Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Stephanie Meyer apparently tried her hand at gender-swapped Twilight

Thanks to Redcrow for the heads up.

I'm not sure how I feel about this, honestly.  The author of Twilight has written a gender-swapped version for the 10th anniversary and it's in stores as of yesterday.  No big deal there.  I obviously haven't read it; I only found out it existed a few minutes ago.  (It explains why Edith and Ben came up on Twitter yesterday.)

The thing is, female Edward is called "Edythe".  As in: female Edward has a spelling variation on Edith's name.  Edith of Edith and Ben.

Now she isn't calling it "Edythe and Beau" and apart from some very obvious things (Eric ↔ Erica and such) we don't have the same names elsewhere, and "Edythe" seems to be an attempt on Meyer's part to give the female lead as off the wall a name as (Isa)Bella got in the original because, while Edith was the 32nd most popular name to give your girl-baby in the US the year she and Edward were born, Edythe was so far from popular as to fall off the chart, just like Isabella was the year Bella was born.

But... Twilight with the character's gender-swapped?  That's my thing.

On the other hand, I stole her setting, premise, and last names for the characters, why shouldn't she steal my first name for a character?  It's only fair.

Honestly the only thing that bothers me is that, since Meyer is *hushed tones* The Author and I'm just random person doing what technically amounts to unauthorized parody (technical definition, not colloquial one) on the internet, going forward people are going to assume Edith's name is from Edythe's name.

But, but... here's the thing.  I've always said that the gender-flip was one of the smaller changes in Edith and Ben, perhaps the most superficial.

Edith and Ben are both written as people I can like.*  Their relationship is, as I have tried to write it, one of affection and mutual respect.  The other characters are also generally me trying my hand at writing nice people in healthy relationships.  Michelle ("Shell" for short) is definitely in unhealthy land, but that's one person whose got problems when it comes to "dating without being an asshole" compared to Twilight where everyone is either in a toxic power struggle or a doormat.

I hope that this gender-flopped Twilight by the original author will serve to show how different Edith and Ben are from merely being female-Edward and male-Bella.  But at the same time, and I know this is foolish vanity but knowing doesn't change it, I don't want to be seen as copying Meyer's decision to gender-flop.  I was here first, damn it.

From a pure gender studies aspect, Meyer has inflicted a good thing upon the world.  She's always said, not quite in these words, that the Twilight books are not misogynist but instead misanthropic, that is: they don't portray women in a negative light, they portray humans in a negative light (because they are surrounded by superhumans.)  Thus the argument says it is only the fact that the principle human happens to be female that makes some people think the books are anti-women.

I don't buy that, but this will give the world a chance to actually test that theory.  Is everything we saw as misogynistic when it was about Bella still in Meyer's gender-switch now that it's about Beau?

We can compare Edward/Bella to Edythe/Beau, we can compare Mike/Jessica to McKayla/Jeremy, we can compare general trends amoung male and female characters to those of their female and male counterparts.

I have no plan to do so any time soon though.  Someday I want Edith and Ben to be finished.  To run from beginning to end without lacuna the entire length of Twilight and possibly more.  I don't want that to be contaminated by seeing how someone else did a vaguely similar project.

Edith and Ben is my version of Twilight, it is not how I think Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (the name of Meyer's gender-swap) should have been written.


* Edward I can't like.  Bella I sympathize and empathize with, but she's not a likable person.  I'd argue that it's not her fault because she shows all the signs of depression and one of the unfortunate things about depression is that it can (not "will", just "can") turn you into an asshole.  I've been there myself.

It may be a moral failing that Bella allowed herself to become jerkish rather than rising above her brain chemistry, but if it is it's a moral failing that I myself have shared at times and even if I hadn't I wouldn't hold it against her.  We can't all be saints, and even saints can't be saintly all the time.


  1. be quite honest, I'm already not interested in Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined. My interest in the "what's wrong with Stephenie Meyer's writing" genre is exhausted.

    And I remember the thing you said ages ago: that gender is the least of the differences between your characters and hers. And I like your characters, too.

    That's basically where I'm at on this.

  2. I'm mildly interested in how exactly she gender flips it, but I have a suspicion I know already.

  3. One good thing that came out of it - people start shipping Edythe/Bella. There's fanart.