Twilight, the ‘romantic’ tale of 2 lovers. A vampire and a human, who defy all odds and live to be married and have child.

How… Romantic…

I hope my sarcasm came through… I really do. In case you can’t tell, I despise Twilight. I admit, I saw the film first, and loved every second of it. I, a typical teenage girl, fell in love with the vampires and thought about perhaps finding my own prince charming. Well I have found mine, and he is NOTHING like the creeps in this novel/movie. I read all the books, and then re watched the movie. The 2nd time I saw it, I felt uncomfortable and I did not know why. I realised that the acting was bad, and the story was terrible. I began to think about the idea of having an Edward in my life and more than anything, it scared me. During my first year of University, I studied Twilight for a class and compared how modern vampires differ to those in the past. This time I saw my discomfort. I saw what millions of girls thought romantic. I saw an abusive man controlling a young girl, and I saw the impact this had on youth. We spend so much time and effort teaching girls (and men, men can be abused too) that this kind of relationship is NOT OK. And in one novel, years of hard work was destroyed. How many teens found their Edward? How many are still stuck with him? Scared? Alone?

When deciding on various texts to discuss (heading for the controversial voice) I recognise that Twilight is a relatively old text in the grand scheme of things. Though I COULD NOT ignore it. It has a message that NEEDS to be heard. Twilight is nothing but a story of abuse.

 I found this excellent clip in my search. It perfectly sums up how this is a story of an abusive relationship. I acknowledge that this is different to my last post. My discussion about Feed was a recognition of the warning it was trying to teach the youth of today. An attempt at scaring us into reality. I believe this to be the ultimate appeal of Dystopian Literature. But Twilight is not Dystopian Literature. It is a monster/romance story. The idea of the blood-sucking horror that drains every part of your life and soul, has been forever tainted by a sparkly, abusive man. This is not a warning, this is what we have been warned about.

Throughout my studies in this course I have begun to realise that we adults attempt to control youth too much. We do not allow them to be themselves, or grow their own culture. Adults write YA novels, direct teen movies and produce popular music. The youth have barely any say in their own culture, and I often feel this needs to be rectified. But in the case of Twilight, I find myself torn. Do we step in… again… and say what the youth can and cannot do? Or do we allow millions of girls (and boys) to believe that this is a healthy relationship? Where is the line? Because I honestly have no idea.

Regardless, I feel I must discuss exactly how this story promotes abusive relationships. Then perhaps you may decide for yourselves the prudent course of action in regards to this popular aspect of young culture.

http://au.reachout.com/signs-of-an-abusive-relationship

Reachout is a site dedicated to domestic violence and educating everyone about the issue. They have an excellent check list for an abusive relationship. Below are the points that can be found on their website, word for word. Shall we evaluate Bella an Edwards?

Possessiveness:

  • Checking on you all the time to see where you are, what you’re doing and who you’re with.
  • Trying to control where you go and who you can see and getting angry if you don’t do what they say.

Jealousy:

  • Accusing you without good reason of being unfaithful or flirting.
  • Isolating you from family and friends, often by rude behaviour.

Put downs:

  • Putting you down, either publicly or privately, by attacking your intelligence, looks, mental health or capabilities.
  • Constantly comparing you unfavourably with others.
  • Blaming you for all the problems in the relationship, and for the times they are out of control or violent.

Threats:

  • Yelling, sulking and deliberately breaking things that you value.
  • Threatening to use violence against you, your family, friends or even a pet.
  • Saying things like ‘no one else will want you’.

Physical and sexual violence:

  • Pushing, shoving, hitting, grabbing, making you have sex or do things you don’t want to do
  • Harming you, your pets or your family members

Edward constantly controls Bella (I am not just talking about the first installment, I will discuss them all). Although she sometimes ignores him, and has been known to proceed to Jacob’s anyway, she is still very much under his control. How many times do we see him bark instructions at her and she willingly obeys? He follows her on a night out, stalks her and watches her WHILE SHE SLEEPS!!! Honestly, the creepiest thing in this entire story. He isolates her, she becomes withdrawn from her friends, he is overtly aggressive towards Jacob. Bella’s only remaining full time friend. He is often ridiculously jealous and protective around her. Like she is his property, and he is staking his claim. He blames her for loving him, he has been seen putting her down (we saw some of it in the YouTube clip). He threatens to leave, even kill himself. I know that isn’t specifically on this list, but it IS A THREAT! It is manipulative and destructive… I’ve seen it before. He is not overly physically violent, but he is not gentle. His abusive signs are NONE of the overt ones. Our hero, our Knight in Shining Armour CANNOT hit the girl. But he can control her… he can manipulate her… and he can OWN her.

Twilight is a terrifying franchise. I have heard people defend it, saying Bella is s strong woman, but she isn’t. Sure I cried when my ex dumped me, but I moved on. You can’t sulk in a room for months on end and be labeled “strong”. Strong does not even belong in the same realm as Bella. Edward owns her body, heart, mind and soul. She is no longer an individual.

This is what we are OK with teaching our young girls (and boys, never forget this can happen to them too!)? How did this happen? How did THIS become romance? Stalking is not fun or romantic, I can promise that. 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 13 men (https://www.victimsofcrime.org/docs/src/stalking-fact-sheet_english.pdf), experience this in their lifetime. I have, my friends have, what about those younger than us? I was 19 and had the support of my family. Strong enough to run before it got bad. I am the very lucky one. Friends have broken because of this. Are we really OK with teaching our children that it is normal? That’s what love is?

I’m not!

 

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2 thoughts on “Stephanie Meyer – Twilight

  1. Having read your post I don’t think I will ever read or watch Twilight in the same way again! After watching the films, I remember telling someone it is like they put you in a trance. I thought it was because of the music but now I wonder if it is for more sinister reasons.

    I reflected on the conundrum about adults stepping in again to say what youth can and cannot do, ‘or do we allow millions of girls (and boys) to believe this is a healthy relationship?’ Like you I came up with no definitive answers. We do work really hard in schools to teach students self-awareness and care, and our legal system reinforces this. We specifically teach girls the expectations they should have from a healthy relationship, all whilst young people are forming their own ideas about relationships via the internet.

    I wondered what Stephanie Meyer thought about comments this was an abusive relationship and found the following: ‘One of the weird things about modern feminism is that some feminists seem to be putting their own limits on women’s choices. That feels backward to me. It’s as if you can’t choose a family on your own terms and still be considered a strong woman. How is that empowering?’ http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2012/11/at-its-core-the-twilight-saga-is-a-story-about/265328

    Let’s face it, if you fall in love with a vampire it is never going to be an easy love story. So why would you fall in love with a vampire? Why does any woman go for the ‘bad boy?’ The thrill and the look. Probably not a good idea to marry one though.

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  2. Hey lots of us go for bad boys at some point …. thankfully I didn’t marry any of them!

    I wish I had read your post when I was planning a recent unit of work for my Year Ten English class. I always try and include current issues in any English course I do and attempt to use a variety of popular culture sources to drive this. Domestic violence and abusive relationships is normally my introductory theme as it is engaging and very real. I have never been able to source fiction texts that would immediately have the ‘wow’ factor until reading this.

    I think it is important to use texts like Twilight to teach issues like domestic violence and stereotypes. As teachers we should not back away from a text because it is not from the Western Canon. It has a powerful message and if students are not given the opportunity to explore these messages with explicit teaching, it may just be lost to the ‘girl meets vampire and falls in love’ narrative that they seem to love!

    This unit has really opened my eyes to the power of dystopian texts and all the learning opportunities I am denying students because it is not on my list of preferences. My goal in the new year is to ensure I have a good solid focus on dystopian texts and really explore the genre with my students.

    Thank you!

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