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Politics, culture, and American life — from the family perspective.

Bella Swan – Anti-Feminist? Pro-Life Advocate? Swoony, Misguided Teen?



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Okay, so I admit it. I watched Breaking Dawn, Part One last night, even though I’d had a little fun making The Twilight Hater’s Survival Guide for those less enamored with the vampire/wolf/human love triangle.

One of the interesting issues surrounding the movie was Bella’s pregnancy and her decision to have the baby even though it was “crushing her from the inside.” Pro-lifers are happy that a young woman is portrayed as pro-life, but screenwriter Melissa Rosenberg assures us that Bella’s decision to have the baby is not pro-life propaganda.  In an interview with ScreenRant, she explains her position:

“It was a deciding factor for me of whether or not to do the movie. If I could not find my way into it that didn’t violate my beliefs (because I am extremely pro-choice very outspoken about it, very much a feminist) I would not have written this move,” she said.

“They could have offered me the bank and I still wouldn’t have. In order to embrace it I had to find a way to deal with it. I also had no interest in violating Stephenie’s belief system or anyone on the other side. I feel a great responsibility that everyone should have their point-of-view. And their beliefs respected. So I really was struggling with it until I talked with my sister-in-law who’s actually a former ACLU feminist lawyer and a fan of the books. And she pointed  something out to me (which is quite obvious but which I had overlooked) which is that having a child is a choice.

“It is a choice to have a child. And having not made that choice in my own life, having actually done the opposite, that had not really occurred to me. But when she pointed that out I was like, ‘Okay, I know my way in.’ And so for me, it was that Bella chooses this. Now someone else may not perceive that, and that’s great. They have their own point-of-view which is whatever their own point-of-view is. I didn’t need to make a statement about it, I just needed it to not be a statement on the other side as well. It’s a story about a woman who chooses to have a child. For me. That may or may not be how it is in the book. And some people will have issues with it.”

(Let’s pause for a moment. We’re always told that advocates of abortion do not actually advocate abortion. They aren’t pro-abortion, they say.  They are pro-choice. This, apparently, is where the screenwriter finally found herself, but it took some doing.)

Movie reviewer Rebecca Cusey, however, appreciates the pro-life message that Bella’s character represents by refusing to bow to pressure to abort the child. But is it enough to balance out the other morally questionable decisions Bella makes? 

“Defenders of the Twilight Saga point out that it promotes chastity until marriage. Bella’s decision to continue a dangerous pregnancy to term is absolutely a pro-life statement. She even argues for her baby against some who would abort,” she writes.

However, she fears that the pro-life message isn’t worth allowing your kids to see the movies.

Bella — only 18 — “gives up friends, family, hobbies, outside interests, college, and even life itself to be with her glittery vampire boyfriend,” Cusey writes. In a review of Eclipse, she wrote about Bella’s obsession with the cold vampire.  “This, of course, is why God gave fathers to seventeen year olds. With the benefit of years of perspective, he knows that while she may always want Edward, there will be a great many things she will desire in addition to him. Fathers get out the metaphorical hose and try to keep seventeen-year-olds from doing anything stupid. Sadly, Bella’s father is reduced to a bleating voice in the background as the movie focuses in on her angsty, intense passion for Edward. And Jacob.”

By the time Breaking Dawn happens, it’s too late. Bella has decided to marry Edward and everything is happy. 

Until. 

The baby.  (Or is it a baby? What happens when a vampire and a human mate?)

 “Even if he were joy and happiness personified, I fear a love that isolates a girl from everything she holds dear. A relationship that requires a girl to cut off friends, lie to parents, remove herself from relatives, and give up her dreams is not something to celebrate. It’s a reason to call an abuse hotline.”

Rebecca also nicely gives parents the scoop as they decide whether to allow their kids to see the flicks. (Also, click through here to read about their honeymoon scenes, and whether you want your kid in the theater when the feathers fly.)

Rating: Rated PG-13, the film was originally rated R, but modified. The source material includes passionate married sex and a bloody birth. Both are depicted, but for the PG-13 rating, most of the action happens beyond the sight of the camera lens.

Who Should See It: Only fans of the series. Think twice about teens and tweens, depending how comfortable you are with them seeing portrayal of sex and bloody violence.



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