In honor of the 10th anniversary of her Twilight series, Stephenie Meyers has just released a new edition, which includes a 400+ paged reimagining of the first novel with the genders reversed called Life and Death. The purpose of the new version is to prove to the world that Bella’s character wasn’t an anti-feminist damsel-in-distress, as so many critics claimed, but just an everyday human in a world of vampires and werewolves (and, oh, Meyers fixed some grammatical errors too). So now Edward is Edythe and Bella is Beaufort (and we get to look forward to a whole new generation of babies named Beaufort). Which got us thinking: Which novels would we like to swap the genders of their main characters?:
Duh. Considering Fifty Shades was an erotic fan-fiction rip-off of Twilight, it probably won’t be long now until E.L. James gives her erotica series the same gender-swap treatment as Meyers. Which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, considering Fifty Shades suffered from the same damsel-in-distress problem as Twilight. Here, at least, we’d get to see a successful business woman take advantage of a naive, virginal college bro for a change — though goddess help us with whatever inane internal dialogue and verbal ticks James would instill in this fratboy sub (“I so want to fuck her in the pussy!”).
How refreshing it would be to see the main character collect male sexual partners in an offensive attempt to decipher the differences between men which, according to “Thomasina,” can only truly be discovered in the instance of their orgasm (since, you know, men are all the same). She would order her fellas to strip and pose naked, and they would all just mindlessly do it. Meanwhile, the male equivalent of sad Sabina would be weighted down by his love for Thomasina and the world. Reminds us of the current Danish/Swedish television drama “The Bridge,” which features a female detective on the spectrum who coldly uses men for sex while her male investigative partner, overwhelmed with emotion, often cries over matters of love (Hulu it!).
3. Cinderella (or any classic fairy tale, really)
The noble princess saves the adorable prince from a life of indentured servitude by placing the found Testoni dress shoe on his unusually large foot (and you know what they say about foot size!).
Imagine the absurdity, in a serious work of literatooor, of a male character obsessed with men’s rights insisting vehemently that his girlfriend pee standing up in order to right the cultural, emasculating wrongs perpetuated against him by an overly feminist culture. You can’t, because that story would never get published — too unbelievable, too ridiculous. Or, at the very least, it wouldn’t get reviewed in the New York Times Book Review and be automatically considered for a PEN award.
“It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single woman in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a husband.” Except rather than 19th century fiction, it’s a futuristic dystopian novel, in which men have been made obsolete and must desperately compete for the affections of women in order to secure financial security and avoid shame and destitution. Usually, they must submit to unhappy marriages of convenience with unloving, uninterested, busy, professional, property-owning wives while they’re stuck playing estate. True wuv is rare, which makes us all cheer when Hizzie Bennet finally snags the grumpy but somehow loveable Ms. Darcy.
6. Harry Potter
Imagine what this series would have done for the millions of little girls reading it had Harry been Harriet. A modern Cinderella story in which the abused orphan doesn’t get saved by a prince at the end, but saves the entire world herself instead!
Instead of Lolita, the child is nicknamed Lolito. Instead of a literature professor, Humberta Humbert is a middle school teacher, probably in North Carolina. And instead of coining the term nymphet, the new word to describe the seductive [sic*] 12 year old would be satyret. What would remain the same is how something so disturbing could be so funny.
8. Fight Club
Think of a secret sorority making metrosexual beauty products out of biowaste and pounding each other in the face because they “wanted to destroy something beautiful.” It would be a scathing indictment of women’s (and men’s) magazines, cosmetic surgery, the fashion industry, the media’s obsession with female bodies, our culture’s youth obsession, sexism, and misogyny. Project Mayhem’s anarchic goal would be to take down the entire beauty industrial complex.
A female employee rejects the sexual advances of her male boss, who then tries to get her fired, discredited, and professionally humiliated. That sounds like a much more realistic novel than the original. In fact, it would read more like non-fiction than fiction.
Petruchio is a very opinionated, outspoken, fiery dude. Kate is after his family’s money. So she kidnaps him, starves him, and sleep-deprives him until Stockholm Syndrome kicks in and he becomes her obedient slave. It’s not a comedy, it’s a tragedy. Actually, it’s a horror story.
Another way to improve a bad book? Make it a movie:
How the “Fifty Shades” Movie Is Better Than the Book