gattoparde59 wrote: I have sometimes wondered what would happen if a feminist took a look at Let the Right One In.
gary13136 wrote: There's probably a feminist out there somewhere who has. And maybe she is still scratching her head in puzzlement. I sort of think that with Eli not having gender or sexuality, a feminist might not have much material here to work with.
I’m guessing by “feminist”, they refer to a woman with a degree in Women’s Studies who publishes professional analyses on the subject of gender and/or devotes her life to activism, but I use a more liberal definition. Dictionary.com defines “feminist” as “a person who advocates equal rights for women” and “of, relating to, or advocating feminism”, and “feminism” as “the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men”.gattoparde59 wrote: I am thinking exactly the opposite. Seems unlikely this would happen however. Unlikely unless there was a school of feminist vampire studies.
I have a blog and vlog where I regularly advocate feminism, primarily through doing analyses of fictional media. Some past subjects include Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Twilight, and the made-for-Internet musical I Kissed a Vampire (and I liked it), which isn’t quite “a school of feminist vampire studies” but it is experience. As I have now fallen in love with the LTROI film, it makes sense to do a feminist analysis of it.
Okay, first of all, Eli is not a girl. This kind of puts a damper on analysis of hir as a female main character. The only female characters besides Eli I can think of are the mom and the teacher, both minor. Neither are very effectual in the narrative… but then neither are the male adults. When it comes right down to it, the film is really about a boy and his vampire, so any analysis of gender portrayal would have to be about the two main characters: Oskar and Eli.
Now, while Eli does not assert a female gender identity, ze does present as female for the most part. So, while ze can’t be considered female, Eli is definitely feminine. The portrayal of the feminine, as well as the portrayal of the masculine, is what we can analyze.
Eli’s portrayal is quite feminist in my eyes. Ze is a strong vampire who can act realistically like a young girl with an inner beast. (It’s those little growls that make it.) Hir femininity is not a hindrance at all. It doesn’t make hir weaker in any way. It’s just some aspect of hir character that makes hir more interesting. Neither is hir femininity used as a weapon.
Female vampires are often associated with misogynistic ideas. The social function of some folklore such as about Lilith, a vampire in some stories, is to reinforce ideas about women’s place in a patriarchal society such as medieval Israel (where Lilith stories flourished). Lilith represents evils of femininity: seducing men, killing newborns, and forsaking God by refusing to submit to her man. Many fictional female vampires of modern times are based off of this folklore, which can be problematic in a contemporary context. Not Eli, though. Eli is a monster the way male vampires are. It’s respectful.
Oskar’s masculinity can also be analyzed. He’s a sympathetic protagonist who we feel for because of the way he’s tormented. He has a bit of a violent personality but this is only due to the hostile environment in which he lives. He is contrasted with Eli, who is extremely violent out of necessity. After witnessing true violence when he helps Eli kill a guy, he throws down his knife as if to say “no, that’s not for me”. His feelings toward violence are never associated with his masculinity but are treated as an individual characteristic of his personality.
Oskar treats Eli pretty well too. When he encourages hir to come in without an invite, there is no indication of a gender dominance thing, but rather a human testing the limits of a vampire—and teasing the otherwise superior vampire. The only problematic point is when Eli offers to help with the bullies and he disparages hir for being a girl and not wanting help from a girl, the underlying issue being that a girl helping him would undermine his masculinity. This is pretty realistic, though, and Oskar comes to respect hir strength soon enough, so I don’t see it as a big deal.
So, that’s my feminist analysis of the LTROI film. When I read the book, I’ll analyze that one too.