” beautiful as a vampire, or was she always lovely, but failed to recognize this until she changed? Did Rosalie really lose something beyond her ability to reproduce when Carlisle transformed her into a vampire? Was Bella’s casual acceptance of forgoing children to marry Edward believable? Is Rosalie’s being a sort of aunt to Renesme enough to compensate her for this extreme loss that she feels? What if Bella and Edward want a second child? Steph raises the questions but seems very short on providing answers.

I am especially troubled by the section in “Breaking Dawn” where Bella discovers that she’s knocked up while honeymooning on the tropical Brazilian isle (book 1 Bella, chapter 7 Unexpected). Somehow she arrives at this explanation for her supernatural pregnant state:

Of course Rosalie could not conceive a child, because she was frozen in the state in which she passed from human to inhuman. Totally unchanging. And human women’s bodies had to change to bear children. The constant change of a monthly cycle for one thing, and then the bigger changes needed to accommodate a growing child. Rosalie’s body couldn’t change….

….And human men—well, they pretty much stayed the same from puberty to death…..Men had no such thing as child-bearing years or cycles of fertility.

Here we have this elegant “solution” which seems to conclude that a woman can either be fertile and plain or stunning and barren; just not both at the same time. Do people really believe it’s either beauty or babies? This is not the case with Edward, clearly: he looks like an angel and his stuff works. By extension, then, all men have the potential to be both beautiful and fertile simultaneously. This double standard is intolerable!

more “Twilight” rants

Related Posts with Thumbnails

Rita Tower May 22, 2009 at 1:08 pm

The double standard is completely intolerable! It is so not fair-that Edward can be fertile and pretty at the same time! Why does Bella have to loose her fertility to become a vampire when male vampires don’t have to according to the book. Women always have to give something up or sacrifice whether it’s career a skinny stomach and give up the baby or give up career and stomach to have baby! There are exceptions of course like movie stars and Madonna and well off people or super moms of course but in general sacrifices have to be made.

The book reinforces this society struggle where women are the second sex! I know the books weren’t written to be feminist in nature but a lot of young women are reading the series and it would be nice if the characters were structured with a little more female power-like Rosalie a Vampire but able to make a child even if it is another vampire child and not human!

Bella does seem preoccupied with Rosalie’s beauty feels very self-critical compared to her. Rosalie was envious of Bella’s baby making abilities as a human and thought she was a stupid girl for wanting to end her humanhood! When Bella does turn into a Vampiress, Rose gets really excited and friendly and helpful towards Renesme the baby when Bella is transforming, so she becomes sort of like a Big Sister and gets to fulfill some of her motherhood desires through Bella’s experience.

About the woman on woman competition in the looks department: it only improves men’s power and control over women to have them fight amongst themselves to look pretty to attract male attention. It takes away from their power to unite as sisters to form a support system together to empower themselves for other traits besides beauty. Since women compete with one-another about looks it takes away from the time spent they could be collaborating and learning from one another about life and survival. There probably is a similar problem with guys, though it goes un-admitted! Guys have to compete with one another all the time so they are always trying to one-up one another on the job or in male-male relationships.

The childbearing issue is strong in this society as all the celebrity people have cute little babies they take pictures of and spread across all the magazine covers and it sort of imprints this idea that to have children is a sign of wealth and health. A lot of child free women are bothered constantly about when they’re going to have a kid or why they don’t have one. Rosalie thought it was insane that someone would want to give up the divine right to have a child. That confirms the idea that women were placed here on earth somehow to marry and give birth to children and be moms.

Yes,Jasper, does finalize that fairy tale ending of the series glosses over serious problems related to perceptions of beauty and biological motherhood about which both Bella and Rosalie struggle. I think Bella was always beautiful and she didn’t need a man or a baby to recognize it. Did Rosalie really lose something beyond her ability to reproduce when Carlisle transformed her into a vampire? I say ,”Yes” she sort of became a plastic frozen Barbie Doll with super powers! Was Bella’s casual acceptance of forgoing children to marry Edward believable? Yes cause a lot of young teenage love is influence based, cause Bella wanted to be with Ed so bad she didn’t care if she lost her warm womb! Is Rosalie’s being a sort of aunt to Renesme enough to compensate her for this extreme loss that she feels? Yes, totally, she’s trying to extract and live vicariously through Bella. What if Bella and Edward want a second child? They probably can’t have one, they’d have to adopt and then deal with wanting to suck it’s blood all the time! Steph raises the questions but seems very short on providing answers. Yes the whole idea of a Male vampire stud seems to inspire disbelief!

Maybe Stephanie’s next novel will be a little more progressive towards women’s liberation!

And human men—well, they pretty much stayed the same from puberty to death…..Men had no such thing as child-bearing years or cycles of fertility.
(SO NOT FAIR COMING FROM A WOMAN!)

Here we have this elegant “solution” which seems to conclude that a woman can either be fertile and plain or stunning and barren; just not both at the same time. (Yah you have to give up one or the other I guess unless you’re Madonna!)

Do people really believe it’s either beauty or babies? ( YES THEY DO!) It’s either one or the other for us Middle Class people!

This is not the case with Edward, clearly: he looks like an angel and his stuff works. By extension, then, all men have the potential to be both beautiful and fertile simultaneously. (Yah, look at George BUrns and Michael Dougless-ancient but sired childrenn anyhow!

This double standard is intolerable!(COMPLETELY! It’s so unfair!) I guess if you are a woman you have to be extra strong or pick on way or the other beauty of motherhood or both and be stressed out unless of course you are Madonna or Gweneth Paltrow!

Jasper May 22, 2009 at 5:45 pm

Rita

Thanks for your inspired and passionate comments. I think that you’ve hit the nail on the head here. I’ve thought for some time as exciting as the “Twilight” series is, and I truly love it, it doesn’t really portray relationships between the genders in a particularly modern or enlightened way. I’ve been thinking about Leah and her plight, for example. She’s a woman that gets really trashed by the story but is simply abandoned by Stephenie Meyer at the end of “Breaking Dawn” to fend for herself in a miserable existence without much hope of reprieve. Also the series really glamorizes men and male relationships over women, I think. Look at how wonderful Edward is always described or Carlisle, for example. Can they really be that…good?

Perhaps part of the problem with it is the whole romance genre itself. As a writing style it does tend to reinforce the status quo. The beautiful damsel will always find her charming prince after a lot of trouble. This fantasy is what makes these stories so wonderful. But this ain’t reality.

It seems that there’s a lot more “Twilight” rant left.

Deby Wozniak May 23, 2009 at 2:28 am

Dude, first of all…it’s a fucking series of books! It’s not real! Rita honey, get over it! Rosalie was raised in a time, where yes, women were supposed to get married and reproduce. That’s all she wanted to do (it was the early 1900’s for crying out loud. Hell, some chicks still want the same thing today). She thought that her life was going to be perfect…rich, marrying the perfect rich man, having a family. Instead, raped and left for dead. She was pissed because she knew she could never have that dream anymore. That’s why she hated Bella so much.

Secondly, HELLO!!!! Rosalie was not acting as Bella’s “Big Sister.” That bitch wanted Bella dead to keep the baby herself! Dream come true for Rosalie.

Another thing, you can’t tell me that you don’t look at a woman and make a judgment on her looks. Seriously. All different type of women have husbands, wives, lovers, and, oh yeah…kids. Bella is insecure, that is the only reason why she keeps commenting on Rosalie’s beauty.

Also, the book states that the male Vampires don’t actually have sex with women. They kill them first. The entire last book was about the fact that Edward could actually produce. No one else new except that one dude who Alice found at the end.

I’m a Wozniak, so I’m hot, own a home, work hard, and don’t have kids. Don’t even want them. I believe in women’s liberation, but Steph, she believes in how much money she’s making. If you’re that against it, don’t read the books or watch the movies (I would also suggest no General Hospital or Guiding Light for you).

One last thing…Madonna’s a bitch!

Rita Tower May 23, 2009 at 2:30 pm

Madonna isn’t a bitch. You are just judging her, and yes I look at other women and get jealous and bitchy. I was conditioned to do that since I was little. Also I was conditioned to like pink,baby dolls and shopping but my message is more about women banding together instead of putting a fork between us to get male attention. If we spent less time judging each others beauty maybe we could get more power so we didn’t feel like these petty things such as beauty were all of our value. We are so much more than that.

You say: women were supposed to get married and reproduce. That’s all she wanted to do (it was the early 1900’s for crying out loud. Hell, some chicks still want the same thing today). She thought that her life was going to be perfect…rich, marrying the perfect rich man, having a family. Instead, raped and left for dead. She was pissed because she knew she could never have that dream anymore. That’s why she hated Bella so much.

You say:That bitch wanted Bella dead to keep the baby herself! Dream come true for Rosalie.

I say: That is even more a demonstration of competition between women, let the other one die so one can have the other’s treats like her baby!

I know the books are a series and they are very good to read, and I’m not knocking them but there’s some deeper analysis that could be done to flush out womens roles and mens roles for that matter inside the stories. I think that being that the audience is a young one the writer could use that to her advantage to plant new seeds in readers minds about female power and sway more away from the beauty and competition that already plagues women today.

I love Madonna even though some people say she’s a bitch, maybe they say that cause they can’t deal with the fact she does and says what she wants and doesn’t care what people think!

Thanks for your comment it was nice to relate with you.

Silvia May 24, 2009 at 1:22 pm

I think Stephenie Meyer mentions something on her website that she is thinking about another book from Leah’s point of view. That point of view of interesting but I don’t think it would be as successful. The main complaint about Breaking Dawn is that there is not enough Bella and Edward, especially after she is changed because of all the drama.

I thought it ended a little too picture perfect, I don’t think the child thing was necessary. It would have been more interesting without it but I guess there wouldn’t be such a big book otherwise. I hope SM writes the book from Edward’s perspective. It would be more interesting to see it through his eyes as he is able to read minds and he is older (historically)

Jasper May 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Thanks for your comments Silvia. Have you read the draft for “Midnight Sun,” the re-write of “Twilight” from Edward’s perspective? It’s on SM’s official web site for free. Like I wrote in the first “Twilight”rant, I don’t think that it’s that successful because you don’t have the element of surprise. You should look the manuscript over yourself sometime.

Deby Wozniak June 3, 2009 at 4:18 am

Rita

Yeah, I have made a judgment of Madonna. I used to love her , then she had an interview in the early 2000’s and she said that being a homosexual was a disease…yeah, she became a bitch!

My friend also used to work at a clothing store in LA. She came into shop, threw clothes all over the floor, cut in line because she thought she was so cool, and when my friend told her to get in line. She responded “Don’t you know who I am?” He didn’t give a fuck, told her to fuck off and wait in line. Of course, she didn’t, threw her stuff down and threatened to fire him. He actually got a promotion after that.

Sorry you had to grow up liking pink and playing with baby dolls and shopping. You say “I was conditioned to do that since I was little… but my message is more about women banding together instead of putting a fork between us to get male attention. If we spent less time judging each others beauty maybe we could get more power so we didn’t feel like these petty things such as beauty were all of our value. We are so much more than that”.

I hate to tell you, but everyone judges. You make a decision about a person within the first 15 seconds you meet them. It’s how you act after that. Maybe we live in different places, grew up in different times and different lifestyles, but it sounds like to me, you judge way more then most. You can’t tell me that you look at someone and don’t make an immediate observation/opinion of them. It’s how you react to that first observation of them that matters. That’s where the value comes in. I live in SD, so I see a lot of beauty. I meet beautiful people, people I don’t think are considered up to par, and many others. I do run that judgment threw my mind, but take a step back…and see what type of person they really are. Sounds like you have more “beauty” issues than most.

The books, however, they are all about beauty, strength, power, and yes…sexism! Rosalie was the Barbie Doll for so long, but Bella not only provided the family with something that Rosalie couldn’t/longed for, but also became the center of attention and even more gorgeous then she already was.

Seriously, next time you walk down the street and check out a woman or man…think about what crosses your mind. You are going to have a first impression and judge. Then, stop and talk to the person. See how who they really are…you put the fork there not us.

Rita Tower June 3, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Wow…you seem really angry that I mentioned women could really benefit from helping each other out rather than playing the who’s prettier game! You are right that people do judge in the first fifteen seconds but of course there is so much more as time marches on. Sometimes we mis-judge people.

I still think Madonna is cool, but I didn’t know she said that about homosexuals in the early 2000’s; that is very mean if she did in fact state that. The story about the clothing store is sad, but I speak of Madonna in her work what she has given to society as a whole through her image and songs, and of course she’s human and it’s probably hard to be humble when you are her, I mean she’s a total DIVA!
Anyhow, don’t be offended by me I am just trying to help get the message out there that women can be friends and empower each other and try to make each others lives better. If they need to be better, some people are just fine with the status quo.

Deby Wozniak June 4, 2009 at 3:26 am

First of all, it’s hard to offend me. Secondly, I’m not angry that you mentioned women could really benefit from helping each other out. I totally agree. I just feel sad that it seems that you grew up in a position where you think that they don’t. I don’t have a lot of girlfriends, but when it comes down to it, the few I do, I help them out and they help me. I guess I surround myself around girls that don’t play the “pretty game”. They empower me, and I hope I do the same for them. If you read Twilight, Bella does the same for her high school friends.

Of course, there are the girls out there that do play that game, but you have to remember, they are only doing it because they are insecure. Don’t be mad at these girls, they are just doing what they know how to do. There is a lot of pressure out there on women.

Maybe you should think about hanging out with a different kind of crowd, teach yourself a different mindset, or just start hanging out at different places.

In addition, I learned a long time ago…what’s pretty for some is not necessarily pretty to others.

Yeah, I still listen to Madonna, but after her comment…I have no respect for her.

I think I am pretty much done on this subject. Thanks for your letting me into your thoughts and ideas.

deby

Rita Tower June 4, 2009 at 12:58 pm

Yah I did grow up in a situation where women were’nt really supportive so you have enlightened me to examine that a little further; thus, it may be the reason I am so passionate about attempting to foster womens collaberations. It’s awsome that you have friends that empower you we could all use some of that!
I agree there’s a lot of pressure on women out there and if we see girls that are insecure we could try and plant the seed of togetherness if the situation allows.
I don’t have a bad crowd of friends….as you pondered…. just a messed up upbringing which I am attempting to examine and heal. I will not stop my mindset on empowering women. Thanks for your thoughts and ideas as well and may the force be with you!!!!
Have a great day,
Rita

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: