In a world of cultural trends that seem to rise and fall in a moment’s time, the current object of obsession among American teenagers has a peculiarly pervasive character. This object is the Twilight franchise, consisting of a book series by Stephanie Meyer and a newly released movie. Both the books and the movie center on the love story between a teenage girl, Bella Swan, and the 108-year-old vampire boy, Edward Cullen, who attends her high school. The enormity of the series’ teenage fan base—most of whom are girls—is compounded by its fans’ devotion to the two main characters.

To many outsiders the appeal of Twilight is baffling, and rightly so. Never before has romance with the undead been so mainstream and socially acceptable.

There is something fishy and entirely unsettling about Twilight’s popularity and the lack of resistance to its grip on teenage culture. When J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series attained similar popularity, many church groups denounced its rise to fame. There was furor over the series’ subject matter of a magical world of wizardry, which religious critics claimed would lead children down the path of witchcraft, demonology, and the sacrifice of goats on altars. Terrifying, truly. And overblown, as such claims usually are.

Why are the repulsive behaviors espoused in Twilight not angrily protested in the same way? When you get down to it, Twilight is a series about romancing the undead, in as much as Harry Potter is a series about witchcraft. Many of Edward Cullen’s most devoted fans try to act like or delude themselves into believing that they are vampires. It is often the most vulnerable kids, those who are already members of various goth, emo, or other subcultures, who are drawn to the idea of being a vampire.

The mainstream press has not covered any of the horrific incidents that get reported in online forums, and you have to wonder why. Many fans perform experiments to try and determine whether they are vampires. Most experiments question whether the vampires enjoy the taste of blood—if they don’t, they aren’t “true” vampires. You’ve probably heard of cutting epidemics or heard jokes about wrist-slitting. This used to just be a hallmark of the emo subculture, but increasingly people have been cutting to get a taste of their own blood.

Why then hasn’t there been a widespread revolt against this among religious groups? Because of agenda. You see, Twilight has a pro-abstinence message, and the existence of this seems to absolve it of any sin whatsoever. Author Stephenie Meyer is a Christian, and she has very handily inserted her ideology into her books. In her fantastically delusional world, it is perfectly normal for a boyfriend and girlfriend to lie together in bed for hours in their underwear and talk. The same religious conservatives who condemned Harry Potter are such fans of this message that they are willing to forgive the part in which Bella sleeps with an undead abomination. Lovely.

If you dig down a bit deeper, you find abstinence to be only a part of the agenda. The rest of the book is a thorough destruction of modern feminism, starting with the concept that women can be independent. The question the story poses is, why be an independent female when your perfect vampire boyfriend can do everything for you? Bella is a perpetual damsel in distress, and she is constantly depicted as weak and submissive. Without Edward sweeping in to save the day, she can’t even walk over a patch of ice without finding herself in dire danger. One of the greatest flaws of Twilight is the utter lack of personality Bella exhibits. Her hobby is Edward. Her life ambition is Edward. Her favorite book is Romeo & Juliet, which is hardly a subtle allusion to her desire for Edward. She is vacuous, and her first goal in life is to be married. She thinks of nothing beyond this.

It seems more than a tad medieval that Bella thinks not at all of a future career, or academic study, or of anything besides Edward. Edward is her man, and the center of her apparently pre-suffrage life. And what a strange sort of man Edward is, too. In the first months of their relationship, Edward does nothing but stalk Bella, and utter creepy lines such as “I like watching you sleep.” Edward is shown as overbearing and controlling, but this is not portrayed as a flaw in the books. At times Edward is downright abusive, even coming to the point of physically hitting Bella. This is coupled with the strange psychological abuse he puts her through, claiming that she can’t be with him and that she should leave him forever.

The entire book is an extended analogy for forbidden sex, beginning with the allusion to the Original Sin that is displayed proudly on the book’s front cover. Bella is constantly tempting Edward with her blood, which he must resist sucking her free of. When read with a discerning eye, it becomes clear that this book is about virginity. Many people know this, and are overjoyed that their daughters are reading a book that promotes abstinence and servitude.

I have no problem with the idea of abstinence, or with anyone having religious beliefs, but the double standards and sexism bother me greatly. Harry Potter contains elements of the occult, and so does Twilight. Unlike Harry Potter, Twilight has not been accused of leading children down the road to hell, in spite of its virgin sacrifices and vampire bloodsucking. And unlike Harry Potter, which depicts female characters as strong, smart, and capable, Twilight promotes sexism in the worst ways possible: by giving girls the impression that they should be meek and servile, instead of active and independent.

It also creates an unrealistic set of expectations, wherein Twilight fans expect any potential boyfriend to be like Edward. Guys overwhelmingly dislike Twilight because they overwhelmingly dislike Edward. I would not wish Edward on any of my female friends, and I’m appalled at the idea that any of them might be attracted to someone like him. Any teenage boy who watches a girl sleeping from her windowsill should not be portrayed as ideal or sensitive. He is a boy who should be taken to counseling; his behavior is clearly deviant. It is the lack of coherent moral judgment and the twisted nature of the message taken from scenes such as this one that make the popularity of the Twilight franchise a dangerous and unsettling trend.

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  1. trexmaster on 26 December 2008, 23:14 said:

    Just one question: when you chose the word “agenda” for your title, were you implying that Stephanie Meyer was setting out to convert anyone to her ideal way of life?

    Personally, I am surprised that a conservative Mormon like Meyer would even write a book about sexy vampires to begin with.

  2. SlyShy on 26 December 2008, 23:17 said:

    I’m referring more to the agenda of the people who promote the book. Suburban mothers, and the like. I don’t know about Stephanie Meyer herself. By some accounts she isn’t a very good Mormon, so take that as you will.

  3. Snow White Queen on 26 December 2008, 23:30 said:

    Hey, Sly!

    Is this teaser for the famous movie review? (We haven’t forgotten about that…)

    Anyway, it’s a job pretty well done, I’d say. The one thing I’d comment on is perhaps when describing the ‘horrific incidents reported on fan forums’, perhaps including an example or two might help you get your point across. Along with sources, of course.

    Unless it’s too graphic for general audiences?

  4. SlyShy on 26 December 2008, 23:33 said:

    This isn’t the movie review. :P

    Uh, the forum incidents are sort of graphic. There was one incident involving the gestation of period blood.

  5. Snow White Queen on 26 December 2008, 23:40 said:

    …oh wow.


    Never mind then. I guess they were called ‘horrific’ for a reason, right?

  6. Virgil on 27 December 2008, 00:34 said:

    Very nice, although I disagree with the word ‘agenda’, as if the mothers or Meyer had purposely set out to demean women and promote servitude. I think it’s more of an effect that the series has caused, not any act of deliberation. With exception to the abstinence.

    Also, HP is infinitely better because it actually encompasses a world, and it feels real. Twilight feels like a tacky addition to our normal world.

  7. SlyShy on 27 December 2008, 00:45 said:

    Again, the agenda refers to groups that are turning a blind eye to Twilight’s supernatural elements, thereby applying a double standard in the name of their cause. If HP was strongly anti-teen sex I think it would have had a much warmer reception from a lot of groups. But then all the “wand” jokes would become way more funny.

  8. bobtheenchantedone on 27 December 2008, 00:52 said:

    I have been wondering the same thing!


    Also: we’re not all insane. I’m part of a message board that is mainly Mormon, and most of us dislike Twilight.

  9. Imp on 27 December 2008, 00:53 said:

    While I agree with your article, might I point out that Meyer is Morman, not Christian? There’s a pretty big difference between the two. n_n

  10. trexmaster on 27 December 2008, 00:57 said:

    While I agree with your article, might I point out that Meyer is Morman, not Christian? There’s a pretty big difference between the two.

    Mormons consider themselves to be Christian; they accept that Jesus was the Son of God, rose from the dead, etc. They may have added some extra stuff about Hebrews colonizing the Americas, but otherwise they accept all Biblical doctrine.

  11. Yama-Tsu on 27 December 2008, 01:06 said:

    My God.

    I knew Twilight was bad, but I never wanted to dig this deep into it. Some of your examples (the woman being dependent, for one) I’ve heard, but the others…

    Although thinking back, the abstinence agenda should have been obvious to me, and yet I didn’t realize it. facepalm

    I think the double standard exists because of the way Meyer wrote the book. It wasn’t intended to be a serious project, and therefore she likely didn’t re-examine her own story to unravel the flaws. I won’t denounce her putting her own religious views into the book, though (as much as I want to) because it’s HER book, not mine. After all, I loved the Ender’s Game series, and that basically paints Ender as Adolf Hitler.

    Oh, crap, I just realized that Orson Scott Card is Mormon too.

  12. Addie on 27 December 2008, 01:21 said:

    Very interesting article, SlyShy. Well done. I think your comment about the double standards is particularly true. ;)

  13. pheenix on 27 December 2008, 12:19 said:

    This is going to be long so I am sorry in advance.
    I really have enjoyed your ariticles on Twilight. I see your point about the double standards between HP and Twilight, however, from my own experience, I do not see this as a bad thing. Let me explain.

    I am a huge HP fan, and the thing that got me interest in the series was the religious outcries against it. If it weren’t for the crazy Christian conservatives, I never would have given HP a second glance, because it was not the type of story I was interested in at the time. I grew up in a very, very conservative Christian family so I was exposed to all the controversy. My mother told me that under no circumstances was I to read Harry Potter (she sat me down for an hour lecture about the evils of HP and how reading it would start me on a path to hell), so of course, I HAD to read it to find out what it was all about and why everyone was making such a big deal out of it. (If the conservative Christians are attacking it, than it must be good or else they wouldn’t bother)

    Whenever a group of authority figures denounce something, usually everyone else has to find out why the group is against it. Even though Twilight mania is extremely bad right now, I would hate to see what would happen if the Christian community got involved on a large scale. Like me so many years ago, how many people would become intrigued by something that origianlly was not their thing?

  14. SlyShy on 27 December 2008, 17:29 said:


    Also: we’re not all insane. I’m part of a message board that is mainly Mormon, and most of us dislike Twilight.

    I actually know a number of Mormons who aren’t buying into Twilight-mania, thankfully. I’m glad to hear the same from you.


    While I agree with your article, might I point out that Meyer is Morman, not Christian? There’s a pretty big difference between the two. n_n

    This distinction doesn’t interest me. Originally I said Mormon, but she doesn’t inject anything specifically Mormon into her books—the beliefs are more generally Christian. For example, people do drink coffee in Twilight. I’m just not interested in whether or not Mormons are considered Christians or not. Used to be Protestants weren’t considered Christians, back when everyone was a Catholic.


    Whenever a group of authority figures denounce something, usually everyone else has to find out why the group is against it. Even though Twilight mania is extremely bad right now, I would hate to see what would happen if the Christian community got involved on a large scale. Like me so many years ago, how many people would become intrigued by something that origianlly was not their thing?

    I certainly see what you are saying, and I’ve actually had a similar experience, as I grew up in what used to be a very conservative household. There is a flip side to this though. There are a lot of fans who are actually mothers, and are encouraging their daughters to read Twilight. There are kids who think whatever their parents like is the antonym of cool, but there are also kids who do exactly as their parents say. In which case, reading Twilight becomes another vehicle for parents to push beliefs onto their kids. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with parents raising their kids as they see fit, but this still bothers me.

  15. Addie on 27 December 2008, 18:15 said:

    This is true: parents can use their choice books to indoctrinate their kids. However, Twilight is definitely not the only book that’s ever been used this way, and besides, isn’t it a pretty mild case beside – oh – political propaganda, and such? Really, I think Twilight is mostly just some story.

    (P.S. Pheenix, your story was so funny! What did your mother think … ? – You’re right, people can be perverse like that.)

  16. Juni on 27 December 2008, 23:33 said:

    I agree, Twilight does teach a certain kind of abstinence. I also agree that HP has been treated unfairly by most Christian circles. Twilight disgusted me because of the may it portrayed Bella’s doormat personality as desirable. Girls ought to wait at their windoes for Mr. Cullen to come and carry them off. Girls can whine but the man gets the last word.


    However, I do not think it fair to say you don’t care for the difference between “Mormon” and “Christian”. Just like it’s not fair to be “not interested” in the difference between one race and another because they appear similar and a few cultural similarities.

    Stephenie Meyer is a Mormon. The fact that her system of morality is shared by many Christians does not make her Christian.

    Also, most of the Christian reviews I’ve read about this book/movie have been very negative. Most of these reviews I refer to include verses against the ingestion of blood and consuming humans, etc…

    Do you know of any Christian sites, publications, etc that promote these books?

  17. SlyShy on 28 December 2008, 00:29 said:

    Mormons consider themselves Christian, and I’ll take their word for it. Politically and beliefwise, Pentecostals and Baptists are very different, but they both fall under the Christian roof top. When this was first published in an online newspaper I got backlash for specifying she was Mormon, and now that I use a broader term I also get backlash. It’s not important to me.

    Also, The Christian Science Monitor seems somewhat partial to the series.

  18. Kevin on 28 December 2008, 08:57 said:

    Seems to me, worship Christ as the son of God, you’re in the club. That’s how it’s been described to me, at any rate.

    Regarding Meyer inserting her ideology, most writers do that, eh? I tend to specifically insert things I DON’T believe or am neutral towards into my writing, simply because I’m naturally obstinate.

  19. Dia on 28 December 2008, 13:01 said:

    One minor nit-picking correction: Edward is 108.

    I have to wonder also why the anti-Harry Potter group is not rising against this. I am a Christian and I love Harry Potter, in fact, my best friend is also a huge fan, and she got her dad to read them, who is a Pastor.

    Searching through a yahoo search engine, for ‘anti-Harry Potter’, I came up with 19,100,000 results. For ‘anti-Twilight’, I came up with 21,800,000. That’s not a huge increase, but it makes me wonder if the reason is because the anti-Twilight fans, probably because of how badly the books are written, are just a group that is more diverse in their opposition.

    Whoever mentioned the Christian Science Monitor, doing a quick search through that [I don’t read it, a little too much for me.], they also recommend Harry Potter books as well as Twilight. So, I don’t think that can count as an effective source to demonstrate how Twilight is having a different reception than Harry Potter.

    I also have to agree that it’s hard to compare most Christians with Mormons. That’s the one group, for whatever reason, that the majority of Christians balk at. There are some who are ‘over the top’, but you’ll find fanaticals in any group of any sort. I’m a huge Orson Scott Card fan, and I was cheering for Mitt Romney for GOP nominee shakes fist at McCain, anyways, it might not hurt to set the record straight on some of the areas that Mormons are different from other Christians. I’m getting my info out of a book I have, entitled ‘Why So Many Gods?’ which examines the different world views, religions, cults, etc. that are out there, and compares them with Christianity. It’s an interesting read, though some others may not like it because it takes the stance that Christianity is the one true religion. Anyways, moving on…

    Mormons believe in the God of the Christian Bible, although other than that their system of beliefs is totally different. They believe that Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit are 3 different gods, while other Christians accept them as a trinity of 1 God, 3 persons. They also believe that God used to be a physical person, and he has wives in heaven, while other Christians believe that God has always been divine and always been God. Mormons believe that Jesus was born of Mary and Joseph, and attained his God status. Their belief differs from Protestants and Catholics, who both believe that Mary was a virgin and Christ was fully human and fully divine.

    They also believe in a completely different afterlife. They believe that worthy men will become the god of their own planet, and [to quote the book] ‘each woman will one day live on the planet of which her husband is the god.’ Another thing that differs from mainstream Christians is that they believe that a husband and wife can have ‘spirit children’ in the afterlife. There’s quite a few more differences, including having the Book of Mormon instead of the Bible. Just about the only similairity between the two is having the God of the Christian Bible and Jesus in their beliefs. That’s about it.

    To quote Kevin, who said that ‘if you worship Christ as the son of God, you’re in the club’, they don’t consider Christ to be the son of God, so their beliefs are totally different. They vary quite a bit from all of us silly protestants, who agree on mostly everything except 1 or 2 minor issues, and need to go form 10 billion different denominations instead.

    Anyways, that’s about it. Thanks for reading this, if you did take the time to. I spent way too long typing this, hahahaha.

  20. Rudyard on 28 December 2008, 18:07 said:

    First of all I have not read twilight, have no intention of reading twilight, nor will ever read twilight. Thus my input must be taken with a grain of salt…But I think this book is a no more than a backlash; a natural (if odious) reaction to the current feminist trend. (I would also like to add that I haven’t been following the discussion so this may be off topic.)

    Now I want to carefully state something before my inbox starts filling up with hate mail. Feminism is a positive ideology on the whole. The idea of women possessing equal rights as men is a noble concept. However, no ideology is immune to corruption.

    I’ll give you an example; abstinence. Now in its most basic sentiment actually seems good. Kids shouldn’t screw like rabbits. And perhaps they shouldn’t start screwing until their already in a relationship and maybe they should save the bulk of their screwing until after marriage. (Obviously I’m using screw for another word) Okay. That doesn’t sound too bad, right? On the most part reasonable, right? Now here’s how things can get bad.

    The first way to corrupt an ideology is by extending it to everyone. Obviously the above guide lines will not fit everyone. That’s fine; some don’t believe in marriage, some don’t want to wait, hell some just want to get down to business. Unfortunately when that ideology is extended it tends to villainize those who fall outside of the guidelines, portraying them as downright evil.

    The second way to corrupt ideology is turn it’s guidelines into laws. Kids must never ever screw. They must never screw unless there in a life (heterosexual of course) relationship and better save that screwing until after marriage or so help their soul. I don’t think I need to explain the absurdity. But I will add that it only gets more absurd form here; you must never kiss before marriage. (Yes, some people actually go that far)

    Now is feminism guilty of any of the above? Well…

    It’s obviously wide spread. High school requires feminist criticism in their literature classes and some colleges require women’s study courses. Furthermore it’s has become more a standard than not in most mediums. Rarely in television do you see a Mother shown as incompetent or stupid or ever wicked, but that is the standard for Dads.

    As for the legalism (although only existing on the lunatic fringe) there are certainly those “Femi-Nazis” who would fit this description above of turning guidelines into laws. However more to the point there are quite a few books which who take this legalistic feminism to heart. (Yes, I’m looking at you The Color Purple)

    Thus it’s only too logically that a book such as twilight should arise out of this as a reaction. Mind you this doesn’t absolve or lessen the sins of the book. However I find the charge of conspiracy a bit steep.

    Personally I detest both feminism and this anti- feminism in regard to literature. In fact I make this a wider statement. I also hate all of these literary lenses that try to portray their character as representational of a population. Although the sentiment is noble the effect is heinous. It destroys the characters soul. Because that is what a character needs, an actual soul. That’s what makes a book great, characters that live and breathe with each sentence and word. But literary lenses leave no quarter for that, rather than have a soul there are merely puppets for the author to act out their message.

    Once again I would like to reinforce that I have never read this book and don’t know just how offensive it is. Perhaps you could’ve included textual examples of Edward’s abusiveness. However form an outside observer this seems to be just a poorly done reaction to the current feminist trend.

    (P.S. – ShySly, how do submit articles for this site. I tried once already and nothing came of it.)

  21. Nate Winchester on 28 December 2008, 18:47 said:

    I think your belief that Christian groups aren’t protesting is a bit colored by selection bias.

    Focus on the Family (who objects to Harry Potter as well) doesn’t seem to like Twilight.
    Bella finds herself inexorably drawn to the “bad boy,” and she does little to resist. She calls herself a “stupid lamb” (and there’s already a T-shirt out there that splashes the phrase across its front), refusing to wise up for fear that clarity might mean her heart will be broken. Indeed, she waves away Edward’s objections as if they were just annoying mosquitoes buzzing around her head.

    We know that he doesn’t want to hurt her. But she doesn’t.

    There’s an important life lesson lurking in Bella’s obstinance. But don’t look for Twilight to unpack it for you. It’s too dizzy from breathing in the heady fragrance of heedless and headstrong young love.

  22. Juni on 28 December 2008, 19:28 said:

    Dia said: To quote Kevin, who said that ‘if you worship Christ as the son of God, you’re in the club’, they don’t consider Christ to be the son of God, so their beliefs are totally different.

    Thanks! This is what I was trying to say.

  23. SlyShy on 28 December 2008, 19:49 said:

    No doubt it was. The difference I perceive is that even if both HP and Twilight are equally hated, the HP hate got a lot more media attention. Thus my attention was drawn more to the HP hate, as opposed to the Twilight hate. I’m not placing blame on any religious groups, but more on the media for failing to even bring up the issue. I remember hearing about HP controversy on my local news, but never anything about Twilight besides that the movie was coming out and how excited fans were, and how a lot of moms liked it too, etc. The negatives were never reported.

  24. SlyShy on 28 December 2008, 20:11 said:


    You can use the submission form to submit articles.

  25. Saeyre on 28 December 2008, 20:59 said:

    Thus it’s only too logically that a book such as twilight should arise out of this as a reaction.

    I don’t think that Twilight is really a reaction to feminism—or at least, Meyer didn’t intend for it to be. She has said, in fact, that she sees Bella as a courageous, intelligent character, and more importantly doesn’t seem to recognize (or at least she doesn’t acknowledge) how weak and dependent Bella ends up being.

    It’s obviously wide spread. High school requires feminist criticism in their literature classes and some colleges require women’s study courses. Furthermore it’s has become more a standard than not in most mediums. Rarely in television do you see a Mother shown as incompetent or stupid or ever wicked, but that is the standard for Dads.

    Personally, I think feminist literary criticism is a good thing, since literature was dominated for centuries by male perspectives, and that women’s studies are hardly objectionable, and I’m not quite sure about your generalization that television mothers are always the good parents… I’m not saying that feminism doesn’t cross the line sometimes and that there aren’t feminazis, there are probably just better examples out there. But there is also plenty of evidence that feminism, and in this case I mean the more mild, justified kind, isn’t that widespread. The objectification, idealization, and sexualization of women is inherent in popular culture—gender equality hasn’t been achieved quite yet.

  26. SlyShy on 28 December 2008, 21:03 said:

    She has said, in fact, that she sees Bella as a courageous, intelligent character, and more importantly doesn’t seem to recognize (or at least she doesn’t acknowledge) how weak and dependent Bella ends up being.

    It sort of boggles my mind how oblivious she seems to be, in fact. Although, possibly it can be explained. Since Twilight is wish fulfillment, SMeyer wants a caring overprotective controlling man and wants to be an independent woman. She wants to have her cake and eat it too, I guess.

  27. Rudyard on 28 December 2008, 23:39 said:

    Saeyre brought up a good point. I was not aware that SMyere was an idiot.* so I will revise my statement. The success of twilight is a reaction to the rise of feminism. More specifically to literary feminism; this being different from women’s rights feminism.

    The women’s right feminism (which I wholly support may I add) is a far older movement starting in the ninetieth century. Reaction to that movement would have been: A) mostly politically and B) much, much sooner. This literary feminism is much newer than that and has its roots in post world war 2 America.

    Now after the Second World War there was a massive influx of wealth to the American people giving rise to the moneyed middle class. Now these newly moneyed citizens had a problem. How would they spend their wealth? Well one luxury opened up to them that was previously only available to the supper rich; talking about themselves and being talked about.

    Traditionally rich children would be sent of to boarding schools. And the main attraction to those schools; once a week the kids would be divided up into groups and one of them would be singled out. The singled out kid would be ripped into verbally, exposing every personality flaw they had. This was done in the name of ‘finishing’ and ‘refinement’. In reality though it was to give the kids an unheard of luxury; people were seriously and critically talking about you. Because no matter how nasty or wretched these rituals were they always centered on the most fascinating subject to anyone in the world; yourself.

    Now speed this up to post World War 2. The middle class received and influx of wealth, now what do they spend it on? Yes,on lawn gnomes and swimming pools and barca loungers and what not, but also on something else. People started going to these sessions, these counseling groups and meetings. And what were they about, these hundred dollar an hour talks; themselves. They found ways of paying people to listen to them talk and talk about them.

    It is on this scene that a new branch of feminism emerged. Before feminism focus was on very practical things, wages and standards of living and equal protection under the law. However this new breed was something else. It romanticized the struggled between men and women. It turned it into an epic battle of wills, of women and men, of good and evil. Men and men culture being an oppressive force which one must rise against. But what purpose does this serve. It reaches no ends and the romanticism helps not women’s actual causes, in fact it might be detrimental there too; since it can arouse negative sentiment in the man folk who might else wise be sympathetic to feminist cause.

    But you forget about one key factor. It let the middle class women put themselves at the center of this epic battle. And what could be more exciting than that. But this sentiment was truly a luxury. For you needed spare time to contemplate the struggle, spare time to contemplate how you have been oppressed by men. When your living in poverty or chaos you can’t focus on such things. But when your sitting pretty at middle class you have plenty of time for this*

    Now this is not to say that positive things cannot come out of this particular ideology. Pride for what and who you are is good thing and I am sure this has inspired many a girl to strive to attain goals which she wouldn’t have else wise. However there is an aspect to this, lets call it “Epic-Feminism” that is caustic. And that which is caustic is difficult to broke and easy to attack. Thus I do not find it surprising that a petty attack leveled at it has aroused such support. In short and to paraphrase, I think the success of the Twilight is due to general public growing distaste for Epic-feminism.

    P.S. Saeyre- when writing a response never open a paragraph with “I think”. Rather state what you think as fact. Bullish, maybe, but it makes for stronger writing. Also the natural reaction for many when someone says, “I think,” is an “I don’t care what you think.” So that phrase may lead to some people unfairly ignoring what you wrote. Plus it’s more formal.

    1*When dealing with idiots one must always keep in mind that they might actually not be idiots. What I mean is this; occasionally people who seem stupid are actually brilliant and are just putting on an act to fool the rest of the world. The real life example of this being Roman Emperor Claudius who acted mentally retarded so the rest of his family wouldn’t knock him off. There was an excellent British series about him.

    2*This Theory originated in Tom Wolfe’s article named “Generation Me and the Third” Great Awakening. It includes far more than just the above and in far better prose. I recommended it to anyone who doesn’t want to kill me after reading to this point. I provided a web address to a site that has it below

  28. Kitty on 28 December 2008, 23:51 said:

    I’m not a feminist but Twilight still managed to offend me a little. It’s just odd she can’t think for herself and her whole world revolves around Ed.

  29. Juni on 29 December 2008, 02:08 said:

    I agree that Twilight is probably a reaction against extreme feminism. What I can’t understand is how so many girls I know (who are otherwise smart, intelligent and independent) can drool over Edward. I don’t call myself feminist but Twilight made the word seem a little sweeter to my mind.

  30. Snow White Queen on 29 December 2008, 02:37 said:

    I’m not a gung-ho ‘feminist’ in the fact that I don’t believe all men are dogs. But Twilight seriously made me cringe.

    This is a smart, independent girl? points at Bella Swann


  31. Kevin on 29 December 2008, 06:59 said:

    I call anyone who believes in equal treatment of the genders a feminist. It’s a misleading word, but it’s the one in common usage, unfortunately. They ought to call it equalist; I tried briefly to popularize that one, to no avail.

    Bella’s whole world revolving around her dude likely has no reference to the actual values of a majority of people in any time. I think Meyer’s referencing the values suggested in Shakespeare’s romances and the medieval troubador tradition, but the thing is those were always highly stylized and probably didn’t reflect the way many people actually behaved, even in those days.

  32. Dia on 29 December 2008, 10:53 said:

    I have to agree with Kevin’s term of being an equalist. The extreme feminists that I have encountered have been over-the-top, encouraging ‘female power’ [whatever that is] to the point that they condemn males.

    In Twilight, I would have preferred to see a stronger, more dependant girl. Bella seems like a very passive person, and if Stephanie Meyer wrote her like that, she should have stayed true to form and not telling us how smart or ‘speshul’ she is. I see girls all the time who are like Bella – shallow, low self-confidence, etc. But it’s a stage. Most people grow out of it, and yet Bella seems to be eternally trapped in her own shallowness.

  33. bobtheenchantedone on 29 December 2008, 13:47 said:

    @ Dia

    I know this isn’t the topic, really, anymore, but as a Mormon I’d like to point out a slight error or two.

    We do believe that Jesus was the direct son of God, born of Mary a virgin, the result being that he was half man – able to have a body and walk on the earth – and half god, able to atone for the sins of the world.

    We don’t just believe that men can become gods; women will also be gods and rule equally with their husbands.

    Also, the Book of Mormon is in addition to the Bible, not in place of.

    Again, forgive me for going off topic. I just wanted that cleared up.

  34. Dia on 29 December 2008, 17:02 said:

    Thanks for the clarification. As I said, I was using the information provided in a book I had about it, not personal experience. I apologize for my mistakes.

  35. bobtheenchantedone on 30 December 2008, 00:14 said:

    No problem, mate. : D

  36. Rand on 1 January 2009, 21:09 said:

    “ Rarely in television do you see a Mother shown as incompetent or stupid or ever wicked, but that is the standard for Dads. “

    That’s not true.

  37. july on 4 January 2009, 06:08 said:

    Why is feminism seen as a dirty word? why can’t we all just get along?
    Also, has anyone also notice that Twilight is very poorly written? Harry Potter kicks Twilight’s butt.
    Twilight is very sexist, very religious and if people can’t see that they are just blind, or even worse; they accept these views. I do not agree these views should be the underlying treads of this novel that has caused such hysteria. I really worry about the message it sends out to young girls.

  38. SlyShy on 4 January 2009, 13:21 said:

    Why is feminism seen as a dirty word?

    To me it’s not, but I’m a guy. I think a lot of girls treat it like a dirty word, because they want to avoid the stigma associated with “Feminazis”.

    why can’t we all just get along?

    Who knows? I wish Gaza wasn’t a mess.

    Also, has anyone also notice that Twilight is very poorly written? Harry Potter kicks Twilight’s butt.

    Yup, just about everyone on this site. :)

    Twilight is very sexist, very religious and if people can’t see that they are just blind, or even worse; they accept these views. I do not agree these views should be the underlying treads of this novel that has caused such hysteria. I really worry about the message it sends out to young girls.

    You may be interested in this article of mine, which addresses those issues.

  39. Will of the Wheel on 4 January 2009, 14:05 said:

    When I read a book, I take it for what the author has written. In all honesty, I have never ever met people who take the book and find all of these “hidden messages” and underlying influences before now.
    It’s quite amazing really. I liked Twilight for the story. You know, oh first love, true love, blah blah blah, you get it, right? It’s good, but not drool worthy. However, if I were to dissect it and examine it like here, I probably wouldn’t like it. At all. So thanks to everybody who looks for those, er, major flaws and such.

    Also, I must agree that HP kicks Twilight’s but several times over.

  40. Krista on 4 January 2009, 14:08 said:

    I don’t understand why everyone thinks Edward is so controlling. He does seem to be in the beginning of the series, but at the end, he is a doormat for Bella to wipe her feet.

    In Twilight, Bella does seem to follow Edward around like a puppy dog, and Edward watching Bella sleep is way creepy. All of this supports the notion that Edward is controlling.

    Further evidence that Edward may be controlling is seen in Eclipse where he attempts to sabotage Bella’s efforts to see Jacob, real mature for a 100 year-old.

    But after this point the power shifts. Edward agrees that Bella can see Jacob and even drives her to meet him. Before anyone can point out that this is controlling, remember that there is a real threat to her life by vampires she can’t hope to defeat.

    Jacob kisses Bella and instead of flying into a rage and ripping Jacob’s head off, Edward turns sulky. He passively watches while Jacob cuddles with his honey even though he knows that Jacob is enjoying it a bit too much. There is no jealous rage which is the hallmark of any controlling boyfriend or girlfriend.

    Later he even gives Bella permission to kiss Jacob because she needs to know for sure which life she really wants. Letting her choose not to be with him, that is far from controlling.

    Also he sits out of the fight with the newborn vampires because Bella wants him to. He really wants to fight, but he gives into her. His entire family is fighting an insane number of vampires, but he sits out for her. They were grossly outnumbered. They needed everyone they had to fight. Someone could have died.

    In Breaking Dawn it is all about Bella and what Bella wants. Edward is forced to watch her pregnancy kill her with a painted smile on his face to not upset her. He even goes as far as to ask Jacob to have sex with her so that Bella can have the child she wants without it killing her.

    This doesn’t seem controlling at all to me.

    I know Bella’s life revolves around Edward, but his life revolves around her, and so does the rest of his family and the werewolves.

    Bella is master manipulator. She gets exactly what she wants whether you agree with her choice or not. And Edward seems to have a backbone in the beginning, but at the end he is a doormat.

    Perhaps this is why so many women love him, but not me.

  41. Will of the Wheel on 4 January 2009, 14:31 said:

    Maybe that is just what happens to you when you are over one hundred years old and have never been in love with somebody. Ever. Until now.

  42. Hedwig Widrig on 4 January 2009, 18:29 said:

    When I read a book, I take it for what the author has written. In all honesty, I have never ever met people who take the book and find all of these “hidden messages” and underlying influences before now.
    Some books don’t stand up at all to the search for hidden messages and have to be taken at face value for enjoyment. Twilight is one such. Good literature, however, manages to entertain both at face value and through hidden messages. You don’t see everything there is to see in Homer at first glance, for example.

    …instead of flying into a rage and ripping Jacob’s head off, Edward turns sulky.
    Later he even gives Bella permission to kiss Jacob…
    I’m not really sure how that doesn’t sound controlling. How nice of him to give his girlfriend permission to do what she likes and only grudge her a little when she does.

  43. Krista on 4 January 2009, 21:38 said:

    I think the way my wording is mucking up my argument that Edward is not controlling.

    Let me present this more logically.

    A controlling person is someone who uses manipulation or force to get what he or she wants.

    So does Edward always get what he wants from Bella?

    Arguments between Bella and Edward that Bella wins.

    She wants Jacob to be accepted by Edward. At first they clash over this but eventually Bella wins. Edward even goes out of his way to make sure Jacob comes to the wedding.

    Bella wants Edward to stay with her during the Battle of newborn vampires while he wants to fight. Bella wins.

    Bella wants to be a vampire. Edward is really against this he doesn’t want Bella to loose her soul. Bella wins.

    Bella wants Edward to make her a vampire. Bella wins (he agrees to do this before the pregnancy).

    Bella wants to risk her life and have the baby. Edward wants to abort the child to save her. Damn straight Bella should win this argument. It is her body, and she does.

    Arguments that Edward wins over Bella.

    Edward wants Bella to marry him. Edward wins.

    Let me know if I am missing something, but if Bella continually gets her way, How is Edward controlling her.

  44. SlyShy on 4 January 2009, 21:53 said:

    I guess it depends on what your standard of controlling, I guess.

    If I had done half the things Edward had done, I would consider myself a controlling boyfriend. But then, I don’t sparkle, so what have you.

  45. Krista on 4 January 2009, 22:28 said:

    SlyShy, could you give me your definition of controlling and specific examples from the book to support you view?

    I don’t mean to be antagonistic. I am really just trying to understand.

  46. SlyShy on 4 January 2009, 22:47 said:

    I’m too busy writing a paper at the moment to write up a proper response, but I will point you in this direction.

  47. Krista on 5 January 2009, 01:41 said:

    Hey Slyshy,

    Thanks for the link. That does clear things up a bit. It does make Edward appear rather nasty not exactly the ideal boyfriend. But the argument fall flat at the end.

    Aldorel admits that there is a point in Eclipse where Edward comes to the decision that Bella needs to be in control of her own life. Aldorel gives only two arguments after Edward’s epiphany to prove that Edwards is still controlling, but those arguments are weak.

    The first argument is that Edward invites Jacob to the wedding against Bella’a wishes. Bella wanted Jacob to be at the wedding. In fact she beamed when she saw him there feeling now that her day was complete. She didn’t invite Jacob out of respect to Edward, but she wanted Jacob there.

    The second argument is that Edward says (and I am paraphrasing) that he wants to marry Bella so that the whole world will know that she belongs to him. Aldorel interprets from this statement that Edward is denying Bella a life outside of him.

    I think this is a gross misinterpretation. Married people are committed to a life together, they belong to each other. Yes they have friends, interests, and jobs outside of each other. But that little band of gold lets the world know that they are off the market, that they belong to someone. Besides, that is just one statement, hardly compelling evidence.

    Edward is dominanting in the first two books and most of eclipes, but near the end of Eclipse, there is that moment when the power shifts. Bella becomes dominant(see specific examples in my previous posts). In the end of Eclipse and all of Breaking Dawn, Edward caters to Bella’s every desire.

    Edward starts as a controlling abusive boyfriend, but in the end, he is whipped.

  48. SlyShy on 5 January 2009, 01:45 said:

    That seems reasonable. I have bigger issues with Breaking Dawn, like the c-section, but let’s not go into that here.

  49. Krista on 5 January 2009, 01:49 said:

    lol, agreed.

  50. ChingChuan on 5 January 2009, 03:44 said:

    Perhaps you should also take into account that the media coverage HP franchise is a lot bigger than that of the Twilight franchise is. At least, in the Netherlands it is – all newspapers wrote extensive articles on the books, the movies, the merchandise, JKR herself, stupid things some fans do etc. etc. etc. However, I haven’t seen more than a few small articles about Twilight.

    So, I guess that most (Dutch) christians who are also anti-HP, wouldn’t even know that Twilight existed – they’re not exactly interested in such things, so they certainly wouldn’t start looking for it when the media doesn’t cover it…

    I’m Dutch (and christian – NOT anti HP :P) too, but the only reason I know about Twilight is because I visited this site :P.

  51. Amelie on 5 January 2009, 11:49 said:

    You know, I’ve been thinking about this. And I’ve realized that maybe Stephanie Meyer is smarter than we think. It seems so absurd to me that virtually all of my friends are obsessed with Edward and somehow manage to identify perfectly with Bella— until I remember that Bella is such a non-character. By making her so ambiguous and one-dimensional, Meyer didn’t give her any personality traits that would have distanced her from some readers. Therefore everyone can “identify” with her, because everyone just loooooooooves Edward, and that’s pretty much Bella’s only defining aspect.
    However, I would much rather read about a complex and interesting character who is my exact opposite than someone who could be my clone except without a scintilla of depth. Guess that’s the one defining aspect that sets me off from the rest of the teenage female population. Boy, do I feel alienated.

  52. Juni on 5 January 2009, 12:17 said:

    Bella’s character is the opposite of Emma (by Jane Austen). Emma and I would not get along in real life. She is so definite and different and yet I still love her story and character.

    As far as Edward’s character…I had to hold an impromptu intervention for my younger cousin when she expressed a fascination with him.

  53. SlyShy on 5 January 2009, 13:23 said:


    Although there is the possibility that this was done on purpose, I think it was probably unintentional. Christopher Paolini does it as well. Eragon is very easy for readers to imagine themselves as, because there is little personality there that would distance the reader. I think feel like it’s just a side effect of neglected character development, and not a cultivated technique.

  54. Amelie on 15 January 2009, 15:17 said:


    I know :) I don’t really believe that it was intentional either, especially not the way SM herself has described Bella (as some deep, complex character facing an existential crisis…). I was just trying to figure out some legitimate reason for “creating” what most intelligent people would describe as an absolute stock character… but I guess it’s inexcusable after all. There’s no help for Twilight.

  55. Steph on 16 May 2009, 01:53 said:

    On an only slightly related note I’m reading HP now (about twelve years after it was published! Talk about behind the times!) and I’m finding even the first book extremely hard to finish.

    Whereas no matter how much Twilight sucks, I actually managed to finish the series.

    What does that say about me?

  56. SlyShy on 16 May 2009, 03:25 said:

    Eh, the first book does feel like the most amateurish. Rowling improves a lot over the course of just a few books. I think by Goblet of Fire the writing is at its high point.

  57. firinne on 26 May 2009, 20:54 said:

    Isn’t JKR Christian as well? Didn’t protect her in the least. I guess the divorce thing didn’t help.

  58. Steph the Phantasmagorical on 27 May 2009, 04:35 said:


    JKR got divorced?

    (On a side note, isn’t interesting that she gets referred to by her initials now? Like FDR and JFK?)


    How far away is Goblet of Fire? [goes and checks] That’s four books in! Oh well. I guess I’ll just have to be good and not bash it or anything until I’ve read the lot.

    And I thought the fifth book was considered the best?

  59. firinne on 27 May 2009, 17:48 said:

    Yes, but she’s remarried again.

    I guess initialization doesn’t seem that odd to me because I’m also a fan of GRRM (George R. R. Martin), which leads to the inescapable compare-and-contrast with JRR Tolkien… too many authors with long names!

  60. Snow White Queen on 27 May 2009, 19:53 said:

    For HP, I always considered Prisoner of Azkaban to be my favorite for some reason. :D

  61. Steph the Phantasmagorical on 28 May 2009, 04:43 said:

    @firinne: Thing is, you never see JRR Tolkein referred to as JRRT, whereas JKR gets away with it. Anyway. I have no idea what my point was just there.

    @ Snow White Queen: Weren’t there pumpkins in that thing?

  62. lawzard on 29 May 2009, 15:58 said:

    I can’t recall how exactly I found my way onto this website, but I’m quickly growing fond of it. Expect to see more of me around here.

    Anyway, excellent article. I’m glad you touched on the anti-feminist nature of the Twilight. One thing that made me especially angry about the novel was the misogynistic treatment of every. Single. Female. Character. I don’t know if I would go as far as saying that religious groups support Twilight specifically because it’s anti-feminist, though.

    I also got a good laugh out of the whole Twilight is promoting romantic relationships with the undead bit, for whatever that’s worth.

    @ Kevin in #31
    I’ll admit this is coming a bit late in the conversation, but the reason “equalist” might not have caught on is because there’s already a term for it—egalitarian.

  63. Musiclover on 17 January 2010, 15:09 said:


    That was interesting to read about. I honestly (don’t find me stupid or anything) think that Edward just wants to protect Bella, even if sometimes he does go overboard. Now was is all this about a C-section! Is that when he turns her into a vampire? Also when you people are saying that she is weak and everything she becomes strong in Breaking Dawn. Yes, there relationship to me, at the beginning, seemed like they were taking it to fast but by the end I found that without Edward Bella can’t live. Literally.

  64. Steph who mourns for Eddard Stark on 18 January 2010, 22:36 said:

    I honestly (don’t find me stupid or anything) think that Edward just wants to protect Bella, even if sometimes he does go overboard.

    I agree with you on that count. I think the problem most people have with it is that all the characters condone his acts of going overboard.

    she becomes strong in Breaking Dawn.

    I can’t talk about this since it’s been so long since I read BD.

    but by the end I found that without Edward Bella can’t live. Literally.

    Does that not strike you as unhealthy? Like, I can understand loving somebody to the extreme, but just say Edward got killed in some random battle 1000 years down the line. Would Bella just be moping the rest of her days or something? That’s no way to live. And I’m pretty sure vampires would be immune to antidepressants, lol.

  65. Charity on 9 June 2010, 09:48 said:

    Meyers is not a Christian. She is a Mormon. HUGE DIFFERENCE. It’s also apparent in her book, with Jacob imprinting on a child (the old Mormon philosophy that child-marriages, or marrying a young woman off to a much older man for the purpose of having numerous children), Bella lacking in personality, etc. Mormonism, not Christianity.

    That being said — I’m a born-again believer and “Harry Potter” is far and away the better series. It has much, much greater moral lessons in it — everything from Harry’s Christ-like death and rebirth to its messages about friendship, sacrifice, doing right even though it’s hard and dangerous, etc. Most of the Christians I know absolutely adore it.

    I don’t think Christians embrace “Twilight” just for its abstinence message. I know a fair amount of Christians who think it’s not good because of the vampires in it.

    “Twilight” irritates me because of it’s anti-feminism undercurrent. Bella cannot live without Edward! Boo hoo, grow up.

  66. TheArmada on 3 July 2011, 18:51 said:

    Stephnie Meyer is also anti-gay. Its shaky evidence I know, but look at the article on her, then google what it says.