Twilight on Equality This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

January 28, 2009
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It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that while reading Twilight I was “dazzled” (pun intended). Almost anyone alive for the past couple of months is certainly aware of the saga, which has received excited acclaim not only from teenagers worldwide but also such esteemed reviewers as The New York Times and Publishers Weekly. So why do I have a problem with it?

Twilight is about Bella Swan, a teen who moves to a new town and is immediately adored by everyone. She instantly has several men vying for her attention and a couple of pretty nice friends as well. Her adoration of classic books would imply that she is at least marginally intelligent. Then she meets Edward Cullen (who has a unique background that is not relevant here), and as their relationship grows, so does her obsession, until it consumes her. Seems harmless, right?

Actually, no. Bella is depicted as an evil temptress trying to persuade a morally honorable man into evil, while he attempts to keep their virtues intact. Succinctly, Edward and Bella are a modern Adam and Eve.

But the book goes further in asserting that women are inferior to men. Every time Bella is faced with a conflict and has to make a choice, Edward swoops in to save her, because apparently she can’t possibly decide on her own. He goes beyond protective to borderline abusive in Twilight, but Bella justifies it as “love” every time. When Edward dumps her for a couple months in New Moon, Bella ­becomes seriously depressed and dangerous to herself.

All the female characters in this series eventually portray similar helplessness. Even the first relationship introduced in the book – that of Bella’s ­mother and stepfather – is sexist. Bella expresses concern about leaving her mother, but then reasons that it’s okay now that Phil is looking after her.

What’s even more ridiculous is that many female readers look up to Bella! Her situation is idealized. After finding Edward, Bella is happy only when she is with him. She feels that he is her one true purpose in life. So what are girls who read the novels left wanting? Their own Edward, of course! Not only do they want one – they need one. The fact that so many intelligent young men and women have been sucked into the Twilight series and have swallowed its sexist manifesto has me worried about the future of gender equality.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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CLYIdontknow said...
Jul. 8, 2010 at 11:27 am
It's a book........... get over it.
B.Montgomery said...
Jul. 7, 2010 at 11:20 am
While the article was well-written, I strongly disagree. It's a fictional book. Most teenagers that read the book will say that they want their own Edward, but it's not in the terms that you are writing about. They say Edward as in someone to love them, their other half. They are not saying that they want someone to be so protective and nearly abusive. And as far as your theory that it is saying that women are inferior to men, the story isn't real. The character of Bella may act that way, like s... (more »)
gymbabe This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 2, 2010 at 1:58 pm

I agree.  I hate stories where the woman is weak and helpless, and can't defend herself.  Twilight was well-written, I suppose, but the plot and the characters are somewhat ridiculous.  In the novel I'm writing, my female main character is far from helpless--she has a very strong magical power, and while there is a "man" that helps protect her, they fight together.  I think this was excellently written and you made a good point.

Btw, anyone who sees this, wil... (more »)

penandpaper67 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 9:43 pm
That was very well-written and to the point. I definitely agree. Bella, among many other current teenage (fictional and real) icons, is a weak role model and gives teenage girls unreasonable expectations when it comes to their love lives.
soccerpsycho49 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 7:23 pm
sexism is a fundamental part of society. just because its there doesnt make it evil. women make themselves weaker, not society....sure, rise above the sexism but dont condemn it because its our own faults.
shywriter said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I agree with some of the things you say. But I should point out that when Edward left Bella, he was also depressed and when he thought she had 'died' then he was also about to kill himself. I guess that shows that men cannot live without women ;)

Also, Bella left her Mom in Phil's capable hands NOT because she is a woman, but because she is incapable of taking care of herself. That was clearly written. 


Edward always saves Bella because she IS a magnet for dan... (more »)

socrchik33 said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 4:29 pm
i agree on some points but.... when ppl read twilight most of them dont think about that deeply; they jst enjoy the story. so maybe this article is taking it a little far?? i dont know jst my opinion. but really those were good points, keep it up :)
live.laugh.write said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I somewhat agree with the fact that Bella is always in need of distress...but I don't think the books are saying that women are inferior to men. Personally, I think Bella is an idiot...I mean she really does go to extremes on a lot of things, but sexist? The whole idea of that sounds pretty crazy to me. What about all of the other female characters in the book? I think someone mentioned Alice, but also Leah and her whole fight with the werewolf pack. Isn't that kind of the opposite of yo... (more »)

Cammie2099 said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 1:16 pm
Oops. I meant people like the books because they like the idea. Definitely NOT the way it's written. My bad.
Cammie2099 said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 1:15 pm
I thinK that the people are so hyped up about Twilight because they like the way it's written. Personally, I'm not a fan and I agreed with several points in your article. I wouldn't go as far as to call Bella an  evil seductress though.
SharpieChance said...
Jun. 29, 2010 at 7:56 am
the fact that Bella cant possibly live without him, makes her incredibly selfish. She wants him as her eternal boyfriend, and Jacob at the same time. She "loves" them both. It doesn't even make sense why she would like him in the first place other than she wants to date a vampire or he was the only guy not asking her out all the time like mike and eric. That just adds to why she is selfish!
ELM522 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 27, 2010 at 8:55 am
I agree that she seems extremely like a damsel in distress. I also do not think the Twilight saga is well written whatsoever. I am relieved to know other writers think of this saga as a disappointment.
FantasyNight said...
Jun. 26, 2010 at 5:33 pm
Sigh....I'm waiting for the day when men will realise women are stronger.
Imaginedangerous This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jun. 24, 2010 at 2:35 pm
This is one reason I dislike the majority of the romance genre...
ELM522 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jun. 27, 2010 at 9:00 am
you should read Airhead by Meg Cabot. The heroine is a feminist
B.Montgomery replied...
Jul. 7, 2010 at 11:23 am
I agree. Airhead is an extremely good book.
ELM522 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Jul. 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm
<3 Nick Jonas <3!
seraphinagreene said...
Jun. 21, 2010 at 12:59 pm
soooo true. i wrote an essay similar to this =] 
Slushi said...
Jun. 12, 2010 at 7:26 pm
Amazing, the points were right on.
Anndie said...
Jun. 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm
I don't really believe Twilight itself is sexist, I consider it to be a novel for those who want to escape in a world far beyond their own, but at the same time I sort of agree, but not with the novel, the movie. The way the characters are portrayed make them all seem...inferior, which is where Bella can actually appear to be a vulnerable character in need of an actual man to protect her.
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