Stephanie Meyers Gender Swaps The First Twilight Novel

Screen-Shot-2015-10-14-at-10.48.02-AM.png Remember that vampire series that sparked pop culture’s obsession with vampires falling in love with humans for a total of five years? Yeah, we’re talking about Twilight.

Ah, Twilight, the epic romantic tale of a sparkling, controlling vampire pledging his love for a teenage girl... who obviously lacks emotions and has a case of “damsel in distress” syndrome. Sure you might be asking yourself, “How is Twilight relevant right now?” Well, in honor of the decade anniversary of author Stephanie Meyers' first Twilight novel, surprising news came for Twilight fans worldwide.

Meyers has created a new version of the novel called Life and Death, which gender swaps the characters. Mopey Bella Swan is now Beau Swan, the awkward teenage boy who falls in love with the no longer Edward Cullen, but the beautiful vampire Edythe Cullen. Yes, the names could have been better, but the overall idea is one that has caught many fans’ attention. While the book may appear to be another fan fiction turned into a novel, Meyers hopes that this new rewrite will prove that her story isn’t sexist or merely another ‘damsel-in-distress’ story.

The original Twilight was criticized for its portrayal of women and since its audience consists mostly of teenage girls, critics have speculated the effect it would have on the adolescent idea of a perfect relationship. Bella was often pegged as boring, awkward, always crying, and so infatuated with Edward to the point that she wanted to kill herself when he left– talk about clingy. Basically, she is not exactly the best feminist role model for young girls to look up to. Regardless of gender, Meyers is trying to demonstrate that anyone would fall in love with an immortal, blood-sucking, sparkly vampire.

In the age of Bruce Jenner transitioning to Caitlin Jenner and Orange Is The New Black’s Ruby Rose describing herself as gender fluid, gender norms and constructions have become more of a discussion in pop culture, making the subject less taboo. Twilight may have switched gender roles, but fear not, the change in events has nothing to do with the gender. The characters all rely on human traits that are not gender specific. For example, Beau is now the numb, dull character who is known to trip over his own two feet. Just as Edward Cullen was wealthy, strong, and carried Bella on his back as he ran through Forks, Edythe shares the same qualities in her relationship with Beau. Edythe is the one who fights to protect Beau and even tells him in the book not to be invested in “antiquated gender roles.”

Many of the issues that stem from talking about gender is the understanding that it is a social construct that dictates how people should present themselves or act in society. That is why identifying as any gender or desiring to change your gender is becoming more of a reality in pop culture, as more opportunities are being given to people who don’t fit into the prototypical gender box. Gender is no longer what the doctor checked off for you. Now, society is starting to view gender as a choice that people make for themselves.

This new Twilight novel represents a huge step in our society by showing gender fluidity in gender-swapping its characters. In the end, our actions, personalities, and representations aren’t dictated by what gender we are. Bella will end up with Edward, Beau will end up with Edythe, and not because of their genders, but because no one can resist a seductive vampire.

CultureJanelle JamesComment