Teen Girls and Twilight: Why Do We Buy It?

After reading Dodai at Jezebel's minute-by-minute blog of Eclipse, I thought that I could finally pass on an opportunity to fund Twilight mania. Alas, I was wrong: the dark cyclone of doom that is Stephanie Meyer's brainchild  sucked me in with the masses...in the form of trying to bond with my 15 year old cousin who I see once a year.

I read Twilight, I was grossed out, and I moved on. I'm not going to go on about the sexist and abusive messages being portrayed in this series, and I'm not going to insult the quality of the movies or the books because frankly I just don't give a shit anymore; it's been done (here, for example). No, I don't want to focus on the messages the franchise sends. I want to focus on why we (teen girls) are buying it.

Seriously. LOOK at this relationship. It's one thing for people to want to sell us these gender stereotypes wrapped so nicely as a present of "romance" - feminism (and strong, independent women in general) can be threatening to the patriarchy and what not. But what is it presenting as romance? Old-fashioned gender stereotypes, like Edward's desire to "court" Bella, and her instance that he protect her at every turn? Are we so brainwashed that we look at this guy (who, yes, has a pretty face but whaaateverrrr) who wants Bella to be this idealized little doll-girl and truly say "I want that." Does any girl ACTUALLY want to be some completely dependent 2D version of a person?

I want to have an actual conversation with a guy. All Edward and Bella do is talk about how much they love each other (seriously you guyz. so much. sosososooooososo much. nobody understands their love. he's been waiting a CENTURY. A CENTURY. OMFGZ!) or the state of her morality and soul. Edward seems like a ridiculously boring guy, but he loves her. And his love is what makes her special.

We all want to be special. But why do we think the only way to achieve that is to have some guy try to isolate us and protect our chastity - oh wait, I'm sorry, I mean love us and ONLY us so much he would die for us. Or better yet have two guys FIGHT over us, two really hot guys who want only us. Maybe we want that because that singular attention (such an unhealthy thing to wish on any guy, BY THE BY) makes us feel special.

But maybe we want that because, really, it's about what other people see: and that type of romance is a show. It's not about if we'd be bored to tears talking about what London was like a century ago - it's about what other people would see. About how they'd be jealous one guy loved us *so* much. We buy it not because we want that relationship; we buy it because we ideally want other people to see us having that relationship.

Newsflash, ladies: you can never feel truly special if none of that belief is coming from yourself. You can have every guy in school telling you how utterly delicious your blood is (...I mean...how beautiful you are), and have every girl be jealous (more important) but if you still look at your reflection in the mirror and go "wow, I hate myself" that love - that special, special love - will mean nothing. It is a radical notion, but it's is actually okay to like ourselves, and feel special on our own. That can happen. And it should.

Also, we really need to go over what a healthy relationship is. A healthy relationship includes each partner having their own lives and genuinely wanting the other one to be happy on their own terms - not their "this is how I'm going to protect  you from evil vampire" terms. Being isolated and told what to do may seem romantic when set to violins and lit professionally, but in real life it sucks.

On the upside of the Twilight franchise - did anybody else notice how amongst the vampires, they are pretty much an equal society? At least in Eclipse, the girl vamps and boy vamps were doing equal fighting and their powers were all equally appreciated (Alice's maybe even more). They even use neutral language to describe each other (mates). Let's not say the WHOLE thing is sexist: the vamps got it right, at least. It's just us humans who have a shit ton to figure out.

Also...Taylor Lautner will never top his performance in Sharkboy and Lavagirl. That was his peak, and he must accept it:

More articles in WMC FBomb by Category: Feminism, Media, Violence against women
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Julie Zeilinger
Founding Editor of The WMC FBomb
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