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Of Girls and Their Vampires, part II

 The National Domestic Violence Hotline lists on its website, http://www.ndvh.org/, several questions that can help abuse victims determine whether they are indeed involved in an abusive relationship. Let us ask some of these questions of Bella Swan.

Does your partner:

Embarrass you with put-downs?

Anger flashed in his tawny eyes. His lips pressed into a hard line, all
signs of humor gone.
"Bella, you are utterly absurd," he said, his low voice cold.
(Meyer 82)

Look at you or act in ways that scare you?

"Absolutely not!" His face turned even whiter than usual, and his eyes
were suddenly furious. I leaned back, stunned and - though I'd never
admit it to him - frightened by his reaction. He leaned back as well,
folding his arms across his chest.
(Meyer 216)

Control what you do, who you see or talk to or where you go?

He was towing me toward his car now, pulling me by my jacket. It was all I could do to keep from
falling backward. He'd probably just drag me along anyway if I did.
"Let go!" I insisted. He ignored me. I staggered along sideways across
the wet sidewalk until we reached the Volvo. Then he finally freed me 〞 I
stumbled against the passenger door. <…> He lowered the automatic window and leaned toward me across the seat.
"Get in, Bella."
I didn't answer. I was mentally calculating my chances of reaching the
truck before he could catch me. I had to admit, they weren't good.

"I'll just drag you back," he threatened, guessing my plan. (Meyer 103-104)

Stop you from seeing your friends or family members?

"I think you should eat something." Edward's voice was low, but full of
authority. He looked up at Jessica and spoke slightly louder. "Do you
mind if I drive Bella home tonight? That way you won't have to wait while
she eats."
(Meyer 166)

Make all of the decisions?

When he had me settled, he got in the driver's seat and headed back out
the long, narrow drive.
"At what point exactly are you going to tell me what's going on?" I asked
grumpily. I really hated surprises. And he knew that.
"I'm shocked that you haven't figured it out yet." He threw a mocking
smile in my direction, and my breath caught in my throat.
 (Meyer 481)

Intimidate you with guns, knives or other weapons?

He reached up with one hand and, with a deafening crack, effortlessly
ripped a two-foot-thick branch from the trunk of the spruce. He balanced
it in that hand for a moment, and then threw it with blinding speed,
shattering it against another huge tree, which shook and trembled at the
And he was in front of me again, standing two feet away, still as a stone.
"As if you could fight me off," he said gently.
I sat without moving, more frightened of him than I had ever been.
(Meyer 264)

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, you might also be in an emotionally or physically abusive relationship if your partner:

Monitors where you go, who you call and who you spend time with.

 He smiled, and then paused. "But if you don't want to be… alone
with me, I'd still rather you didn't go to Seattle by yourself. I shudder
to think of the trouble you could find in a city that size."

Punishes you by withholding affection.

He was already seated when I got to Biology, looking straight ahead. I
sat down, expecting him to turn toward me. He showed no sign that he
realized I was there.
"Hello, Edward," I said pleasantly, to show him I was going to behave
He turned his head a fraction toward me without meeting my gaze, nodded
once, and then looked the other way.
And that was the last contact I'd had with him, though he was there, a
foot away from me, every day. <…>. I was miserable.
(Meyer 70)

Humiliates you in any way.

I stiffly unlocked my stranglehold on his body and slipped to the ground,
landing on my backside.
"Oh!" I huffed as I hit the wet ground.
He stared at me incredulously, evidently not sure whether he was still
too mad to find me funny. But my bewildered expression pushed him over
the edge, and he broke into a roar of laughter.
(Meyer 364)

Scared you by driving recklessly.

"Holy crow!" I shouted. "Slow down!"
"Relax, Bella." He rolled his eyes, still not slowing.
"Are you trying to kill us?" I demanded.
"We're not going to crash."
I tried to modulate my voice. "Why are you in such a hurry?"
"I always drive like this." He turned to smile crookedly at me
. (Meyer 181)

Forced you to leave your home.

"Where are we going?" I asked.
No one answered. No one even looked at me.
"Dammit, Edward! Where are you taking me?"
"We have to get you away from here - far away - now." He didn't look
back, his eyes on the road. The speedometer read a hundred and five miles
an hour.
"Turn around! You have to take me home!" I shouted. I struggled with the
stupid harness, tearing at the straps.
"Emmett," Edward said grimly.
And Emmett secured my hands in his steely grasp.

“No! Edward! No, you can't do this."
"I have to, Bella, now please be quiet."
(Meyer 381)

“If you answered “Yes” to even one of these questions”, continue the folks at the NDVH, “you might be in an abusive relationship”. As was just illustrated, Bella Swan could answer “yes” to almost a dozen of them. Yet her relationship with Edward Cullen is positioned as nothing less than the height of romantic love, all abusive behavior explained and justified by it being to her greater good. The message that Twilight sends to young women is that in order to deserve a man in their lives they have to be utterly passive, submissive and willing to take any emotional abuse that the man decides to dish out, as long as he does not actually kill you. And message to the young men is also very simple – acting mysterious and tortured will help you to manipulate your woman. As Janice Radway wrote in her article on romance novels, “romance reading, it would seem, can function as a kind of training for the all-too-common task of reinterpreting a spouse’s unsettling actions as the signs of passion, devotion and love” (Radway, 74).

  Both Buffy and Twilight deal with the subject of relationships between vampires and mortal humans. Both use the vampire as an analogy for violent masculinity. But they cultivate very different mindsets. While Buffy is all about the need to control it in order to conform to the norms of basic decency, Twilight holds the ability to barely control the inner monster as admirable, praiseworthy, and an excuse to behave like an absolute jerk. Since both shows are aimed at teens and young adults, with Twilight audience slightly more inclined towards the female viewership, we can conclude that Twilight works hard to destroy all that Buffy worked so hard to build.

Works Cited:

Daugherty, Anne Millard, “Just a Girl: Buffy as icon.” Reading the Vampire Slayer, an Unofficial Critical Companion to Buffy and Angel. Ed. Roz Kaveney. Tauris Parke Paperbacks, London, 2002. 148-165.

Gerbner, George. “Television Violence: At a Time of Turmoil and Terror.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Sage Publications, Inc., 2003. 339-349.

Wrestling With Manhood. Dir. Sut Jhally. Media Education Foundation. 2002

Meyer, Stephenie, Twilight. New York: Little, Brown and Company, 2005.

Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Film Theory and Criticism :

Introductory Readings. Ed. Leo Braudy and Marshall Cohen. Oxford UP, 1999. 833-44.

“What is Domestic Violence?” National Domestic Violence Hotline, http://www.ndvh.org/get-educated/what-is-domestic-violence/

“Am I Being Abused?” National Domestic Violence Hotline, http://www.ndvh.org/is-this-abuse/am-i-being-abused-2/

Radway, Janice. “Women Read the Romance.” Gender, Race, and Class in Media. Ed. Gail Dines and Jean M. Humez. Sage Publications, Inc., 2003. 67-78.

Whedon, J., Berman, G., Gallin, S., Kuzui, F., & Kuzui, K. (Executive Producers) Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Burbank, CA: Warner Bros


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 12th, 2012 02:01 am (UTC)
Wow, you actually read Twilight. And watched it!

Somehow I don't think people who liked Buffy are the same ones who would watch/read and like Twilight.
Jul. 12th, 2012 02:04 am (UTC)
Yep. Just so I could write that paper, and just so I could have an educated opinion about that crap.
Jul. 13th, 2012 02:15 am (UTC)
Хм, я прочитал все четыре книги саги, и не могу сказать, что мне не понравилось.
Фильм не видел чтобы не портить себе впечатления.
Насчёт анализа...видимо все беззаветно любящие женщины классической литературы могут быть объявлены по этим критериям жертвами насилия...
Jul. 13th, 2012 12:35 pm (UTC)
Перед тобой анализ текста. С цитатами и вопросником. Возьми вопросник и попробуй его применить, например, к Маше Мироновой, Джульетте, Маргарите (Гёте или Булгаков на выбор). Приведи цитаты - только тогда твоё утверждение будет чего-то стоить.

Но в общем, да: любую героиню, беззаветно любящую героя, обращающегося с ней так, как Эдвард с Беллой, я назову жертвой морального насилия.

Edited at 2012-07-13 12:44 pm (UTC)
Jul. 12th, 2012 02:36 am (UTC)
Молодец, замечательный анализ!
Jul. 12th, 2012 12:27 pm (UTC)
Я за него "А" получил. :)
Jul. 12th, 2012 09:44 pm (UTC)
What class are you taking? Womyn's studies?
Jul. 13th, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
That was a few years ago, the class was called "Understanding Media" and was taught by a feminist marxist professor from mainland China. I just went for something that would pretty much land me an "A", and be fun to write.
Jul. 12th, 2012 08:41 am (UTC)
Ing, may we take a piece of this work for the Rising of the Moon? With a proper reference, of course.
Jul. 12th, 2012 12:26 pm (UTC)
By all means yes. I will be honored.
Jul. 12th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
Славный текст. Хорошо поймал разницу.
Jul. 13th, 2012 01:02 am (UTC)
Спасибо, рад, что понравилось.
Jul. 16th, 2012 07:37 pm (UTC)
...effortlessly ripped a two-foot-thick branch from the trunk of the spruce.

Не читал и не видел "Сумерки", но что, он действительно такой монстр? И бывают такие веткие - 60 см толщиной...
Jul. 16th, 2012 07:46 pm (UTC)
За что купил, за то продаю. :)

Они там медведей гризли ловят и убивают голыми руками, и машину на скорости останавливают ударом ладони. Красавчики!
Jul. 16th, 2012 07:50 pm (UTC)
Ясно, спасибо. Может, в оригинале описка-очепятка - ветка толщиной в два дюйма, а не в два фута.

Профессор-марксист из Китая - это интересно. Я думал, что марксисты теперь только европейские и американские остались.
Jul. 16th, 2012 07:56 pm (UTC)
Наверное, потому что ветка двухфутовой толщины - это такое деревце нехилое само по себе. Но в оригинале именно так.
Dec. 17th, 2012 07:13 pm (UTC)
Вадим, а можно на Ваши тексты про "Сумерки" дать ссылку здесь: http://feministki.livejournal.com/2448848.html#cutid1 ?

(На Ваш журнал вышла через ЧГК-сообщества.)
Dec. 17th, 2012 10:24 pm (UTC)
Разумеется можно!
Dec. 17th, 2012 10:27 pm (UTC)
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )