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Unfortunate Twilight Lessons

December 2, 2009

The other day, I posted a response to Wired’s list of unfortunate twilight lessons. I took issue with that list not so much because their points weren’t partially valid, but because the list dripped with misogyny, framing women as insipid and stupid. I find this particularly ironic as this IS one of the unfortunate lessons of the series, that females are less able, capable, etc than males and that they NEED a male to complete them. While Bella triumphs in the end, and while there are many strong, intriguing female characters, one resounding message is that good women are paired with strong men – and that their goal in such pairings should be to have a family. The fandom certainly responds to this message — lusting after the male characters and actors as if their life depends on it. While such lusting can be freeing and certainly has its positive aspects, I don’t think our main endeavor in life should be to spend hours Edward-obsessing or ogling Robert Pattinson photographs.

Here is my list of some of the unfortunate Twilight lessons. A list of fortunate ones will be posted soon! I look forward to your ideas regarding unfortunate lessons in comments!

  1. Girl = clumsy and non-athletic
  2. Whiteness is next to godliness
  3. Native American = savage
  4. Someday your (vampire) prince will come
  5. Wealth = happiness
  6. If your female but can’t have a baby, you’re a “genetic dead-end”
  7. If your female you never have to save yourself — leave that to male vampires and werewolves
  8. Abstinence before marriage is ideal
  9. Abusive relationships are romantic (as is stalking, breaking and entering, sexual assault…)
  10. Rape myths are true (the series perpetuates the number one lie about rape in the Port Angeles scene – that women are raped by strangers when in fact the vast majority of rapes are perpetuated by someone the female knows – as in Rosalie’s case)
  11. Weighing 110 is ideal
  12. Moms come in two types – perfect or scatterbrained
  13. College can always wait
  14. Clothes and make up make the girl (as with Alice’s perpetual makeovers and fashion focus)
  15. If a girl desires sex or sexual activity, she should either get married or else have a virgin (vampire) boyfriend who will police her sexuality for her
  16. Belief in God is necessary for a moral universe and one most believe in the Judeo-Christian concept of a soul in order to be saved
  17. Looks are very important and aging is icky and horrible – especially for women
  18. Heterosexual is the only way to be
  19. It’s ok to use your looks/sexuality as a weapon
  20. There’s nothing that says love more than an abused woman gazing into the eyes of her abuser (Sam and Emily)
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8 Comments leave one →
  1. progressivescholar permalink
    December 2, 2009 7:05 pm

    Great list! Do you think there is there any classism in the series?

  2. merinne permalink
    December 9, 2009 9:49 am

    This list hits on basically every problem I have with the Twilight series, particularly the obsession with motherhood and the aggrandising of an abusive relationship in Sam and Emily. Excellent blog!

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      December 10, 2009 8:21 pm

      Thanks Merinne!
      Glad you like the blog. Hope you will be back!

  3. RachelA permalink
    May 19, 2010 5:56 pm

    I don’t see how Emily and Sam’s relationship is abusive. He hurt her ONCE by complete accident. I have a hard time conceptualizing that as “abuse.”

    • natalie wilson permalink*
      May 19, 2010 6:21 pm

      I see your point Rachel — but I think it’s important to take this “accident” in context. He hurts her because he is unable to control himself and his temper — much the same way abusive men are often framed as unable to help themselves. Further, given the cultural construction of men of color as more prone to violence and interpersonal abuse, the representation seems to me to further this stereotype. And, he is represented as rather hot-headed and controlling throughout — the implication is that he — or Jacob or the other wolves — could “lose it” like this at any time. Jacob even warns Bella as much…

  4. BigBlackDog permalink
    December 10, 2010 6:44 am

    BRILLIANT LIST. Thank you — truly.

    I have two thoughts:

    — #21 on your list could be: If you’re a white woman (or a group of white people), get the Native American Savages to fight your battles for you.

    and

    — Those who are unable to see that the relationships glorified in this series are abusive, controlling and about power have never survived a similar relationship and come out the other side of it.

    I have.

    I gave in to watching one of the films last night at a friend’s house (she loves them) and was horrified that this series of books and films is glorified and so popular. Here we are in the 21st century and still our culture takes no responsibility for how domestic abuse is portrayed and perpetuated, much less romanticized.

    But then, I’m one of those “savages” portrayed in the film — so what do I know?

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  1. Twilight: A Good Example? « UMKC WOMEN'S CENTER

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