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.

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This article has 589 comments.

Black_Lace said...
on Apr. 22 2009 at 1:13 am
Black_Lace, Pgh, Pennsylvania
0 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I really like the spin you put on this. There was always something about Twilight I didn't see as right; this was it. Bella and Edward are not to be looked up to or desired. Their background and storyline consists of obsession and heartbreak.

Maybe it is just me, but after I finished the series, I began to date a boy that I really liked. He was always on my mind and it was becoming like an addiction; I had to see him. When he dumped me, I became overly depressed and began to hurt myself. Coincedence? Perhaps. But, the idea that books and movies affect you subconciously should be considered.

Excellent review, work, etc. nicely written and very well thought out.

katanara said...
on Apr. 21 2009 at 12:57 pm
i really dont like the way that u have put this book down ... you say ed cullen is boreder line abusive have you not read the book like are u just writing this to sit here and be "cool" this was the worst back ground on twilight i have ever hear i am on the fourth book and not yet have i once seen or have it even been aplied that ed touched her in an abusive way if anything he is trying to save her by keeping her mortal and not letting his family touch her like god if you are going to do something like this then u may want to actually understand the book before dissing it

on Apr. 21 2009 at 4:17 am
BookWorm579 PLATINUM, Elk Grove, California
26 articles 0 photos 33 comments

Favorite Quote:
"à cœur vaillant rien d’impossible [nothing is impossible to a willing heart]" -French Proverb

While I don't quite think that Bella is an "evil temptress" (and think that Eve wasn't really an evil temptress either), I do agree with everything else. My idea of a healthy relationship is one in which neither member places their entire well-being on the other and each knows when to fight his or her own battles. Balla's and Edward's relationship seems much too one-sided.

on Apr. 20 2009 at 11:35 pm
Are you kidding me..Edward is trying to keep her alive becasue he cant stand to be without her..Bella does not asked to be saved so why say she is a bad influence on younger viewers and she is not a EVIL TEMTRESS...Edward and Bella do not have physical relations untill they are married.And even then she cant tempt him..and she is not trying to give up her life she just wants to be equal to him and he loves her enough to do it towards the end but he wants her to stay human cause he doesnt want to end her life or take her soul that he will never have. SO I GUESS IM TRYING TO SAY I VERY MUCH SO DISAGREE WITH WHAT THIS (CATHERINE STAFFORD)HAS TO SAY.

Smiles BRONZE said...
on Apr. 20 2009 at 1:16 am
Smiles BRONZE, Columbia Cross Roads, Pennsylvania
4 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I agree with some points, i agree with the sexist part. Yes, i agree that they show women as helpless and ineed of a man to fullfill their lives. Although,i did read the books, and i fell in love with them. I do believe every girl want an Edward, and they obsesse over it too. But if you think about it, everyone does want that one person to treat them right, i just think they believe they must find some one exactly like him.

on Apr. 18 2009 at 8:51 pm
Rebecca Heilweil BRONZE, Not Your Business, New York
1 article 0 photos 7 comments
Edward is a perfectionist who honestly needs to get a life, and the same with Bella minus the perfectionist part. The book is like a romance version of : Having A Relationship with A Vampire for Dummies. The interesting part about the book is the vampire culture, everything else is just boring high school chick-novel.

on Apr. 17 2009 at 11:14 pm
Evelyn Wang BRONZE, Palo Alto, California
2 articles 0 photos 2 comments
While I disagree with the "evil temptress" label (Bella? Really? She's far too stupid to really be a temptress, unless it's completely unintentional, in which case, well, it's still really implausible), I agree with most of the sexist stuff. Ironically, the author is a woman. But what really irritates me is the fact that Twilight is hailed as a spectacular piece of literature by teens. Ha. Ha ha. Topaz eyes? Give me a break. And I don't like the way she treated the vampire myth, either. For all ye literary types, go read Let the Right One In instead.

on Apr. 17 2009 at 1:40 am
You are so right! Bella is obsessed over Edward, Edward is too protective, too many guys like bella, and people say that this is a Mary Sue.

... Maybe she is.

Nelle PLATINUM said...
on Apr. 15 2009 at 9:34 am
Nelle PLATINUM, Crewkerne, Other
21 articles 10 photos 50 comments
I love Twilight, but I have to agree with some of your points. The idea that Bella needs Edward to survive is craziness, this is not love it is obsession. Also, Edward really is very overly protective and controlling.


If you look past this it really can be a great book.

And soon there will be a new craze, and everyone would have forgotten about Twilight. I'm sure Twilight will not damage the 'future of gender equality.'

Btw, very well written, I found the points incredibly interesting.

Reese said...
on Apr. 15 2009 at 1:55 am
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 really Love the way you wrote this piece it's really really good, and I agree to a point but I'm WAY to into Twilight to hate the way Edward is. I wish I could find a guy who treats me the way he treats Bella and he's the PERFECT guy to bring to met the parents to. I mean he as GREAT manners so the parents would have a problem with him and you know he'd take good care of you when you're with him, and when you have nobody else to turn to you know you could always turn to him.

Now about the comments....and some of what you said I would like it if you could answer some of my questions please, Thanks T.

I agree with a lot of you.....Girls are capable of doing things themselves BUT we can't do EVERYTHING by ourselves, I mean how would we have children? And how would the family name be cared on?????? Now on to Jacob I don't really like how he is I mean the way he is with Bella Kissing her when he KNOWS she is in love with Edward is just down right dirty (and I would have hit him with a wooden bat if it was me) but that's not the point. The point is Edward is a million times stronger then Bella there for he SHOULD save her when ever he gets the chance....Otherwise she NEVER would have made it to the last book.......SO in the end it's a really good thing Edward does save's her the way he does. And I would like to ask I mean I truly am curious how do you mean Bella is a ( evil temptress ) Cause I really can't get how you came up with that but it may just be me.....cause I know I can a really big dork sometimes. And how is Edward ( abusive ) I don't remember him hitting Bella or any of his family either. I TOTALLY AGREE WITH ( HOLA14) with the whole (Someone that completes us and while I say it goes almost too far in New Moon but also shows that in real love, you're no whole without them.) And it's nice to know that if you haven't found mr. right you can always read Twilight and pretend that the fictional character is there in a book and you can pretend to be Bella...So yeah thanks again loved the way you wrote this.

on Apr. 14 2009 at 10:56 pm
okay, i get it. Twilight is really huge now. But come on, girls are girls. you guys need to stop fantasizing over edward and this book. I agree with the author. Girls should not be influenced by a girl like bella because lets face it the only true edward out there is Robert pattinson and he is -sad to say- just an actor. Bella is toooooooo dependant on Edward I mean it takes a normal girl a few days to get over a guy. even when they are in love. Bella totally ignored her friends and silenced every body for MONTHS i am not talking one month i am talking PLURAL!!!!!!!!!! I think some author's should come out with a new book of a strong teenage girl in a healthy NORMAL relationship with a NONVAMPIRE guy. 'nough said.

edward sux said...
on Apr. 14 2009 at 1:03 am
YOU GO GIRL!!!Edward ticks me off and is way to perfect(the whole series is) I love twilight but there is something seriously wrong with the characters. Bella is way too dependent on Edward and I thought it was a nice change in New Moon for her to be with Jacob but he's also way too perfect. What's your opinion on Jacob? Have you read The Host?

kassy_6824 said...
on Apr. 13 2009 at 11:41 pm
I dont agree much with this opinion. The article did open my perspective a little. But i think you need to be a little more open minded. In almost every relationship a girl is dependent on the man. Thats why the man is there. For the girl to lean on. And until you have fully felt love and fallin for it, you cant really judge another

on Apr. 13 2009 at 6:20 pm
emolover95 GOLD, Park City, Utah
13 articles 0 photos 25 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't cry because it's over. Smile because it happened."

I totally agree with you. It does portray women as the needy gender. While girls are perfectly capable of doing everything by themselves. I think that she portrayed us as the somewhat dumb gender. I one hundred percent agree with you. Great writing. I love your opinion.

on Apr. 13 2009 at 5:25 pm
When I first read this article, my stomach dropped to the floor. As soon as you threw in the "evil temptress" line, I had to force myself to read further. Then you acused Edward of being abusive, and eventually labeled the saga as sexist. Immedeately I thought, "Perhaps this author has never truly read the books. Maybe she skimmed through it." Even then, I can't believe how anyone could ever make these decisions based on reading the stories.

Let's begin with the tempting Bella you've mentioned. You stated, "Bella is depicted as an evil temptress trying to persuade a morally honorable man into evil, while attempts to keep her virtues intact."

It's obviously true that Edward was trying to keep himself 'good'. This had nothing to do with Bella at first. He was trying to keep himself good from being a monster, from the almost natrual wrong that comes with being a vampire. He didn't want to kill, he didn't ever wanna harm. When he meets Bella, she has the sweetest scent of any human he's ever encountered. Already he is drawn to her. He doesn't want to harm her because he'll then become this monster once again. But Bella, for being herself - not for being a girl - is self concious. She never had the confidence, nor the actual intention of ever seducing or tempting Edward. Throughout the majority of Twilight, Bella stays her-consious-self. That is simply her character. You didn't happen to mention though that she is so brave and has so much good in her that she tries her hardest to keep Edward good, and to keep herself out of situations that her brilliance and goodness definitely outweighs her selfdoubt. Eventually, Edward controlled himself enough to resist her blood, and came to love her. Love her more deeply than what most of us will experience. Bella also loved him, with all that she was. Ever heard of the term, "my better half"? That scratched the surface of what Bella and Edward were, and what they represent. Real love. Loving someone so significantly that you can't help but be overwelmed with joy when they love you back. They become your life. I believe that's how it should be, as well. No wonder they always needed each other.

Before you continued with the sexist portion of the article, you called Edward abusive. Have you not read the wonderful words of his to Bella speaking of how he just wants to her happy, over making her a vampire, over ever harming her? Sure, he became angry sometimes and depressed, the bipolar Edward as most people saw him. But that was because at times he couldn't understand her at all, and he thought he knew what was best for her. He was never abusive or harmful towards her. Actually, he was this way towards himself. He would NEVER want Bella hurt. The one time he did give her a couple bruises was on their honeymoon in Breaking Dawn. And everyone saw that coming. I just can't believe anyone would call him abusive after reading that. He just wanted her safe, he just wanted her happy. That was the only reason he left Bella in New Moon. He wanted her happy. James had broken her bones and bit her in the first book. He was afraid he would one day do that to her. He wanted her happy, he wanted her safe. I cannot say that enough, I truly cannot. He never wanted her dead for him. He wanted, he longed for her to be normal, to grow up and have children. Of course her reaction to (what I can't believe you called) the dump was a bit rough, but I know I have a hard time with losing people myself, and I've never felt something that deep. But eventually they did. Everything worked out perfectly by Breaking Dawn. She became a vampire out of emergenry, so she could live. After all the quirks, she found she was even happier as a vampire. She shone. She was no longer self concious; she felt beautiful.

I must mention again the original doubt was a trait of her character. The theme of soul mates and such was huge as a part with the books. Soul mates, they need each other. It was true for Carlisle, Jasper, and Emmett as well. Edward was basically dying when he was seperated from Bella. It wasn't a sexist thing at all, it was the soul mate concept. As for the matter with Renee, she needed takne care of. Know why? She had been through a divorce. Years, years later there is still stress from a divorce, even when you're remarried and started a new family. Bella had always taken care of Renee up the point of her moving to Forks. Renee was also irresponsible and young at heart. Bella, acting older, had looked over her in such a way. Renee needed Phil, someone to keep her busy and thoughtful. I can't believe anyone would call it sexist. Even Jake needed Bella and later on Reneseme. Everything happened from the plot, from the characters and their personalities, their past and current situations. It was never, ever sexist.

That's just my opinion. I'm a reader sharing the truth for a fantastic series.

hola14 BRONZE said...
on Apr. 12 2009 at 5:17 am
hola14 BRONZE, New York, New York
1 article 0 photos 11 comments
I can only partially agree. While I get the whole girls tempt guys thing, it can be turned the other way too. Edward (and his kind for that matter) tempt Bella almost to death. Several times. The relationship goes both ways. But I also have to point out that we were made to have another half. Someone that completes us and while I say it goes almost too far in New Moon but also shows that in real love, you're no whole without them.

on Apr. 10 2009 at 10:45 pm
Lindsey.L SILVER, New York, California
9 articles 4 photos 10 comments
I really liked twilight the book, and i appreciate you showing a different view to how Edward is treating Bella, but you gotta admit it was for her own safety,and he is definitely not abusive. so i must disagree with you, but congrats on putting youre opnion out there!

Adrian S. said...
on Apr. 10 2009 at 5:18 am
I agree with what you have to say to a point. It is wonderfully written, well voiced and all, but i just cant agree fully. My biggest issue: whats wrong with being dependent on a guy? I've always had a problem with how Bella was so overly obsessed with Edward but really, you make it sound like any dependence or help a girl gets from a guy should be frowned upon. I dont think its wrong for a guy to feel he has to protect his girlfriend in the way Edward did Bella. I do think its wrong how over the top their relationship got, considering they only knew eachother for what, two months? But heres the kicker, its fiction.

Women dont have to be independent to be respected and honored in the world. What about stay at home moms and wives? The devote their entire lives to their husbands and children and the discuss absolutely everything with their hubby's. If two people truely love each other and the guy is slightly more overbearing than desired then so what? Who are you to say the girl is a weakling?

The only exception would be if he were overbearing in an abusive way but I am not referring to that way.

on Apr. 9 2009 at 10:02 pm
Jackiepurplerocks GOLD, Houston, Texas
13 articles 0 photos 3 comments
i totally agree!!!!!!!!!!!!!! many of my friend and people i know are obssessed with this series and while the book may have some good points it is not a book i would call the best book of the year it is a love story that is all an unusal vampir one but a vampire/romance novel netherless. great article love your writing style!!!!!

jessie said...
on Apr. 8 2009 at 5:25 pm
"No offense, but you have never felt love if you don't understand how Bella felt."

Excuse you. I'm in love, and I've been in love. If ANY man treated me the way Edward treated Bella, I'd kick him to the curb faster than you could say Eddie-kins.