It seems that it’s unprofessional to talk in any negative way about another writer’s work, but that doesn’t matter right now. I am greatly concerned about what the future holds for young women when we’ve got politicians talking about “legitimate rape” and telling women to talk to their doctors to figure out of rape happened. If a man cheats, it’s the woman’s fault if she’s attractive. If a woman doesn’t want to be raped, don’t wear mini-skirts. If a man controls a woman, it’s…romantic?
It seems that the big love of Twilight comes from the element of forbidden relationships. What shouldn’t happen is the most desirable. But sometimes there are good reasons relationships shouldn’t happen. In a few different posts around the web I’ve read comments about how interracial was once the forbidden, the rich guy and the poor woman, the prince and the non-royal. Now that these walls have all been broken, and even human/vampire and human/werewolf and human/whatever are common, the speculation goes that something new must come along.
Are the new forbidden relationships the ones where girls are weak and must be controlled? This is extremely disturbing, especially when it’s aimed at preteens and teenagers who aren’t likely to have much relationship experience, if they have any at all. As a writer and a mother, it’s extremely disheartening that in a decade we may very well see nothing but books where female characters are being punched around as writers try to push the boundaries on forbidden. Should we look into popular books and try to go the direction they are, abuse and all (Edward and Bella’s relationship fits all the criteria for abuse, and Jacob sexually assaulted Bella more than once, yet both guys win in the end), or look into them, try to see what’s so appealing, and write better examples for our daughters?
As far as quality of writing, twenty ago Twilight never would have seen the press of a big publishing house. Now it’s being hailed as some of the best writing ever to see the light of day. Plot holes, changing integral parts of the story long after things have been firmly established, characters who lack more than a single personality trait, a willingness to completely excuse very poor treatment of women including sexual assault, and so on, are lauded as the makings of great literature. Is this what we should aspire to? Quality of writing aside, taking characters who would be seen as absolutely vile in real life and trying to make them into romantic heroes every girl should want? I’ve got nothing against fluffy stories. But my biggest concern above all is the romanticizing of controlling behavior including abducting someone and of a man forcing himself onto someone more than once.
Imagine for a moment a friend, or your own daughter, telling you about her boyfriend refusing to let her see her own friends because her boyfriend doesn’t like them though they’ve done nothing wrong (that anyone knows of anyway), and that he disabled her truck to stop her, or that he bribed someone for forcefully kidnap her and keep her locked away for a while. If it turned out he’d been breaking into her house to watch her sleep, you’d be terrified for her. If she was pregnant and he planned an abortion without telling her and she had to seek help so she wouldn’t be forced into it, you wouldn’t be supporting him. If a male friend sexually pressed himself on her even once knowing she didn’t want his advanced, you’d be trying to get her to call the cops or at least try talking her out of ever seeing him again. If these things happened even once you’d be begging her to get away, not picking sides who you hope she’ll get with. You wouldn’t be supporting guys like that at all. If your daughter was telling you about guys doing this stuff, you’d probably be seeing red and using every ounce of willpower you have not to go track down the guys and take care of them yourself. Yet so many people are cheering these people on and picking teams, hoping one of the other wins her like a prize instead of hoping she finds a guy who will treat her well and with respect right out the gate (or better yet, that she will learn to think of herself as a whole person by herself instead of going into zombie-mode without someone to glom on to), and thinking it’s sweet that the sexual assaulter has declared he and an infant will one day be sexual partners. It was established that mating is the point of “imprinting.”
It’s devastating that so many people no longer think these actions are abusive. However I suppose I should shut up and pretend that these books are pretty great because they’re successful, despite the examples they set for impressionable women about what love is.