Spoiler Alert! There are details in the following post about the plotlines in Hunger Games, Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey. If you haven’t read these books and would quite like to, you probably shouldn’t read any further.
Have you ever read a book and thought…. ‘Why the hell did she end up with him?’
I have a few times, so I thought I would write about them here.
The Hunger Games
I hate the way Suzanne Collins took Gale out of the love triangle in The Hunger Games. I felt like Katniss chose Gale over Peeta consistently until all of a sudden her sister gets killed by a weapon that Gale originally designed to hunt with. The machine was referenced earlier in the book, sure. It’s not like it was written in with no link to the storyline just to get rid of him. Even so, after loving someone for as long as Katniss loved Gale, I expected more than just a few lines about how she won’t forgive him for the death of her sister which ultimately he wasn’t responsible for.
Where was his pain at losing two people he cared deeply about; one of them arguably the love of his life? Where was her compassion after he had to watch her pretending to be in love with Peeta and facing the uncomfortable realisation that she might just have genuine feelings for him too? Where was her understanding based on the fact that she actively killed someone who would have had loved ones too? Where was the fight to hold onto the love that had given them comfort and hope?
His exit from the storyline was far too quick, far too convenient and didn’t make sense in my opinion. For Katniss to end up with the guy she only pretended to love for god knows how long, the guy who kept secrets from her, manipulated her, effectively viewing her as some sort of doll; a face to warm the hearts of the masses but not trusting her to actually be involved in any of the complex planning; the guy who has the urge to hurt and kill her on occasion… It all just seemed really stupid. Maybe it’s just me, but I sure as hell wouldn’t fall in love with someone who lied, manipulated me, and had no faith in my ability to do anything more than just stand there and look pretty.
There are many blogs, YouTube videos and articles on this subject, but I am going to add mine to the list just to drive the message home. Edward and Bella’s romance is not romantic. It’s more than a little bit abusive!
Would you date someone who vandalised your car so that you couldn’t go out?
Would you date someone who decided who you could or couldn’t spend time with?
Would you date someone who spent a fair amount of time wanting to kill you?
Would you date someone who held you against your will when you didn’t do as you were told?
Would you date someone who kept secrets from you and lied to you?
Would you date someone who you needed to basically die, become a monster, and completely change who you are right down to a DNA level to be with them? (I accept that this isn’t what Edward wanted, but it was still necessary to be able to have an equal relationship.)
I know I wouldn’t!
We are meant to swoon over the fact that Edward doesn’t kill Bella, even though he really wants to. Gosh! How romantic! Sure, so Jacob had to be careful to control his temper in case he lashed out but at least he never had any murderous intentions towards Bella. Let’s face it. That scene where Jacob kisses Bella without her permission is the only bad thing about him. He didn’t lie to her, he didn’t try to control her; he understood her on a level that Edward couldn’t hope to since he was without his magic mind reading abilities. I feel like that consent issue had to be included, otherwise Bella’s choosing of Edward would have made no sense at all, whatsoever.
Edward wants to kill Bella, initially blames Bella for the blood lust he feels at the smell of her, vandalises her car and holds her hostage so that she can’t see Jacob, lies to her and keeps secrets about things that are happening (and usually gets found out because Jacob is more honest) and basically doesn’t treat her as his equal until she gives up everything to become just like him.
Whilst Bella pushes the boundaries of Edward’s rules, Edward’s controlling nature is still romanticised as Edward being ‘protective’. I find this a dangerous concept, particularly when these books are aimed at teenagers who are learning how to make their own way in the world and who are potentially more susceptible to influence from popular culture than adults who are more settled in their identity and morals.
50 Shades Of Grey
I couldn’t very well complain about Twilight without following it up with a piece on 50 Shades.
Surprisingly, I have less issue with this than I did Twilight. Whilst Christian is just as controlling as Edward, Ana doesn’t accept his controlling nature as ‘protective’ and on more than one occasion points out just how ‘fucked up’ Christian’s behaviour is. Even so, this only happens during the very worst sexual moments. He insists she is on the pill because he hates condoms. Ana just goes along with it without any thought for her body autonomy. He decides on what car she drives and wants to decide what clothes she wears. He uses his sexuality to manipulate Ana but when she does the same thing to him (when she flirts with Jose at the gallery opening) he is furious! Double standards, much?
I love that Ana doesn’t sign the contract, I love that she walks out on Christian when he hits her with the belt. I love that she points out that he can’t expect her to obey when he wants and also challenge him. He can’t have it both ways. I love that she throws things at him when he leaves love-bites/hickeys all over her chest so that she won’t sunbathe topless. All these things are unacceptable behaviour
However, there is one particularly worrying part in one of the books which is not really picked up on in the story line. There is the time when Christian has a nightmare, wakes up and penetrates Ana almost instantly.
Where is the consent?
Whilst Ana is written to enjoy the situation, it still made me uncomfortable that this kind of behaviour was just glossed over like it was perfectly okay to just wake up and screw the person next to you without first checking that they were up for it. Ana is written as ‘always ready’ which I guess is a good thing, since that scenario could have been potentially painful (physically and emotionally) otherwise.
The important difference between Christian and Edward is that Christian has some serious issues that lead him to behave the way he does. His controlling nature is not romanticised. The readers connect with him because of the abuse he suffered as a child and then later as a teen that has had a huge influence on who he is. We are helped to understand why he behaves the way he does and we follow his character arc where he strives to address these issues. This results in a proper, loving relationship with Ana which includes the kinky stuff he likes, (there is nothing wrong with kinky sex between consenting adults) but also allows him to have a fully functioning relationship outside of that.
Do you agree with my ranting or do you think I’m crazy and a killjoy? Have you read any other books where you are horrified with the ‘happily ever after’?