Twilight's Bella Is "The Sexual Aggressor"

Over at Strange Horizons, author Karen Healey has an amazing essay about body transformations in young adult fiction. She looks at adolescent physical changes in several novels, including the Twilight series. Vamp-loving hero Bella, she argues, is hardly passive.

Healey writes:

Bella is often accused of passivity, but although there are certainly faults to be found with her fixation on romance to the exclusion of all other interests, she doesn't actually lack forward momentum. She's the sexual aggressor and instigator of change in her relationship, hurtling through milestones at breakneck speed-first love, first soul-crushing breakup, marriage, sex, childbirth, and motherhood in less than two years-before achieving her goal of eternity in a fairy-tale cottage with her loving family. Her transformation is agonizing and traumatic, but, aware of the risks and owning her choice, she pushes unrelentingly for it anyway. Although I do wonder if Bella's really considered the ramifications of repeating high school over and over again, as her husband and new siblings-in-law do-after this ultimate transformation, she has perfection, but a static and essentially unchanging one.

All in all, I think I prefer YA where the protagonists aren't ever totally satisfied with their transformations. I like fiction that acknowledges the difficulty and terror of acquiring new bodies and new attitudes, but promises that change is not only inevitable, but can be a mindful and ongoing process of self-making, aiming for better days ahead.

via Strange Horizons