21 December 2008

I've decided that I really dislike the last book in the Virgin Vampire series. Beginning with Twilight, the first in the series, a read which I actually enjoyed, the novels have seemingly declined in their ability to keep me interested and less disgusted with the blatant patriarchal, misogynist, sexist, romantic bullshit.

I have visited Stephenie Meyer's web site a few times, and although I congratulate her for creating a publishing phenomenon that centers on a female protagonist, or MC as my students might say, I resent her anti-feminist thread. Of course not every book has to be "feminist." But why, I ask you, why does the single most popular YA book right now, perhaps ever, have to be about romance? And not sexy, funny, empowering romance, but old-fashioned, chaste, practically abusive-masculinist-heteronormative romance? And why does Bella have to be such a fucking idiot? Why does her life have to revolve around feeding her father and leeching onto her vampire boyfriend? Why can't we ever have a female MC who eschews romance for something more interesting? Empowering? Enlightening?

My students sometimes complain when I make them read Seventeenth Summer, a wonderful, lyrical book from 1942 that is in so many ways the Ur-text for YA. They complain because it's very lyrical and descriptive (read: boring to contemporary teens) and it does have Angie's (the MC) life revolve around Jack--but, the novel also has Angie LEAVE Jack to go off to college. Proto-feminist, I say. I guess I long for another Angie--a modern version of Angie who recognizes that romance has it's place, but should not be the be-all end-all of a young woman's life.

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