@Cavendish Congratulations! And thanks for the Tumblr plug! The comments to this post are just, in general, making me feel so happy about the state of non-judging womanhood, but also making me wonder why I didn't realize that this is what we're all about BEFORE my own breastfeeding nightmare (and accompanying shame spiraling). I hope that all this doesn't freak you out, @Cavendish, because, truly and honestly sometimes it *does* work, the way it's supposed to!....it's just that I really want to keep collecting women's stories so that when it isn't working, and it's 3:30 a.m., and you are alone with your iPhone and a baby and a pump, you have some voices to take you through it, that aren't telling you how to do it, just saying quietly: there are many ways to do it, and whatever you choose, it will be the right choice.
@Nicole Cliffe Nicole. Nicole! We have to talk. After experiencing my own total breast feeding nightmare, I started an entire website to collect women's stories about Feeding Babies-- because realized how little information is really out there about all the (SO MANY DIFFERENT SO MANY WONDERFUL) ways we Feed Our Babies. I think you might like to read some of the stories-- b/c damn, ladies are getting it DONE, even from within the midst of all the awful ideological "breast is best" posturing. http://feedingthebaby.tumblr.com/about
@DarthRachel I hear what you are saying. My point is that as far as gendered codes go, Lisbeth's actions and values code very masculine. Again the sex/gender distinction helps here; we're not talking about actual men or women, but structures and sets of values that are coded in particularly gendered ways.
@Ellie "Twilight's appeal probably actually lies in the very things that almost everyone criticizes about it, but I think it's not the only solution to that problem, either." YES YES. Thanks for the YA recs...totally checking them out.
@E Really excited to check Deerskin out.
Ladies! And gentlemen! I have been in meetings and wrangling my own monster baby all day and so have missed out on a lot of these excellent conversations. A few things, hopefully addressing some of the awesome above:
--I pretty much don't ever worry about the real or perceived sociological "effects" of literature; as an English prof and cultural critic, I'll leave that to the social scientists. For my part, I'm generally uninterested in labeling narratives "bad" or "good"-- which is where most of the conversation about Bella and Edward usually ends up. They are *fictional* characters, and as such are structures through which readers can explore various *aspects* of their own inner life, or their own understanding of the world. I am-- and you can quote me on this when I run for President-- 100% PRO NARRATIVE. Not just "good" narrative, or "ass kicking" narrative, but ALL NARRATIVE. Even the ones about wilting flowers and manly men. They allow us to get in there and dig around and think "Well, WTF? What does this mean? What does it tell me about the world? About myself? Do I believe this? Do I like it? Do I hate it?" YAY NARRATIVE in other words.
--I totally have to disagree with folks saying that girls reading the novels any less imaginative/critically empowered than we, as adults, are. I think young readers are really inventive, and I am not worried for them. Also, whenever I start feeling "But what about the children? Won't somebody please think about the children?" I usually take a step back and realize that I'm way projecting.
--Someone said something about how we don't need more narratives encouraging girls to be passive. I agree with that...but this piece is an attempt to explore how the claims about Bella's "passivity" are kind of red herrings-- there's lots more going on beneath and beside her passivity.
--The thing about Lisbeth Salander is my way of saying that all the things we feel kind of "yay" about in that character-- how she kicks so much ass-- are structured on masculinist values. And here its helpful to remember the sex/gender distinction: she excels at things *coded* "masculine." As far as that series' whole rape/sexual abuse obsession-- I agree with whoever was talking about the series' as female-torture-porn. So, again, under the guise of "empowerment"-- women rising up against their abusers!-- the novels are actually structured on a kind of masculinist voyeurism.
--Yes, the Twilight novels are abysmally written. But, I mean...have you read Charlotte Temple? So much of the best stuff throughout history has been abysmally written. We'll leave the shimmering prose to James Wood.