Friday, December 16, 2011

The Twilight Saga's Bella Swan: Poster Mom for Natural Birth

I have a confession.  I'm a big fan of all the cute little pics that have not-so-recently popped up all over Facebook.  You know, stuff like this:

This is a big reason I get on Facebook.  To chill out and laugh at frivolous stuff.

One of the latest popular themes is twi-hating.  Pithy pictures making fun of the Twilight Saga and it's cast of sparkling and shedding characters have taken over my news feed.  I commented on a few; in one I actually promised I wouldn't go all crazy and write a blog dedicated to Twilight.


I don’t know why I find myself filled with a desire to defend these adequate, at best, movies (and books).  Nothing about me screams twi-hard.  I am not a 14 year old girl.  I am not Stephanie Meyer’s bff.  I do not have a collectors edition, sparkly-skinned Edward Cullen doll in the back of my closet.  (Ahem.)

Maybe it’s because I always feel the need to defend those being bullied.  Maybe it’s because I read these books as I watched my mom wither away of cancer; the light, sometimes frivolous Twilight stories were a much needed break for my overworked and emotionally exhausted brain, and in turn it holds some strange, sentimental place in my heart.

It started out as me making fun of other people making fun of Twilight.  Take this for example:

Yes, thank goodness for all the scholarly people of the world who illuminate us on the difference between serious, real-life vampires and silly, made-up, sparkly ones.

Along the same lines....

Um, no Mr. mean, ugly, scary man, you are definitely not sparkling.  You also don't look like someone teenage girls want to mastu... er, want to dream about, either.  In other words, trying to put Twilight into the horror genre is like trying to book The Backstreet Boys for Ozzfest.  If you're looking for sexy, scary vampires, go straight to Netflix and make a left at The Lost Boys.

Then we move along to the many Harry Potter-themed insults.   Things like:

Now, I will freely admit that I haven't seen or read a single Harry Potter anything.  Nothing personal against wizards, I just haven't gotten around to it.  But I do live on planet Earth - coincidentally the same place all the twi-haters live - so let me give this a go.

There's this group of adults who are slightly obsessed with a set of books and movies, generally aimed at an age group much younger, that are all about a bunch of fantasy characters that could never actually exist in real life.  These people like to make fun of this other group of people who are slightly obsessed with a set of books and movies, generally aimed at an age group much younger, that are all about a bunch of fantasy characters that could never actually exist in real life.  I believe an introduction is in order - dungeon... meet dragon.  This may be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

But then things got a little more serious...

People started comparing Twilight to Star Wars.


To Star Wars.

Has the world gone insane? Has serious film study been banned from colleges world wide? Has all common sense been replaced with bantha fodder?  Trying to call it a horror movie is one thing, but come on now.  Twilight? A science fiction movie?

You don't put the cast of Glee into a room with Hannibal Lector.  And you certainly don't try to put a teeny bop, romance saga anywhere in the same vicinity as one of the best science fiction movies ever made, let alone in the same genre! Pst... Star Wars fans, you are kind of making fun of yourselves by trying to.

And then I saw about a hundred variations of this one:

Now, I'm not usually one to take something frivolous and strip it of all that is funny.  But then I saw George Takei (of all people) post this and he said, "Parents, there are two opposing messages your daughters are receiving from Hollywood sci-fi. Which would you rather them hear?" 

Well, George.... since you asked and all.....

This is what has been bugging me the most with all the twi-hating.  People aren’t picking apart the plot, scene decoration, make-up, or editing (I'd be right with them there).  People are picking on Bella.  What a horrible excuse for a female lead character, she is.  What a horrible excuse for a role model.

Well, I have news for you... Bella is much stronger than Mr. Takei and the twi-haters give her credit for. Bella Swan is not the weak, stupid, pathetic little fawn she has been made out to be.  Bella Swan is, in fact, a poster mom for Natural Birth. Now stick with me here, I’ll lay it out for you: 

1.  Bella makes her own informed choice.

The minute Bella and Edward discover she is pregnant, Edward’s thoughts turn to abortion.  Not only that, but almost every other person close to Bella tries to talk her into terminating the pregnancy as well.  Now I’m certainly not trying to turn this into some kind of abortion debate, especially considering my prochoice stance.  But it is interesting to note that Bella is mentally and emotionally strong enough to thwart the opinions of all those around her, and make up her own mind about what to do concerning her body and her fetus.  She listens to all the information given to her, and then makes her own decision.  Hmmmm, sounds a little like informed consent to me. 

2.  Bella gets support and acquires a doula.

Bella finds herself in a position many young women know all too well: young, without her parents, and unexpectedly pregnant.  Does she curl up into a ball and ignore it? Does she try to hide it from everyone around her, give birth in a bathroom stall, and then throw the child in the trash (a storyline I've seen multiple times in tv and movies)? No, she makes an informed choice, and then immediately seeks out support.

Rosalie Cullen, Bella's sister-in-law, plays the text-book role of doula during Bella's pregnancy and birth.  She supports her decisions, gives her advice and encouragement, and steps in when her client is being ganged up on by friends, family, and care-givers. Yeah, she has to be tackled by a werewolf during the birth because she tries to kill her client, but come on.... She is a vampire.  And even doulas get hungry. 

3.  Bella chooses a homebirth.

True, giving birth to a half human/half vampire baby by emergency c-section that must be performed by super-strong vampire teeth is probably one of those overly-detailed birth plans that hospitals frown upon, but I'm still giving Bella props for choosing the more natural route.  We homebirthers need all the numbers we can get.

4. Bella risks her own life for the life of her unborn child.

This is another example that many women can relate to.  Pregnancy for many mothers is a dangerous endeavor.  But if high blood pressure, gestational diabetes, uterine tearing, and pre-eclampsia are scary, it's nothing compared to a vampire child that is literally sucking the life out of you from the inside out.  Right? 

5. Bella survives the dreaded baby-name ridicule.

Her vampire husband and in-laws don't support her.  Her werewolf best friend is disgusted by her.  Her doula is trying to bite her.  Her unborn child is literally consuming her from the inside out.  And through all of it, she still has the creative gumption to come up with 'Renesme.'  Go girl. 

So what was I getting at anyway?

Bella is human.  (Er.... was human.) Sometimes she's happy and sometimes she's sad.  Sometimes she stumbles, and sometimes she falls.  She gets depressed and curls up in a little ball.  She flies halfway around the world to save someone she loves.  Sometimes she needs to be rescued.  Sometimes she finds the strength to stand up to a bunch of invincible vampires and werewolves, all for the love of a tiny, helpless little ball of half human/half vampire joy.  She survives what is probably the most traumatic c-section ever caught on film.

Bella is a mother.  And from the description above, she reminds me of quite a few mothers I know and admire.

So to answer your question, Mr. Takei, I really hope my two daughters aren't so hard up for role models that they have to peruse teen fantasy/romance (or what you would call "sci-fi") books and movies for characters to emulate.  But if they do find themselves making a comparison, I think they could do a lot worse than Bella Swan. 


This is not me.

***This post was originally written under my previous blog name, Zen and the Art of Cloth Diaper Maintenance.***
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