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 Mar. 28 2009 at 2:07 am
VandaNoon PLATINUM, West Pittston, Pennsylvania
42 articles 0 photos 32 comments

Favorite Quote:
what i can remember
is a lot like water
trickling down a page
of the most beautiful colors
-Marie Digby 'Unfold'

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 article was well-written and well thought out.

Fletch32 said...
on 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...
on 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...

on Mar. 25 2009 at 11:16 pm
Inkspired PLATINUM, Whitby, Other
26 articles 0 photos 493 comments

Favorite Quote:
"If one will scoff at the study of language, how, save in terms of language, will one scoff?" - Mario Pei
"I write for the same reason I breathe - because if I didn't, I would die." Isaac Asimov

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 untouchable vampires are.

Jos said...
on Mar. 23 2009 at 12:56 pm
I love this! So true!

Catcat BRONZE said...
on Mar. 22 2009 at 5:39 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."

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.

on Mar. 18 2009 at 11:25 pm
TheFitfulFire BRONZE, Houma, Louisiana
2 articles 0 photos 23 comments
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 handsome man. And yes, sometimes they like to be saved too.