Twilight: The Problem of Mike

Content Note: Rape, Sexual Violence, Stalking, Rape Culture

Twilight Recap: Bella is on the verge of fainting in her Biology class, due to a strong sensitivity to the presence of blood.

Twilight, Chapter 5: Blood Type

   "Can someone take Bella to the nurse, please?" he called.
   I didn’t have to look up to know that it would be Mike who volunteered.
   "Can you walk?" Mr. Banner asked.
   "Yes," I whispered. Just let me get out of here, I thought. I'll crawl.
   Mike seemed eager as he put his arm around my waist and pulled my arm over his shoulder. I leaned against him heavily on the way out of the classroom.

In light of some of the things going on in the blog-o-sphere lately, I've been writing a post about victim-blaming and Rape Prevention Tips. Now, it's my personal opinion that the only RPTs with any value whatsoever are RPTs that clearly elucidate what rape is and how not to commit it. In other words, RPTs should be aimed at rapists and would-be rapists. There's a large portion of society (and a large number of rapists!) that maintains that rape is something obvious and easy to identify and that if a situation doesn't look like The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo rape scene, then It's Not Rape. And that's wrong. (And I have a post on that in my head, too! Why can't I write as fast as I think?)

However, in The-Post-Which-I-Am-Writing-About-Victim-Blaming, I make the argument that if we absolutely must hand out Rape Prevention Tips to non-rapists, then we should hand them out not to potential victims (thereby placing the onus on them to Not Be Raped) but instead to society at large (thereby placing the onus on everyone to Not Allow Rapists To Rape). It's still not as good as, say, telling rapists not to rape, but it would at least lessen the burden on rape victims and potential rape victims and instead frame the conversation to society and our rape culture.

So with that in mind, I am now going to give some pro-tip advice to teachers: when a girl in your class is on the verge of fainting (face down on the desk, voice at a whisper, pale and looking like death warmed over, etc.), do not let her be taken off alone by a boy in your class.

What could Mr. Banner have done differently in this situation? I encourage everyone to answer this question in the comments. Off the top of my head, I would have sent Mike to go procure the school nurse and bring hir back to collect Bella. Of course, this would not have removed Bella from the immediate fainting stimulus, so I would have helped her out into the hallway, to sit with her back against the wall and her face turned away from the class. That way, as the teacher, I could stand in the door frame and supervise the class and my fainting student at the same time. I probably also would have sent another student to go get another teacher or the principal, if I knew one was available. None of this really prevents the possibility that a student might at some point in the day be raped, but it does help to ensure that The Incapacitated Student won't be raped by The First Person Who Volunteers To Cart Them Off and that, I think, is something to strive for.

Incidentally, this is one of those "OH HAI RAPE CULTURE" moments for me, because while half of my brain was screaming that Mr. Banner is playing dice with Bella's safety, the other half of my brain recognized that this is probably totally common in my country. (Nor do I really get the sense that the text means to call out Mr. Banner for his terrible, awful, horrible, privileged handling of this situation.) *HULK SMASH*

   Mike towed me slowly across campus. When we were around the edge of the cafeteria, out of sight of building four in case Mr. Banner was watching, I stopped.
   "Just let me sit for a minute, please?" I begged.
   He helped me sit on the edge of the walk.
   "And whatever you do, keep your hand in your pocket," I warned.

The best thing about this passage is that while I really do think the word choice is fine, like, this is not a criticism, still the word "towed" makes me purse my lips and make little *beep beep beep beep* noises when I read it. This doesn't even really make sense because the noise in my head is from those carts that ride around the home department stores, not actual tow trucks, but my brain does it anyway. Welcome to the inside of my brain.

Also, I will bet good money that Mr. Banner is not watching. *sigh*

I should be clear: I absolutely do not think every novel must be a feminist commentary on society. And I absolutely do see the value in novels that get away from some of the ugly things of our world, just in case the reader would like to not think about them for awhile. But... Twilight isn't fluffy "no rape, only rainbows" escapist material; there will be an attempted gang rape several chapters from now. So now we have the problem that Twilight acknowledges the possibility for rape and sexual violence but only really addresses it in the rare case of stranger-gang-rape and not in the relatively common case of acquaintance rape. And I'm not sure how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I guess it fits with the escapism angle. By highlighting the rare and obscuring the common, it's possible to handle the subject matter without being too close to home. And even the gang rape is handled so non-seriously that it could be removed from the novel entirely without any kind of impact on the participants past that scene. The entirety of the subject is defined in terms of how Edward feels: Edward gets scared, Edward saves Bella, Edward feels upset. Bella apparently won't be shaken by the experience; as far as I can tell, she'll never even think of it again after that chapter. It feels like this whole book uses the reality of sexual violence as nothing more than a plot device that can then be turned off as soon as its purpose is served. And maybe that's the appeal of the fantasy: being so in control of the threatening thing that not only are you not hurt by it, you're not affected by it in any way whatsoever.

And then, from a realism angle, it probably makes sense that if Bella is a "regular" American teenage girl, she probably wouldn't think Mike is likely to or even morally capable of raping her. That's one of the many reasons why acquaintance rape is so horrible (and why our society is so in denial over it): no one wants to consider the odds that one of your acquaintances might try to rape them on the way to the nurses' office. So it's probably fair characterization that Bella doesn't even consider this a possibility at the moment.

And yet... there's Edward. Edward knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men. Edward is particularly sensitive to sexual violence and rarely misses an opportunity to blame Bella for not being 'more careful'. So why does Edward treat this scene as whimsical amusement, and his only interaction with Mike is one of condescendingly taking Mike's toy? Why is Bella fair game to be upbraided for walking around town alone and nearly 'getting herself raped', but Mike is not similarly upbraided for being alone with Bella and eager to turn the situation to his advantage?

It feels like the writing has bought into the rape culture narrative that victims are responsible for their own safety but Schrodinger's Rapists are not responsible for eagerly responding to illness as an opportunity to touch and handle a fainting woman, an attitude which is, I think, not commendable at all. I'm just saying! If I start fainting, I would prefer to be assisted by someone not "eager" to feel me up! And I would prefer my Love Interest to call someone like that out. Or at least not then turn around and blame me for things that are not my fault! Maybe that's unfair of me.

   "Bella?" a different voice called from the distance.
   No! Please let me be imagining that horribly familiar voice.
   "What's wrong -- is she hurt?" His voice was closer now, and he sounded upset. I wasn't imagining it. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping to die. Or, at the very least, not to throw up.

Argh. Bella is acting like a petulant child again, hoping to die rather than look weak in front of antagonistic Love Interest Edward. Every time I try to like Twilight in general and Bella in particular, this happens and IT HARSHES MY GROOVE.

   "Bella." Edward's voice was right beside me, relieved now. "Can you hear me?"
   "No," I groaned. "Go away."
   He chuckled.
   "I was taking her to the nurse," Mike explained in a defensive tone, "but she wouldn't go any farther."

Can we psychoanalyze Mike now? It wouldn't be nice if Mike was a Real Person, but he's a book character, so I'm going to do so now: Why is Mike defensive?

I think the in-text reason for Mike being defensive is that he's trying to assert his claim to Bella. This is a power struggle: Mike is the local boy, rich-attractive-popular enough to turn the heads of the local girls, but not nearly so rich-attractive-(potentially)popular as city boy Edward. Edward has class privilege -- he's allowed to come and go from class as he pleases -- but Mike is expected to adhere to school rules. This puts Mike in a tenuous position: Edward is already excused from class and has no pressing demands on his time, but Mike is expected back in class soon.

Furthermore, if Bella is allowed to take charge of the situation, she may express the opinion that she would prefer to be escorted by Beckoned-At-Me-In-The-Cafeteria boy. Mike's only chance to remain in his post is to stake out his claim to Bella here-and-now by declaring himself sole arbiter of the situation: if he can define the situation now as he sees it, he can undercut Bella from putting her own spin on the situation.

The other possibility for Mike's defensiveness is that he (and the author) do see that his situation seems compromising to someone in Edward's position. Mike and Bella are alone, away from class, with her hunched over on the ground in a position of distress. By defining the situation aggressively -- "she wouldn't go any farther" (as opposed to "couldn't") -- Mike is proactively transferring any blame for the situation off of him and onto Bella.

The problem with both these interpretations, at least for Mike, is that it doesn't look good for him to immediately go on the defensive. Edward hasn't accused him of anything; all his energy has been consumed with being concerned for Bella. There's no reason for Mike to not be more compassionate towards Bella, except that... he hasn't apparently been feeling compassion for her at any point in the day, so why should he start now?

   "I'll take her," Edward said. I could hear the smile still in his voice. "You can go back to class."
   "No," Mike protested. "I'm supposed to do it."
   Suddenly the sidewalk disappeared from beneath me. My eyes flew open in shock. Edward had scooped me up in his arms, as easily as if I weighed ten pounds instead of a hundred and ten.
   "Put me down!" Please, please let me not vomit on him. He was walking before I was finished talking.
   "Hey!" Mike called, already ten paces behind us.

The problem with Mike is that while he may desire Bella, he doesn't care about her. When he sees her fainting, he leaps at the chance to escort her, but he doesn't feel empathy for her. When he puts his arms around her, it's not with the intention to take care to not hurt her, but rather with an eagerness to touch her and ingratiate himself with her. When she asks for a moment to rest and recover from her dizziness, he blames her vocally and defensively, rather than respond with concern and alarm.

Mike isn't a person who says "I was taking her to the nurse, but she couldn't go any farther. Your father is a doctor, do you know what to do?" Instead, he is a person who says "I was taking her to a nurse, but she wouldn't go any farther." She's stubborn, his voice implies, she won't cooperate. He doesn't see her as a victim, and he blames her for her illness.

Nor is Mike the sort of person to let Bella's illness get in the way of his competition with Edward for ownership of her body. Bella might be bleeding out on the ground in front of him for all he knows, but by god he is going to challenge Edward for the right to escort her to the nurse. He's going to challenge him ineffectually, sure, because Mike is not The Love Interest, but he will challenge him nonetheless.

I've seen at least one Twilight review remark that Mike is unfairly treated in the series, that he's a Good Guy badly put upon by Bella and Edward. The second half of this is true, in the sense that almost everyone in the book is treated badly by Bella and Edward -- either in Bella's mental narration or in Edward's rude interactions. But the first half, the contention that Mike is an essentially good guy, I don't see. He may be a harmless guy in the sense that he wouldn't actually rape Bella. He may be a clueless guy in the sense that he doesn't know how to present his romantic suit to her in a palatable way. But he's not a good guy.

He's demanding, as seen when he requests that Bella alter her travel plans in order to take him to the dance. He's self-centered, as seen when he responds to Bella's pain not with sympathy but with calculations for how best to turn the situation to his advantage. He's aggressive, as seen when he blames Bella for her illness in an attempt to deflect blame from himself and establish his dominance over the situation. He's selfish, as seen when he challenges Edward's decision to carry Bella to the nurse, and his capitulation when he doesn't attempt to follow Edward and ensure that Bella is safely delivered to the nurse. Mike sees every scene with Bella as a way to control and own her, and not as a way to nurture and help her. He doesn't love her; he doesn't even seem to like her very much.

The Problem of Mike isn't that he's not a nice guy. The problem of Mike is that, because he's not a bad guy, because he's so much better than Stalker Edward, people tend to see him as a Good Guy. He's not, and a fictional character shouldn't be given cookies simply because they're slightly less toxic than the neighborhood stalker.


Darth Ember said...

I think the Problem of Mike is that Meyer seems to think in order to be any kind of romantic obstacle, he has to be a creepster.
Just look at Jacob. He's a nice boy at first, and then, once people like him and Meyer decides to have a rivalry thing going, he basically morphs into Speaks-Like-Jerk; Edward v2.0, now with bonus racial stereotypes!

Randomosity said...

I have had the not so fun experience of blacking out* in class. It wasn't an uncommon experience for me. I was severely underweight as a kid and probably had anemia on top of it. The teachers, one and all, knew that the proper thing to do is sit me down somewhere with my head between my knees or to lie down and elevate my legs. Lying down was preferable, but there wasn't always a place to do that. Walking anywhere was a bad idea.

I once blacked out while I was having my blood pressure taken. The blood pressure drops precipitously when that happens.

*I say "blacked out" rather than "fainting" because fainting implies that you collapse and go down. For me, the vision was the first clue something was happening. Everything pixellated in front of me and I couldn't see clearly at all. At the same time, I was feeling cold and weak.

Brin Bellway said...

Edward had scooped me up in his arms, as easily as if I weighed ten pounds instead of a hundred and ten.

I was going to make a comment about Bella's lightness and her tendency to not eat, but then I remembered some people really do weigh 110 pounds at seventeen without having anything wrong with them. For some reason I tend to assume my own weight (~150-155 lbs) is towards the low end of normal*. I don't feel surprised when people turn out to weigh more, but I do when they weigh less.

I remember a while back channel-surfing and seeing a bit of some celebrity weight loss thingy. I was shocked by the woman who weighed 110 pounds and was still setting weight loss goals. ("You weigh as much as a twelve-year-old!" I called at the screen. "Why are you still trying to lose weight?!")

*I think some of it's how when girls and women talk about their weight, they're usually talking about their weight loss, so I discard the data for being skewed low. That pretty much leaves me with myself and my fat mom, who perhaps wasn't as completely left out for being skewed high as she was breast-wise. (You guys have seen the Normal Breast Gallery, right? They say it's to counteract media influence on what normal breasts are, but what it actually made me realise is that nobody has influenced me. My view of what normal breasts look like is 100% based on myself.)

Darth Ember said...

I've put on a little more weight of late, but I've spent a fair chunk of time around 100lbs; I'm twenty-three, and it's only recently I moved from the point where I'd barely weigh 100lbs soaking wet. And that is my healthy weight.
It helps that I'm about 5' and have a thin frame.

Loquat said...

some people really do weigh 110 pounds at seventeen without having anything wrong with them

Hell, my college roommate weighed less than that and she looked perfectly healthy. Of course, she was also less than 5 feet tall and had to shop in the children's sections of most US clothing stores.

chris the cynic said...

What could Mr. Banner have done differently in this situation? I encourage everyone to answer this question in the comments.

My first thought was to send Bella to the nurse accompanied by Angela. Going on the assumption the Bella is not faking this and thus isn't trying to skip class, I don't see a lot of down side in sending her out of class with one of her friends. Angela is as close to a friend as she has in this class, possibly Angela is as close to a friend as Bella gets.

The upside of sending her with a friend is that it's someone who, hopefully, isn't going to make fun of her. The upside of sending her with a female friend is that we avoid sending vulnerable Bella off alone with a boy and if Bella should need to stop by a bathroom on the way, Angela can actually accompany her.

This plan requires one to believe that Bella is correct that she is in fact all right to walk to the nurse's office. If she's wrong, that's what Angela is there for, but if Bella should just pass out halfway there there's only so much Angela could do, so if I thought there was a serious risk of that I'd have to come up with a different plan.

Also, I forgot that the high school is multiple buildings. I was thinking of the students being walking down halls, not outside. That means if something did go wrong there would be a greater distance to get to the nearest teacher and that might change things.

Anyway, if Bella can get to the nurse under her own power, that seems like a good plan to me. It gets her away from the stimulation that's making her sick, it gets her to the nurse more quickly than waiting for someone to come and get her, and it at no time leaves the rest of the class unsupervised. So my thinking is send her, but send along another student (Angela) to make sure she's ok.

So basically, my impulse is to do the same thing as Bruce Banner, but with a female student in place of Mike.

chris the cynic said...

When I first read this I had no idea what the "Keep your hand in your pocket" thing was. I wondered if Mike had been doing something inappropriate and Bella demanded that Mike keep his hand in his pocket so that it wasn't elsewhere and I somehow missed the whole thing.

It's the blood. Bella is, for the time being at least, nauseated by the smell of blood. Mike's hand has already been stabbed by the incredible hulk and is thus producing blood. Bella wants Mike to keep his hand in his pocket so that the blood will be at least somewhat contained. (This demand will be repeated later.)

This is another reason why it seems problematic to have sent Mike. Maybe by the time Banner notices Bella everyone was stabbed and thus she had to be accompanied by a bloody person if she would be accompanied, but that doesn't seem true. You see Mike will come back, this time accompanying a boy to the nurse who only got ill after being all pricked and whatnot. Given that that hadn't happened yet when Bella left, there was at least one person not bloody who could have taken her. Unless he was the only one who waited until after Bella was gone, there was probably an assortment to choose from.

Yet Bella goes with the first bloodied person. It was his blood that made her feel sick in the first place.

Even if we are going to ignore all of the other problems, as the text seems to want us to, sending her with Mike who is still producing Bella sickening blood is a problem because it isn't removing her from the source of her illness.

Nora said...

My first thought on reading this was that Mr. Banner certainly should have sent her with a girl. I don't remember anyone fainting in any of my high school classes, but when someone was getting sick, and that person expressed a need to go to the nurse's office, the teacher certainly wouldn't send that person with someone of the opposite sex, for all the very good reasons Chris described, not least of which was the bathroom problem. In fact, it seemed almost perverse of Mr. Banner to send Mike with her, as if he thought only a manly man could accompany this poor weak fainting female to safety. Ugh.

Amaranth said...

The "keep your hand in your pocket" was weird for me as well. Mostly because I have a diabetic son who has to prick his finger four or five times a day. A prick that size stops bleeding almost immediately, and in a couple of minutes, you can't even see where the hole was.

Does Bella (or Meyer) assume that Mike's finger will still be gushing blood? Unless Banner stabbed Mike's hand with a pair of scissors, Mike would have already stopped bleeding before he even took Bella out of the classroom.

So, yeah...Mike keeping his hand in his pocket to spare Bella the sight of blood makes absolutely no sense. There would be no blood coming out.

chris the cynic said...

I have a diabetic son who has to prick his finger four or five times a day. A prick that size stops bleeding almost immediately, and in a couple of minutes, you can't even see where the hole was.

I figured it would work that way, but I was willing to give Meyer the benefit of the doubt because I didn't actually know.

Based on the text I'm pretty sure it is Meyer, not Bella, who assumes the bleeding will persist. Mike's perfectly willing to say, "I'm not bleeding anymore," or thereabouts to Bella when he's no longer bleeding, so the fact that he doesn't say it here probably means that it's not true yet.

Nathaniel said...

You make a pretty good case. While Mike is merely a padawan in art of being a horrible human being compared to Edward, I doubt even the most fervent Edward haters like moi will make a Team Mike.

Also, "Argh. Bella is acting like a petulant child again, hoping to die rather than look weak in front of antagonistic Love Interest Edward. Every time I try to like Twilight in general and Bella in particular, this happens and IT HARSHES MY GROOVE."

Made me instantly think of this:

Randomosity said...

It also occurs to me to wonder: Where are the band-aids? They always prick your finger to check for anemia before you donate blood and you always get a band-aid.

Makabit said...

Regarding 110--I've had many female students who weigh about that, but they're generally not white, and they are small, slight girls. I think what enrages me about the idea that the increasing tendency of books about and for white women is that 120, or 115, or 110 is shown as a slender, but average, SIZE of woman. Also, we don't learn the color of this girl's hair, as far as I can tell, but we know exactly what weight she is? Bella can be 110 pounds--many teenage girls and older women are--but here it's hard for me not to read it as a big blinking sign that says "BELLA IS ATTRACTIVE. BELLA IS VERY THIN."

Seriously, one of the reasons I like reading black women's fiction, as a white woman, is that people are normal sizes that people are, and weigh normal amounts, and wear dress sizes above a four. Seriously, I find it deeply refreshing to read chick lit in which women proudly announce that they still wear a size twelve just like in college. (Wish I did.)

The whole Bridget Jones movie thing really annoyed me.

As regard's Mike, one thing to bear in mind, of course, is that mind-reader Edward would know if he had malign intent toward Bella. He knows, apparently, that Mike is not a threat. And I wonder if Mike seems defensive because, well, not only is Edward a rival, but he's just found him in what might seem like an incriminating situation, with a girl who's basically keeled over while in his company. Mike may expect, reasonably, that Edward's next words will be "What did you do?"

As for sending a girl out of the room with a boy, I really think it depends on the school, the layout, and the kids involved. I think Mike is a poor choice in this case, but I wouldn't necessarily think a boy is a bad choice, or a girl a good one in this situation, thinking of my own classes.

As for the school nurse---ha! I have never in my life taught in a school that had a school nurse. I never went to a school that had a school nurse. What sort of fantasy world is this? Werewolves may be somewhat realistic, but school nurses...

Rikalous said...

I would not be surprised if both my brothers were around 110 at age seventeen. The one that wrestled did so in the ninety-pounds-and-under weight class in middle school, and he was at a perpetual weight disadvantage.

Makabit said...

"In other words, I think that it takes a pretty strong woman to stand up for herself and her body and tell the world ‘I’m perfectly fine just the way I am’ (or, at least, ‘If I’m going to lose weight, then I’m only doing it for my health’)It's funny."

I'm in the process of starting a big weight-loss project, and my sticking point is that I will NOT say it's about my health. My health is fine. (Doctors give me terrible looks as they write down my excellent cholesterol and blood pressure.) This is purely for vanity, because I want to be able to buy clothes more easily, and because I think I look better skinnier. And because I'm sick of the gentle 'hints' and 'concern'. I am totally crumbling to societal pressure.

I've been cutting everyone off about this. "It's so good for your health..." "I'M HEALTHY! I JUST WANT TO BE SKINNY. SHUT UP ABOUT MY HEALTH."

I have no idea why this is where I draw the line. Saying it's about my health just feels as though people are being allowed to cover up the real honest truth, which is that this is about what's expected from women, and beauty standards. Obviously, this isn't true for everyone, (people really do lose weight for their health) but it's totally true for me.

Ana Mardoll said...

I hesitate to say this because I don't want anyone to think they've done anything wrong, or apologize, because EVERYTHING IS OKAY, REALLY, I want to take this golden opportunity to remind anyone and everyone that this is a Body Acceptance Blog and what that might mean. Plus, I take every opportunity I can to link to Kate Harding's archives:

No one needs to respond directly to this; I just wanted to bring it up for everyone following the conversation. :)

Amarie said...

Oh, Makabit! You’re perfectly alright! I know it can be pretty discouraging to not be the size that *you* want to be. If I were brutally honest with myself, when I started really exercising at the age of 14, it was because I found myself appalled at how fat I looked. I didn’t like how huge my thighs were nor did I like the fatness of my cheeks. My weight loss started out as a vanity affair, as well.

And almost magically…the tricky part was over once I really started an exercising routine. And that is, the part where I struggled to feel beautiful and comfortable in my curvy body. It was over because I found that no matter how much I exercised and ate well, I would be the size I was meant to be (today, I’m a size 18). For most people, I realize that that point would be where they would get anxious and despondent, especially if they were as young as I was. But, the main problem for me was that I was always hearing from my classmates and gym teachers that my weight and size were *unhealthy*. And no one really likes the mental body and self image that comes with being associated with the word ‘unhealthy’. So, for me, when I found that I *could* [aerobically] exercise for forty-five minutes or longer and I *could* lose quite a few pounds (I’ve since kept off about 12-15 lbs, I think…I’m still a little scale-phobic), and the doctor *did* tell me that my blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. were *perfectly fine*…

That opened up a new window for me, and it was a window that I had been searching for a large part of my life. That is, the window that said I my body was *just fine* and I *didn’t need* to drastically change it to be healthy. I liked being associated with the word ‘healthy’ and the phrase ‘there’s nothing wrong’. Hence, I started accepting my body much, much more easily.

And, Ana, I am SO putting that blog in my favorites! Sometimes I just can’t fathom how human beings don’t treat each other as such sometimes…

…And on a side note, if I *ever* meet Richard Simmons, I’m giving that man-who-I-can’t-decide-if-he’s-wearing-short-shorts-or-just-underwear a H.U.G.E hug.

Darth Ember said...

As per Kit's suggestion, TW for weight discussion. Also, me getting cranky.

I would like to ask that people please stop declaring that heroines who weigh more are more normal. Seriously, guys.
...people are normal sizes that people are, and weigh normal amounts, and wear dress sizes above a four...
Average and normal are not the same thing. I am below average. I am not fucking abnormal. And I hate being treated as though my size is freakish, unhealthy or otherwise something that is wrong with me. People have just as little business telling me I should gain weight as they do telling other to lose it.
Am I being vehement? Yes, because this pisses me off.

Every declaration that certain clothes are "for real women" in effect states that because I do not have that body shape, I am not a real woman. Sure it's great not to shame women larger than I am. Sure it's great to have nice clothes for people. But I'm still here. I am not a half-forgotten relic of the past. I'm real, and I don't want to be treated like I'm not.

I'm small - in height and weight. But you know what? When I jump on the scales, no sign flashes up telling me to turn my tits in at the door because my 'real woman' status has been revoked.

Am I overreacting? No, I don't think so, because I'm sick of it. Idolising thinness to the point of pushing it on those who are harmed by it is bad. That does not make it less hurtful when someone pipes up in a discussion of this to declare that no-one who is small and thin could possibly be: naturally so/a nice person/attractive to anyone other than paedophiles/real at all.

Yes, those things have actually been stated in one discussion or another.

I'm not a freak. I am a 'normal size that people are,' because here I am, naturally this size, proving that, unless I am suddenly not a person, my size is a real size that someone is - and healthy at that size.

Ana Mardoll said...

TW: Body Acceptance

Thank you, Kit, the suggestion of trigger warnings is an excellent one. I know I, at least, struggle with weight issues.

Darth Ember, I think you bring up an excellent point that I've seen in Body Acceptance communities, that the use of the words "normal" and "real" have the effect of othering people not of that size. All bodies are real. Thank you.

Ana Mardoll said...

And, I agree, I wonder how much of Mike's defensiveness comes from the fact that he knows he's in a suspicious situation because he's been thinking how to take advantage of it...

I mean, beyond anything else, he has already enjoyed being physically close to Bella and he no doubt hopes that this act of kindness will endear him to her.

Makabit said...

TW as requested, for weight and size issues.

"I would like to ask that people please stop declaring that heroines who weigh more are more normal. Seriously, guys.
...people are normal sizes that people are, and weigh normal amounts, and wear dress sizes above a four...
Average and normal are not the same thing. I am below average. I am not fucking abnormal. And I hate being treated as though my size is freakish, unhealthy or otherwise something that is wrong with me. People have just as little business telling me I should gain weight as they do telling other to lose it.
Am I being vehement? Yes, because this pisses me off."

You're absolutely correct, and I apologize.

What I meant to say, and said poorly, was that I get tired of literature in which there are only two sizes, 'Range Two to Six' and 'Comically or Tragically Fat'. I like to read things that better illustrate the range of actual people, as opposed to novels where all female characters weigh somewhere within ten pounds of one another.

I do not mean to, and apparently did, suggest that people who are thin or are not normal.

Once again, I'm sorry, and will watch it.

I think I'd better sit out the rest of the weight conversation. I'm in a terrible place with this right now, and am just going to "blaaaagh" all over everything, given a chance.

Amarie said...

Trigger Warning: Weight Issues and Body Acceptance

I'd like to sincerely apologize, as well, Ember. I only meant to cite a difference between two cultures and my theory on the intended emphasis when Bella is picked up and carried everywhere. But, I can certainly see where you're offended and, again, I apologize deeply.

I suppose that a large part of the reason why I offended you is that I've always been on the opposite spectrum compared to you. That is, I've been told that my plus size isn't healthy and you've been told that you're small[er] size isn't normal. So, I spoke from a very, very biased standpoint and I'm so sorry.

Ummm...may I still bake you Christmas cyber-Christmas cookies? Ana made me some cyber-lemon bars in another thread and she's a Goddess at those...

J_Enigma said...

Hi! :)

I'm not familiar with the events leading up to this (I haven't caught up with the deconstructions yet - I'm a slow reader), but Chris the Cynic further north of here mentioned a friend named "Angela."

Now, this is just my experience, (it's not extensive; I've been subbing for about 2 years, student teaching for one, and subbing in every subject from Calculus to Auto Repair and in every grade level Pre-K through 12th in about 5 different districts, in addition to regularly working at a private college), but this whole scenario rings hollow for me. I can't *count* the times that I've had girls ask if they could go with their friends, especially when that friend needed to get something. I've had a young woman with migraines need to be escorted down to the office one time and the first person to volunteer was her friend, another girl. It stands out in my mind because her friend was the only one who volunteered to do it (granted, I didn't have to ask because she was the one who called it to my attention and immediately followed it with, "can I help her down to the office?", but still...)

What would I do? What protocol and common frickin' sense dictate. If a student is on the verge of blacking out, you get them off their feet and on their sides, or with their head between their knees. I've been told either one works; my personal rationale behind it is "so they have the shortest distance to the ground should they actually black out and won't hurt themselves falling." Once you've got them to safety and in a position they can't hurt themselves, you use the phone that's usually right beside the door or, more commonly, on your desk, and you call the emergency number the teacher left for you or that you have written down somewhere. Security or the principal or someone will be there to help. That's if it's an emergency, which is what Bella is experiencing here.

If it's just a case of an upset stomach, or not feeling well, the student can usually escort themselves down to the office. On those rare occasions when I've had to have another student go with them (for instance, the girl with the migraines), the student who volunteered first was their best friend or other close friend, and that's who I sent down with her. I don't even have to ask for a volunteer, they're usually the first ones there, going so far as to tell you something is wrong. Now, I *have* seen boys volunteer to take girls down before, but their best friend is always volunteering too, and that's who I send them down with.

I have sent girls out of the class with boys before. But it was in the case when they were called down to the office, and the principal or someone was expecting them (for instance, an NHS meeting), and the girls weren't on the verge of passing out.

IMHO, as an amateur author, I think Smeyers is sacrificing Willing Suspension of Disbelief upon the altar of Cheap Romantic Drama - if the teacher had acted like they had any kind of common sense, they would've have sent her down. Which means Edward, the hero, couldn't have saved her from Mike "Snidely Whiplash". I'm not going to say this sort of thing *never* happens - because I'm sure it does, I've had boys volunteer before and if you're a teacher with your head up your ass, then yeah, you'll make "the mistake" - but it's frustrating to see it when most, if not all, teachers are taught that this is *not* the sort of thing you're supposed to do.

Lonespark said...

I haven't got all the way through the thread but the weight and size stuff is provocative. I weighed 103 lb in high school. I was still slightly heavy, as I had been all my life, but I played on the soccer team and I was f***ing ripped. I've been 4'11" since 8th grade, and my whole extended family are short, but not thin, and strong and athletic, so I feel like we're normal and average/tall (US American) people are weird.

Also, I was taller than other kids prior to high school, because I grew fast. So I have a self image that says I'm strong and capable, athletic, experienced at moving furniture and letting lighter people stand on my shoulders to see over crowds and reach high shelves. But I'm short and female, OMG! which has led to people in college and at work questioning my abilities or thinking they're being nice by taking my suitcase. Grrrrr.

Anyway I guess that was mostly a long way of saying I can't relate to "big strong men carry me around" as a fantasy on pretty much any level. And that 110 lbs doesn't seem that low for a high school girl, but YMMV. (They used to say you couldn't donate blood if you didn't way 110, and I felt discriminated against. Now I weigh more at the same height and I just feel like airbags are trying to kill me.)

Timothy (TRiG) said...

Re: Band-Aids (or plasters, as we call them)*.

Hypoallergenic plasters are available in every chemist, and in some supermarkets, for exactly the same price as normal plasters. So why does no one have the hypoallergeic ones? Seriously, in college chemistry lab first-aid kits, hotels, or anywhere else I've asked, there are no hypoallergeic plasters. Even when we health officials came to the school to vaccinate us, they had only normal plasters. But they're the same price! Grr!

I come up with a vicious rash, in two neat squares, showing exactly where the glue patches were. Then it spreads over the surrounding area for a few days before fading away.


* Am I right in thinking that Band-Aid is a trademark, like Hoover?

Fluffy_goddess said...

Yep. Band-Aid brand adhesive bandages, made by Johnson & Johnson.

Fluffy_goddess said...

TW for weight and size

The idea that the focus on Bella *weight* above all else (I'm not sure if we've even gotten this much detail on her figure, and we could've gotten her height or hip-waist-bust measurements pretty easily) is about putting her in a magical "thin and attractive" category really rings true for me. Also, in a way it's there to remind us that there's nothing visibly unrealistic about a guy being able to lift her, which I think is one of those visuals that may have just stuck in Meyers' head as Romantic Fantasy Inserted Here. I've seen a lot of dramatic scenes in movies where women are carted around by their love interests, often while dead (think Gone with the Wind, or Frankenstein, if anyone saw the same version as I did when we did Gothic Fiction in school -- there was a fantastic scene where he carries her up a huge white staircase, and her red cloak drapes further and further from them). Making Bella so light *anyone* can carry her around means she's not restricted to choosing men with super-human strength; *we* know she's going to end up with Edward, but technically she's still anyone's prize at the moment.

I kinda wonder about this whole plot-point, though. It feels like an excuse to show off how vampire-like Bella already is. We've got Terribly Pale, Mysteriously Attractive, Sensitive to Blood, Rarely Seen Eating Human Food, and probably a few others I've forgotten. I'm starting to think there's a weird stretch of a parallel to body dysmorphia: Bella already *is* a vampire, she's just trapped in the wrong (ie human) body.

Bificommander said...

Okay, TW rape and full privilige disclaimer, I'm male and have never given this situation any thought but: Is the Mike situation really such a high risk case? I have never been in an American school, and I don't know how large and spread out the buildings generally are, but I don't know if there is much opportunity for Mike to have even consentual sex, much less rape. Plus, there's the bit you mentioned about rapists who don't see themselves as rapists. I think that if Mike were a rapist, he'd be like that. So if he had managed to talk Bella into the school dance and he managed to maneuver her alone with a few drinks into both of them, that'd be risky in a "her eyes said yes"-kind of way. But getting into the panties of a half passed-out Bella? I dunno, I don't see him able to justify that even to his own hormone-fulled priviliged self. Not to condone or make light of his eagerness to hang Bella around his shoulders, but that's the kind of thing I could picture someone like Mike being able to defend himself doing. Hey, she needed to lean on him to walk right, he was just doing her a favor as far as anyone is able to prove. But any more than that? To me that sounds like it requires the same psychopathic attitude as stranger-rape would require.

On the other hand, I actually find Edward sound threatening here, and selfish though Mike's reasons are, it's still good for Bella that Mike speaks up about it. All he sees is that a weakened Bella is being picked up against her explicit request by a guy who's not supposed to be in class (and is not expected anywhere any time soon) and telling her only companion to take a hike. It sounds way riskier to me. Fitting for Ana's analysis of Mike only being a not-so-bad-as-Edward guy rather than a good guy.

On personal weight stories, in high school I was actually nauseous every morning for half a year, bringing my weight down to 140 pounds, not too light untill you include my height of about 6'3 at the time. But that was caused by an illness, so it isn't a baseline for a good weight.

Silver Adept said...

TW for Body Issues, Conduct Unbecoming A Gentleman, and Flagrant Unprofessional Behavior:

@Biticommander - It could be a risk, depending on Mike and depending on how much Bella has actually recovered by being outside the laboratory.

There are always places to hide in buildings - bathrooms, maintenance areas, dark hallways. With the general layout of a single-building school, it's harder to find places to hide, but it's still doable. With a mult-building campus, though, the places to hide increase exponentially. On the university campus I attended, there was a service where one could call and obtain escorts to walk oneself back to the dormitories after a late night of studying, simply because while campus and the town surrounding it were well-lit, there is always the danger of assault or worse happening late at night.

If Mike is a lesser Edward, then if Bella's fully still queasy and otherwise unsteady on her feet, then it's likely Mike's pride and self-image will stop him from taking advantage of Bella. But if the walk has done her good, well, now Mike is alone with her, and there are plenty of places where he could guide her on her way to the nurse where it would be easy to cop a feel or do worse. I'm not sure that his pride has been hurt to the point where he would consider this at this point in the narrative, but it could be possible. Mike strikes me as the kind of person that would do those kinds of things in a group setting, rather than risk someone hurting him or getting away if he tried to do it individually.

Even if this isn't the case, though, the situation is bad on all counts - if nothing happens, it's easy for Bella to say that Mike felt her up. Or easy for Mike to say that she came on to him. There's no witness until Edward arrives (and he's not exactly the paragon you want to back up your side of the story). To prevent accusations of Conduct Unbecoming A Gentleman, it really would have been better for Bella to go with a female friend, or with a male and a female friend. Mike, were he a better person, might have had the presence of mind to insist on someone else coming for that very reason. It's why professionals who work with children are never supposed to be with them alone. Mr. Banner should know this, and should not be sending Mike out alone with Bella. Jessica or Angela would have been better choices.

As for the discussion of Isabella's weight, and the implications on her frame, it would suggest that Bella is not very tall (or suffers from an eating disorder, as has been discussed in earlier posts) - I'm going to steal a page from Amarie's book here and suggest that Bella is supposed to be small-framed, because that makes her more childlike in appearance, which allows her to be more childlike in nature and in getting what she wants. Since her self-descriptors are usually about tantrums, sulking, petulance, and other things that are normally associated with a child, and we talk a lot about her stunted childhood with Renee, it makes sense for me to think of Bella as small-framed.

Yet attractive to a wide range of teenage and middle-aged men, as well, so it can't really be that everyone likes her in the way they would relate to a kid sister, right?

Otherwise we have a certain potential for Anne Rice-type creepiness as to what Edward (and the rest of Forks) finds attractive about Bella. Brrr, it's a Dark Sketch in here, suddenly.

That said, Edward, you're a jerk. Sweeping the girl who is headed to the nurse because of nausea off her feet and cradling her? She should vomit on you for that stupidity alone. Plus, if Bella really does have inner ear problems, the sudden orientation change would only make things worse. Why, again, does Bella keep going back to the boy who shows continual and callous disregard for her health and well-being?

Ana Mardoll said...

Okay, TW rape and full privilige disclaimer, I'm male and have never given this situation any thought but: Is the Mike situation really such a high risk case?


Beyond the usual Schrodinger's Rapist issues, Mike has repeated shown himself to consider his needs more important than Bella's and to aggressively pursue them, as we saw when she turned him down for the school dance and he tried to bully her into changing her plans. Men who do not take no for an answer in one situation are men who are very likely to not take no for an answer in other situations. See, Schrodinger's Rapist.

Ana Mardoll said...


Plus, there's the bit you mentioned about rapists who don't see themselves as rapists. I think that if Mike were a rapist, he'd be like that.

Rapists who do not see themselves as rapists still rape in more ways than the one you mention. If you read the link I posted, you will see those rapists include men who answered yes to the following:

1) Have you ever attempted unsuccessfully to have intercourse with an adult by force or threat of force?

2) Have you ever had sexual intercourse with someone who did not want you to because they were too intoxicated to resist?

3) Have you ever had intercourse with someone by force or threat of force?

4) Have you ever had oral intercourse with someone by force or threat of force?

Ana Mardoll said...

[tw: rape]

Three other things:

1. Please do not refer to stranger rapists as "psychopaths". Applying a psychological personality disorder label to someone when the only evidence is that they rape strangers creates the impression that ONLY people with personality disorders rape strangers. Which means that when Bob is accused of raping a stranger, we all say "Oh, not Bob, he's obviously not a psychopath." Not all stranger rapists are psychopathic and not all psychopaths rape strangers.

2. Please do not implicitly "rate" rape methods as one being worse than the other by implying that stranger-rapes are a special kind of evil or require a special personality disorder to commit them. I could argue that it takes a far more depraved individual to rape a friend than to rape a stranger, but regardless I would like to keep rape comparisons off the board as much as possible.

3. Please do not refer to rape as "getting into [a girl's] panties". This may be me being prickly today, but I did not like that whimsical turn of phrase for something that -- statistically -- 1 in 6 readers here have experienced.

I hope this doesn't come off like I'm picking on you, because I don't want to. I appreciate that you acknowledge you have privilege on this issue, so I hope this helps you frame future communications. :)

chris the cynic said...

Is Twilight not searchable on google books any more? Or have I just forgotten how to search inside a book?

The random specific mention of Bella's weight made me want to to quickly look to see what other description we have of Bella and if weight comes up in other places, but I'm not seeing a way to search Twilight. I think more and more I understand why people like ebooks. I own a copy of Twilight (thanks again) but it would be impractical to read through the entire book every time I wonder how often weight is mentioned. It's much easier when you can enter a search term and pretty much instantly have a list of every instance.


On the subject of weight as it's treated in the real world, I've noticed a tendency to assume that people who do meet present standards of beauty do so because they are pressured into it without considering the possibility that that's actually how they'd choose to be.

I remember, for example, reading someone writing that the assumed the reason Jewel Staite lost weight after leaving Firefly was that she had been forced to by the beauty standards of the industry and wouldn't have been able to work otherwise. The reason was actually that she'd been forcing herself to eat more than she wanted to to maintain a Kaylee level of bodyfat because that's what the role had required, when she was no longer in the role she ate as she pleased and thus lost weight.

Certainly some people are the way they are because that's what they're pressured into being, but there seems to be a tendency to assume that there's no such thing as someone who would be that way of their own free will. Anything else in the spectrum of of human experience might be a choice, but fall into the culturally approved category and you're just succumbing to outside pressure*. That's always struck me a problematic.

My first thought on reading the discussion in the thread was the title of a movie I know nothing about. It was called, "Real Women Have Curves." I don't know anything about the movie, a quick search tells me that it was made in 2002, is based on a play, and involves immigrants in LA, but all that I remembered about it was the title. I remember when I originally saw it advertised I immediately wondered what that was saying about women who aren't so curvy. As far as I know, there's no way to read, "Real women have X," without it saying, "If you don't have X you don't count/aren't a real woman."


* Mind you this goes way beyond body type. It actually seems to apply to everything. For example, I've seen similar things be done with taste in music. If you like something that isn't mainstream it's assumed you genuinely like it, if you like something that is mainstream it's assumed that you're a mindless drone who does what your corporate masters tell you to do. I never really understood that, but I see it with all sorts of things.

Ana Mardoll said...

Chris, they hide it. I always have to do a google search of "google books search Twilight" to find it. No idea why.

But, yes, ebooks are my joy. :D

There is a strong body of work on "set theory" and how bodies basically strive to be a certain size that varies by individual. That KateHarding site has a lot of good material, as does Linda Bacon's book.

Apparently, for cultures where women are encouraged to "size up" for the wedding, we see similar results as here in America for sizing down: the person is able to change their weight initially but then over the next 5 years the weight returns to the original spot, even if the person is maintaining a constant input/output activity. The metabolism adjusts in response to get back to the set point. Fascinating stuff -- it looks like only about 2% of humans can maintain a serious permanent body weight change past a 5 year point. Or so I've read; I'm not a scientist.

chris the cynic said...

But, yes, ebooks are my joy. :D

Speaking of that, my mother got a Kindle for Christmas. I'm probably going to point her your way so she can keep track of the deals you announce if nothing else.

Right now the only thing on her Kindle is a dictionary. I know that the world is full of free books (in large part because books were invented so very long ago and copyright expires) do you have any recommendations on what one might want to fill a Kindle with when the only thing on it is a lonely dictionary?

Obviously at some point she's going to start buying books for it (hence the plan to let her know about deals), but at the moment it apparently feels so very empty and I figure free books would be a good way to change that.

Ana Mardoll said...

Hey, absolutely! On the Blog Bounce, there's Books on the Knob:

They have a lot of good free/deal recommends. And if you go to iReader:

On the right-hand side you can sign up for a daily newsletter that gathers up free Kindle books. It's a good newsletter.

If she gets to the point where she sets up an Amazon wish list for pricier books that she wants to wait on until there's a sale, this place imports your wish list and emails you when the prices change. VERY useful:

Brin Bellway said...

chris the cynic: As far as I know, there's no way to read, "Real women have X," without it saying, "If you don't have X you don't count/aren't a real woman."

I think you can do "Real women have a female identity", but that's about it. (And I wouldn't be surprised if even that's too simplified.)

Hang on, Mom sent me a blog post she found about this a few months back. Here it is: "Real Women", by Hanne Blank. The message is nice, though this bit:

"You are not the authority on what “real” human beings are, and who qualifies as “real” and on what basis. All human beings are real.

Yes, I know you’re tired of feeling disenfranchised. It is a tiresome and loathsome thing to be and to feel. But the tit-for-tat disenfranchisement of others is not going to solve that problem."

struck me as contradictory, and in a way that, as best I can tell, could have been avoided simply by using "people" instead of "human beings".

I am a real woman. (Or maybe a real girl. Eighteen's kind of a grey area.) I am not a real human being.

(I pointed this out to Mom at the time. Mom, who knows about the existence of otherkin but not me specifically, was surprised I'd thought of it. I didn't take the opportunity to tell her.)

For example, I've seen similar things be done with taste in music. If you like something that isn't mainstream it's assumed you genuinely like it, if you like something that is mainstream it's assumed that you're a mindless drone who does what your corporate masters tell you to do.

How do you even define "mainstream", anyway?

Girls in their early teens or slightly younger are practically required to obsess over a minimum of one band. Mine was Genesis. Is this mainstream (it's commonly heard on store radios), or not (it's not something you'd expect to be the Band Obsession Quota for a 21st-century girl)?

(Well, I think it's close enough to count as the Band Obsession Quota. It was really more of a platonic infatuation* that happened to be about a band. Unlike the standard form, while I loved the music, I didn't really give a shit about the people producing the music. I certainly did not lust after the lead singer as I was "supposed" to. It'd be a bit weird lusting after someone who was five times my age.)

*Best part of autism. Especially if you're aromantic and it's the only kind of infatuation you can get.

Ana Mardoll said...

Brin, speaking as someone who frequently uses "human being" in place of "people", thank you for bringing that up. I wouldn't have thought about that from an otherkin perspective and I will try to keep that in my mind now. Thank you. :)

chris the cynic said...

struck me as contradictory, and in a way that, as best I can tell, could have been avoided simply by using "people" instead of "human beings".

I will try to keep this in mind, but I'm almost certain that I will fail quite frequently.

I am a real woman. (Or maybe a real girl. Eighteen's kind of a grey area.) I am not a real human being.

Out of curiosity, what are you?

who knows about the existence of otherkin

I have only the vaguest peripheral sense of what the word means, but from the little bit that I have tangentially encountered I gather that the fact I feel pain where wings would attach to my back were I an angel as depicted in various artistic traditions might in some way be related to that. The lack of wings started acting up when I read about people not being human.

I've been thinking about building myself wings for a while. (I've got a partial prototype out of balsa wood.) I think it's kind of strange to want useless limbs (it's not as if one could fly with them) but I really do want them very much. Feathers are expensive, I keep on meaning to ask people if there is a good way to make cheap fake feathers.

And just thinking about it makes the lack of wings ache.


How do you even define "mainstream", anyway?

I honestly have no idea.

My musical tastes are mostly from before I was born, so I've never been a part of an active musical scene anyway.

Where it gets really weird is that I know people who have stopped liking things just because other people started to like them. Not because the music changed, just because the thing was popular now.

Brin Bellway said...

I wouldn't have thought about that from an otherkin perspective and I will try to keep that in my mind now.

You're welcome. It's one of the easier ones to replace, since "person" is already well-known and accepted. "Dehumanise" is a little harder, but recently I heard of "depersonify". It's a good word, I think: species-inclusive and intuitive, especially when spoken aloud. To personify is to ascribe personhood to a non-person object, so depersonifying is the reverse. The visceral horror will come with use.

chris the cynic: Out of curiosity, what are you?

Alien. Not a kind you'd have heard of; they're not in any human stories (at least, not any that I or Google know of). I've never put the name on the Internet as being what I am, just once claiming it as a fragment of a story I never expected to actually write. I can't draw well enough to make a self-portrait, but she happens to look fairly close*. (The main difference is the hair. My hair is more or less like my human body's: waist-length, brown-verging-on-black, and no hair gel.)

from the little bit that I have tangentially encountered I gather that the fact I feel pain where wings would attach to my back were I an angel as depicted in various artistic traditions might in some way be related to that.

That misled me for a while when I first encountered the term. I don't have any phantom limbs, and the first things I read sort of implied it was a requirement. (Then again, what phantom limbs could I have? Look at my self-image in silhouette and you could easily mistake me for human.) I didn't deliberately go searching for more otherkin stuff after that, but the autism and multiplicity blogospheres are intertwined and the multiplicity and otherkin Tumblr-spheres are intertwined to the point that nearly all Tumblrs about multiplicity will end up posting a fair bit of otherkin stuff. Turns out there's room for me too.

I don't think you necessarily need to be non-human in identity to have phantom wings. The only (other) human with phantom wings I personally know later discovered eir inner badgermole**, but I'm sure there are such people out there who stay human.

Trouble was, everyone else seemed to know what they were talking about so most stuff went over my head.

Hmm...*searches memory* Maybe you could try poking around Kinspeak. I don't read it regularly myself, but there might be some useful information in there.

*Because DS9 just wasn't awesome enough.

**Though badgermoles don't have wings either. Species can be complicated.

Cupcakedoll said...

*grin* Otherkin here too, and while I have no problem with with "human being" when other people use it, I still braincough when I have to call myself one. I tend to use "upright biped" or "humanoid" instead because I'm from a family of science/vocabulary nerds in this lifetime. =)

Kit Whitfield said...

TW: sexual threat/assault

Not to condone or make light of his eagerness to hang Bella around his shoulders, but that's the kind of thing I could picture someone like Mike being able to defend himself doing. Hey, she needed to lean on him to walk right, he was just doing her a favor as far as anyone is able to prove. But any more than that? To me that sounds like it requires the same psychopathic attitude as stranger-rape would require.

Well, sorry, but that's not what it's like from a female perspective. Sexual assault and harassment are not things that only Very Extremely Bad In An Easily Diagnosable Way people do.

Mike's already harassing Bella by taking advantage of her in a moment of weakness. The text clearly states that he's eager to take the opportunity to touch her and get her alone when she's in no position to argue about it. Such a person does not merit the benefit of the doubt.

If you want to see rapists as an either-or, I think you need to revise your either-ors. It's not 'Either you'd commit a psychopathic stranger-rape, or you wouldn't.' It's 'Either you absolutely respect people's boundaries and never try to pressure or take advantage, or you wouldn't.' Mike doesn't absolutely respect Bella's boundaries, and he does try to pressure and take advantage. He is therefore a threat.

The thing is, men who don't respect women's boundaries are very good at justifying themselves to themselves. And if Mike can justify to himself taking advantage of a moment of illness to force his attention on a girl who's already turned him down, he can justify other things to himself as well.

Maybe he wouldn't. But it's not reasonable to say 'He's not such a creep that he wouldn't.' He's already proven that he's creepy. And - here's another important thing - creepily isolating yourself with a girl in a vulnerable moment? That's going to be experienced by her as an assault even if you don't go any further. It's an assault on her sense of safety rather than her body, but her sense of safety is important.

You sound as if you're treating Mike's hanging around Bella as a piece of behaviour you can isolate. It's not. It's an example of his attitude, and his attitude is not that Bella's boundaries are absolute. Therefore, he cannot be considered sexually safe.


I heard of "depersonify". It's a good word, I think: species-inclusive and intuitive, especially when spoken aloud. To personify is to ascribe personhood to a non-person object, so depersonifying is the reverse.

I understand the word 'personify' differently: it means to create a fictional 'personification' of an abstract concept, or else to refer to a person as being the 'personification' of an abstract concept to say that they're an extreme example of it.* So to my ears, 'depersonify' sounds like something you'd do in literary analysis rather than something you'd do with an actual person. Ascribing personhood is, I think, more usually described as anthropomorphising.


Bificommander said...

My apologies Ana (and others), I see that I was not as succesfull in navigating the minefield of Unfortunate Implications as I had hoped. On my use of 'psychopath' and rating: I'm sorry about my careless use of language there. I by no means imply that someone who forces himself (or herself in rare cases) on a friend is in any way less depraved than someone who does it to a stranger, and certainly that it isn't any less awefull for the victim. The point I meant to get across was related to your reference to rapists who don't think of themselves as rapists. Even though such people have pretty much the same lack of respect for their targets wishes or wellbeing as the 'stranger-rapist', I pictured them, based on your description, as the type of men who use the "When girls say no they mean yes"-defense. Often to others, but I imagine they use that excuse for themselves too. This is not to imply they are any better, but how I thought a fake-nice-guy like Mike might perceive himself as being better.

As for the psychopath-description, I wasn't entirely happy with it myself, but I carelessly used it for a lack of anything better. I shouldn't have. I wanted a shorthand for 'person who knows something is hurtfull to others but doesn't care" as opposed to my idea of the Schrodinger's rapist with more of a 'person who thinks or pretends to think it isn't hurtfull'.

The panties comment was foolish, it was written from Mike's perspective, but I agree it wasn't such a hot line that I needed to include it with no regard to how else it could've been written.

Go ahead and point out any unfortunate comments I make. I promise I'll do my best to avoid any pointed out in the future (and I'll try to scan ahead for new ones myself).

I do still wonder though, am I in any way close in estimating that Edward looks once again much more creepy here, what with him grabbing a Bella who, by her own request was sitting down for a moment (something Mike at least did when she asked), ignores her demand to be put down and decides on his own to take her somewhere without the order of the (admittedly pretty useless and unattentive) authority figure of the Hulk, and tells her only accompanying person that he needs to leave them, now?

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you, Bificommander, for taking my thoughts onboard. :)

As for Edward, yes, I do think Edward is worse than Mike when it comes to respecting Bella's boundaries. When he picks her up over her protests, he is clarifying that her protests are not meaningful to him. This might make sense from a medical point of view, but even were that the case, this would not be how one goes about it.

A better Edward would kneel down to eye-level with Bella and say something like, "I know it's embarrassing to be sick, but we really have to get you to the nurse as quickly as possible. I'm going to carry you now," and then pick her up gently. Bonus points for asking Mike to come along and hold open the door to the nurse's office. All of that would convey that Bella's feelings about her illness are important and that her safety (and not wrangling over her attentions) is paramount.

The reason I beat up on MIke this week is simply because there is a tendency to see him as "good" simply because he is "less bad" than Edward, and it doesn't work that way. Both of them ignore Bella's wishes, intrude on her personal space, and take advantage of her illness. The fact that Mike does these things less 'effectively' than Edward does not make him a good guy. :)

chris the cynic said...

It seems like people are grading on a curve. They're concluding Mike must be good because he's so much less bad than Edward. Instead of comparing him to Edward they could be comparing him to who he could be, which would be not-a-jerk Mike. When that's your standard you can see that he's failing pretty badly.

With a low enough standard almost anyone can look good in comparison, consider the very low standard brought up last week, "I think you could make an argument for Edward being "not bad" in the sense that he's (at least currently) trying really hard not to be a murderer."

Mike isn't as bad as Edward, Edward isn't currently killing anyone. That doesn't make either of them good, it just means that they're not as depraved as they could be. If instead of comparing how they are to the worst they could possibly be we compared it to the best they could possibly be, we'd get a more useful evaluation.

Amarie said...

To add something else, I think that one of the other reasons that so many people like Mike (in comparison to Edward) is because the audience, like Ana, finds itself struggling to like *something* or *someone* in Twilight. I mean, we’re not even on chapter ten and so many people can’t stand the heroine that they’re supposed to sympathize with and cheer for. And you sure as hell don’t like the hero. So that’s two *main characters* that you can’t stand. I think that’s an intense dissonance because we’re told that we’re *supposed* to like them, if not love them. I find it kind of ironic, because that puts the audience in the *same* place that Bella is often in; that is, struggling with what they’re *supposed* to feel and what they *actually do* feel. And shallowly liking Mike-as well as other characters-serves as a kind of remedy to that dissonance, I think.

And, in a way, I think that’s why audience doesn’t see Mike’s behavior towards Bella as problematic. Subconsciously (I really, really think I could be wrong), we don’t really *want* Bella to be treated with dignity and respect because we dislike her so much. We’ve already seen mountains of evidence that, no matter what you do, Bella Swan isn’t someone that explicitly shows gratitude or even simple likeness. What’s more is that this is a heroine that has spiteful thoughts about just about everyone, especially Mike. That being said, maybe the audience feels a vicarious sense of revenge/victory through Mike’s treatment of Bella. The added appeal could be that he does it in a *much* subtler way than Edward. So it makes it much easier to attach ‘Good Guy That’s The Only Thing I Like About Twilight’ to him.

Oh!!! And on a side note, I sent the email, Ana. ^ ^

Kirala said...

As a high school teacher, I can say that I would definitely have sent Bella to the office with a reliable female friend. If she needed support, I might also send a reliable guy. Re: Bificommander's question, believe me, it's possible for teenagers to find places for consensual activity in any school, which argues that the odds for something worse are noticeably greater than zero. I would be concerned about the potential for a scene just like we see here sending any girl out alone with an average boy. Then again, I'm female - I've spent my life watching out for these sorts of scenarios.

Re: human beings vs. people - one of the things that astonishes me occasionally in the new Doctor Who (don't know about the old) is the way characters will refer to "people" as synonymous with "human being" and in opposition to "sentient non-human being". (Most pronounced in the episode "The End of the World", which, being the second of New Who, might have still been finding its feet.) Why, in a series expressly dealing with non-human sorts of people, would they choose to cripple their language use this way? I no understand.

kbeth said...

Ana, while I normally agree with your analyses, I have to admit that I don't see everything that you're seeing here.

I agree that a competent high school teacher shouldn't send Bella out with a high school boy. Given that Mike volunteered, I might have let him go with her, but also picked one of her female friends (assuming one of them is in Biology with her) and asked her to go with both Mike and Bella. I also absolutely agree that this is a really creepy situation for Bella, based on the interactions she and Mike have had, and regardless of what's going on in Mike's head.

But I think you may be reading too much into the description of Mike being "eager" (though, I guess that is what your tagline says you do :) ). It reads to me like he's living out a teenage boy fantasy of Saving the Pretty Girl -- "Now I will be really nice and helpful and then she'll be grateful and see how awesome I am!" -- and he's eager to be the hero who helps her. Still really creepy, but that is a situation that generally precludes rape, if only because the point is for the guy to act like a gentleman in order to win the girl's trust. Of course, that situation is arguably even creepier, so that's not really a win for Mike.

On the other hand, his defensiveness when Edward shows up seems pretty innocuous to me. I mean, we know that Mike thinks Edward and Bella don't like each other -- the lunchroom scene was right before this, right? And Edward said that Mike thought Edward was being threatening towards Bella? So when Edward comes rushing up, Mike naturally tries to, you know, defend them. Who knows what this weird threatening guy might do if he thinks the situation is going the wrong way? (The way Mike shifts blame onto Bella is a pretty bad way to do that, admittedly.) And of course, there's the part where they're students out of class. Then his protest later, "I'm supposed to take her to the nurse" -- well, again, that seems pretty justified. Mike's job right now is to make sure that Bella gets to the nurse and is okay -- and suddenly this weird guy who doesn't like Bella, and who Bella clearly doesn't like (she even says "Go away"), rushes up and wants to carry her off on his own. It seems to me that if there's a reason to dislike Mike here, it's because he only gives a token protest, instead of a full-throated one.

Ana Mardoll said...

@ kbeth,

That's fair. I think a major obstacle in decon'ing Twilight is that a lot of the time the text is so vague that it's impossible to not come up with different interpretations of the text. For instance: is Mike "eager" because he gets to touch Bella or "eager" because he gets to rescue her? Because the mention of "eager" occurs in the same sentence as touching her, I linked the two, but I can see an alternate interpretation where he's "eager" in a different sense.

Of course, it sounds like we both still arrive at the same place: Mike shouldn't have been sent alone, Mike shouldn't be "eager" to benefit from Bella being sick, Mike shouldn't shift blame onto Bella, and Mike shouldn't have *not* followed Edward to ensure Bella's safety. It sounds like we agree on the points, just not the way to get there, and I think we could probably blame some of that on the vagueness of the text. :D

depizan said...

If I were Mr. Banner, I'd have sent Bella to the nurse with a friend if I thought it was safe for her to move. I had fainting issues when I was a teen/young adult, and I know from personal experience that one can go from "I think I'm okay" to *splat* a hell of a lot faster than one would expect. And not necessarily when one would expect. I once - as a very early twenty-something - got my tetanus booster, drove from the doctor's office to Burger King, got food, got back out to my car... and had to have a little lie down really fast. After fainting, I felt much better, but opted to eat my food there in the parking lot just in case, before driving off to wherever I was off to next.

So, if I were Mr. Banner, I'd be worried about Bella getting part way to the nurse and going splat. (As very nearly happens in the text, actually.) It might be better to get Bella to somewhere away from the blood but not too far away and have the nurse come to her. Perhaps have a female friend sit with her in the hall or a nearby classroom if any aren't in use. Oh, and send someone to get some orange juice (or even a soda if no oj is available) from the cafeteria. A little blood sugar boost often helps.

TW: Body Issues

I have a friend with an eating disorder, so that probably makes me biased in a particular direction, but I find it very disturbing that Bella's weight is the only thing we know about her. We don't even have a height to go with it. I'm a fairly thin person, but I've weighed 125-130 since I was a freshman in high school. (I've been the same height since then, too.) If we didn't live in a culture that - I think - pushes women to at least have disordered thinking about weight if not have full-fledged eating disorders, giving her weight as 110 would be neutral. But we live in a culture that thinks there's nothing wrong with a popular diet company telling women that being hungry is the enemy. (How this is not straight up telling them to have an eating disorder, I don't know. I think it is, especially when women my size diet.) And that makes me feel like its not a good idea to give your (generic you) heroine a weight that is on the light side for an average height woman.

That's not to say that there's something wrong with someone weighing 110 naturally! Or that weighing more is more normal. I'd love it if our culture said it was okay to weigh whatever your genetics deemed you should weigh. (And I'd be thrilled with a book that had women of all sizes who were happy with their weight and treated as attractive, normal people. Men, too, for that matter. They might get it less, but they still get it.)

Of course, I'm still boiling mad over my workplace's wellness survey - which gave one (women, at least) the option of wanting to lose weight or, if you put in a weight that was under the ideal for one's weight, to gain it. No matter what weight you put in, the damned thing gave you those two options. And, even if you said you were fine with your weight, it insisted that you "manage" it. There's not enough swearing in the universe. There will never be enough swearing in the universe.

Ana Mardoll said...

TW: Body Acceptance

Wow, that really IS an amazing amount of Fail. So we're all supposed to be working toward the SAME weight? I have seen the future, and in it we are Xerox people. o.O

depizan said...

TW: Body/Weight Issues

It's worse than that. I could literally change the weight by one pound and have it go from asking if I wanted to gain (or lose) weight to asking if I wanted to lose (or gain) weight. I've forgotten what the cut of weight was, but it went something like:

Me: WTF is this shit? *keeps entering lower and lower weights without changing my height to see if it would stop asking me if I was interested in losing weight, finally gets to 117 (or something like that)*
computer: Would you like to gain weight?
Me: WTF!? *enters 118*
computer: Would you like to lose weight?
Me: &^*^%$##$^%^&&*)(*(*%$#!!!!!!! *exits program, writes scathing email to HR*

Either 117 1/2 is the magic weight (but impossible to enter) or there is no weight at which one is okay. You should either lose weight or gain it. And you must, above all else manage your weight. Unmanaged weight is dangerous, you know. Why, just this year seven young children and two elderly ladies were savaged by unmanaged weight!

Ana Mardoll said...

TW: Body Acceptance


Well, obviously if you were allowed to relax at 117, then the power structure would fall apart. Better to keep you constantly focused on ping-ponging between 117 and 118. *lolsob*

Kit Whitfield said...

TW: rape, abusive language

Still really creepy, but that is a situation that generally precludes rape, if only because the point is for the guy to act like a gentleman in order to win the girl's trust.

Necessarily? It indicates several things:

1. He has poor insight into and empathy for her feelings.

2. He does not respect her boundaries.

3. He sees a vulnerable situation as something to take advantage of.

4. His attitude towards her is fundamentally self-centred.

5. He feels that if he does the right things then he's entitled to expect a return. It may only be a return of esteem, not sex, but I wouldn't bet my safety on it.

It also assumes that his motives are what he says they are. So assuming he only wants to impress her and get her attention, I still don't think that precludes raping her later. He could very easily tell himself, 'I did everything right, you ungrateful bitch - I'll show you!'

But in real life, I wouldn't even bet on his motivations being that easy to trust. A man or boy might indeed act like a gentleman in order to win the girl's trust, just long enough to get her to drink the drink or let him into her room. Few rapists jump out of the bushes; many of them use persuasion and manipulation to isolate their victims before employing force.

If a young man were planning to rape a girl in his class, it's unlikely he'd be stupid enough to act ungentlemanly in a moment when she faints. That would make it less likely the teacher would allow him to take her away.

In this scenario, no, Mike is probably just trying ham-handedly to impress Bella. Or else he's trying to impress her with what, in this world, is standard courtship behaviour, ie imposing rescue on a girl who says she doesn't want it, and the only difference between him and Edward is that Bella finds the latter attractive and hence welcomes those same advances. The same behaviour can be welcome or unwelcome depending on whether you fancy the person doing it. But in the real world, I would not assume one could trust a boy acting that way, and hence it raises questions about how the scene was written.

Izzy said...

Except at the *very* extreme ends, I generally fail to see any point to specifying numbers when talking about a character's physical attributes. (...heh. Including those. Especially those, unless you're writing really awful Penthouse Letters. Sex scenes are not the place for a stat block.) Something like "holy shit, he was eight feet tall". sure. Otherwise, it's not how people think of each other, and it's not how people think of themselves most of the time, so...why?

I can think of a couple reasons, but few of them say anything good about the author.

On "real women": Ugh. Hate that phrase. Hate it for the reasons specified above; also hate it because OKC will periodically feature guys who talk about wanting "a real woman" or "someone real". Makes me want to write them all "Last I checked, I was not a hologram," or "Inflata-Annie sprang a leak, huh?"

Of course, as far as I can tell, "someone real" means "someone who won't expect me to have fashion sense or table manners". In some cases, "someone who won't expect me to shower more than annually."

Ana Mardoll said...

In some cases, "someone who won't expect me to shower more than annually."


Kit Whitfield said...


Cupcakedoll said...

"someone who won't expect me to shower more than annually."

According to the wonderful Mary Roach in Packing for Mars some large percentage of the population-- like 30% or 50%-- can't smell body odor. At least that's what I think she meant. If true, that would explain... a lot, starting with why I can smell some of our customers coming while my co-worker can't.

Now go read the book, it's great!

Mime_Paradox said...

OKCupid DOT com. Free, and occasionally awesome, dating site. Also, not a bad place to make pen pals.

As I'm reading Twilight for the first time (I'm at chapter 8 ) I actually find myself disliking Mike more than I dislike Edward, even knowing how much bigger an asshat Edward is. Mike reminds me of myself, which makes me go "ew, Ian"--a much more visceral response than anything I feel about Edward, whom I don't feel myself ever being capable of ever being and whose brand of badness feels more obviously bad and therefore less dangerous.

Ana Mardoll said...

I would have guessed Oklahoma City. *laughs*

Ana Mardoll said...


I think I dislike Mike more, too, and I think for the same reason: he seems more likely to be a person one is likely to be/bump-into than Edward. Edward seems... a little over-the-top sometimes.

Do you think Mike is a Nice Guy (TM)? I'm struggling with that. We just don't have as much text to go on as I would like/want.


You know that Jessica likes Mike, but did you know they've already dated in the past? I did not get that from the text AT ALL.

Rakka said...

Brin, thanks for the natural-sounding ungendered pronoun tip! Spivak pronouns shall be my new friends. I find singular they somehow very distancing, and zie doesn't feel right, but e is pretty much perfect. It needs more usage.

Brin Bellway said...

I default to singular they myself, but Spivak is eir preferred pronouns.

chris the cynic said...

You know that Jessica likes Mike, but did you know they've already dated in the past? I did not get that from the text AT ALL.

Where does this information come from and how much can we trust it? Because I'm not feeling it. At all.

Can this be discussed without adding an "at all" to the end?

Amarie said...

I just wanted to say that I am currently pissed at both Ana Mardoll and Kit Whitfield. I was calmly eating my pre-exercise breakfast when I read their responses to Izzy.

And I’m still coughing from laughing so hard and nearly choking on my soy milk. And I have aerobic power walking to do in less than forty-five minutes (I wait for it to digest), so breathing is kind of important. Not a lot, but kind of. As a result, I refuse to internet-hug them for an indefinite amount of time.

Yes, I’m talking to Ana Mardoll and Kit Whitfield. May they be tickled mercilessly. *cue Epic Disney’s Hunchback of Notre Dame music*

*ahem* But to everyone else! :D

I…*think* that Mike and Jessica were *not* dating before Bella came along, Ana. In fact, you’re right that the text doesn’t really give that impression. What’s more is that we explicitly know Jessica asked *Edward* out at one point, and it couldn’t have been that long ago if she’s still a case of ‘sour grapes’ as Bella put it. If I may, I think you asked that because, again, Bella (and/or the author) is pairing people off that she barely knows and, consequently, who barely seem to know *each other*. Heck, you can almost read the text as stating that Jessica is just a *second-best choice* to Bella. And that is, of course, not a reason to want to go to the dance with someone, among other things.

And a large part of the problem with that, I think, is that Mike and Jessica aren’t the only couple that don’t seem to even *like* each other. What I’m getting at is that there’s an ongoing trend in the text where couples are paired together not so much because you get the sense that they *do* love/like/are interested in each other, but because one of the main rules in the Twilight world is that you can’t be single. Or, at least, single and perfectly happy. It’s like there’s this great phobia of individuality and independence in general; you get the impression that the author wouldn’t know what to do with a character that doesn’t necessarily want a relationship, children, a big family, etc. And so you come up with all these codependent characters that are just nine kinds of unhealthy.

On a side note…

I *know* I keep bringing up Breaking Dawn and I am *so* sorry!! But, this thought wouldn’t get out of my head: if the vampires are so cultured, well-learned, and have travelled extensively…

…Then wouldn’t it make more sense for, err…there to be more*interracial* covens? I’m talking about all of the vampires that come from all around the world to be witnesses for the Cullen family. If the vampires are *truly* so great that they transcend all ‘basic human instincts’, then that includes transcending the tendency to ‘stay with your own kind’, correct? I’m sorry, but I just keep seeing one of the Amazons falling in love with one of the Spanish vampires. And then I see a cute British vampire being one of the adopted daughters of the Egyptian coven. And so forth…

Not to mention…am I the only one that would have written all of these vampire couples, stopped and thought, ‘Wait a minute…why are all these guys heterosexual? Huh…let me just change three or four of them, then…’

I just…I don’t know. Maybe it’s just me and my biases. I myself am mostly attracted to white guys (long story short, I’ve tried to ‘fix’ myself to not be so attracted to them…to no avail. v.v). And my own mother-and her entire side of the family, for that matter-is biracial. I guess I just have blinders on…?

Ana Mardoll said...

AHAHAHA. I'm glad I'm not the only one who was all "WHAT. NO."

That is according to the VERY OFFICIAL COMPLETE ILLUSTRATED GUIDE TO TWILIGHT by Stephenie Meyer. Here is the relevant page. There is, in my opinion, nothing in the text to support this and a good deal that contradicts it. I'm baffled by it, to be totally honest.

Ana Mardoll said...

And, I think it's a very good point that the covens in Real Life would likely be more inter-racial and represent more than heterosexual couples.

Ana Mardoll said...

Mike has also, in case you were wondering (YES YOU WERE) dated Lauren. *dies laughing*

So I shouldn't have been so snarky about Bella matching up everyone perfectly. Apparently they all mix-and-match very nicely. :D

chris the cynic said...

I'm not convinced I believe anything the official guide says. I think we should make an unofficial guide that is more realistic. (No I don't, but in concept -rather than practice- it seems interesting.)

This does bring up a question for me, is anyone actually from Forks? Bella is from Arizona, Jessica from Texas, Mike from California, Edward from Vampireland.

Darth Ember said...

Eek, that picture. She looks... I don't know. Like she's just about to jump on someone, gleefully crying out "Hiss! I will eat your spleen!"
In other words, scary.

And oh, the illustrated guide. It has so much fail in it. Like the bit on the Romanian vampires, who are not actually Romanian because it wasn't Romania at the time, yet everyone still calls them that. The guide says they're from this place that predated Romania there... only it's more fail. Because the name given for their birthplace is of a country that existed for a while, then crumbled... long after they became vampires. So they're Romanians who aren't Romanians, yet are also not Whatever-ites, because SMeyer couldn't be bothered to line up the dates.

Amarie said...

*refuses to high-five Ana back and throws a teddy bear at her instead (take your pick of Care Bear or Build-A-Bear) *

*continues glaring at Kit for good measure and readies another teddy bear just in case*

I agree with Chris and Darth Ember about the Fails in the illustrated Guide.

And another point...I think we've all seen a guy like Mike Newton. He *looks* like a nice guy, but in the end he actually seems to want arm accessories. And, from the looks of it, girls line up to be that accessory, especially when Edward Cullen rejects them. So, I guess my point is that if he's dated *both* Jessica and Lauren...then doesn't that explicitly imply that Bella really *isn't* all that special and attractive? At least, not special and attractive out of the context of being the New Girl? If everyone is so interchangeable to everyone, then that tells me, personally, that Bella isn't really attractive so much as she's just considered one of many new fishes in the sea.

But then that might be the religious/conservative subtext. A *lot* of those people grow up in very, very, very, very tight-knit communities. Everyone knows everyone and everyone dates everyone. Grandparents were best friends and parents go to each others’ barbeques already knowing what to bring. The lines between family, friends and [private] sex life blur until the individual is washed away for the sake of [false] security. I think it’s that same fantastical theme of finding love without having to go out of your comfort zone, which can have a lot of problematic elements (see Imprinting). And, from a story writing standpoint, that’s probably the most comfortable setting for someone that has grown up in a similar environment and would feel very, very uncomfortable (or at least, unknowledgeable) writing a romance story where people actually *go out* and *find* their partners for life.

It reminds me so much of my research for my blog posts (“Why I Hate When They Said ‘Wait Until You’re Married’ is my current one). I found this incredible article on Purity Balls and the way Forks is set up just rings bells for me:

Ana Mardoll said...

In no particular order:

I rarely hold extra-text details as canon, but I'm interested to see that other people had the same reaction as I when I read that. I was afraid I was just totally missing something in text. And the official guide is pretty... I'm not sure HOW to describe it, really. In addition to EVERYONE being super-attractive (I've learned in my own efforts with Deviant Artists and Logo Artists that it is really hard to find an artist with a gallery of non-pretty people) and many of them being surprisingly Not-Of-Forks and a lot of the historical errors and... I lost my train of thought. It's not a bad book, and it's very interesting, but possibly not in the manner intended.

I do agree that the picture first made me think that a writhing-haired Medusa was about to eat my intestines. But in a good way, and it should be noted I watch a lot of Claymore. I guess I'm saying I liked the picture, but it wasn't how I envisioned Jessica.

I like Build-a-Bear. :)

Rikalous said...

The illustrator did a good job capturing Mike's personality. That is a remarkably punchable smirk.

I think it shall now be headcanon to me that Jessica is...let's say a ghoul, and she's just a lot nicer and better at being inconspicuous than the Cullens are.

Ana Mardoll said...

This made me laugh way too hard. Now I'm going to have the Monster High song stuck in my head all day. Don't google it; it's an ear worm.

Mime_Paradox said...

Mike and Jessica dated? To quote Professor Farnsworth: Wha...? Suddenly I'm imagining Jessica as having some Scott Pilgrim-like memory issues (because...Jasper?) that prevent her from remembering that she's totally been through this path before. I can sort of see it from Mike's side, although I'm flabbergasted at the though of him not telling Bella, since she seems so intent in pairing them up, and it's the perfect argument to use if you want to throw a monkey wrench into those efforts.

As for Mike's Nice Guy (TM)-ism, I'm not sure, since I usually associate the term with people whose lack of appeal means that they wouldn't be able to get a date, which isn't the case here. He feels more akin to the alleged asshats that Nice Guys (TM) typically complain about, whose only crime is being confident enough to make their interest known--except, of course, that he won't take "no" for an answer, which makes him an actual asshat and not an alleged one.

Ana Mardoll said...

I'm flabbergasted at the though of him not telling Bella, since she seems so intent in pairing them up, and it's the perfect argument to use if you want to throw a monkey wrench into those efforts.


I had not thought of this, but of course!

Bella: Sorry, I'll be out of town. You should totally tell Jessica you'll go with her.
Mike: I *can't*. We've dated once before and it didn't work out. I can't let my heart BE BROKEN AGAIN. *puppy eyes*
Bella: Um.

Rikalous said...

Because ghoul powers?

chris the cynic said...

I notice that the illustrated guide makes clear that:
1 Jessica is totally less desirable than Lauren.
2 Mike went from Lauren to Jessica.

Given that no one in Twilight seems interested in anyone for ... well any reason other than Meyer's objective scale of desirability it seems odd to me that Mike moved down the social ladder in his dating habits, unless he got dumped by Lauren but that would seem to screw with the presentation that seems to be that he can be with whomever he wants except Bella.

Silver Adept said...

Wooow. This is why you don't usually use extratextual materials in a deconstruction, eh? Too much contradiction to resolve?

However, as for Mike being a Nice Guy (TM), at this point in the text, I can't say yes or no, because we haven't seen Mike be passive-aggressive about his affection for Bella, nor have we seen any explicit "Hey, I did these things for you, you owe me." - but he is definitely Up To Eleven in the Jerk factor and in the belief that he can get women just by being Mike.

I'm still going with Occam at this point, which suggests that Mike Newton is someone of social status in Forks High School, and therefore has leeway to be more of a jerk (and to attract hangers-on that want to use his social power for their own ends) with the administration looking the other way or believing his facade instead of his true self. This dovetails nicely with Amarie's description of small-town life to suggest that even if Mike and Jessica had dated before, they'd do it again for reasons other than "because we think we're compatible". Or that Mike breaking up with Jessica before had some other motivation to it that "we're not compatible." There's got to be a roiling mass of town and school politics underneath Isabella's narrative of sparkly vampires. How she manages to avoid being caught in all of it is...strange, shall we say. Usually the new girl has someone to help her see the established patterns on her first day.

chris the cynic said...

I actually wrote this last night and then never posted it from some reason.

I don't think Mike is a Nice Guy because it seems to me that Mike is too up front about what he wants. I've always understood Nice Guys to be ones who, rather than just ask someone out, act like the friend of the girl or woman they're interested in in the belief that if they fake friendship for long enough they'll earn enough points to level up into a boyfriend because the girl will owe them. Or something like that.

Mike may very well think that by doing things for Bella she's going to owe it to him to become his girlfriend, but if he does he's not being a fake friend in this belief, he's being an open suitor. Bella knows what his interest in her is.

Maybe I've just misunderstood the use of the term, but as I understand it the fact that Mike is letting Bella know that he wants to be her boyfriend rather than trying to earn enough points so that she'll have to be under the guise of friendship means that he's not a Nice Guy. He may, or may not, have strong similarity to Nice Guys depending on the motivation behind his actions.

Ana Mardoll said...

This makes sense in my head, that the difference is the openness of the suit.

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