Twilight on Equality | TeenInk

Twilight on Equality MAG

January 28, 2009
By Catcat BRONZE, New Paltz, New York
Catcat BRONZE, New Paltz, New York
3 articles 0 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
"To see a world in a grain of sand, and a heaven in a wild flower, hold infinity in the palm of your hand, and eternity in an hour."

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.

The author's comments:
I hope that this makes us all more aware about the messages we get while reading.

Similar Articles


This article has 589 comments.

on Jun. 9 2009 at 8:19 pm
mynameiscotter BRONZE, Bishopville, Maryland
1 article 0 photos 2 comments
I have one thing to say... Real VAMPIRES don't sparkle. Long live the Classical Anne Rice =]

EdytD SILVER said...
on May. 31 2009 at 10:53 pm
EdytD SILVER, Livingston, New Jersey
6 articles 0 photos 258 comments
In response to xworldlyxwondersx, I think what the author is trying to say is that when Edward leaves Bella, she cannot survive w/out him. Whatever happened to female independance and individuality?

It may be a fairy tale, but why is it that in all fairytales the princess is helpless when she meets her adversary, and needs a knight in shining armor to save her? Is she not just as capable?

Bella as a whole is a shallow, histrionic, and inept character. I cannot speak for the rest of the female cast, but as she is the one that most female teenagers aspire to be, the attention of most readers (and critics) is on her.

EdytD SILVER said...
on May. 31 2009 at 10:40 pm
EdytD SILVER, Livingston, New Jersey
6 articles 0 photos 258 comments
I wholeheartedly agree. I've always thought Twilight was poorly written, and you gave a strong boost to my arguments against many of my friends who are big fans. :) The novels are poorly written, the characters are flat and histrionic, and the plot is cliched and strange. (The whole damsel-in-distress idea has been overused since fairy-tales were first published. And what's with the sparkly vampires versus the evil vampires?) Furthermore, I would have thought that the books were written by a misogynist, not a woman! Like you said, whatever happened to female independance and individuality?

And in an answer to PolartheBard (it was on the bottom, so I read his/her comment), the author not being feminine or otherwise, she's being a feminist. The author is standing up for woman's rights - Meyer is the one who is objectifying women and portraying them as dependant people with a lack of individuality who cannot take care of themselves. Women can be feminine, but Meyer is portrayinig them as weak, and the fact that thousands of women nowadays are hoping for a "knight in shining armor" to come save them, as they cannot help themselves, is sad.

Great review - I think your arguments are very powerful and persuasive, and will make Twilight readers think again before rhapsodizing over Stephanie Meyer's novels.

Alexis said...
on May. 30 2009 at 10:00 pm
Alexis, Bellingham, Washington
0 articles 0 photos 11 comments
Okay well first of all it might not be equal. But who cares! the book was made that way. Bella and the other woman are portrayed that way because its just the relationship to them and other characters. its also humerous at times. You dont need to look soo hard to find somehting bad about twilight. there great books and no MAYBE THEY ARNT PERFECT but who cares! they are wonderful books and have GREAT meaning. i agree with SAMMY LOVE_twilight!

rubiesrrare said...
on May. 29 2009 at 9:23 pm
really, dude, if we threw out everything that even seemed a little sexist, then most reality tv, most music (*rap*) and all Disney movies would be gone with the wind. and as for your point about all the female/male relationships being sexist- what about Alice? or Rosilee? and if you keep reading the actual books and not just the cliffs notes (which, no offense but it seems that your judgements are based on) then you'll see that she learns to be happy without Edward and HE comes back to HER because he couldn't live without her, not the other way around.

on May. 28 2009 at 12:47 am
JasonsBaby GOLD, Spencer, West Virginia
11 articles 0 photos 42 comments

Favorite Quote:
when i get mad i tend to tell people to "go suck a fart"

i never really thought about twilight as being sexist but after reading what catherine.s. had to say i totally agree with her

brina SILVER said...
on May. 24 2009 at 7:51 pm
brina SILVER, Middletown, Indiana
9 articles 0 photos 16 comments
Hay! I read the books because well reading books i CAN GET AWAYA FROM STUPID STUFF. So I think the books are well written, because the author managed to get me to stop freaking out and just enjoy the story line.

Reese said...
on May. 23 2009 at 8:15 pm
Reese, Laurel, Maryland
0 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
Mortimer Brewster: The name Brewster is code for Roosevelt.
Teddy Brewster: Code for Roosevelt?
Mortimer Brewster: Yes. Don't you see? Take the name Brewster, take away the B, and what have you got?
Teddy Brewster: Rooster!
Mortimer Brewster: Uh-huh. And what does a rooster do?
Teddy Brewster: Crows.
Mortimer Brewster:... It crows. And where do you hunt in Africa?
Teddy Brewster: On the veldt!
Mortimer Brewster: There you are: crows - veldt!
Teddy Brewster: Ingenious! My compliments to the boys in the code department.

I totally Agree with (Alyssa J.) She has made the BEST point.....

Alyssa Jane said...
on May. 17 2009 at 8:03 pm
Alyssa Jane, Bellingham, Washington
0 articles 0 photos 6 comments
Well written piece, although I absoulutley disagree with what you are getting at. If you have even read the book, you would have noticed that Bella consistently cares and cooks for her father, and when she says she isn't worried about her mom because she has Phil, its because Renee was a bit irresponsible. The ability of being responsible has nothing to do with gender. And of course girls want their own Edward! Just like every girl has wanted to be Cinderella and have her own Prince Charming. So what you're saying is that we should give up on love stories all together...? The point of falling in love is to get lost in another person- the basic definition of love. This book wasn't written to be a classic novel that will be remembered forever, just a simple reminder on how real relationships work- with trust, respect, honesty and care for your other half.

on May. 15 2009 at 10:38 pm
Xinwen PLATINUM, Brossard, Other
44 articles 0 photos 25 comments

Stephenie Meyer puts a lot of Mormon values into the book, actually. Maybe not necessarily in the best way.

And all social issues aside, it's not even that well-written a book. ;)

on May. 11 2009 at 11:10 pm
JennyDavis BRONZE, Rye, New York
1 article 0 photos 7 comments
Oh My God, finally someone who agrees with me! You are completely spot on; this is exactly what I have been trying to convince my friends of for years now: Twilight is a sexist, stupid, incredibly overrated obsession! Also, what you said about the whole thing about girls wanting their own Edwards, you are right--I even heard a story about a girl who dumped her boyfriend because he WASN'T Edward!!! Congrats on an amazing piece!

buggy BRONZE said...
on May. 6 2009 at 8:35 pm
buggy BRONZE, Glendale, Arizona
4 articles 1 photo 8 comments

Favorite Quote:
if you were sensible, when I told you that the stars flash signals, each one dreadful. you would not turn to me and say "the night is wonderful"

Seriously, did you even read the book?

on May. 3 2009 at 6:08 pm
iSing_iWrite_iCreate BRONZE, White Post, Virginia
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments
Catherine, I agree with you on this 100%. I have to say, as something of a feminist myself, who has also read Twilight, that at first I didn't see anything wrong with the book. As I read further into the series, however, I noticed a few subtle things that made me start to question it. This was all before reading your article, which I found to be rational, and make a lot of sense to me. Now, this doesn't mean that everyone has to agree with this article. To everyone who disagrees, I say: This article was written to make people think about the book and its message. Whether you agree or not is up to you.

on May. 2 2009 at 2:29 am
ibissforever BRONZE, Rochester, New York
3 articles 0 photos 2 comments
I completely agree with you. Edward and Bella's relationship is probably the creepiest, most unhealthy one I've ever seen. What kind of person would base their entire life on one one other person? Bella has no plans for her life, no ambitions, no goals but to be Edward's lover. And Edward is NOT a good model for a boyfriend. He treats Bella like a four-year old, and doesn't trust her to take care of herself. I for one would not stay with a man that took the engine out of my truck to keep me from seeing my friends (Eclipse, Chapter 2, page 62). Meyers is taking emotional abuse and selling it as the ideal relationship. Thanks for writing this piece, I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who sees the insanity in all of this.

Oh, and just for clarification - I have read all four Twilight books, twice. I have also been in an emotionally abusive relationship, in which the guy eroded my self-esteem to the point where I didn't feel I could take care of myself or make a decision on my own. Therefore, I'm not sitting here attacking the series without knowing what I'm talking about.

rhiafu9 said...
on May. 1 2009 at 7:35 pm
I i liked the depth of the writer's thinking but honestly, Twilight isn't supposed to be a brilliant novel. It's the same old stuff that's piled into one book to woo teenage girls. I'm the biggest twilight fan in my school and I don't see the novel as a literary work, but rather as a fantasy in which someone is unconditionally in love and attentive to another person. As for the sexism, it might be sexism, but it's just the truth. My mother needs taking care of and hey, so do I. It's not sexist is based on personality. Because Renee is a delicate creature in Bella's eyes and because she acts like a teenager, she consequently needs that protection. The dazzle of the book is unrealistic because part of it comes from Bella's instant popularity which is found in a number of books (ie. the mediator) but is highly fantasized. What girl doesn't want to be liked and wanted by all? Once again, this is for teenage girls to dream about, not to be taken as a really serious novel. It is true that Bella is seemingly a temptress and that Edward seems to be the innocent moral young boy, but in reality Bella is attracted to him because of what he is, intoxicating. She has no choice but to love him and Edward feels the same. He is moral, but he is also a life sucking creature with no heartbeat, no soul, no innocence.


tennesseegal said...
on May. 1 2009 at 3:36 pm

to twilightlover95, the director for Twilight was a girl.

Catherine Hardwicke

as for my opinion on the book; i loved itttt

on Apr. 29 2009 at 12:51 am
I love twilight so much. I'm so glad that there is a new director that is makin New Moon. The books are breath taking but the movie sucked. I just don't think that men can fully grasp all the emotions in the Twilight Saga. That's why I'm glad the new dirctor is a girl.

Lizzy12 GOLD said...
on Apr. 27 2009 at 3:11 pm
Lizzy12 GOLD, Palmyra, New York
13 articles 0 photos 15 comments

Favorite Quote:
<No one can make you feel inferior without your consent> Elenor Roosevelt

I also love the spin you put on this. I never thought about this point unitl now. However i believe that although Edward swoops in to save her in the books she wouldnt have been able to save her self...she's human... she's weak and helpless. Also Alice and Rosalie and Esme also help Bella its just that Edward feels he has a responsibility over her. Thank you for sharing your view I am deffinitley going to share and ponder this.

on Apr. 23 2009 at 3:10 pm
d3nyM3nOt BRONZE, Birmingham, Alabama
3 articles 0 photos 11 comments
altough i LOVE the spin you put on this, i have to disagree. i feel in love with the twilight series from the first page to the last page to the movie.

sanra SILVER said...
on Apr. 22 2009 at 8:15 pm
sanra SILVER, Far Rockaway, New York
8 articles 7 photos 62 comments
i have'll to disagree,i mean sure she depends on him, but that's because it's on super-natural cases, how could she not need help when james attaked, or victoria, or even the truck. And i don't think the book shows any sexist cases, cause Alice was infact superior to Jasper, or the imprinting thing.