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Op-ed: “Twilight” and Feminism

[Disclaimer: The views expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect those of Her Campus Chatham.]

All week, I’ve seen flyers and signs happily advertising the midnight release of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn–Part 1.  Students were able to purchase tickets beforehand and were bussed to the theater so they could watch the first installment of the final film unfold.  I have seen, dare I say it, more bulletins for this particular event than any other event Chatham University has hosted.  But I have to ask: why is Chatham, a university that boasts its women’s empowerment values, promoting a movie that is largely anti-feminist and pro codependent relationships? 
 

The books and films are nothing more than a soapbox for outdated, stereotypical visions of boy meets girl and girl loves boy but when boy leaves girl in a forest girl becomes inadequate and cannot find her way home.  Girls (and mothers) across the country are wrapped up in this dangerous idea of codependency being somehow romantic and healthy.  And I, more than anyone, am tired of hearing and talking about the series.  The conversation has ceased to be interesting or provocative, so Chatham’s decision to promote the midnight release of Breaking Dawn came as an unpleasant surprise.  Every day I am encouraged to break free from the bonds of stereotypical female roles and values and move towards a new dawn of female empowerment and independence.  And yet a saga whose one purpose is to make you fall in love with a masochistic, codependent relationship is the movie my university decides to promote.  
 
Jasmine Parker, a first year, says that she believes Chatham is hosting a premiere because “everything is based off of [Bella], so it’s still about her.  Despite [everything], it comes down to her.” Parker expresses an understanding of why Chatham is promoting this event.  She says that the story is written by a woman through the eyes of an average teenage girl so it’s still embodying femininity and it is easy to relate to.  The main conflicts in the book are situations any teenage girl would want to be in (ex. being fought over).  She says she believes Chatham recognizes this and is simply catering to popular opinion and their intentions are in the right place. 
 
The movie isn’t my favorite, but I believe the premiere event was organized with good intentions.  Twilight is a pop culture phenomenon and it has brought in readers from all over the world.  It was an event to bring a large group of Chatham women together via shared interests.  It encouraged us to be excited about something outside of the “Chatham bubble” and at the same time allowed us to come together as a community.  And despite the underlying themes in the book, which are arguably negative, the objective was clear: to bring Chatham together in a night where we could relax and forget about our academic responsibilities for an hour or two.
 
  Photo: Siddharth Nair

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