When last I got so disgusted with this tripe that I had to take, like, a two-and-a-half-month break from it, Edward was being an abusive douchebag, Bella had no personality and did not seem like she was attracted to him at all, and incidentally she was also casually ablist
. Shall we see if anything changes in chapter 5? (No, I don't think it will either, but I have to get through this shit: I said I would.)
In the beginning of chapter 5, Bella is so distracted by Edward's bullshit PUA-like I-like-you-I-hate-you routine that she doesn't realize she's late to class. Then she feels guilty about turning down the lesser, not-Edward boys for the dance and seems relieved that they have "forgiven" her.
I tell you, these books are toxic shit. Not wanting to date someone: not actually a transgression that requires forgiveness. Dating every boy who shows interest in her: not actually the duty of any girl. This kind of crap is the bread and butter of the rape culture. It denies girls' and women's human right to decide for themselves with whom they will become romantically involved. The feeling that we did something wrong
when we didn't agree to date whatever unappealing boy very easily
turns into our agreement to date boys we don't want to because we would feel bad refusing. And everyone and everything around us tells us this is right and just: oh, he's such a nice guy
, why don't you like him, you're making a mistake, he'd treat you like gold, you should give him a chance, maybe you'd come to be attracted to him later, blah blah blah. And the men reinforce this with their stubborn belief that they are entitled to argue with us
when we say we're not interested or that it's not working out and we want to break up. Because if my reasons for not wanting to be with you are not good enough for you, you can convince me to do what you want.
Anyway, these other characters don't even have any reason to be that upset that Bella turned them down, considering she made enough excuses that each one kind of thinks she still wants to date him, it's just that she had other plans that day.
Now, I am not about
to blame and shame a female character for "leading guys on" or whatever.
But this portrayal is bad, bad news, because it just plays into the stereotype of women as wishy-washy and being unable to say what we mean and/or give anyone a clear signal about whether we're interested or not, like, "oh I don't want to go to the dance I am doing other shit that day" is Hot Girl Code for "I don't like you". Now, I don't expect there to be a lot of guys reading these books, don't get me wrong. Guys aren't taught to be interested in these kinds of stories the way girls are. But: girls are
reading the shit and girls are being taught that giving boys completely unclear signals totally works. Which it doesn't. Even giving boys clear
signals doesn't work sometimes, they will still hear whatever they want to hear.
I gave a boy unclear signals in the summer of 1999. I went on a couple pretty unsuccessful dates with him, told him I had a great time even though it was meh and I was meh about him. Came back from Australia and he showed up on my doorstep with welcome-back balloons and flowers. I had to tell him I was in a relationship with someone else.
I'm glad he wasn't the kind of dude who hears what he wants to hear even when you're emphatically not saying it, because the truth is, I did
feel bad about hurting his feelings, but he didn't start stalking me. Which some guys would have done, and you don't know
until it's too late
But then, I don't know, sometimes giving them the clear negative right off the bat will just mean the stalking starts then instead of a little later; you can't win.
Wow, that was a pretty big tangent. Anyway.
Okay, let's talk about the rain thing. I can't remember if I've done this yet or not; everyone else has, so I'll just give you the basics.
It does not actually rain constantly in the Pacific Northwest. It's not even constantly overcast.
What it is, to my understanding, is that the region is basically a temperate rainforest, which means there are little frequent bursts of light rain. It will rain pretty much every day, but not all
day. I think they do have more overcast days than, like, the global average, or the national average, or something, but I'm fairly sure I remember reading somewhere that we have more overcast days in Michigan than they do in Washington. And it is not remotely
always overcast in Michigan.
Anyway, if these people are used to it raining all the time--why wouldn't they just go to the beach in the rain? Kids, I have been to the beach in the rain, and it is not that bad.
What month is this taking place in? That's what I can't remember. Are we ever told? It's 75 degrees in Phoenix when Bella leaves, which sounds like spring or fall to me, but she's on about how it's sunny all the time there--well, Stephenie Meyer, I have the Weather Channel website open in front of me right now, and it is actually not
sunny all the time in Phoenix. 11-13 sunny days on average in March, when the average high temp is 76. In November, when the average high is 75, 14-15 sunny days which means it is less than
fully sunny half the time
Now, in November and March in Seattle, I'll grant you, during those particular months
it is usually cloudy. The average highs are 52 and 55 respectively, though, not "the high 40s", although I will buy that it's extra cold that week; that happens. But! It only rains about half the days in both those months. And it's ridiculous for Meyer to write these characters wanting to go to the beach to swim
, or whatever, during these months while living at that latitude. Going to the beach in late fall and early spring is fun, okay, I've done it, but unless you're close to the tropics, you don't actually think you're going to be doing traditional beach activities with bathing suits and stuff. You put on a sweater and a windbreaker and you build a bonfire.
Bella, it's admirable that you want to be polite about Mike's beach trip, okay, the polite thing to do is to be excited about an engagement you have agreed to, but you do it either because you are
excited or because it's polite, not to make up for not accepting another invitation. Because guess what? You had no obligation to accept that other invitation, so there's nothing to make up for. You certainly don't have to make up for "disappointing" some boy because, as I have already explained, it's not your duty to live up to his romantic expecations.
I can tell I'm not going to get very far in the book this time. I am literally four paragraphs into the chapter.
Oh, now she's doing the insecure I'm-not-sure-if-he-likes-me-he's-acting-
I-suck thing. Now, this is realistic, I'll give you that. But the way Meyer writes it, again, makes Bella sound like a poorly-programmed teenage-girl-emulating robot. "Maybe it was just a very convincing dream that I'd confused with reality. That seemed more probable than that I really appealed to him on any level."
No. Actual teenage girl sounds like: "I wasn't sure what to think. Had he been acting like he liked me? Or was I just imagining it? Maybe I was projecting a tone that wasn't there. Was there a tone? Was he really looking at me the way I thought he was looking at me or was it wishful thinking? I didn't know. I was hoping this trip to Seattle was supposed to be a date, but maybe it was just a friend thing. But then he kept saying he didn't want to be
my friend. Was that supposed to be his subtle way of saying he wanted to be more
than friends? No. No. I couldn't get my hopes up, that was a sure way to guarantee he was just going to stand me up and laugh at me."
Although, to be perfectly honest, that's what you sound like when you're thinking about a boy who isn't
deliberately jerking you around to keep you off-balance and compliant.
Edward does the finger-beckon thing. I think we are supposed to find it cute and/or sexy; I find it nauseating. If you want to sit with someone at lunch, YOU ASK THEM TO SIT WITH YOU, you don't just finger-beckon them out of the line and expect them to jump to obey.
Which Bella does.
And then Edward, completely unnecessarily, when she gets there, is all, "Why don't you sit with me today?"
THANKS, EDWARD, IT WAS ALREADY BLATANTLY OBVIOUS WHAT YOU WANTED. Unless! Are we actually supposed to believe it would have been reasonable to do the finger-beckon and then be like, "I want to talk to you about this quick thing--okay, go away now"? That would have been even MORE bullshit; if you have a quick thing to talk to someone about, YOU go to THEM.
Also, the way he says it? RUDE. "Would you like to sit with me," "Won't you sit down," "Please have a seat," "Won't you join me," not smugly "Why don't you sit with me
today?" Like, "I'm doing you an enormous favor picking you out of the screaming throngs of fangirls, let me pat you on the head and expect you to be pathetically grateful for my attention."
Which Bella is.
Hey, by the way, Edward is inhumanly beautiful. In case you forgot.
He is also a smarmy douchebag who likes to make incomprehensible comments, smugly refuse to clarify them, and pretend this is polite behavior.
Then he jokes about isolating her from her friends and not letting her hang out with them anymore. I'm not even kidding. Kids, if someone wants to keep you away from your friends, that is abusive behavior. Even if someone romantically interested in you doesn't like
or get along with
your friends, the reasonable thing to do is still to respect your right to have time with them without hir. Even if they do
get along, you still get to have time with your friends without hir. That is the respectful thing to do and how someone who trusts you and does not want to control you will behave.
Now he's doing the I'm-warning-you-stay-away-I'm-bad-news-
hey-come-over-here thing again. Guys who are not actually vampires do this in real life. They do it so they can treat you like absolute shit and then contend that you don't "get" to get angry about it because they warned you it would happen.
It is a huge red flag. I do not expect a, what, seventeen-year-old to necessarily know that, especially in this culture, but I do expect an author not to write it as a sign of True Love or something. You don't romanticize abusive douchebag behavior in your writing. It's irresponsible. It contributes to the culture's normalization of that behavior, which in turn contributes to the horrible physical and psychological violence men perpetrate against their intimate partners every day.
At least Bella calls him on the smug-mysterious-pronouncements thing.
You know, let me talk about the whole Edward-can't-read-Bella's-mind thing. I could get behind that as a reason to be attracted to someone, if you were constantly bombarded by all these thought-voices and you found this one person who was a little bit of peace from that. But that's not how it's presented at all. Edward loves
being able to read people's minds. He has spent most of the book so far using it to his own advantage and for his own amusement. He's fascinated by Bella because he can't read her mind, but it also seems to really piss him off. It seems to me that it's a manifestation of the whole men-don't-understand-you-crazy-
incomprehensible-wimmins thing. Bella is the only girl he has ever met who is actually "feminine" in that way, and he hates it about her but he names it "love" instead.
Dudes are always doing this. They complain and complain and complain about all the stereotypical shit they hate about women, and then they say "oh but I love
women" when what they mean is they love controlling us and being able to fuck us.
Meanwhile Edward both wants and doesn't want Bella to figure out that he's a vampire. This is actually kind of poignant, or could have been if it was handled better: he wants to be able to tell her what he is, so there can be no secrets between them, and he wants to be accepted and loved for who and what he is, but he also wants her to know so she can run away and he won't have to worry that he will accidentally hurt her or bring danger to her that she would avoid by not being around him; and he doesn't
want her to find out because he's afraid she won't
Poignant. But still abusive. If you think you're bad for someone, and that you're only going to wind up hurting them, what you don't do if you're a decent person is keep pulling them in and pushing them away until they are utterly dependent on you, the better to play your sick little game of Russian roulette and see how long you can go without doing something completely unforgivable.
Meanwhile, RPattz is absolutely right. Edward totally hates himself. He is extremely
messed up. And Bella is doing the oh-you-poor-hurt-thing routine, as we the readers are also expected to; let's fix this poor broken fucked-up abusive man with the power of Love!
And we are learning that "anxious, on edge... and, more than anything else, fascinated" is how you feel when you meet the person you're destined to be with. When in real life it's usually a sign you should run far, far away. "This guys makes my stomach drop into my toes and gives me fear-adrenaline but he's so hot
" is not actually good news.
There is nervous excitement when a healthy attraction is new. That is a pretty standard thing. But it doesn't manifest as anxiety and edginess. It manifests as tingly butterflies and the inability to stop grinning and hugging yourself. It doesn't ever cross your mind to worry that you might not be safe with this person. You feel comfortable together, despite the nervous butterflies, and when you're together you can't stop laughing.
Meyer tries to give us the safe thing here. She tries to make us believe Bella feels safe with Edward, but she fails. You don't feel anxious and on edge around someone who makes you feel safe. Anxious and on edge is the opposite
of feeling safe. And you can't tell me that Bella is anxious but not afraid. Anxiety is
fear. It's fear you can't name, and that you can't see what it's pointing at. But it's still fear.
What Bella actually thinks, the way I read it, is not that Edward would never hurt her, but that he would never hurt her on purpose
. But he might not be able to help it. Because he's dangerous.
And I mean physically hurt her, not emotionally. It is true that even in healthy relationships people accidentally hurt each other emotionally, and there are apologies and forgiveness and the relationship can recover.
And it's possible to accidentally physically hurt someone: I once tried to throw a magazine to Nigel while he was sitting on the couch and it hit him in the balls. That was an accident, and accidents happen. Sometimes he sits on my hair. It's not a big deal.
But what's not okay: knowing you might hurt someone, believing you are not in control of your own behavior and that you will not be able to help
hurting somone, and sticking around them anyway, waiting for it to happen. Explaining to them that if they know what's good for them, they will stay away, and placing the responsibility for not getting hurt on their shoulders instead of making sure you don't hurt anybody. Trying to claim that you don't intend
to hurt them but not actually taking any steps against it
If you actually don't intend to do something, and you know it's a possibility? You take steps against it. Like: I don't intend to sleep through my alarm. So I set two of them.
Meanwhile Bella and Edward are sitting in awkward silence in the cafeteria for the entire rest of the period. Then he tries to get her to cut class with him. To do what, exactly? It is just never explained. For all we know, he spends the class period sitting at that table spinning Bella's Snapple lid. (We are not told the lemonade is Snapple. What other lemonade comes in the kind of container that has a screw-on lid?)
Now the kids are testing their own blood in biology class. NO. THIS WOULD NOT HAPPEN. Do you know how paranoid the public school system is about AIDS? Seriously. Anyone even scrapes a knee in gym class, they break out the biohazard stuff. AIDS being the stated reason. This has been going on at least
since I was in middle school.
And the whole "oh you should know your blood type in case you want to donate blood"--no, okay, fail. First of all, they put your blood type on your birth certificate, and second of all, when you donate blood they tell you what it is anyway
Also I cannot, just cannot
, deal with Bella being a teenage girl who can't handle the sight of blood. No. Hell no. No way. I would buy it from a younger girl; I would buy it from a boy. But women? Women cannot get through puberty without getting tough about blood. HELLO WE BLEED FROM OUR CUNTS ON A REGULAR BASIS.
If the problem was the needles, that I would believe. Blood? No.
The nurse wants to put ice on Bella's forehead? What the hell for? Someone explain this to me. Ice is to bring down swelling; Bella hasn't hit her head (today). She doesn't have a fever or anything, but you don't put ice on the forehead for a fever anyway. Is this just "vaguely medical-sounding task so Bella and Edward can be alone"? Because I'm sure with a little tiny bit of research SMeyer could have found something actually plausible. Maybe Edward could have said, she didn't eat anything at lunch, and the nurse could have gone to get her an apple or something.
Anyway are there schools that actually have nurses? Is this a real thing in the world or just something that happens in books and on TV? No school I have ever attended had a school nurse. If you didn't feel good, the office might let you call a parent, and if the parent agreed to come and get you, you went home. Any medical attention you might require was your family's responsibility, unless something happened that required the school to call an ambulance.
Now Edward saying Mike "loathes" him is supposed to be another indication that Edward can read minds. Hi, bad foreshadowing! Bella professes not to believe that Edward could know that, but then she thinks, oh, maybe he does. MAYBE? YOU THINK? POSSIBLY HE ACTUALLY KNOWS THE KIDS HE GOES TO SCHOOL WITH BETTER THAN THE NEW KID IN TOWN DOES?
Yes, context suggests that Mike hates Edward because of Bella. But Bella is assuming
that. How do we know the loathing wasn't already there?
Meanwhile Edward likes to run down his car battery in the school parking lot. Hey, SMeyer, most kids that go hang out in their cars during class aren't there to listen to music
. It's called a clambake. Look it up.
Now Edward contends that people can't smell blood, which is a total lie. OF COURSE WE CAN. Dear Bella, blood doesn't smell like rust and salt, it smells like BLOOD.
I'm starting to dislike this Mike guy. You don't talk about a party in front of someone who isn't invited, that's just rude. And I'm pretty sure he's doing it on purpose to
be rude, like, nyah, Edward, I have a date with her and you don't.
Dudes take note: women do not actually find it flattering when you treat us as commodities to compete over and show off.
Now Edward is helping Bella without being asked, then mocking her for needing his help. Well, not actually mocking her, but looking at her sarcastically for being sick.
Meanwhile, hey, as far as I know, the school receptionist can't legally excuse you from class. Maybe the nurse could, but I would still think parents would have to be called. It's certainly not cool to be sending a weakened high school girl off campus with some boy without letting parents know about it and having some way to be sure that, say, he's not taking her off into the woods somewhere to rape her.
What would have happened in real life: Bella goes to gym class, explains that she is not feeling well, sits on bleachers for entire period. If Edward tried to say, can I take this more-vulnerable-than-usual girl away in my car to parts unknown, receptionist's response would have been, I DON'T THINK SO MISTER DON'T THINK I DON'T SEE THROUGH YOUR LITTLE GAME.
Oh now Bella is going to invite Edward to SOMEONE ELSE'S PARTY even though she knows the host doesn't want him there! Not cool, Bella.
If Edward was really this old-fashioned gentleman from the time period he grew up in, he'd be like, "Oh no I couldn't possibly impose, I haven't been invited." I mean, he does eventually say
he wasn't invited, but he should have gently corrected Bella when she assumes she can invite him TO SOMEONE ELSE'S PARTY. "Oh dear, I meant to say I haven't been invited by the host
OH HERE IT IS. HERE IS THE SCENE THAT PISSES ME OFF SO MUCH. HERE COME THE TRIGGERS.
She turns toward her truck and he GRABS HER JACKET TO HOLD HER BACK and gets OUTRAGED that she dared not to go the direction he was expecting omfg! I can't let you DRIVE, you silly little woman, you're coming with ME.
PULLS HER BY HER JACKET TO HIS CAR. WHILE SHE STRUGGLES TO GET AWAY.
Too much to hope, I suppose, that the receptionist sees this out the window and goes HOLY SHIT THIS IS BAD BAD BADNESS and at least calls the cops or something?
Now Bella is trying to figure out: can I get away from this situation, or is it safer to just comply? Edward confirms: I will just drag you back if you try to run. There is no escape.
She gets in the car.
Do not expect the books to ever acknowledge that this was FUCKING SCARY ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR on Edward's part, or that in fact THIS BEHAVIOR HAPPENS IN REAL LIFE AND IT'S NOT BECAUSE HE WANTS TO PROTECT YOU. Because I know
women who have been dragged places against their will by men, who have realized there was no way out of the situation and decided not to make it worse for themselves. They did not get a nice ride home listening to Clair de Lune. They got sexually assaulted.
And in this scene? Edward has not sexually assaulted Bella, BUT HE HAS ASSAULTED HER.
Listen: if you're physically stronger than someone else to a huge degree and you know and they know you could force them to do anything you wanted, and you're a decent person
, you are very careful
about making sure that you don't do anything or ask them
to do anything they don't want to do
. Because a decent
person knows it's not okay to coerce people into things.
Anyway. I think that's a good place to stop this time. I was trying to get through a whole chapter, but it just keeps going on and on.