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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xworldlyxwondersx said...
Mar. 28, 2009 at 7:29 pm
Okay, so I agree with you on a few of your points, but thoroughly disagree with many others.

So, sure, Bella's reaction to Edward's leaving at the beginning of New Moon was rather disturbing, especially when thousands of girls, teenagers and younger, are idolizing Bella Swan. She indeed shrank into herself, resorting to less than healthy ways to relieve her grief.

But she loved him! And, yes, in a way, he was her purpose in life, just as she was to him. The novel... (more »)
Theresa This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 28, 2009 at 2:07 am
I am a fan of the Twilight series, but I've never been able to reach the level of obsession that some of my peers have attained. Why? The very reasons you have listed in your article. Stephanie Meyer is a talented writer, but Bella was not a strong heroine. She was all the things you said, and for those reasons, I couldn't quite fall in love with the series. People need to stop seeing the fad of Twilight and start reading between the lines. The series is darker than it looks. Your a... (more »)
Fletch32 said...
Mar. 26, 2009 at 7:29 pm
I really like this and totally agree with you. I think that we're impressionable too!
KoldKate said...
Mar. 26, 2009 at 5:27 pm
I was dissappointing the archetypes she used in creating her characters. Nothing is cooler than a strong female character; but I guess this book wasn't suppose to be a PSA on healthy, real teen relationships. What do you expect out of a fiction romance novel with vampires and werewolves? Its a fun read, but I'm pretty sure the author wasn't going for any type of socail commentary...or relationship advice. Don't worry, Hermione can kick Bella's butt...
Jennifer S. said...
Mar. 25, 2009 at 11:16 pm
What would you like Bella to do? She cannot kill a vampire, so she cannot save herself. She can neither run nor hide from a vampire. What can she do? And she does plenty for herself in Breaking Dawn.
Of course, I do have issues with Edward leaving and his protectiveness, and I think that your assessment of how it leaves teens is quite true!
This is a well written article, but when commenting on Bella's "Damsel in distress act", please keep in mind how strong, fast and absolutely u... (more »)
Jos said...
Mar. 23, 2009 at 12:56 pm
I love this! So true!
Catherine S. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 22, 2009 at 5:39 pm
Seriously? Living in the Nineteenth Century? Did you read the article? The whole thing was lashing out against the Nineteenth Century ideals portrayed in Twilight.

And, no, I'm not dissappointed that some girls are feminine. I find nothing wrong with that. I'm one of those feminine girls myself. Shocker?

But being feminine does NOT mean sacrificing power over your life to someone else.
PolartheBard said...
Mar. 18, 2009 at 11:25 pm
Are you still living in the Nineteenth Century? I'll admit, I have issues with the quality of Twilight, but I still like it to a degree. Edward is not some attempt to return the world to its Patriarchal roots. It's a story about a naive girl who finds her "knight in shining armor" who happens to be a beautiful vampire. I'm sure you'll be disappointed with society when you learn this, but some girls are effeminite, wear pink and dresses, and dream of being swept off their feet by a ha... (more »)
Emerald replied...
Jul. 21, 2010 at 7:25 pm
I have never read the Twilight books. From what I just read though... I agree with you.
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