The preceding examples make it clear how appealing the impossible fantasy presented by Twilight is in particular to women who have been told they must be particularly strong, independent and emotionally/sexually responsible. The atmosphere of Twilight is almost constantly ‘threatening’ and/or ‘wrenchingly melodramatic’, as Bella is torn between two loves, requiring protection from initially unknown but rapidly-gathering dangers and yet completely reliant on impossibly strong men to save her. She seems to want nothing else but to be loved and protected.
It would seem this is an extreme ‘escapist’ response to the complex pressures of being a woman. Jacob is secretly a werewolf and might suddenly ‘transform’ if he loses his temper, harming Bella if she is too close by at the time. Edward is so into the scent of Bella’s blood that he might ‘lose control’ and harm her if she has too much physical contact with her. In that regard, Twilight is a fiction that allows women to admit the primal fear of male anger and male sexuality, respectively.
These are fears that numerous women still harbor but feel they are not at liberty to admit lest they be judged‘bad feminists’. Twilight is a series that says it is ‘okay’, even beautiful or dramatic, to ‘want a man to take care of you’, to ‘feel helpless in a man’s world’ or ‘to need a man’s help to discover your identity’, which is tremendously relieving to some women. Others may not privately ascribe to those kinds of ideals but enjoy it in a quaint ‘fiction-of-the-past’ kind of way.
So it’s maybe ‘sexist’ or ‘presents a bad example’ but its popularity is highly illustrative of the fact that some women really don’t want to be ‘an example’. In a world where it’s fucking difficult to understand what it means to be a woman in a world where gender roles are being reasserted, Twilight’s ‘escapism’ is probably welcome to a lot of people who are tired of the fatiguing pendulum-swing between wanting a man who will ‘call you after sex’ and feeling like you shouldn’t ‘want a man’ at all, even if you want sex, or you should want to be loved or not want to be loved or you should be ‘in charge’ but then not want someone who isn’t ‘bringing anything to the table’ or you should ‘be treated like a queen’ or ‘be a king’ or whatever, it sucks and it is confusing but Twilight’s little world is very alleviating and makes a lot of sense.