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Twilight discussion

post #1 of 62
Thread Starter 
In another, rather long, thread it was asked:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Inci
Just wondering -
Are there other Twilight threads on MDC that I'm missing?
Is there a thread anywhere to dissect the sexism, and ways that the books glorify/justify abusive relationships??
So here we go!
post #2 of 62
Thread Starter 
Twilight was amusing. Unless I thought about things too hard.

The way Edward said that he loved her more because he'd protect her by staying away from her? Is there anything more likely to cause a teenager to dig in and refuse reason than a suggestion that her feelings are less than a billion percent serious?
post #3 of 62
hey, Sapphire, thanks for starting this thread!

Okay, my problems with Twilight (and I've only read the first book):

- Bella has no life beyond Edward - no interests, hobbies, volunteer projects, activist work, extracurricular activities, church, lessons, or ANYTHING. Her friendships are superficial and conversations with friends revolve around boys, fashion, etc. She ditches her friends and family to just be with Edward.
p. 251 - "Since I'd come to Forks, it really seemed like my life was about him."

- Bella is self-deprecating, and Edward feeds this by always either scolding her for or being amused by how easily and frequently Bella attracts trouble, gets into trouble, etc., and always needs to be helped and protected.

- Bella cooks dinner for her dad every night, and cleans up after, while he just watches TV. She mothers him, in a sexist, 1950s kind of way.

- Edward is controlling, condescending towards Bella, is violent, and ignores her.
p. 103 - he drags her across the parking lot by her jacket, ignores Bella when she tells him to let go, orders her to get in the car, threatens that if she tries to leave he'll just drag her back.
p. 270, Edward talks about how he had the urge to murder Bella's teacher so that he could be alone with Bella.
p. 272 - "And I was filled with compassion for his suffering, even now, as he confessed his craving to take my life." THAT'S NOT HEALTHY. Junk like this primes girls to have relationships with abusive men.
p. 293 - “'You spied on me?' But somehow I couldn’t infuse my voice with the proper outrage. I was flattered. He was unrepentant. 'What else is there to do at night?'"
(He admits to coming ‘almost every night’ to watch Bella sleep]) Nooo, it's not CREEPY when a man breaks into your house every night to watch you sleep without your permission or knowledge (e.g. STALKS YOU), it's sooo flattering!
p. 310 – “You are so soft, so fragile. I have to mind my actions every moment that we’re together so that I don’t hurt you. I could kill you quite easily, Bella, simply by accident. ... If I were too hasty...if for one second I wasn’t paying enough attention, I could reach out, meaning to touch your face, and crush your skull by mistake. You don’t realize how incredibly breakable you are.”
p. 315 – "He threw me over his shoulder, gently, but with a swiftness that left me breathless. I protested as he carried me easily down the stairs, but he ignored me."

- Edward treats Bella like a child:
p. 280 – "Then he pulled me around to face him, cradling me in his arms like a small child."
p. 297 – "Then he leaned forward and reached out with his long arms to pick me up, gripping the tops of my arms like I was a toddler."

I really could go on and on...
It really scares me that millions of preteen girls are enthralled by/learning from THIS.
post #4 of 62
Sapphire clan , I think you're right, entertaining story as long as you dont think about it too hard.
post #5 of 62
I think the reason we should "think about it too hard" is because so many preteen girls look up to Bella as a role model, and want a relationship like Bella & Edward's. These books aren't just junky romance novels collecting dust in a library basement, they're all in the Top 20 Bestselling books on Amazon. As ABC News puts it, "The first three books in the series have sold a combined 8 million copies worldwide. That's staggering, considering the high-end print run for a teen novel is 500,000."
post #6 of 62
I've told my daughters plenty of times, as we've discussed these books, that I don't want them dating vampires. What's normal and healthy for vampire/human relationships would be incredibly UNhealthy in a relationship between two regular, mortal, human beings.

And that about sums up the whole thing. It's fantasy, and it's fun, and it's not meant to be taken too seriously. ITA that it's a problem if girls ARE taking this too literally, and expect human men to act like Edward- but I don't think that's what the author intended.
post #7 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I've told my daughters plenty of times, as we've discussed these books, that I don't want them dating vampires. What's normal and healthy for vampire/human relationships would be incredibly UNhealthy in a relationship between two regular, mortal, human beings.

And that about sums up the whole thing. It's fantasy, and it's fun, and it's not meant to be taken too seriously. ITA that it's a problem if girls ARE taking this too literally, and expect human men to act like Edward- but I don't think that's what the author intended.
I totally agree.

I think the main problem would be lack of discussion with the teens that are reading these.

I would also hope that these girls are aware of the fact that it would be creepster 101 for a human boy to have the urge to KILL them. That should never happen.... unless you are dating a vampire....
post #8 of 62
Thread Starter 
For me it's less about whether they're "safe" for young women, and more about the sheer absurdity of them.

It's like that song Love Story (and lots of other songs), I listen to them in the radio and have fun, but then I just have to gripe to someone about what utter pieces of BS they are.
post #9 of 62
Inci, I am with you 100%.

I read all 4 books and they just kept getting worse. And from what I've heard about the unfinished 5th book, the Edward-as-creepy-stalker only got creepier.

If my daughter ever wants to read them (hopefully they'll be out of fashion by then ) she and I will have a long, hard talk about it first. I wouldn't ban them or anything... but I admit to wanting to. They're sick and set unhealthy and unrealistic expectations of relationships.

I can't express enough how much I dislike the themes in those books. If my 12 year old came to me wanting to read Twilight I'd be buying the Sookie Stackhouse books so fast her head would spin. I'd much rather her read a book with a little sex in it (as I was doing at that age - VC Andrews, etc) than books where the man is a jerky stalker and the woman is a brainless doormat.

Sorry, just how I feel. I didn't want to dump on the main Twilight thread and ruin anyone's fun... but since this is a critical discussion...
post #10 of 62
wow. i agree with talking to your kids about what they are reading but i don't understand why you would have a talk about it before hand. i think asking her what she thinks about it, really listening to her thoughts, and talk about that. Everyone can read the same thing and each one will take something different away from it.

i understand where you are coming from with your concerns.. i can see where people would read the books and be horrified. i was not one of those people, i enjoyed the books but i totally agree bella was so self deprecating it made me want to barf.

here's why i enjoyed the books and why i think many young adults can read them without scaring them for life. first of all i think most kids who are old enough to read this are old enough to think critically and understand the difference between reality and fantasy. second, as adults, having the experiences and slightly more all encompassing world views, we read things like that and see a teenaged girl who has no self worth, a controlling boyfriend who wants to kill her, a love triangle that is fueled by this girls need to please everyone... and to always be the injured party, the imprinting thing which is beyond bizarre if you over think it etc.

now when i read the book i got none of that from it. what i read was a girl that many high school girls can relate to. she is awkward, insecure, and spends a lot of time trying not to embarrass herself... so basically your average pre teen and young teen. a beautiful, mysterious, sort of dangerous guy who, by some miracle, seems to be interested in her. ok at that age this was like my ultimate fantasy... and it was a totally innocent one.

the vampire thing complicates things obviously but i didn't get the same things from it that you guys did. i was mad as heck that he didn't listen to what she wanted but instead did what he thought was best. how flipping infuriating... i bet many girls would think the same thing. we can make decisions for ourselves thankyouverymuch no help from boyfriends needed!

for the endlessly awkward among us having a guy who finds your mishaps amusing is a huge relief. i used to get into all kinds of stupid situations.. i needed someone who could laugh with me and even like that about me.

i think having edward wanting to kill her is sort of obvious since he is a vampire. i didn't read this and think that a man who constantly wants to kill you just can't help himself b/c it is a part of who he is. i thought the point was that he didn't hurt her. i would actually like my kids to understand that 'i can't help it it's just who i am' and other asinine excuses for abusing someone are total crap and that a man who truly loves you does not hurt your. even if someone has 'uncontrollable urges' it does not make it ok.

the other thing is that he is a vampire.. i don't know any of those in real life. i think most kids can understand what vampires are, and how they are different then people, that they are not real and it is not ok for people to want to kill you.

i also think bella sticks to her guns about what she wants in the last two books. being friends with jacob, becoming a vampire, keeping her baby etc. seems like she gets some self esteem be the end of the second book.

i don't know i guess i think that as adults we are more likely to read things into this then kids are. it is a fantasy romance, most of them will take it for what it is. i did until i read this, and i still do.
post #11 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I've told my daughters plenty of times, as we've discussed these books, that I don't want them dating vampires. What's normal and healthy for vampire/human relationships would be incredibly UNhealthy in a relationship between two regular, mortal, human beings.

And that about sums up the whole thing. It's fantasy, and it's fun, and it's not meant to be taken too seriously. ITA that it's a problem if girls ARE taking this too literally, and expect human men to act like Edward- but I don't think that's what the author intended.
that

Quote:
Originally Posted by tallulahma View Post
I totally agree.

I think the main problem would be lack of discussion with the teens that are reading these.

I would also hope that these girls are aware of the fact that it would be creepster 101 for a human boy to have the urge to KILL them. That should never happen.... unless you are dating a vampire....



I think at a certain point we all just need to realize this is fiction/fantasy
post #12 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruthla View Post
I've told my daughters plenty of times, as we've discussed these books, that I don't want them dating vampires. What's normal and healthy for vampire/human relationships would be incredibly UNhealthy in a relationship between two regular, mortal, human beings.

And that about sums up the whole thing. It's fantasy, and it's fun, and it's not meant to be taken too seriously. ITA that it's a problem if girls ARE taking this too literally, and expect human men to act like Edward- but I don't think that's what the author intended.
:
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallulahma View Post
I totally agree.

I think the main problem would be lack of discussion with the teens that are reading these.

I would also hope that these girls are aware of the fact that it would be creepster 101 for a human boy to have the urge to KILL them. That should never happen.... unless you are dating a vampire....



I think at a certain point we all just need to realize this is fiction/fantasy
post #13 of 62
Inci, great post!

I'm annoyed by the popularity of Twilight in the same way I'm annoyed by the popularity of the Princess thing among young girls. I can't help reading a book and looking for the underlying messages (hey, I'm an English teacher!). I think the books feed the idea that girls should feel great if they are super fragile and need taking care of by a strong perfect man... I found Bella boring and obnoxious most of the time (I thought she'd be like most YA female heroines in fantasy or action, not a YA romance novel--oops!). But I could put that aside and enjoy a thrilling story (when it finally got around to the story and not just mooning about and googly eyes ). I thought the series got much better by the end. AND I think there are other positive messages throughout the books. Staying true to what you really believe in, becoming stronger, and a very interesting metaphor of (good) vampires as the saved (because they have to really work to be good), as a religious theme... these were all interesting. I don't mind the metaphor for abstinence, either, although I thought the way the lust was conveyed was unrealistically lopsided (I do appreciate the inversion of the girl-as-gatekeeper trope), and just served to make Bella look weaker again. I thought Bella's actions by the end of the book maybe subverted the idea of the delicate princess. But mostly I think she's just like her powers... a blank, a cipher.

I can enjoy Jane Austen despite its messages of classism and bowing to the social system. I can enjoy a lot of books that have crazy messages. But I'm still aware of them.
post #14 of 62
http://endabuse.org/content/news/detail/1090/

Quote:
Approximately one in three adolescent girls in the United States is a victim of physical, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner – a figure that far exceeds victimization rates for other types of violence affecting youth. This “shockingly common behavior among adolescents” is the subject of a new Focus Report from the National Council on Crime and Delinquency.

This examination of existing research compiles some of the strongest data on the subject. It finds that girls exposed to interpersonal violence are more likely to be exposed to other forms of violence, show a greater propensity for unsafe sexual activity, and a higher incidence of substance abuse and suicide than either boys or non-abused girls.
Just sayin' .

In the preview for movie #2 when the brother gets crazed due to Bella's blood drop and Edward protects her by essentially throwing her into a wall behind him, it wasn't so great an image in my world.

The issue for me isn't so much for the young girls reading this in the context of families that communicate, but more the myriad girls who are reading this in a vacuum void of parental guidance, and this dreck is reinforcing of/reinforced by the other popular media garbage (where female = booty). I also don't think this is so different from the crap I read as a tween, but I still think it's, well, crap.

(when looking for this report online, I found an article that quoted a spokesperson re the research named Kiersten Stewart - thought that was funny).
post #15 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by joensally View Post
http://endabuse.org/content/news/detail/1090/



Just sayin' .

In the preview for movie #2 when the brother gets crazed due to Bella's blood drop and Edward protects her by essentially throwing her into a wall behind him, it wasn't so great an image in my world.

The issue for me isn't so much for the young girls reading this in the context of families that communicate, but more the myriad girls who are reading this in a vacuum void of parental guidance, and this dreck is reinforcing of/reinforced by the other popular media garbage (where female = booty). I also don't think this is so different from the crap I read as a tween, but I still think it's, well, crap.

(when looking for this report online, I found an article that quoted a spokesperson re the research named Kiersten Stewart - thought that was funny).
so if your partner was about to get hit by a bus, and you push him out of the way forcefully- you are abusive? because thats what stephanie meyer made her vampires... cold, hard, fast and powerful. like steel. like a bus about to crush her and drink her blood.

and what it seems like you are saying is that it is not the books fault... but the fault of the parents or role models for not providing the right guidance....

its fantasy.

have you ever been to a comic con?

people lose themselves in ALLLLL sorts of fantasy that is probably "unhealthy" "abusive" "sexist" if you dissect it enough.

if the topic being discussed is the breakdown of the familial unit forcing children to find guidance and seek acceptance elsewhere- well, I am down for that discussion... but the fact that this book has any hand in a teenage girl going out and finding herself an abusive boyfriend that stalks her and wants to kill her.... is absurd.

it is absurd and down right offensive to the intelligence of the teenage girls to try and say that them reading this book will in some way entrance them and convince them that their safety matters not and its completely acceptable to allow men to undermine your choices and force you into the kitchen to cook their meals... give your children more credit than that.

It is not the responsibility of writers to craft each and every sentence in order to please every politically correct group out there. She told a story that was in her head. People went crazy over it. Because people love vampire stories. always have. vampire novels were HUGE when I was in high school. its a seductive fantasy to live forever and never age... countless classics have been written about it for a long long long time.

Should we censor our books to try and bandage up the open wound or try to get the knife out of the flesh first.

pretending that any of the problems listed in the posts above are really about twilight is nonsense. The fact that when you read about a 17 year old boy pulling a 17 year old girl by her jacket in a parking lot because she was just unconscious minutes before and they shouldnt be driving- what you REALLY read is an abusive boy undermining a girls power and intelligence speaks to your life experiences- not the girls reading this.

As a teenager I have pulled teenage boys by their shirts to dance. I have pulled them by jackets to walk with me to the bathroom at camp because it was dark and I didnt want to go alone.

I have been pulled, by my boyfriend, by my jacket to get in the car during a verbal altercation with another girl.

These are teen experiences, things that happen. Thank god we dont have the life experiences of a 30 year old when we are 17- nothing would be fun.
post #16 of 62
: to pretty much the whole post. i think we need to give teenage girls (and the people who raise them) a bit more credit.
post #17 of 62
I'm playing hookie from what I'm supposed to be doing, so I'm going too fast when I type.

I was responding to upthread where someone said the problem was the conversations not happening with girls. I meant that for some kids these books aren't just pap to be read, enjoyed and moved on from. And many kids just aren't moving on from these books given the mania around them. And not every kid has someone to bounce ideas off of.

I think that girls (and boys) today are living in a vastly different culture than we did (we being the 30+ crowd, in terms of the change I'm observing). Sexism and misogyny are alive and well, just as they were when we were growing up. But I think that media is a much larger factor in young women's/girls' lives than it was when I grew up, and the uni-dimensional portrayals of men and women are awful.

I'm not saying young girl + vampire fantasy = seeking abusive relationship. But I don't think that humans are not influenced by their experiences/what they read/view, and that Twilight-type Mary Sue fiction is one piece of the puzzle that supports the underlying culture that accepts and perpetuates high levels of violence.

To me, Twilight's just a small part of the problem. I don't like that young girls (10-14) are inhaling this at such a formative point in their development, without the breadth of experience of an older reader. I read Flowers in the Attic at that age and was unscathed (although creeped out), so I'm not saying burn the books (by any means), but I wish there was the same level of rapture about a series that has a stronger female protagonist without a muddled death wish and that was better written.
post #18 of 62
what is this flowers in the attic i keep hearing about? i read a ton growing up and i still do but i have never read this. mostly i read stuff that is fun and happy or at least not morbidly depressing. (i made it about 10 pages into go ask alice before i moved onto my princess diaries books )
post #19 of 62
I really did not like Edward at all during the whole series. This video really summed it up for me. http://blip.tv/file/2261825/
post #20 of 62
Quote:
Originally Posted by tallulahma View Post
but the fact that this book has any hand in a teenage girl going out and finding herself an abusive boyfriend that stalks her and wants to kill her.... is absurd.
Of course it's absurd! It's not a direct cause & effect. But we're talking about treating an unhealthy relationship like it's normal. I don't care to normalize something like that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 1littlebit View Post
what is this flowers in the attic i keep hearing about?
Child abuse & incest. The books are gross. (There's a whole FitA series)

But let me segue this back to the original discussion: in books like VC Andrews, things like that are seen as BAD things. When the parents abuse their kids (common theme in VC Andrews) the kids realize eventually that what is going on is bad and wrong.

At no point does Bella ever seem to realize that her boyfriend is a possessive jerk.
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