Friday, May 25, 2012

Feminist Friday: Some Vampires Are Not For Kids

 Disclaimer: I have read the first 3 Twilight books, and seen the first 3 movies.  I have a general idea of what happens in the last book, but I've never read it.

     Unless you've been living under a rock for the past 7 years, you've heard of the Twilight Franchise and have maybe even read one of the books or seen a few of the movies.  There is no doubt that these books and films have been everywhere since their release and, to be frank, it's getting a little sickening.  The first Twilight book hit No. 1 on the New York Times best seller list the year it was released, and was named one of Publishers Weekly's Best Children's Books of 2005.  The movie based on the novel was the most purchased DVD the year it came out and made $392 million worldwide.

     Let me start out by saying that I have no problem with Twilight as a novel or as a film (thought my inner feminist definitely does).  My biggest issue is that it is being marketed toward children.  If you go to a book store you will find Twilight either in the Young Adult section or in the Children's section.  I can't even begin to tell you how much that infuriates me.  The book itself isn't written very well, but it's a fine book.  For adults.  Who are capable of making decisions.  It is not an appropriate book for impressionable children or preteens looking for role models.

     Reasons Why Twilight Should NOT Be A Children's Book

  • The Main Character Has No Flaws

    • Seriously.  Bella Swan is written as the ideal human being.  With the exception of her being a little bit clumsy sometimes, Bella is perfect.  She is beautiful and kind and smart and all of the boys in the school are in love with her.  Before she's even been attending this high school for two months, she has four men fawning over her.  She cleans and cooks for her dad, who spends his time looking at his guns, and generally doesn't make any decisions for herself.  Both unrealistic and unrelatable.

  • Bella Cannot Function Without Her Man

    • In New Moon, the second book in the series, Edward leaves Bella, for her own good (because he knows what's best for her.  I'll get into that later).  Bella is completely devastated  and can no longer function in everyday life. She completely decomposes and only starts getting better once she befriends Jacob, the werewolf who often doesn't wear a shirt.  Is that the kind of message we want to send young girls?  If your boyfriend leaves you, you should probably just stop trying in life until you find a new one.

  • Edward Stalks Bella and Controls What She Does

    • Edward actually climbs into Bella's bedroom window, before they've even actually had a conversation together, and watches her sleep.  Really.  He also follows her around when she goes out with her friends, and continuously doesn't listen to her feelings and concerns.  If anyone snuck into my bedroom window in the middle of the night, sexy vampire or not,
      I would definitely call the police.  He treats her like an idiot for most of the first film (and while she might be, it's still not okay) and constantly makes decisions for her.

  • Edward is the Prime Example of an Abusive Boyfriend

    • Really, if I had to pick one issue with this series it's that Edward is abusive.  One hundred percent.  He follows Bella around, tells her who she can and cannot spend time with, and insists that he needs to protect her and that he's doing these things out of love.  Manipulation and total control is NEVER okay and it's NEVER okay to justify those things by saying that they're because of love.  Ever.  Throughout the entire first book/movie Edward questions how Bella feels about everything and contradicts her.  Toward the end, Bella tells him that she wants to be a vampire, too.  Understandable.  Edward says "Is it not enough just to have a long and happy life with me?"  It's just a backwards way of the typical abuser phrase "If you really loved me..."  We're promoting abusive relationships by allowing him to treat her this way and justify it because he loves her.  

     I could go on and on.  There are plenty of things wrong with these stories, and plenty of reasons why we shouldn't be giving them to 11-year olds.  If I had to choose, though, these are my biggest issues with these books.  

     Again, I want to say that as a story, Twilight is fine.  I can enjoy a good love story as much as the next person (I'll even enjoy a bad love story), but these books are not appropriate to teach our children with.  I know that people will disagree with me, and that's fine.  I'm not telling anyone how to raise their kids, as clearly I don't have any of my own.  These are my opinions and views and if you disagree, that's absolutely alright.  Please try to keep any comments constructive.


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