Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Romanticised Abuse: Jacob and Bella in Twilight


Our goal is to raise awareness and draw attention to romanticised abuse in films, book, etc, in order to fight it
- Join us! Design your own header (or use mine)  and start posting - once a week, two times a week, whenever
- Share examples of romanticised abuse you've seen in books or films - doesn't even have to be a whole book or film; simple one scene is enough, if there's an instance of romanticised abuse in it
- Keep the post short. Just a few paragraphs.
- Please link to my blog as the original creator.





Twilight by Stephanie Meyer is deserving of an entire "Fight Against Romanticised Abuse" series by itself alone, and it is indeed a huge topic and reeking of problematic content we could explore. But today I just want to focus in on one scene - a scene I'd totally forgotten about until I re-read Eclipse in preparation for this blog series. This scene actually points to a bigger problem, but that's for a later post. For today, just this scene needs to be addressed.

Nowadays, we all criticise Bella and Edward's relationship, but how many of us pay attention to the way Jacob treats Bella? More specifically, how many of us noticed what is in fact sexual assault when we read through this particular scene?
Honestly, it just makes me want to vomit every time I read it. I actually cried when I was writing this post because I am so disgusted by the incident and how it's romanticised and portrayed as something other than assault.
The scene is utterly revolting.

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Twilight: Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer - Chapter 15: Wager - Jacob kisses Bella

He still had my chin - his fingers holding too tight, till it hurt - and I saw the resolve form abruptly in his eyes.
"No -" I started to object, but it was too late.
His lips crushed mine, stopping my protest. He kissed me angrily, roughly, his other hand griping tight around the back of my neck, making escape impossible. I shoved against his chest with all my strength, but he didn't even seem to notice. His mouth was soft, despite the anger, his lips molding to mine in a warm, unfamiliar way.
I grabbed at his face, trying to push it away, failing again. He seemed to notice this time, though, and it aggravated him. His lips forced mine open, and I could feel his hot breath inside my mouth.
Acting on instinct, I let my hands drop to my side, and shut down. I opened my eyes and didn't fight, didn't feel...just waited for him to stop.
It worked. The anger seemed to evaporate, and he pulled back to look at me. He pressed his lips softly to mine again, once, twice......a third time. I pretended I was a statue and waited.
Finally he let go of my face and leaned away.
"Are you done now?" I asked in an expressionless voice.
"Yes," he sighed. He started to smile, closing his eyes.
Pages 293-294
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"That was not kissing back, that was trying to get you the hell off me, you idiot."
He laughed a low,throaty laugh. "Touchy. Almost overly defensive, I would say."
Page 297
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{Charlie:} "Why did she hit you?"
"Because I kissed her," Jacob said, unashamed.
"Good for you, kid," Charlie congratulated him.
Page 298
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Point 1: Jacob's behaviour // Obviously, this is the problem here. He's arrogant, violent, patronising, and with a dangerous indifference to Bella's feelings. He knows he's stronger than her, he's too full of himself to believe she doesn't actually want him to kiss her (even though she fights him and tells him to stop) and he overpowers her. He has no regard for her feelings, and can't see beyond his own ego. Then comes the part where Bella tries to fight back and "He seemed to notice this time, though, and it aggravated him. His lips forced mine open."
THIS IS ASSAULT. The Jacob's attitude and actions are horrific. He touches Bella's body against her will and without her consent. Instead of stopping when it's clear she wants him too, he gets violent and ignores her. That's a man violently taking advantage of a woman who doesn't want him to do what he's doing. I don't know who he thinks he is nor do I care how long they've been friends or if Bella might actually have feelings for him (although in this scene she clearly isn't feeling anything other than anger and desperation), the scene is sexual assault. She says no, he doesn't listen. He physically hurts her and she wants nothing more than to break away and stop his actions. But she can't because he's stronger than her. Jacob just ignores her and goes ahead, gratifying his own desires. It's outrageous and frightening. It's sexual assault.


Point 2: Bella's reaction // Once we get past Bella actually fighting back and trying to stop him (it's utterly terrifying from her perspective) her reaction to Jacob's indifference is deeply disturbing.  Obviously, she's is in no way to blame for Jacob's disgusting actions in this scene, but her reaction is heartbreaking. It's doubly so when we see how she doesn't even see the assault for what it is. But more importantly, we as readers watch as she shuts down - distancing herself and her mind from the attack at hand, and becoming, as she says, "a statue". In her mind it's the only way to stop Jacob. The only way is to shut up, keep still, let him do what he wants to do, and basically just wait till it's over. And obviously, Jacob is to blame for this. How gut-wrenching, how horrifying it is to see Bella like this, to see her being forced to react like this to make him stop and being forced to " play along " in the hope that it'll be over faster. It's atrocious. It's textbook behaviour of a traumatised assault survivor.


Point 3: Charlie's reaction // I included a few sentences from the scene after the assault because I think it's important that we notice Bella's father's reaction to Jacob's behaviour, as well. It's also seriously disturbing.
The fact that Bella actually broke her hand punching (or trying to punch) the guy who kissed her, should give her father a huge clue about the seriousness of the guy's actions and how much they were unsought. Instead, Charlie (who's always been Team Jacob and is good friends with Jacob's dad) disregards Bella's feelings, her reaction, even the fact that she's dating another guy who's not the one who kissed her, and wastes no time supporting Jacob and underplaying the whole incident. He doesn't take it seriously because Jacob doesn't take it seriously, all the while Bella's in pain, angry, and making threats against Jacob for what he did. Her father simply disregards her side of the story - he doesn't even ask for it. He's too enamoured of Jacob and biased against Edward and Bella's relationship to be selfless enough to see beyond himself.
It makes me see Charlie in a whole different light, that's for sure.


Jacob Black assaults Bella - kissing and touching her clearly against her will - and the incident is brushed aside, romanticised for the benefit of some drama, angst, and Edward's "swoony" protective side (which you'll see if you read the scene where he finds out about the kiss).  Bella's feelings and her distress are ignored by the male characters in these scenes because apparently they know better when it comes to her feelings. 
It's absolutely despicable. It's inexcusable. 

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