Yesterday I saw this article from The Atlantic float by in my Twitter stream and had to click. Why Do So Many Grown-Ups Hate Bella? So I’m reading and reading and agreeing and then I get to this part:
Comparing Twilight and The Hunger Games, it’s easy to see why second-wave feminists, and adults in general, find a girly teen so much less attractive than a tomboyish one. Bella is, as the critics say, passive, hapless, and an utter mess. Not only is she physically inept, but she has no particular talents or even distinguishing characteristics other than her desperation for romance. Katniss sees everyone she loves die one by one and still manages to fight on. Bella’s boyfriend dumps her and she spends most of an entire book in a deep, infuriating depression. She wants wants WANTS sex, rides motorcycles and jumps off cliffs maybe for the adrenaline rush but also maybe just because the boy she’s interested in jumps off cliffs and rides motorcycles. She gets knocked up and refuses to abort. She won’t go to college. And she decides to become one of the living dead. She’s emotional, out-of-control, mopey, makes horrible decisions, and is generally the nightmare troubled teen: a girly girl who rides her aimlessness and hormones straight to damnation.
I’m sorry, hold the phone, what the EFF? At what point ANYWHERE has being “girly” automatically meant passive, inept, clumsy, and ruled entirely by emotion? Why is Bella being held up as an example of being “girly”? I would not in any way characterize her as GIRLY other than the fact that she is, technically, a girl.
If this is what society in general considers “feminine” no WONDER there is all this woman-hate going on.
Feminine does not mean WEAK. It may mean a different expression of strength than the outright, in your face variety, but I challenge ANY MAN to live through some of the shit women have been forced to put up with for centuries.
Feminine does not automatically mean PASSIVE. Sure, that was the role women were forced into for centuries, but that doesn’t mean that they ARE, in fact, passive. It meant they had to be more subtle in their rebellion and learn how to get what they want through less direct means (show me a powerful man, and I’ll show you the strong woman who helped get him there).
Feminine does not mean clumsy. If anything, clumsy is the anti feminine. Feminine is supposed to be graceful and unhurried, like a ballerina (at least that’s the impression I’ve always had).
Feminine does not mean inept. Ineptitude is not in any way, shape, or form, limited to those with XX chromosomes. There are morons galore in both genders.
And this bullshit about women being entirely ruled by emotion is just another flavor of the anti-woman, anti-romance sentiment that is so prevalent in our society. HAVING and ACKNOWLEDGING emotion does not make you weak and it does not make you stupid. And it’s not a symptom of running around with one’s hormones running amok. Does anybody criticize men for running around thinking about sex like 30,000 times a day? Excuse me, how much more PRODUCTIVE would they be without being ruled by that instinct?
And wanting romance and love and a relationship is not a weakness. It takes freaking courage and STRENGTH to have a successful relationship.
Bella is not girly.
What I think of as girly or feminine is someone who is versed in social graces, who knows how to cut someone off at the knees with a smile and a bless-your-heart (something we excel at here in the south), who values family and relationships, understands the power of beauty and knows how to use it (for better or worse), and possibly who has an unhealthy love of pastels and shoes.
All my gripes with Bella have NOTHING to do with any of her alleged femininity. I hate her as a character because she takes no action–she’s wholly passive, lets men dictate and run her life, and she’s just flat WEAK. She takes no responsibility for her own life. Plus she’s a whiner. I cannot abide a whiner.
These are not the characteristics of WOMEN. These are the characteristics of weak, annoying, people who are bad examples for readers everywhere. There’s no gender attached to that.