‘Trampire:’ Why the Public Slut Shaming of Kristen Stewart Matters for Young Women
I know if you are a hip geek that you aren’t supposed to care about sparkly vamps & their shows and movies, but… this analysis of current events seems significant even if you are a non fan.
For any girl growing up who pays attention to the media, it’s a terrifying time to understand what it means to be a girl in society. From Rush Limbaugh, they’ve learned that they are prostitutes and “sluts” for wanting birth control and healthy reproductive options for women. From Todd Akin, they’ve learned that their bodies can magically judo chop any unwanted side effects of rape and that women somehow can be “illegitimately” raped. From Paul Ryan, they’ve learned that rape is just “another method of conception,” which should be news to the makers of the Kama Sutra. And then Rape Culture Super-Defender Mike Huckabee chimed in by saying that “rape can create extraordinary people,” because young women everywhere desperately needed his opinion on this issue. Thanks, Huck.
Although young girls might not be paying attention to the “War on Women” rampant in the media this year, as women’s bodies and reproductive rights continue to be a wedge campaign issue, the Robsten breakup has been everywhere and certainly on their radars and will remain so with the final Twilight installment due this Fall. Since the first premiered in 2008, the Twilight film series has been a massively popular global phenomenon, and the movies have taken in over a billion dollars in the United States alone. Until she was usurped by Scarlett Johansson’s hefty paycheck for The Avengers 2, these films and Snow White and the Huntsman made Kristen Stewart the highest-paid actress in Hollywood. Because of this, Stewart and Bella Swan (the vacuous damsel in emotional distress she portrays in Twilight) have come to be symbols of young women today, whether we like it or not. (I’m not personally jazzed about Bella Swan being a symbol for anything.) Stewart’s every single red carpet pout, frowny face, lip bite and eye roll has been obsessively overanalyzed by the media, in the same way that women’s bodies are in general so open to scrutiny, ridicule and debate in today’s society. The media beatings that Sarah Jessica Parker and Hilary Swank take for not fitting the norm of Hollywood glamor highlight the restrictive expectations we have for women today. We are shocked when women don’t fit into that narrative, and the scrutiny is especially harsh when every blogger in the world is ready to tear you apart. Like the camera, the media adds 10 pounds.
Such is the case with Stewart. Because Stewart has been acting since she was nine and appearing in major Hollywood films since she was 12, there’s a sense of fatigue and discomfort with the system about Kristen Stewart, in many ways the Jodie Foster of her generation. Like Foster (who recently came out in support of K-Stew), Stewart’s always been too private and too smart for the media attention surrounding her. Although Megan Fox and Katherine Heigl are widely unpopular for being outspoken, what made the ubiquitously awkward Stewart even more of a public piñata was her attachment to Robert Pattinson, the erstwhile James Dean of today, the object of every other tween girl’s affections. Her ever-tabloided relationship made her an object of vicarious wish fulfillment, jealousy and scorn. If Kristen Stewart has the “perfect boyfriend” and the “perfect life,” why can’t she just look happy? Why doesn’t she seem more gracious? Why can’t she just smile for the cameras like she’s supposed to?
Because Stewart’s clear dislike of the charade of celebrity breaks the fourth wall of what we expect of women today, it’s hardly surprising that the public dogpiled on her in wake of the Robsten breakup.