Yeeeeeeeah, I’m reasonably certain Stephenie Meyer has about as much respect for women as Fox News has unbiased programming. Seriously, guys, there’s misogynistic stuff aplenty in here. The chapter started out stronger than most, but ended with me feeling really gross and uncomfortable. Yikes.
Twilight, Chapter 8: Port Angeles
Gosh, where to begin? At the beginning, I suppose.
Okay, so this chapter starts with Bella, Jessica, and Angela heading out of town to Port Angeles to go dress shopping for the big dance coming up. Even though Bella isn’t going to the dance, she’s riding along to help her friends pick out their dresses. At first, everything seemed to be going well.
For literally one sentence. Then Stephenie Meyer shows how much respect she has for her own sex.
“It had been a while since I’d had a girls’ night out, and the estrogen rush was invigorating. We listened to whiny rock songs while Jessica jabbered on about the boys we were friends with.”
What the hell was that? Meyer is trying to show Bella having a good time…by writing possibly the most clichéd, sexist description of a girls’ night out ever? Stephenie Meyer, why do you hate women? This is nothing compared to what’s to come, either. Ugh.
So Bella mentions that she’s never been to a school dance before and Angela just can’t believe it. It amazes her that Bella has never had a boyfriend to go with. It’s apparently inconceivable that a girl might make it through high school without finding herself a big strong man to take her to dances. To her credit, Bella shrugs this off and doesn’t seem bothered in the least by the fact that she’s never had a boyfriend. It may be the one aspect of her life that she’s not self-conscious about.
Angela and Jessica find their dresses sooner than expected; they had planned to have dinner afterward but it’s too early, so Bella tells them she’d like to wander around alone for a while and that she’ll meet up with them at the restaurant.
I’d like to point out that so far, it’s actually not a bad chapter. The writing is decent and aside from that instance of oddly intense sexism in the beginning, there’s nothing terribly offensive. And the next bit as actually, dare I say it, well done.
Bella splits off from her friends and goes to find a bookstore. The only one she finds is a hippie-run spiritual healing sort of store, so she passes it by in search of something a bit more to her tastes. As she’s walking, she passes by a group of guys a little older than her, and since guys in their 20s are pigs, one of them gives her a hard time. Understandably, she’s a little freaked out, being on her own in an unfamiliar place and now confronted by a group of men who don’t quite seem the gentlemanly type. They pass her by, though, and she continues on her way, eventually becoming lost in the bad part of town.
As I read this, I actually found myself somewhat engrossed. I personally get a little nervous when I’m alone walking around like that, so I could sympathize with what Bella was feeling. Especially when she notices that two of the guys from before seemed to have doubled back and started following her. Meyer actually does a great job of building the tension as Bella tries to distance herself from the men all the while trying to subtly locate an escape route. And the tension is brought to a satisfying peak when Bella rounds a corner to freedom…only to see the other two guys further down the sidewalk. The moment when Bella realizes she had actually been herded was genuinely well-written and a little frightening. Sadly, EVERYTHING GETS TERRIBLE FROM HERE.
As Bella is approaching the group in front of her (she’s boxed in and has no choice but to proceed toward them), a car screeches around the corner and stops. The passenger door opens and Edward calls out to her. So Edward saves her YET AGAIN. But that’s not the worst part.
“‘Get in,’ a furious voice commanded.”
“I studied his flawless features in the limited light, waiting for my breath to return, until it occurred to me that his expression was murderously angry.”
That’s right. Edward is angry. SEEMINGLY AT BELLA. What? But wait, there’s more. As they drive away, Edward commands (Meyer’s word AND mine) Bella to belt up. He’s so angry that Bella, who was probably minutes away from at the very least an assault, had to ask him if he was okay. When he finally does get around to asking if she’s alright, here’s what happens word for word:
“‘Are you alright?’ He still didn’t look at me, but the fury was plain on his face.
“‘Yes,’ I croaked softly.
“‘Distract me, please,’ he ordered.
“‘I’m sorry, what?’
“He exhaled sharply.
“‘Just prattle on about something unimportant until I calm down,’ he clarified, closing his eyes and pinching the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger.”
Yeah. YEAH. That happened. He just respects he so much, guys. Their love is truly written in the stars. Eventually we learn that Edward is actually angry with the guys, but that doesn’t excuse his dick behavior toward Bella. And this isn’t the first time he’s saved her and then gotten angry with her, so I’m sure part of him is mad at her. And it seriously only continues getting worse. Ugh.
Edward drives them to the restaurant Bella said she was meeting Angela and Jessica at. And apparently, vampires drive as perfectly as they do everything else, because he drives too fast yet perfectly smoothly and parallel parks in a spot Bella was certain was too small. It was around this part that I realized how creepy it was that Edward just happened to be there at the right time to save her, but more on that later.
After he parks the car, they get out and Bella flags down her friends, who were so worried about Bella being late that they ATE DINNER WITHOUT HER. That’s friendship, folks. We also get to see Edward’s effect on other mortals. Apparently, his perfection doesn’t go unnoticed by others.
“‘Would it be alright if I joined you?’ he asked in his silken, irresistible voice. I could see from their staggered expressions that he had never unleashed his talents on them before.”
Stephenie Meyer, would you please just have sex with your character already so that we can move on? Pretty please?
Edward convinces Angela and Jessica to let him take Bella home so that she can eat first. Here’s the thing, though. Bella says flat out she’s not hungry. She said it when her friends told her they ate without her. She says it again when Edward says he’ll take her home so that she can eat. Edward doesn’t care because he clearly knows what’s best for her. He tells her she’s going to eat.
“Obviously, there would be no further discussion. I walked into the restaurant with a resigned sigh.”
Bella, you’re a moron.
We get to see more women go weak-kneed over Edward when he talks to the hostess and waitresses. And I mean that literally.
“He flashed his gleaming smile, dazing her momentarily.”
“She walked away unsteadily.”
That’s right. The waitress couldn’t walk straight BECAUSE EDWARD SPOKE TO HER. God I hate this book.
Bella gets cold and Edward offers her his jacket, which is cold despite the fact that he’s been wearing it. Ooooooooooh. Also, Bella sniffs it creepily and notes that what she’s smelling isn’t cologne. Ew. Then Meyer slips into a detailed description of Bella unrolling her silverware, picking up her fork, spearing a piece of ravioli, and chewing it. I’ve noticed this trend with her before. I think it’s her way of filling space or something. It’s really annoying.
It’s around this point that Edward unleashes the full power of his sexist condescension on Bella. Basically, this is the part that started making me feel uncomfortable as I read. You should know that none of this conversation is said with any sort of lightness or humor to it. Edward is dead serious the whole time.
“Only you could get into trouble in a town this small. You would have decimated their crime rate statistics for a decade, you know.”
Holy condescending dickweed, Batman! That’s right. Bella’s rape would have messed up Port Angeles’ crime statistics and IT WOULD HAVE BEEN ALL BELLA’S FAULT. Brace yourselves because his condescension isn’t over yet.
“You’re not a magnet for accidents—that’s not broad enough classification. You are a magnet for trouble. If there is anything dangerous within a ten-mile radius, it will invariably find you.”
Bella was almost assaulted, possibly raped, possibly murdered, and aside from a few lines of macho crap about wanting to go and kill them, Edward seems to be placing the vast majority of the blame on Bella. Seriously. And this is where the creep factor goes up to 11. I’m just going to give you the full paragraph and let you know ahead of time that not only does Bella not get upset by it, she actually appreciates it.
“‘I followed you to Port Angeles,’ he admitted, speaking in a rush. ‘I’ve never tried to keep a specific person alive before, and it’s much more troublesome than I would have believed. But that’s probably just because it’s you. Ordinary people seem to make it through the day without so many catastrophes.’ He paused. I wondered if it should bother me that he was following me; instead I felt a strange surge of pleasure. He stared, maybe wondering why my lips were curving into an involuntary smile.”
I could write an essay on just what’s wrong with this single paragraph, guys. Seriously, wtf? Where do I even start talking about this? Firstly, he somehow thinks it’s his responsibility to watch over little Bella because she always seems in need of rescuing. Wow. That’s bad enough. Then he just acts annoyed that Bella is always in need of rescuing even though no one asked him to be her knight in shining armor in the first place. Then, instead of feeling offended and violated and creeped out, Bella practically climaxes “When Harry Met Sally” style right there in the restaurant. She even gives a creepy involuntary smile of satisfaction.
Edward goes on to explain that he can’t hear Bella’s thoughts (convenient) but was tracking her by listening in on Jessica’s thoughts. Bear in mind, he still refuses to come out and admit that he’s a vampire. And she hasn’t accused him. But they’re talking about how he can read minds as if discussing the weather. When he gets to the part where he heard the thoughts of the guys and what they were going to do to Bella, well, he goes a little Shatner.
“‘I heard what they were thinking,’ he growled, his upper lip curling slightly back over his teeth. ‘I saw your face in his mind.’ He suddenly leaned forward, one elbow appearing on the table, his hand covering his eyes. The movement was so swift it startled me.
“‘It was very…hard—you can’t imagine how hard—for me to simply take you away, and leave them…alive.’ His voice was muffled by his arm. ‘I could have let you go with Jessica and Angela, but I was afraid if you left me alone, I would go looking for them,’ he admitted in a whisper.”
Edward is such a mystery to me, and that’s due entirely to Stephenie Meyer’s terrible writing. He acts simultaneously annoyed with Bella, treating her like more of an obligation or responsibility than a desire, and passionately concerned for her. The intensely passionate actions are those of someone who cares deeply for her, but his attitude and behavior this whole book is that of someone who just wishes he didn’t have to bother. It’s very contradictory. I get that he’s trying to push her away because he knows he’s not right for her. I get that because he literally told her that’s what he was doing. But I don’t see it. All I see is him being a dick while proclaiming he likes her. He mistreats Bella and says it’s for her own good. This is a classic abusive relationship and instead of highlighting it as dangerous and something to avoid, Meyer glorifies it as the epitome of romance. He loves her so much that he’s willing to treat her like garbage. How romantic…
The next chapter is called “Theory” and involves their drive home. I can only assume Bella is going to finally confront Edward with her insane (but naturally true) theory that he is a vampire. And I’m predicting he’ll be a bit more condescending back at her. I don’t even care. This chapter started a little shaky, got unexpectedly interesting, and then nosedived into the realm of extreme ick. I was actually prepared to like this chapter before Edward came in and hosed it down with his misogyny. He’s so convinced that it is his responsibility to constantly rescue Bella, even from herself. He knows what’s best for her, much better than she does. She may say she’s not hungry, but he knows otherwise. This goes back to chapter 5 when he carried her to the nurse and then physically dragged her to his car despite her protestations. Edward needs to exert his dominance over Bella and Bella, it would seem, needs to be dominated by a big strong man. For her own good, of course. Ugh. Just ugh.