Twilight: The Texts and The Fandom, Sexuality Discussion Questions, Week 7
“Cullen Family Values: Gender and Sexual Politics in the Twilight Series,” by Carrie Ann Platt covers the policing of female sexuality and desires in the saga, arguing it reflects cultural tensions in relation to abstinence only education, the fetishizing of virginity, and the hypersexualization of girls and women. Do you agree?
Many claim Meyer idealizes overprotection of females and regressive gender/sexuality norms. What do you think?
Platt argues the saga is “unabashedly pro-abstinence” and that abstinence is presented as matter of life and death. Do you agree? How is chastity equated to goodness, life, and immortality?
How does the saga depict females as needing to be protected from their own sexual desires?
How does the saga equate the loss of female innocence with bodily harm/death? How might we interpret these representations? What is the effect of these sex equals death equations?
Many argue Bella is simultaneously infantilized and sexualized. What textual evidence proves this claim? What other cultural text similarly infantilize and sexualize females? What are the effects of such representations?
Female sexuality is often depicted as threatening force (for example, in the recent film Jennifer’s Body). How does Twilight similarly depict female sexuality as monstrous – or does it?
Edward notes that premarital sex is the only sin he hasn’t committed – “You know that I’ve stolen, I’ve lied, I’ve coveted…my virtue is all I have left.” What do you make of this?
What messages do you feel the series sends about abstinence/sex/sexuality overall? What are the possible social implications of these messages for the predominantly young female readership?
Just for fun:
What do you think would have happened if Bella and Edward had sex before marriage?
What if Bella or another female character got pregnant out of wedlock?
What if Bella had sex with Jacob?
And, in honor of National Coming Out Day, do you feel Twilight accords to the concept of “closeted homophobia” in the sense that it champions heteronormativity and has an undercurrent of “that’s so gay” homophobia (I am thinking of the interactions of various Quileute characters — as when Quil is teased for wearing the tiara and Leah mockingly suggests Jacob is gay when he is saying a heartfelt goodbye to another male wolf)?