Thought Catalog

Eight WaysTwilight is Better Than Real Life

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The Twilight series of books/films is widely perceived to be bad, sexist and potentially in possession of a ‘Mormon agenda,’ even by people who have not consumed any of the books or films nor are able to articulate what a ‘Mormon agenda’ is besides ‘having a ton of wives’ or ‘not having sex’ or ‘having a ton of babies while being really nice to people.’

The rationale for the determination of the series as ‘sexist’ [bluntly put by the UK independent as ‘sick-makingly sexist’] is that heroine Bella Swan is fundamentally incapable of doing anything on her own besides getting into situations that require her rescue. She spends most of the story flinching, falling down, whining/crying, cleaning and obeying dudes.

When Bella meets sparkling vampire Edward he pretty much becomes her whole life, to where she disconnects from her old friends; platonic males become contentious for Edward while Bella abruptly loses interest in her ‘galpals.’ She starts lying to her long-suffering single father because Edward is the only thing she cares about. Then when Edward leaves due to a melodramatic misunderstanding Bella is totally inconsolable and engages in high-risk behavior until she meets Jacob, some other dude who likes her, and only under his attention does she begin to act somewhat emotionally stable again.

From there, the entire storyline revolves around saving Bella from evils including her own desire to become a vampire, a goal to which everyone who cares about her is firmly opposed. Edward is basically like ‘you think you know what’s good for you but I do and you don’t,’ and his attitude pervades all of Bella’s decisions from wanting to still hang out with Jacob to whether or not she should visit her mom or marry Edward or have sex with him [he holds the latter over her head to get her to do the former, essentially].

So there is much logical ‘public backlash’ about how Bella is a bad heroine, a ‘negative female stereotype’ and how despite theoretically ‘promoting a message of chastity,’ the Twilight franchise is a ‘bad influence’ on young girls or something. However, the brand remains explosively popular not only among young girls but among actual adult women of all ages.

To understand why, the fantasies presented in the story bear further examination.  The following examples present ‘what happens to in Twilight’ versus ‘what happens in a woman’s real life’ in a fashion that will hopefully prove illuminating to readers of all kinds.

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    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=505759069 Julian Tully Alexander

      seems problematic.

    • http://twitter.com/rawiya rawiya

      i've been avoiding twilight for years but i think i'm going to give in and give it a shot.

      if i become obsessed, i'll blame you, leigh.

      • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

        i definitely became obsessed, it was one of those things where i was like 'gonna watch this to make fun of it/hate it' and suddenly turned into me watching the movies like 5x

        • http://twitter.com/rawiya rawiya

          that's what i did with harry potter!

        • http://www.facebook.com/wingedthing Leigh Alexander

          yep, me too, except twilight is straight up garbage and even more addictive

    • http://hbgwhem.tumblr.com/ hbgwhem.tumblr.com

      In Real Life: On the day before Thanksgiving last year, I went to see New Moon with a girl that I hooked up with the night before, and my mother at a mall that they wanted to make 'the greenest in America' but then they ran out of money to build it so it was just a colossal waste of resources. Seeing New Moon with my girl and my mom was a pretty good way to relieve the “Tom, why is there a strange girl at our dinnertable who looks like she's going to puke?” vibes that the day started with. I went back to Jersey after Thanksgiving and rationalized it by saying I was just 'protecting her' by leaving. She didn't show up in a yellow sports car with hot ass Ashley Greene to make sure that I didn't expose myself to a crowd so I deemed the relationship not Twilighty enough and we don't talk now. For Christmas that year, my mother buys me 'New Moon' trading cards.

    • http://fedinger.tumblr.com Franny

      My problem with Twilight, as a moderate feminist who has read the books (well, read the first two. Couldn't get past the first 50 pages of the last two.), is not that it extols finding a man and devoting yourself to him, it's all the baggage that comes with it.

      I am all for commitment and devoted relationships and I have no problem with women wanting to be taken care of by men (to an extent); I believe good relationships should make you feel like the truest woman and your man feel like the truest man (or, to speak gender neutrally, truest self). But I cannot forgive Stephanie Meyer for making what is essentially abuse seem okay. I was intrigued by the reversal of gender norms with the man insisting the relationship remain chaste but using sex to manipulate anyone, man or woman, to do what you want is wrong. This is the exact wrong way to encourage abstinence sexual responsibility. Edward openly feels guilty about being sexually attracted to Bella. I grew up Catholic, I am an expert in guilt surrounding sexuality, and to me, this abstinence parable is just more of the same. I can't even give Stephanie Meyer an A for effort.

    • Michael Walbridge

      The fact is too many women are going to love the girl porn that is Twilight, it's nice to think everything's going to be the way you want it and that's why boys and girls have their porns to look to

      Also, I could tell you something about a 'Mormon Agenda'

    • http://twitter.com/Mythrander Alexander K. D'Arata

      I'm a pretty radical feminist, and I know you really don't care for my kind, so I'll keep it brief. My biggest problem is how much the stories reinforce the fact that men are men and women are women. If we ever want to get anywhere we have to start seeing each other as people.

      I'm not expecting miracles from a crappy teen romance, but a little show of effort from Meyer would be nice. I could have probably coped with her dialing the masculinity and femininity up to eleven if she had just thrown some (respectable) gays in there.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=576775385 Benjamin Seow

      maybe its not about men and women, but about god, mankind and demons?

    • http://justyourusual.blogspot.com Esra

      Bella will only be a role model to people who have a tendency to be like her in the first place. Let's be honest, most females who are into the books/films don't actually give a toss about bella – they're in it for Jacob and Edward. And like you so rightly said, there ARE women out there who have the need/want for male security and those will be the women who relate. And so what? I think the essence of feminism is great: we should be seen as the equals of men, I'm a bit of femisist myself in that sense. But recently, it's become yet another conformity that we feel pressured by. Instead of promoting freedom of women to do/be what they want – it cages us, making us feel fickle if we do otherwise.

      Nicely done.

    • Anon

      Yikes, this article made me hate the books even more than I already did, and that’s quite a feat. 

    • Glooooooria

      If these books had been around when I was in high school, I would have completely been obsessed, falling in love with the characters and becoming delusional when it came to real situations in real life. This article is great as it lays the situations out on the table that would burst the little high school girls’ love bubble. Take a note all you babes who are shaking their heads at this article. Don’t become diluted. Just watch 16 and pregnant.

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