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The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum

You guys? Something strange is happening to me. Something strange, and shameful, and wrong. Something I have tried to keep secret, knowing as I do that you would no longer be able to respect me, should you find out. But it is too much! I cannot keep the secret any longer!

I… I think I like Robert Pattinson now.

I KNOW! IT’S TERRIBLE! He is in the Twilight movies, and those are the goofiest. And yet!

“When you read the book.. it’s like, ‘Edward Cullen was so beautiful I creamed myself.’ I mean, every line is like that. He’s the most ridiculous person who’s so amazing at everything. I think a lot of actors tried to play that aspect. I just couldn’t do that. And the more I read the script, the more I hated this guy, so that’s how I played him, as a manic-depressive who hates himself.”

- A Thing Robert Pattinson Said.

Also he is the worst actor in the history of filmed entertainment. The main point of watching blockbuster entertainment film Twilight is laughing at Robert Pattinson’s patented (Pattinted? NO) Trying Not To Fart Face. Which he makes, constantly. And also, watching him try to sell the line “this is the skin of a killer” whilst sparkling wildly, which: I’m not sure there was a way to make that good, exactly, but we will never know, because we got the Robert Pattinson version. I will stack Robert Pattinson, acting-wise, against any given moment in The Room. And yet!

I said to my manager, ‘I can’t do that thing where someone comes up behind you and you look scared’. And he said, ‘What? Acting?’. And I was like, ‘That’s it! I can’t do that!’

- Another Thing Robert Pattinson Said.

And, of course, the final and most degrading aspect of liking Robert Pattinson – as a dude, or I guess as a collection of quotes from interviews, since I have no idea what he is like outside of that setting – is the fact that lots of people “like” Robert Pattinson on the basis that they find him physically attractive (WHAT? His face is SO WEIRD, you guys, COME ON) and they want him in their panties. And that makes me feel kind of icky. Not only do I not find him attractive (again: that is a WEIRD, WEIRD FACE on him), I don’t want to ever have anything even slightly in common with those people. Madness that way lies. Or, more specifically, freezing your dildo, which is probably worse.*

And yet!

Robert Pattinson talks shit about the projects he is in. Robert Pattinson is honest about the fact that he is not the best actor. And Robert Pattinson’s main source of employment is facilitating his own objectification, which he does, but also complains about all the time. Robert Pattinson is… Megan Fox, basically! But, you know. A man version.

But the issue of Our Cultural Discomfort With Objectifying Robert Pattinson, which is a very important phenomenon that I just made up and decided that we should focus on, is perhaps best illuminated by how different it is from our generalized Cultural Discomfort with MF. Because we have no problem with objectifying Megan Fox, really! We just have a problem with everything she says, and specifically the things she says wherein she takes issue with being objectified. We just hate her. Whereas people don’t hate Robert Pattinson, really. At least, not outside of the inevitable superfans in various Internet comment sections, who take issue with him not loving Twilight like it is his own sweet mother, and most of their ire is reserved for Kristen Stewart anyway. And superfans just yell about shit all the time. That is how they show their love. People outside the superfan matrix don’t tend to have strong feelings about The Pattz, but they do tend to get all squirmy and giggly and uncomfortable with the way that so many women relate to his filmed image (for example, by screen-printing it on their underpants) and/or his person.

Because those women are acting in a way that is typically reserved for men. And they’re treating Pattinson like a girl.

This is a place I was heading toward in the American Prospect piece – which is now available online to non-subscribers, in case you wondered – but had to steer away from due to Word Count Issues, which is: we are used to seeing straight men’s goofy, unrealistic sexual fantasies. They are everywhere, all the time. Beer commercials, magazines, Michael Bay movies, porn obviously. We’re used to having female characters flattened out, falsified, emptied out and filled up again with a boundless desire to satisfy men’s needs for no apparent reason. We’re used to the fact that straight male sexual fantasy scenarios (or, at least, sexual fantasies marketed to straight men: and, hey, a lot of dudes are buying them) are cartoonish, in poor taste, unsophisticated, weird. We’re used to expressions of desire, public expressions, aimed at women the desire-expressers have never met and will never sleep with and will probably never even see in all three dimensions, outside of a movie screen or photograph or TV set – discussions of whether the men in question would, in fact, “hit that” or whatnot – and to the sale of those bodies, or at least images and facsimiles thereof. The Twilight sparkle dildo exists in a world where Jenna Jameson was, for a time, selling a replica of her own vagina as a masturbatory aid. (And, you know, I’d Google it, to prove this to you? But I am writing this in a coffee shop, so. Do your own research.)

But this is everywhere. We’re used to it. It’s part of the accepted context of straight male desire – it’s tacky as all hell, aesthetically, and that’s just how they do – and so criticizing it, in an aesthetic way, seems pointless. Congratulations, you went looking for art in a product intended to provide boners and came up empty. Surprise! But when girls do the exact same thing – when they prove themselves capable of the exact same sort of objectification, and the exact same goofiness or tackiness or unrealistic fantasy in the name of getting off – well, it freaks people out. It’s weird. Why are they acting like this? Don’t they know that Robert Pattinson is a person? Why are they treating him like a big chunk of meat? Why doesn’t Edward Cullen act like a real guy would? Etcetera!

Because Edward Cullen is porn. Weird, pre-sexual, socially conservative, deeply repressed and fucked-up porn, but in a world where ladies’ sexy feelings are fenced in with shame and warnings of danger from Day 1, is it any wonder that porn which consistently ties sex to death and fear and the urgent need for repression is selling to the girls? I mean, consider: Edward Cullen has no characteristics, as a person, other than wanting to “protect” Bella and being beautiful and gorgeous and perfect all the time. (And also an insufferable asshole, but that seems more like a mistake than a purposeful effort to give him a personality.) He has no goals in life other than being with Bella. He is over a hundred years old, and he’s never had sex with another person. He’s never wanted to have sex with another person. There is not and will never be a person or a thing or an event that is more important to him than (eventually) having sex with Bella. He is an object designed for the gratification of female desire. He’s the most ridiculous person who’s so amazing at everything, and he’s so beautiful you creamed yourself. And that’s it. And we’re used to dudes writing ladies this way, we’re even used to dudes writing ladies this way and passing it off as “literature,” but the idea of a female author writing a male character in this way, for the pleasure of other ladies, is profoundly disconcerting. Even to me! Because it’s backwards.

We can talk about objectification, as a concept, and whether or not it is good – I know it pisses me off, often – but we shouldn’t ignore the fact that women and men are both capable of it. We just happen to live in a world where straight men are expected to objectify, and given lots of opportunities to do it, and everyone else is supposed to keep it in their pants. On the girl side of things, mostly it is very young ladies and female dorks who break the rules, because they are less inhibited by socialization than the rest of us, but the fact is that sexual fantasy – which is, duh, always only about fulfilling your needs in the long run – looks goofy and weird and dehumanizing for a lot of people, women and men both. And probably we all need to grow up, and deal with the fact that everyone we meet in the world is a person with a complex inner life, and also be open to the fact that people are pretty in different ways and our entertainment only portrays one very limited slice of the vast spectrum that is human prettiness, and etc. But also? Be less weirded out by the fact that ladies are getting all freaky about Robert Pattinson. Or be MORE weirded out by the dudes getting all het up about various lady movie stars. Take your pick. Because ladies are people. And if there is one universal truth about people, it is that lots of us are kind of gross.

* Although, to be fair, I was not as weirded out by the Twilight sparkle dildo as a lot of people. This is not because I think that the concept of a freezing one’s extraordinarily pale dildo is anything other than terrifying – IT IS, and also reminiscent of that one episode of the X-Files where the necrophiliac made all the ladies take ice baths before sex and sooner or later just started keeping chopped-off fingers in his freezer, so, EEKS, Vote No on Freezer Dildos – but because I worked at a Very Empowering Dildo Store for Ladies and basically those things are all, on one level or another, kind of creepy. I think people who were heretofore unexposed to the creepiness could afford to be shocked, but I have given people instructions on how to clean a Fleshlight and thus lost my innocence years ago. At my Very Empowering Dildo Store for Ladies, we had a dildo shaped like – I shit you not – an extremely realistic sculpture of a cobra. With the scales and everything! They wanted to call it the “Indy,” but I think there was a discussion about whether or not that was too negative, because Indy did not like snakes, whereas we wanted to empower ladies to stick this particular snake into their Regions. It was good for your g-spot, apparently! Also? YOUR NIGHTMARES.


  1. ChelseaWantsOut wrote:

    I had to quote this to my husband a bunch just now, because you are very smart. His reaction: “Damn, she sure can say stuff.”

    Shit, freezer dildos were on the ballot this month and I totally voted yes. I now realize the error of my ways!

    I’ve never had a nightmare about snakes going into my vagina, but I used to have a lot of nightmares about things coming out of my vagina: scorpions, snakes, salmon roe, etc. What does that say about my conditioning? A lot, I think.

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  2. amanda wrote:

    the comparison between MF & RP is brilz. As R Pattz speaks more about being objectified, he grows more endearing. M Fox becomes increasingly “ungrateful.”

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  3. smadin wrote:

    I trust that, somewhere, right now, someone is starting a band called “The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum,” because that’s just too good not to.

    (Also, in fairness to Tantus, the sparkly dildo is probably not as creepy as the be-fanged Fleshlight, and in general they make really high-quality products.)

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  4. Melinda wrote:

    I dig R Pattz for this reason too. I never realized that him and M Fox were so similar!

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Permalink
  5. eloriane wrote:

    Technically, they recommend putting it in the fridge, not the freezer, which is a relief to me because frozen = super ouch! (Seriously, you’re not supposed to lick frozen poles– but sticking them in your vagina is a good idea?!) But merely chilly would probably be merely weird.

    Also, I have always kind of liked R Pattz, for his ridiculous photo shoots (have you seen those at Shakesville?!) but now I feel less guilty about it. I can throw away my “but he was in Harry Potter first!” t-shirt with pride! And instead get one that says “he’s totes a dude Megan Fox.”

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 7:06 pm | Permalink
  6. Tim wrote:

    Yeah, great analysis. I think this is one of the reasons why I find Twilight so annoying – because I hate the ubiquitous objectification of women that exists in male culture, so when I see women doing the same thing, I’m like, gahhh, not you guys too!

    The thing that most concerns me is that this will have a legitimizing effect on objectification in general. So when confonted with criticism, dudes will just say that “women do it too”, and then we’ll all just be one big family of objectifiers whose fantasies have become completely removed from reality. It seems like the opposite direction to the one we should be heading in.

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 7:46 pm | Permalink
  7. Aeryl wrote:

    Yeah, plus the work he chooses aside from Twilight, is some really oddball stuff.

    He played Salvador Dali’s lover in Little Ashes, a haunted airman in The Haunted Airman, and is set to star opposite Uma Thurman in Bel Ami about a man who sleeps his way to influence in 1880′s Paris.

    These aren’t roles designed to propel him to superstar status, these are roles of a quirky artist who follows his whimsy, IMO. Which makes him a hell of a lot more interesting than Edward. And as interesting as Megan Fox, who has some oddball stuff on her plate.

    Interesting fact, Megan Fox and Robert Pattinson are only 3 days apart in age, with Pattinson being older.

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 8:29 pm | Permalink
  8. Adrianna wrote:

    You are right on all counts, and I would like to say this –

    Women objectify men, totally. Read a romance novel sometime. A really dirty one.

    Friday, November 20, 2009 at 9:02 pm | Permalink
  9. Ginger wrote:

    That was fabulous. Thank you!

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 12:21 am | Permalink
  10. belledame222 wrote:

    Right; Edward Cullen basically IS a sparkly frozen dildo. So, yeah, Pattinson being honest about his status is curiously refreshing.

    he still skeeves me though

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 12:53 am | Permalink
  11. belledame222 wrote:

    p.s. did someone say snakes?

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 12:56 am | Permalink
  12. Helen wrote:

    Just as an aside, an article in the WaPo highlights the terrifying ability of Twilight novels to suck in even the most inter-lectewal women. Why, the one they used as an example was an Ayn Rand reader!

    See, even the greatest and most incisive thinkers!

    OK, as you were.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 5:45 am | Permalink
  13. Joanna wrote:

    One of the smartest things I’ve read about the whole Twilight franchise this weekend. I’m glad my teenager is immune to the attraction because she found the writing in the first book boring and never finished it. She did see the movie with her best friend and said it was cheesy funny.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 9:02 am | Permalink
  14. Samantha b. wrote:

    As a bipolar, I’m not a huge fan of his propagation of braindead understandings of mental illness. Uh, dude, no one in a manic state hates themselves. You kind of can’t be manic depressive and hate yourself all the time. This much is pretty integral to the diagnosis, as best I can tell, but he seems to just want to use “manic depressive” to describe “generic bad thing you don’t want to have.”

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 9:41 am | Permalink
  15. Nona wrote:

    Um. Did anyone here… see Little Ashes? Because I did, and while it is certainly a bold choice made by a young actor wishing to take on challenging role etc etc, it is also terrible. I mean really, epically bad, and it’s mostly R Pattz’s fault. Well, and also the fault of the script for being structured like bad slash fanfic (I would not have objected to it being structured like good slash fanfic, mind you).

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 10:26 am | Permalink
  16. William wrote:

    Some people, Sady, provide wisdom in thick, leather-bound volumes of Serious Thought that come with free elbow patches. You, however, deliver your reasoned analysis at SEVEN THOUSAND MILES PER HOUR, while juggling knives and squirting the occasional deserving target with an antique seltzer bottle once owned by Groucho Marx. Delicious!

    Weirdly, this article makes me much more comfortable with Twilight. Before it was something as inexplicably successful as it was awful. But Transformers for women? I am ok with that. I’m much more worried about the gender disparity in levels of objectification than I am by the pure existence of it.

    Sexist jerkiness is unfair and wrong. But people stuffing their heads full of wish fulfillment dreams? That’s what happens when you let a bunch of monkeys run around loose. I’m still amazed that debates in the House of Representatives don’t include fling poop at one another. All bets are off, though, if Glenn Beck gets elected.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 11:18 am | Permalink
  17. Kathleen wrote:

    it’s been said before, but yeah — this analysis is re-genius. I’d like to assign it in classes!

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 2:19 pm | Permalink
  18. Joanna NY wrote:

    I lol’d several times. How incisive and funny! Brilliant comparison of RPattz and MFox.

    Also, women objectifying things. Much of the internet seems more comprehensible now. Thanks!

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink
  19. akdov wrote:

    But…. but I objectify many men.

    I mean, think about it. Gerard Butlers purpose for women is sexual… Leonidas is a fantasy for me surely. I guess the difference is that men can still like him… since he’s so manly.

    Patterson is just such a wimp… I hope I’m not abnormal in that I want a rugged manly man.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Permalink
  20. Just a Thought wrote:

    Is the backlash against Twilight really coming from the people who are buying into beer ad male sexuality? I thought the problem people had with Twilight was that it’s “[w]eird, pre-sexual, socially conservative, deeply repressed and fucked-up” as regards Bella, especially; she derives so much of her value from his presence that the twisted hope of his return is the only thing that keeps her going when he dumps her. The fan-girl devotion to Edward creepily mirrors that extreme lack of self-worth in a way that isn’t present in the boiler-plate male objectification of women.

    To the extent that people who aren’t weirded out by empty ‘sexy’ representations of females–and it’s really the emptiness rather than the objectification that’s weird–are skeeved by the centerfold version of Pattinson, you’re dead on. Still, I have my doubts that yours is an accurate sketch of any real phenomenon.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Permalink
  21. Roxie wrote:

    I like Twilight (for a lot of different reasons that have nothing to do with the main characters), but I *love* RPattz. I think he’s quite dreamy, but I *like* a lot of jaw & pouty lips & I don’t care that his head IS totally ginourmous. Also, BRITISH.

    Following the fandom *as I do* I have noticed that if you simply read what he says in print, you might get a completely different meaning than if you heard (or saw–he likes to emote) him say it. Like, WILDLY different. He’s very dry British wit & self deprecating which can be very hard to pick up in print.

    However, reading (only some) things MF has said I can totally see how this comparison works out.

    Although I’m sort of surprised you didn’t go with Taylor Lautner. Every interview I’ve seen him in I get the VERY DISTINCT IMPRESSION that he’s not that comfortable w/talking about be a sexy werewolf. The guy is 17. It makes me wonder if he’s uncomfortable with the sexual objectification, even though he knew what would be coming–I’m sure it’s very different when a middle aged woman asks you to sign her panties.

    He’s not even 18 yet, y’all.

    I agree with WILLIAM in that I much more uncomfortable about the gender disparity, but also the backlash for girls & women participating in it. It’s so weird to me the amount of vitriol I have read. I don’t find myself uncomfortable with it b/c women have sex drives & desire like most humans do. But it’s actually been quite puzzling to me–all these (mostly boys) clutching their pearls SHOCKED! by this

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 6:43 pm | Permalink
  22. nicky wrote:

    Its a book and a movie..
    why does everyone have to make such a big deal out of it and its characters?
    You either like it or don’t,its simple that way.

    Saturday, November 21, 2009 at 6:55 pm | Permalink
  23. Mel wrote:

    I think Pattinson is pretty funny in interviews (in more of a laughing at than with way, though), and I’m morbidly tempted to watch his weird bad movies. I’m not so down with the “manic depressive” comment, though.

    I don’t have an opinion on Megan Fox, having only a vague idea of who she is.

    And yeah, Edward = abstinence porn.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 12:18 am | Permalink
  24. Ethyl wrote:

    This post was fantastic, really. Also, I kind of want a snake dildo. But that’s just me. I’m SO GOTH.

    Roxie, his head really is just SO big. I can’t get over it… Huge. Although I personally have found other big-headed men attractive, so I’m not sure why I find it so objectionable on him. Food for thought I suppose.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 10:25 am | Permalink
  25. QLH wrote:

    (Not a comment on the author, just on culture in general): None of this is in any way new or different or surprising to anyone who’s aware of fanfic communities, particularly the slash community. Women objectifying men? Fantasizing unrealistically? That’s what it’s all about.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009 at 2:33 pm | Permalink
  26. Steph wrote:

    “Its a book and a movie..
    why does everyone have to make such a big deal out of it and its characters?
    You either like it or don’t,its simple that way.”

    Sometimes, as in this case, the reason why we don’t like it actually simple, and is actually rather important, culturally. Thus, this well-written commentary from Sady that I really like.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 11:54 am | Permalink
  27. Siobhan wrote:

    Weirdly, this article makes me much more comfortable with Twilight. Before it was something as inexplicably successful as it was awful. But Transformers for women? I am ok with that.

    I KNOW. I’m wondering if Sady is giving me permission to read it, which I haven’t allowed myself because of everything I’ve read about Edward the Stalker/Bella the Princess/religious sublimated chaste sexual fantasies.

    Maybe if I do a blog post on it I can read them?

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Permalink
  28. Siobhan wrote:

    Its a book and a movie..
    why does everyone have to make such a big deal out of it and its characters?
    You either like it or don’t,its simple that way.

    Everything is “just” something, but it has overtones that affect us all.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 1:38 pm | Permalink
  29. Roxie wrote:

    There are themes in Twilight that I really love. For instance the way that Bella’s sexual desire is made very, very clear & how she’s not made “keeper of the virtue”. I found that refreshing while reading…although to be fair, I don’t ever read romance novels

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 1:50 pm | Permalink
  30. Luey wrote:

    I love your posts! They are awesome and funny and generally 1 million percent right.

    I also love how people fall back on that “it’s only a book, stop reading so much into it” trope. Everything produced by society is impacted by the stereotypes and biases of society. Thus, we can discuss society through ANYTHING that has been produced. People don’t seem to get that. It’s never “just a book”. It is a window onto how we think and act.

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 2:39 pm | Permalink
  31. Kripa wrote:

    “We just have a problem with everything she says, and specifically the things she says wherein she takes issue with being objectified. We just hate her.”
    No, nothing to do with her womanhating. Nothing at all amirite?

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 6:00 pm | Permalink
  32. Kripa wrote:

    OK, now that both my hands are free to type, you DO make a good point about gender disparity, but God knows I take issue with your comparison of RPattz with Megan Fox. I haven’t heard Megan Fox say anything that shows that she’s self-aware, but I HAVE heard her say things that amount to, “DA WIMMINZ, DEY IS BITCHES CUZ DEY JELISSS CUZ DA MENZ THINK I’M HAWTTTTTTTTTTT!!!111″ You never considered that maybe THAT kind of tripe that she spews out is the reason we hate her, rather than her daring to be outspoken? I mean, you’ll forgive me if I hate a woman who makes disparaging blanket statements about my gender (to which she happens to belong!), won’t you?

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 6:12 pm | Permalink
  33. Gnoumenon wrote:

    I’ve been reading you for a while and this is probably one of my favorite things that you’ve written. I know Twilight is not as important as, y’know, the rape and stuff, but the issue you just voiced so eloquently has been bothering me like it’s stuck in my teeth. And now I have a post I can point to and say “Look, Twilight sucks. But before you go off on the fangirls too hard, READ THIS!”

    Monday, November 23, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Permalink
  34. Ronnier wrote:

    Teen idols? The 50′s. Beatlemania? The 60s. Etc Etc. People been making bucks off objectifying everyone forever. So I subscribed for nothin?

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 5:05 am | Permalink
  35. Roxie wrote:

    the title of this post sounds thoroughly British

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  36. Broggly wrote:

    Yeah, and it’s wierd when people think it’s some huge insight when they realise that yaoi characters don’t actually act like gay men.

    Interesting note, yaoi apparently started as an acronym for something like “No plot, no tension, no climax, no resolution”, an explicit admission that it’s just porn.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009 at 10:29 pm | Permalink
  37. flamered wrote:

    I was somewhat morbidly fascinated with Twilight and the subsequent books in the series. The books seem to appeal to the anti-magic types who think the Potter series is twisted. The point of Gender reversal in this article is well argued and I wish I had written it as eloquently. It raises the question of how much has feminism done, when the idea that a woman needs to have her consuming and dangerous sex-drive curbed by the moral men in her life. That this is is still upheld as an acceptable ideal by parents instead of raising their daughters and sons to be responsible and have ownership of all their emotions is a question that needs a really thorough answer.

    Wednesday, November 25, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Permalink
  38. Kris wrote:

    Oh, I totally agree that Twilight is porn for teenage girls (and other women with sexual hangups). I don’t think the mass objectification of Robert Pattinson is quite the same as the mass objectification of Megan Fox, though.

    The Megan Fox situation is distinctly lacking the obsession that we find in the Pattinson situation. Do otherwise-normal straight guys plaster their rooms with pictures of Megan Fox (not just hot girls in general, but THAT hot girl in particular), buy underwear with her picture printed on it, stand up a cardboard cutout of her in the room, etc.? I would argue that I would be INCREDIBLY creeped out if I walked into a guy’s room and saw pictures of Megan Fox everywhere. I would deduce that the guy was a creeper.

    For that reason I don’t think it’s the objectification people find upsetting–seriously, women have been admitting actors are hot since before Cary Grant!–it’s the obsession. I can see why people might think Pattinson’s hot (and that’s all right ’cause that’s okay). But being obsessed with a celebrity is creepy no matter what your sex is.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 11:19 am | Permalink
  39. Queen Anthai wrote:

    I HAVE GOT to see a link to that cobra dildo.

    Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 11:06 pm | Permalink
  40. snobographer wrote:

    I should probably go to bed rather than post this comment because I’m too sleepy and gravy-stuffed to be quite coherent, but objectification doesn’t just mean employed for sexual titillation. It means being treated as an object. For example, a scenic prop (see nameless bikini-clad women traipsing around the hero’s pool for no other reason than to illustrate what a player he is) or a prize or conquest to be won (see every damsel in distress scenario ever). Romance novels don’t objectify men anywhere near like het-male-directed porn objectifies women. I’ve read a couple romance novels, and they’re not all cocks and pects throughout. The male characters have voices and personalities – shallow, silly personalities, but personalities nonetheless. Twilight’s one very rare example of male objectification that even comes close to how female characters are objectified in practically every mainstream movie.

    (BTW, speaking of romance novels, I read Lady Chatterley’s Lover the other weekend. Turns out it’s way more a critique of class hierarchy and wealth distribution than it is about sex.)

    Friday, November 27, 2009 at 2:07 am | Permalink
  41. Dazzlespank wrote:

    This was so made of win, I could not stand it. Fantastically done.

    Friday, November 27, 2009 at 3:20 am | Permalink
  42. Adrianna wrote:

    While I’m not sure why everyone ELSE hates Twilight, I haven’t seen the movies and I HAVE read the first book, and I have THIS to say –
    I HATE Twilight because it is so damn successful and doesn’t deserve it. It’s poorly written, leaning on pre-sexual fantasies and titillation to sell books. I’ve read books that have MOVED me…anything by Tamora Pierce, most Tanya Huff’s books, any number of other deserving authors…women who wrote about women that MOVED ME. Books that made me feel better about my lot in life, female protagonists who showed me how to be strong when I needed it the most, female characters who were fully fleshed out. These women, even those who had romantic interests/sex lives, had better things to do than moon over boys and fall into depressions because their MAN left them..these women kicked ass, took names, saved villages, were occasionally unconventional and always awesome.

    It angers me that these women don’t get the same recognition that “Bella” does. It worries me that girls/women relate more to a completely malleable weak-willed idiot than a chick in chain mail who saves a kingdom. It makes no sense to me.

    Friday, November 27, 2009 at 5:34 pm | Permalink
  43. Crys T wrote:

    @Ronnier: just what I was thinking! But you can go back even further than Elvis. Back Frankie (as in Sinatra), Bing, Rudolph Valentino…they all the women lusting over them en masse. And I’m sure there were men objectified even before the days of moving pictures, I just don’t know who they were.

    Every couple of years, some guy or group of guys comes along and gets a huge, sexually charged reaction out of a large number of women and/or girls. And yet, every time it happens, it’s as though it’s some freak occurence.

    Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 9:38 am | Permalink
  44. CD wrote:

    [...] This post was Twitted by robeena [...]

    Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 12:38 pm | Permalink
  45. snobographer wrote:

    People? Seriously. The Beatles and Frank Sinatra were not objectified. Being dream date fantasy fodder is not objectification. The women and girls who were lusting after those guys were interested in their lives. They sought and read books and magazines containing profiles, gossip, and interviews with them. They were interested to know their favorite colors, favorite foods, what music they liked, how they spent their downtime, what their childhoods were like. Sinatra was not a fungible pile of sexy parts like a Playmate is.

    Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 5:38 pm | Permalink
  46. May wrote:

    @Snobographer: as far as I can see, it seems to me that still, an important part of the Pattinson fanbase do that : gossipping, taking interest in his life, getting all wet and fluttering thinking about him, etc. I do not see a real difference with what happened about, say, DiCaprio or Bloom before. I mean, some of my friends had seen Titanic 30, maybe 40 times, and it was a 3-hours movie, and all their thoughts were pointed toward the object of their lust.
    I see two differences though : first, the fact that Twilight is expressly directed towards the female audience, but with a sort of an “epic” feeling we can also see in stories directed towards men, and makes a story big. And so, even if before women did objectify actors, they were not encouraged by the movies themselves to do so in such a unashamed way. Second, the fact that now like never before those fantasies can be publicly expressed and shared with an ever growing wide array of people who could otherwise never have met, because of the new means of communication via internet, that are more developped even than 2 or 3 years ago. Hence the amplifying effect, on the fans part but also on the haters part. The false impression of intimity grown on internet also allow to say things that you would never dare to shout in a public place. Because of that, a strong public expression that clashes the image of modesty expected from women in the society has arisen, with men forced to see it, with all the effects described in the post.

    Tuesday, December 1, 2009 at 2:11 am | Permalink
  47. Ginsu Shark wrote:

    “Being dream date fantasy fodder is not objectification”
    In what way *isn’t* it?

    “The Megan Fox situation is distinctly lacking the obsession that we find in the Pattinson situation. ”
    Yeah, this. I’ve noticed that fangirls tend on average to be much more creepy obsessive than fanboys are.

    Wednesday, December 16, 2009 at 10:18 pm | Permalink
  48. albert wrote:

    man, between the sex toys and these things:

    i wonder what people will think of next?

    Monday, December 21, 2009 at 2:04 pm | Permalink
  49. Kimberley wrote:

    Not for nothin’, I loved the piece and agree with everything, etc, but I’ve got to ask: Were you stoned when you wrote this?

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 1:39 pm | Permalink
  50. Sady wrote:

    @Kimberley: No, sadly, this is the sound of my sobriety.

    Tuesday, December 22, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Permalink
  51. Kathy wrote:

    I love you. This entertains me to no end.

    Thursday, January 7, 2010 at 8:37 pm | Permalink
  52. Elisabeth wrote:

    Haha, I guess I would go under the category *completelyobsessedwithrobertpattinson* although in my defense it’s sort of a joke between friends, I’m young enough to get away with celbrity crushes and also I actually value his acting and music in addition to his looks, which are gorgeous because they are different.

    Anyway, my point with commenting was only to express my irritation at the way people mix Edward Cullen (the fictional character created by Stephenie Meyer) and Robert Pattinson (the actor who coincidentally plays said character), they are two different things and it annoys me that just because one doesn’t like Twilight or Edward one automatically doesn’t like Robert Pattinson.

    p.s Great piece of writing

    Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 1:35 am | Permalink
  53. Alix-Bee wrote:

    This is amazingly thoughtful and articulate! Amazing. I sit for hours writing one paragraph and agonizing over flow and structure &c and come up with nothing so intelligible.
    So.I am blown away by:
    1. your ability to comprehend and parse this societal situation in your own head.
    2. that you can take this and put it on paper.

    Also. I agree. Rock on!

    Thursday, February 4, 2010 at 10:30 am | Permalink
  54. Doriinatrix wrote:

    Oh man, you just articulated every thought I had about Twilight and wrote about it in a more precise way than I ever could. Definitely following this blog now.

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010 at 10:59 pm | Permalink
  55. Goodmorning
    awesome post – i’m creating video about it and i will post it to youtube !
    if you wana to help or just need a link send me email !

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 12:11 am | Permalink
  56. Hi
    awesome post – i’m creating video about it and i will post it to youtube !
    if you wana to help or just need a link send me email !

    Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink
  57. Rowan Watson wrote:

    StumbleUpon brought me here, and I nearly didn’t read it because I can’t stand Twilight. Man, am I glad I did! I’m a lady clerk at a porn store in portland, oregon, and matched in bookworm-ism only by a few. I read voraciously. I know from good. And this is good. Great writing, well-thought out and beautifully presented, and sister, you are spot on all down the line! I’m bookmarking your site and coming back when I’m not all tired from working at the “adult bookstore” all day.

    Tuesday, April 6, 2010 at 4:14 am | Permalink
  58. vanessa wrote:

    This article is made of pure undistilled awesome.

    Saturday, April 10, 2010 at 7:09 am | Permalink
  59. Cherie wrote:

    Hey! Um, you’re like, the coolest person? ever?

    Saturday, May 8, 2010 at 12:31 pm | Permalink
  60. matthew wrote:

    In general, i agree with most of what you say, and I think that the word “objectify” has become a buzz word much in the same way that the word “socialist” has. However, there is something that is uniquely bazaar and disturbing about the Twilight mania that is sweeping the nation. It is related to the kid hipster purity ring phenomenon that happened a bit ago. Edward Cullen was written as a character that is also morally perfect (he’s a gorgeous 100 year old VIRGIN!). This strange contradiction between what he was meant to be (perfect) and what he is (porn, which he is in a very true sense as he is a distortion of some reality (i.e. nature) explicitly as a vampire, and implicitly as an untouched, untainted sex god) is what makes Twilight a scam. It would be the equivalent of having Megan Fox in transformers playing a well behaved virgin nun who just happens to be sexy and give teenagers boners, and then you find out in the end of the story that she is also a transformer…”Perverse” in a word i think. No more perverse than porn that is explicitly about sex or dildos that you refrigerate, but perverse none the less. add that it is marketed for tweens and young teenagers, and that bella is the weakest female lead in a long time (terrible and unrealistic role model for our youth) and you get a trifecta of dysfunctional dribble.

    Monday, May 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

16 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. uberVU - social comments on Friday, November 20, 2009 at 10:48 pm

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by venefica: And guys, this article is amazing, read it.

  2. [...] Read more of “The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum” by Sady Full articleFeedback [...]

  3. [...] books and then think about them – Presentations of violence and gender in the Twilight novels The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum – Robert Pattinson is being objectified for the Twilight movie promotions almost as much as [...]

  4. [...] Edward Cullen is porn. (…read more, [...]

  5. Thursday Tidbits « Dog-eared and Well-read on Thursday, November 26, 2009 at 6:36 am

    [...] More Twilight/New Moon stuff: Lisa @ EW has further thoughts after her EW review.  The Oatmeal on How Twilight Works.  Tiger Beatdown on the Underpants Conundrum. [...]

  6. Twitted by robeena on Friday, November 27, 2009 at 1:56 am

    [...] This post was Twitted by robeena [...]

  7. TwittLink - Your headlines on Twitter on Friday, November 27, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    [...] Tweets about this great post on [...]

  8. RPat and the RPatriarchy « Munrovian, A Blog on Saturday, November 28, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    [...] 29, 2009 in Spitting in the Cracker Barrel Sady over at TigerBeatDown posts some science about Robert Pattinson:  why ladies love him, why that’s weird, why that’s okay, why [...]

  9. [...] Beatdown provides a feminist semi-defense of the Twilight franchise and its sexy sparkly vampire in The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum. Meanwhile, Racialicious discusses the portrayal of the Indian [...]

  10. [...] then we have got to find some way to justify this to ourselves. Sady Doyle, in a brilliant turn, points out that Bella is passive in the way that men in porn are: They’re faceless, save for one sizable [...]

  11. links for 2009-12-04 « My Weblog on Friday, December 4, 2009 at 4:03 pm

    [...] Tiger Beatdown › The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum (tags: sexuality movies awesome funny twilight feminism sexism) [...]

  12. book recs & link round-up « ln(olga) on Saturday, December 5, 2009 at 12:14 pm

    [...] Another great post about Twilight from Tiger Beatdown. It’s my new favorite blog, btw. Posted by olga Filed in spamming you [...]

  13. The Twilight Saga New Moon in Korea « Kiss My Kimchi on Friday, December 18, 2009 at 2:56 am

    [...] New Moon are all over the place. Take a look at Salon’s Feature to start and then mosey over to Tiger Beatdown for the coup de grace and got me thinking that these films are way less about Bella and way more [...]

  14. To the Wolves » Blog Archive » Of Twilight and Sexism on Monday, February 8, 2010 at 2:53 am

    [...] around for a few months now, but I wanted to comment on Sady at Tiger Beatdown’s post, The Edward Cullen Underpants Conundrum.  I think said post offers one of the most original and level-headed discussions of Twilight mania [...]

  15. [...] This lady pretty much sums up what I was trying to say with these last two posts, except she’s actually clear and articulate about it.  Also, I promise I wont bitch about Twilight next time, sorry that I made you guys go through that. [...]

  16. Robert Pattinson « Pop Culture Diary on Tuesday, March 23, 2010 at 12:52 am

    [...] Little Ashes) may be tweens and the morbidly obese, YOUR personal demographic just happens to be the entire female population of this fair planet. And FYI on that front, we all have one of the “V” words downstairs. Not that I want to ruin my [...]