Twilight on Equality | Teen Ink

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.

on Apr. 6 2009 at 9:15 pm
You... You're absolutely brilliant. Edward's a mentally abusive jerk to Bella, and she just stands there and takes it because he's a sparkly, copper haired, ocher eyed Adonis, and girls lap it up like dogs and worship Stephenie Meyer. It's awful, but knowing that there's people out there like you who know better than to obsess over this literary train wreck helps me restore just a little bit more faith in humanity. :] Bravo.

Minchan said...
on Apr. 6 2009 at 8:23 pm
While some of the comments are getting here make me sad and don't speak well for human kind, I mostly just want to say: GOOD JOB ON SPEAKING OUT!

-heard that this was in a magazine as well-

Twilight is sexist, and it glorifies abuse as well as pedophilia, racism (research the native american tribe it used- you know, the one Jacob Belongs to?) and repeatedly call extreme immaturity just the opposite- Bella is described by other people in the book as being "thirty years old" despite that she's only seventeen, yet she behaves similarly to a two or five year old.

And then the books are constantly speaking about one thing but showing something else.

Anyway, AMEN TO THIS. Bella is in Lust, not Love. And now that she no longer smells deliscious and no longer has that "plain jane appeal" for Edward, and now that he can't go on about how she's like an "angry kitten that thinks it's a tiger" she is, and now that he can read her mind and see how spiteful she is?

He's out of there. Or he would be, if he were, you know, something more than a cardboard cutout.

Loved the article~♥

on Apr. 6 2009 at 6:47 pm
I completely agree and thank you for seeing the light. There's a reason the whole 'symbol' of the series is an apple, and the author's Mormon beliefs are felt throughout the entire series.

This book would not be so horrible, as there are books just as bad out there, except for the way the fans are treating this as the best work of literature in centuries and taking all of the abusive messages to heart.

on Apr. 5 2009 at 11:01 pm
emmyphan27 BRONZE, Rome, New York
4 articles 23 photos 5 comments

Favorite Quote:
ERIK: Are you very tired?
CHRISTINE: Oh, tonight I gave you my soul, and I am dead.
ERIK: Your soul is a beautiful thing, child. No emperor ever received so fair a gift. The angels wept to-night.

While reading the Twilight Saga, I was constantly rooting for Bella to smack Edward and/or Jacob upside the head. I agree that she's too weak in the series, but you're reading too much into it -- too in between the lines. She gets saved all the time because she IS weaker than most of the characters in the books, plain and simple. I was glad she finally got a bit of spotlight in the very end (albeit by a bit of an anti-climatic route). Good, well-written article, but mostly fluff without actual, honest-to-goodness proof.

Catcat BRONZE said...
on Apr. 5 2009 at 1:32 pm
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."

Thankyou for all the complimenting and critical comments. However, I would like to clarify that I'm far from a "book burner"- as someone called me in a below comment.

I'm simply calling for more recognition of underlying social themes in the works we read. "All art is propaganda." (George Orwell)

twiwrite GOLD said...
on Apr. 4 2009 at 11:32 pm
twiwrite GOLD, Modesto, California
14 articles 0 photos 111 comments

Favorite Quote:
none :P

twilight is awsome. thats one clear fact to me. and yes, lots of girls would love to have an edward. its every romantisits dream. and bella makes alot of her own desisions and she is smart, the scean with the microscope in book one proves that obviously. and have you read wuthering hights? thats one book i wish book burners had gotten a hold of, but still it has a similar theme as twilight, as do plenty of disney princess clasics. romance novles all dwell on that theme too! you might as well be saying that you are a non romantic person and leave the rest of us to our fantisies.

on Apr. 4 2009 at 6:34 pm
treegirl BRONZE, Newton, Massachusetts
2 articles 0 photos 6 comments
Thankyouthankyou!! I totally agree. I loved the saga while I was reading it, but something about Bella's character definately bothered me. The whole goal of Bella's life was to be with Edward. She didn't care about going to college, getting a job, or making any difference in the world. I mean, it's great to love someone like that, but Edward basically became the sole purpose of her life.

But I disagree about there being no other strong female characters. I'm sorry, but both Alice and Rosalie are the farthest from helpless. Same with characters like Leah and Kate.

on Apr. 3 2009 at 4:30 pm
I wouldn't call Bella a temptress. She's intregued by him, and isn't all "sexsexsexNOW!" like other characters in nocvels aimed at teens.It's a modern-day fairy tale. Yeah, it can get annoying with Bella's continued helplessness. But she's human in a world of mythical creatures- of course she's weak compared to them. She may even symbolize our own human frailty. Nobody criticizes Cinderella or Snow White for having modest dreams about a prince to whisk her away, and nor should we criticize Bella. She's very much a teenage girl, a romantic at heart. A feminist? Obviously not. But she's a fictional girl that many real readers can relate to.

JacobBlack<3 said...
on Apr. 3 2009 at 2:32 pm
I totally disagree with this article. I think the Twilight saga was absolutely amazing. No offense, but you have never felt love if you don't understand how Bella felt. I think Stephanie Meyer is a great writer and I can't wait for the fifth book to hit stores.

CatCave GOLD said...
on Apr. 3 2009 at 2:12 am
CatCave GOLD, Duluth, Georgia
17 articles 14 photos 39 comments

Favorite Quote:
We do not inherit the earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our Children.

That is all EXACTLY what i have been trying to tell my twilight obsessed friends. My sister and i agree completely. Your writing is quirky, witty, and fast paced. I loved it. I could really see your stance in this. I mean the series has its good parts, but overall its a failure. Thank you for writing this!

Mad13658 GOLD said...
on Apr. 2 2009 at 11:38 pm
Mad13658 GOLD, Glen Rock, Pennsylvania
18 articles 0 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"You've got to love what's lovable, and hate what's hateable. It takes brains to see the difference."
- Robert Frost

twilight is not sexist. Bella makes decisions by herself you can see many in breaking dawn. I like twilight but i am not dependant on any man. In my opinion you are wrong.

sharkbait said...
on Apr. 2 2009 at 7:02 pm
I 100% agree. Absolutely! This article is incredibly accurate to my knowledge. I think this should be publicized and more known!

jen68 said...
on Apr. 2 2009 at 6:42 pm
If a young woman is able to keep her perspective when reading "Twilight" then I agree that, "it's just fiction, get over it." Unfortunately, the Edward character has been idealized by women of all ages and this character is becoming a model for what women want from men. That's why I agree with Catherine S.

Edward is overbearing and demanding. He makes decisions for Bella in a paternalistic way instead of making them WITH her. He treats her as though she has no ability to make up her own mind. If they were truly equal, as lovers, then he would realize that whatever her level of experience, she has the right and need to take care of herself.

I don't criticize the author for creating these characters. Her role was not to create a primer on teen love affairs. Rather I caution young women to avoid idealizing Edward into the perfect man.

kale21 said...
on Apr. 2 2009 at 5:09 pm
its a book

for real

if you try and relive this you are dumb

its a cute story about a boy and girl

everyone loves a good romance story

on Apr. 2 2009 at 4:01 am
Nathaniel PLATINUM, Huntsville, Missouri
36 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
"For there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so." --William Shakespeare


Also, as Stephen King as already said: "Stephanie Meyer can't write worth a darn."And she can't! It's sad that literature is going on a rapid decline these day's.

(If you haven't noticed, I am in a strong opinion that Meyer can't write that well)

Gossamer said...
on Apr. 2 2009 at 2:51 am
Gossamer, North Hill, Other
0 articles 0 photos 30 comments

Favorite Quote:
Love. I don't care what happened or who did it to you. Love anyway.

Sorry to say, but you're kind of right. Bella is wayway too obsessed, and Edward is definitely overly controlling. I think that you went a little overboard on the 'evil temptress' thing - after all, there was only one really wrong thing she wanted to get him to do. That 'destroying her soul' bit doesn't really count, since, she was sure becoming a vampire didn't do that.

And the book isn't sexist. There are strong female characters all over. Look at Alice, for example, and Leah. They definitely have minds of their own, and they're not portrayed as inferior. Renee needed looking after, yeah, but Bella cared for her before Phil, and they both did equally good jobs. Phil's being a man has nothing to do with it. And Renee is very wise, in her own way.

As for the 'swooping in to save her whenever she needs to make a choice' part, Renesmee's existence pretty much makes that point invalid. She even did what she wanted in Eclipse - distracted Victoria and gave Edward the chance to win, and even though she didn't shed any blood. She convinced him to let her visit Jacob, despite the fact he thought he would kill her, she got him to change her into a vampire, she actually bullied her dad a little to get her way... It's a shred unbalanced, yes, but one human girl tossed into a world of vampires and shapeshifters? Her helplessness has nothing to do with her inability to make choices - it's obviously going to be kind of hard to be self-sustaining in a situation like that. What's she gonna do, pull out a magic sword?

Oh, and one more thing - the shapeshifters' imprinting thing also helps to balance the genders a little more - they obviously need the girls as much as or more than the girls need them. In retrospect, it's really like that with everyone in the book - the guys and girls need each other equally.

Amyyy BRONZE said...
on Apr. 1 2009 at 10:10 pm
Amyyy BRONZE, Butler, Missouri
2 articles 0 photos 1 comment
I am amazed that you would choose Twilight to be your prey in this writing. So what? It's just a series of books. Nothing more. It's not going to damage all girls for the rest of their life!

AKlore said...
on Mar. 31 2009 at 9:38 pm
Thank you!

on Mar. 31 2009 at 8:23 pm
I totally disagree its just a fiction book i mean seriously people you either like twilight or dont i mean COME ON what she said about bella being an evil temptress and trying to lure a "morally honorable man to evil" is soooooooooo very wrong get your facts straight lady!!!!

on 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 itself was a modern-day fairytale, a story of two lovers that meet each other and fall in love, eventually finding soul mates within one another.

And your portrayal of the characters- both main and secondary- in this article is completely concocted. I sincerely have no idea where that came from. Seriously, Bella is an evil temptress darkly obsessed with little old innocent, virtuous Edward? I'll admit, both have some extremely dark themes within their characters, but that's the point. They grow on each other, and they each help the other to become better.

And as for ALL of the female characters being helpless and dependent, how about Alice Cullen? The small, yet fierce vampire has enough zeal and exuberance in her heart for the entire family, and even in the book is it stated that she is the more dynamic of the two in her relationship with Jasper Hale (a MALE character).

And then there's Rosalie Hale, another extraordinarily strong woman in the Twilight saga. With an exceptionally troubling past, this particular character has built up a tough exterior over the many years she's lived, and can stand up to anyone that tries to put her down. Even Esme, the caring "mother" of the vampire family, contains the ability to uphold the strong-minded, independent persona of each of the girls.

So, clearly, I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about. And, as Polar the Bard mentioned, yes I have a few problems with the book, and I certainly respect your opinion, but I believe you're completely wrong.