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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SharpieChance said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 5:49 pm
Alice and Jane are pretty much the only female characters that are capable of doing things on their own. Bella justs sits there and whines. You can totally see in New Moon that Edward became her life which shows the highest level of pathetic-ness I have ever seen. So now I am thinking why I liked Twilight in the first place. Thanks.
little.miss.mars said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 11:03 am
I do agree with some points of this article, other than the whole thing about Bella being a temptress and  such a high level of sexism. Bella's character is pretty much ridiculous, and why? Because, like the points mentioned in the article, everyone immediately loves her for whatever reason and you never really get clued into what this reason really is. Bella really does seem to skate through this whole saga without really doing...anything. And she does get Edward to make some pretty stupid... (more »)
DiamondsIntheGrass This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 10:20 am

i have to disagree. Bella isn't representing the entire female population of the world.  she is simply a character made up by stephenie meyer (granted, i don't really like bella, she deffinetly is WAYYYYY too dependent).  but you must also remember in the end of twilight and in the end of eclipse she was about to sacrifice herself for edward and her mother.  i personally do not agree with you; twilight is not a sexist series, it simply has a lot of characters that lack common s... (more »)

LoEssie said...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 9:38 am
I pretty much agree with you except for the Adam and Eve comment (not entirely her fault, but that's it). I think that it's a little strong to call Bella a temptress, though. More like a ditzy masoginist (did I spell that correctly?) who falls in love with a vampire because she can't find a normal man that satisfies her enough (by normal I mean turns into wolf).
C_B_Mia said...
Aug. 9, 2010 at 10:24 pm

I agree half and half.

1. Twilight is a horrible peace of literature. It is plotless and horribly written. It is super annoying that Bella must be carried by Edward all the time. She is whiny and way to dependent.

2. However, I do not think that Bella is "Evil".. she is just sort of selfish and self absorbed.


Good essay, though! Nice jumb start!

Raliyah replied...
Sept. 3, 2010 at 4:04 pm
I think it's wrong that a lot of people are saying that the Twilight Saga is badly written. The book is written well and is interesting to read. I don't necessarily like everything that goes on in the books, but that doesn't mean it is written badly.
LinnaNicole said...
Aug. 5, 2010 at 5:39 pm

I agree with the comment above, there are some very powerful women characters in Twilight. Take Jane for example. She is feared by most, even Edward is afraid of her power. Sure, she’s not the most liked of the cast but she is still a strong, independent woman who can fend for herself.

I think I’d also have to disagree with the idea that Bella is an evil temptress. Her views and standards are different from Edward’s, that doesn’t make her wicked. I doubt the aut... (more »)

LinnaNicole replied...
Aug. 5, 2010 at 5:40 pm

I meant to post this with a comment already said.

The point is that I disagree with the views of this article.

Wicked-princess said...
Aug. 3, 2010 at 9:16 pm
Ok so a. youve never been in love? or b. you have a hatred of men?
DayofRain50 replied...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 5:21 pm

@ Wicked-princess  

Well, possibly not. Many of us are only teenagers. Also, Bella does not act strong or like she is in love with Edward. She is completely and unhealthily obessessed with.

TheNovaClytie said...
Jul. 30, 2010 at 3:41 pm
I almost totally agree. I have never thought of it this way, but you are very right. Bella is a selfish, depressing and mean plastic-like barbie in a world of horrid creatures... who's beliefs and virtue tend to be even better than this lifeless main character. There is one point in all four books where i felt human compassion from Bella: after she kissed Jacob (in Eclipse) and asked an avalanche to bury her alive. That's something we all can agree on!!!
Super16 said...
Jul. 29, 2010 at 1:28 pm
I disagree. While admittedly Twilight doesn't portray a healthy relationship, neither does it promote gender inequality. While Bella is rescued by Edward often, by the end of the series she is able to more than hold her own. The inequality with Edward has nothing to do with gender, it is a way for the author to show Bella's growth as a character. The relationship between Bella's mother and stepfather has nothing to do with women needing to be looked after, but is a way to show how Bella's role i... (more »)
FairyTaleEnding said...
Jul. 24, 2010 at 11:31 am
I definitly agree. I never really thought about it in that context before reading this. I think the only really strong female character is Alice. In fact, she is the one (SPOILER ALERT) who ultimately saves the day in the end of Breaking Dawn.
Meghanv1218 said...
Jul. 21, 2010 at 10:57 pm
Don't listen to the comments saying your wrong. You're not wrong, you just have your own opinion. I do agree with most of your article, but those who say that they're pointing out obvious facts should try and be more conciderate. Anyways, keep writing, we all have different opinions :). I never really saw twilight in this way, and I can see that you took a lot of time forth to really think about it. Books messages aren't always clear. Keep being the creative person you are, and I'll keep being s... (more »)
KK2013 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jul. 21, 2010 at 8:54 am

I agree. It seems ridiculous that although Bella is just a human, she couldn't do anything to defend herself. and in the last book, SPOILER ALERT when she does become a vampire, she doesn't really even fight! she just stands there and uses this mind shield. 

Now I don't want anyone going to my work, Alice's Return and saying that I made her look weak either, because i didn't!! I made her overwhelmed from society, and trying to escape from it through the Rabbit Hole. So yeah. ... (more »)

inkqueen1611 said...
Jul. 21, 2010 at 5:46 am

That's pure nonsense !

i totally disagree..tWILIGHT portrays Bella as an independent girl. She's not dependent on Edward. She's is love with Edward ! And Edward is a VAMPIRE. What do you expect from a vampire,i mean,obviously he will be more protective and stronger..

Besides, its a highly entertaining novel and makes kids value themselves more as the main character is not the stereotype popular cheerleader..

Don't hate the book on some stupid sexist nonsense..

AgnotTheOdd replied...
Aug. 1, 2010 at 6:45 pm
Usually main characters are not popular cheerleaders...  Just throwing that out there...
DayofRain50 replied...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 5:25 pm
How is Bella independent. When Edward left her, she went catatonic for THREE MONTHS! That is not love or independence. That is full blown obsession.
AgnotTheOdd replied...
Aug. 12, 2010 at 9:01 pm
I think a better example of full blown obsession would be the readers...
splenda. said...
Jul. 9, 2010 at 10:53 pm

i would like to address two things mentioned above: first, bella is not being protected by edward because he is a man, it is because he is a vapire. alice or rosalie could have easily protected her the way he did. the book shows how fragile humans are, not how fragile women are.

second:when girls say they want their own edward, its not because they want a protector. they want someone who loves them more than they love themselves, more than life itself even. they want someone who will d... (more »)

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