Know Thy Enemy. Its Name is Twilight.

1 Jul

Here is the post on the second backlogged book that I had mentioned-the first being Jane Eyre and the second is Twilight. Unlike Jane Eyre, my reasons for reading Twilight are not only relevant, but necessary, as I can’t allow myself to let anyone out there think that I read Twilight because of a willing interest. No, no, no. I read the book because I realized, during yet another debate with my friend about the evils of the Twilight gender models, that I was a complete hypocrite-because although I may be right, and Twilight is an evil re-imagining of the vapid, helpless princess stories for a new era, I had never actually read the book. And let’s be honest- How annoying is it when someone spouts off all this OPINION, without even doing their homework? It’s pretty damn annoying and self-righteous, and I was that person. So in order to confront my own hypocrisy and lend some actual weight to my arguments, I made a deal with my friend. I would read Twilight and she would read Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

I admit it. I was scared. I was scared that I was going to start reading Twilight and I was never going to be able to put it down. I was afraid of being absorbed by the mass legion of Twihards out there that scream out their love for the series, and lament the lack of any “real men,” like Dream-Boat Cullen. I was afraid I was going to LIKE IT. And the funny thing is, I kind of did. I read the book in two days, cursing at the responsibilities that got in the way of my reading it in one day, and I was entertained. To a degree. I was entertained in the way that squeezing a whole tube of toothpaste into the sink is entertaining. Or having a food fight, or smashing a bottle on the sidewalk…these forms of “entertainment” are not necessary, the satisfaction is hollow and fleeting, and the fallout/cleanup of these events is far worse than any “fun” that was had. And in instances like the last one-breaking a bottle-the underlying aggression in the act can be damaging in itself. This is the entertainment of Twilight.

So much, and yet not nearly enough, has been written about the anti-feminist nature of Twilight. The folks over at feministing have some really great community posts about the misogyny in Twilight, and how the series is “A Significant Step Down From Buffy.” I expected the book to present a horrible role model for healthy relationships. What I didn’t expect was that the model was far worse than I had imagined. Not only does he like to watch Bella sleep, but Edward invades the minds of her friends in order to hear what she is thinking. Yup. Because she smells good (and therefore this whole dichotomy is her fault) and he can’t gain direct access into her mind, Edward’s entire existence is focused on controlling Bella. (although, it IS interesting that the audience is given what Edward is denied-First person access into Bella’s thoughts.) I can’t go into everything about this book that makes me sick, because, well, it makes me sick, but real quick: let’s pretend for a minute that your friend, your daughter, your son, your mother, anyone you care about came to you with this story:

-I met this guy last week and he is HOT, but I don’t think he likes me because he growled at me and acts like I smell bad.

-OMG!! He talked to me today. He is so hot and Godlike. I am so plain and human and utterly unworthy of his attention.

-Turns out he has been watching me sleep every night.

-He listens in on my conversations with my friends. But it is just so he can get to know me.

-I don’t associate with my other friends anymore…This Hot guy is all I need.

-He protects me from myself. But it is because he loves me.

-He won’t have sex with me because it is for my own good. And when he kisses me he makes me stand very, very still. If I move even the littlest bit, I provoke him and he can’t take it, so he has to pull away from me.

-He disabled my car..but it was for my own good.

Yeah. Count the red flags at the tip of that iceberg and be awed. And outraged.

The thing is, we are telling our daughters that the only way for a woman to have and recognize her own power is when it is being taken away from her. And we are telling our sons that the way to be a “real” man is to dominate women and control them,  because manipulation is sexy. Or as I heard someone say: “stalking is flattery.” This isn’t simply a reinvention of the Princess myth..it is a step-by-step handbook for dysfunctional, emotionally abusive relationships. So, like I said…not nearly enough has been written about the anti-feminist, misogynistic and horrendously damaging phenomena that is the Twilight series. The book may be fun to read, but it is just like throwing that bottle on the ground: a split second of unfulfilling fun with a piece of trash creates a situation that demands dangerous cleanup.

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2 Responses to “Know Thy Enemy. Its Name is Twilight.”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Feeding the Monster « The Read Queen - 22 July 2009

    […] But it isn’t the entire truth. You see, the thing is, I was reading New Moon. And after my scathing rant about Twilight, I was embarrassed to be reading the second in the series. But there I was-every […]

  2. Warm Bodies ‘Ad Nauseum’ | The Read Queen - 28 February 2013

    […] what with the poster that is freakishly reminiscent of Twilight (which you all know is one of my LOVE TO HATE go-to’s) and the fact that I have zero time to get to the theater these […]

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