What if they showed the bruises? The Wedding Night Photo from Breaking Dawn

Photos from the film adaptation of Breaking Dawn are trickling into the pop culture atmosphere. What a shocker that the new wedding night photo from Breaking Dawn shows Edward on top! And, no sign of the bruises to come — or, as Bella calls them, “decorations.” I am soooo anxious to see how the film will deal with the quasi-abusive/masochistic headboard busting seen. It will be hard to make a black and blue covered Bella look all romantically post-coital…

As I argue in my book, scenes like this one glorify sexual violence, male domination, female submission – perpetuating both rape culture and the purity myth.

10 thoughts on “What if they showed the bruises? The Wedding Night Photo from Breaking Dawn”

  1. I don’t know if I agree with your conclusion here. I think that a lot of people have rough sex that leads to bruising and all sorts of markers of the interaction. What we need to remember is that this is something Bella actively chooses to engage in. As I recall she asked for this several times before they actually got married.

    1. I agree that consensual sex – rough or not – is the key. And while Bella does indeed consent, I think the representation in the texts is key — yes, consent is involved and yes she knows the risk of death (which is what she wants, to become a vampire) we do not see her consenting (nor see any discussion) of bodily pain and injury of the kind she receives — if the texts included some conversation about this, I would feel more comfortable about viewing it as consensual rough sex. But, as it is presented, it’s as if all the bruises are just fine and dandy WITHOUT any recognition that a black and blue body might not have been something she consented to — yes, she consented to the sex, but did she consent to the “roughness”…? It seems problematic to suggest that a yes to sex (even with a vampire!) is a yes to anything that then ensues. Consent is obviously a very complicated, intimate issue – but to take her asking for sex with Edward as cart blanch for whatever consequences seems to me a bit like the arguments used in rape/abuse cases where the woman’s agreeing to sex is used to justify violence, etc… I know it’s not clear cut and I see the other side of the argument too, but I still find these scenes very troubling from a rape culture perspective…

      1. Have any of you read Meyer’s other novel The Host? One of the things that struck me about Breaking Dawn was how easily Meyer takes a scene like this and finds a way to make the reader feel sorry for ‘the abuser’. Edward is remorseful, he’ll never do it again (this means that he goes back to treating his now wife as if she were made of glass. His wife’s sexuality must go along with his terms) and the reader feels worse for Edward than they do for the bruised Bella.

        The Host is so much worse. The protagonist has been taken over by an alien life force and essentially shut off from her own mind and body (hard to explain) but finds a way to motivate the alien to search for her lover. They find her lover who then immediately beats the crap out of her. And the protagonist feels sorry for this man because she understands why he did it. and the reader goes, “Wow. that’s an unfortunate situation. but we get it because this woman is not herself anymore. she’s an alien!” So the woman excuses this bad behavior and is subjected to countless other instances of brutal treatment.

        How does Meyer do it? How does she make it seem okay for women to be abused and make her readers always feel sorry for the men committed said abuse? It’s very disturbing and you have to take a step back from it all and go, “Nope, this is not okay regardless of the circumstances.”

      2. May I disagree a bit? Is there not constant discussion between Bella and Edward of the risks involved in a physical/intimate relationship? Isn’t it true that Edward is consistently telling Bella “No” because he does not want to hurt her? Okay – so Meyer doesn’t have her characters talk about bruising.
        “Edward – let’s just do it.”
        “No Bella – you could get some serious bruises.”

        – but he is constantly making her aware that she could get hurt. Bella is aware of the dangers involved. And if I remember correctly – when she wakes up the next morning – she isn’t crying because she is bruised – she is blissfully happy and only realizes the bruises after she looks down at her body.

  2. Hmmm – I have read all of Meyer’s other novels – including The Host. It is true that the protagonist gets beat up and then feels sad for the lover – as do the readers. But educated readers can also take the approach they choose. Rough sex can result in bruises – should they show them in the movie? I don’t know. That would be a hard call to make.

    I do not think that Meyer is trying to “make it seem okay for women to be abused” or “make her readers always feel sorry for the men [who] committed said abuse.” That stance is one the reader takes for her/him self – and the thought process behind that can only come from past experiences that each individual reader has.

    Perhaps those who feel she is taking this stance could benefit from taking a step back and trying to analyze why they feel that is the author’s approach.

    I don’t feel sorry for Edward, nor do I feel sorry for Bella – I just find it intriguing that they are in this situation. How might you have changed the story? Leaving all assumptions about the characters as Meyer has them set up, strength, feelings, emotions, and character traits the same- how would you change it? Could you change it and still have a story that would be a world-wide phenomena?

  3. The fact that Bella wakes up sees the bruises and is okay with it I think is inline with her consent. I don’t think that kind of sex should necessarily be seen as problematic. The issue I think arises from the fact that throughout the book she is not constructed as an autonomous being. Her character is more like a vacuum waiting for Eward to make her real. If that makes any sense at all.

  4. Well, it wasn’t consensual throughout since apparently, she passes out during, to find the bruises upon awakening. How romantic!

    1. @Chelsea

      What evidence do you have to suggest that Bella passed out. That she wasn’t aware what was going on does not mean she was unconscious. Have you never looked at yourself and wondered where did I get that bruise? It happens and I can see it likely if one is being caught up having sex for the first time with someone you love passionately.

      1. Yes, but how many granite bodied undead people have you slept with lately?

        I don’t think you can consent to sex with souped up, blood sucking corpses anyway. There’s a monstrous power imbalance.

        HTH!

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