Eight WaysTwilight is Better Than Real Life

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.TC mark

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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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