To recap: Either you’re a hater or you’re a Twihard. Either you identify with Bella Swan as a fresh and noble ordinary girl who has a small touch of the extraordinary about her — a lovely wallflower who blooms under the gaze of her courtly vampire beau — or you think that she’s a drippy, passive doormat in thrall to the kind of male-centric romanticism that should have died out around the time of Gone With the Wind.OK. Remind me again how fantasizing about being desired is a rejection of women's studies classes? Don't men also fantasize about being "acted upon" and being desired and being an all-consuming object of affection? But Gleiberman isn't done:
...What fascinates me, listening to the noisy battle of Team Rapture and Team I Can’t Stand This Garbage, is that the war of opinion over the Twilight saga isn’t just a disagreement about books and movies. It touches something deeper, something that pop culture has always touched and even defined: key questions of what love and sex and romance should look like and feel like, of what they should be. A movie like Eclipse may be a far cry from art, but it’s increasingly clear, at least to me, that the movie hits a nerve, even in people who say they hate it, because it embodies a paradigm shift: a swooning re-embrace of traditional, damsel-meets-caveman values by a new generation of young women who are hearkening back, quite consciously, to the romantic-erotic myths of the past. The Bella Swan view of the world may, on the surface, be the opposite of “rebellious,” but the reason her story sets so many hearts aflame is that it is, in a way, a rebellion — against the authority represented by a generation of women’s-studies classes. Bella’s story is, by nature, a meditative, even meandering one because it’s the story of how she wants to be acted upon, to be loved, desired, coveted, fought over, protected. A movie like Eclipse represents nothing less than a new and unambiguous embrace, by women, of the male gaze.
In many ways, the debate over these movies reminds me of the kinds of arguments that first coalesced 20 years ago around the Susan Faludi book Backlash, in which the author argued that a widespread retreat from many of the mores of traditional feminism was, in effect, a kind of cultural conspiracy, one that reached from corporate boardrooms to the cosmetics industry. I think it’s become clearer in hindsight that what Faludi regarded as a coercive step backward to the dark ages was a lot more complicated than that — that what she viewed as a back-lash was, in reality, a back-swing of the pendulum. With the Twilight saga, that pendulum swing may finally be complete — and some women, let’s be honest, are horrified at that.First of all, the pendulum never swung. We never had a generation of women who believed in their own sexual power, independence, and right to equality, and were fed a diet of media that affirmed their right to those things. The "feminist generation" is a myth, a myth used to create a handy narrative for imaginary backlashes that also don't exist. Yes, culture changes and things come in and out of fashion. But all women never believed in the "feminist ideal" (whatever that is), and certainly not all of them swoon for Edward or Jacob now. In fact, I'd be willing to bet that teenage girls are mostly the same over the past few decades, and that most of them had a lust object they sometimes dreamed of being dominated by. But I'm willing to bet more of a few have equally as many fantasies about dominating. And none of that makes this generation any less feminist than the rest. Twilight is just that--a fantasy. In reality, most of us women still want equality. Now.