On Tuesday, Stephenie Meyer announced that she had released a genderbent version of Twilight. The tenth anniversary edition contained a retelling of the novel where every single character (minus Bella’s parents Charlie and Renee) had their genders switched. According to Meyer, she started the project to challenge the idea that Twilight is sexist because Bella is a damsel in distress. She is a human in distress, and this retelling was intended to prove that.
Before you get excited, or overly horrified, this isn’t a new story. This isn’t, as I originally thought, a case of Meyer wondering what the story would have been like if Bella were a guy and Edward were a girl and writing it. The vast majority of this retelling is a find-and-replace job, switching out the names and leaving the context intact, with a few bigger changes when necessary — most notably the ending, where Beau is turned into a vampire, avoiding all that messy “love triangle, half-vampire baby” stuff from the sequels.
Initially, I intended to read the new book, and maybe do a side-by-side comparison of the changes. But as I mused on it, I realized that such criticism is an exercise in pointlessness. No matter how Meyer has rewritten Twilight, no matter what she changed or left the same, the result is going to have incredibly troubling implications about gender and about relationships. The relationships and gender dynamics in Twilight are so flawed that Meyer’s experiment was doomed from the beginning.