I'm talking about the YA fantasy novel Twilight with my writing buddy, Towson U. Professor of Psychology, Cyndee Kalodner.
Cyndee, once I recovered from that “can’t put the book down” feeling, I thought about Edward and Bella’s relationship.
As a feminist, I have serious problems with Twilight. Should we be teaching girls that – in sexual relationships – they are prey and men are predators?
Edward waivers somewhere between safe and dangerous; he’s a good bad-boy. But it bothered me that he’s always swooping Bella up, cradling her, watching her sleep, rescuing her. In a way, he’s making her a perpetual child. Bella can’t become a woman (literally or figuratively) as long as she’s with Edward. It’s implied that Edward realizes this, but Bella is clueless.
You have a ‘tween daughter who’s read the series. What do you think about the predator/prey issue?
CK: Never thought about it that way. I saw it as a sad situation in which a guy wants to be with a girl, but he can’t because he would have to make her a vampire in the process. I see him as beneficent and frustrated. I see her as your more typical teenager, in lust with him.
So, if I'm planning ahead to the day when my 9-year-old daughter will read Twilight, I should see it as pure entertainment. Hopefully, she won't model her romantic relationships on Bella and Edward.
Bella wants Edward to make her a vampire, but author Stephanie Meyer doesn’t have the character realize how separated she’s become from her parents and her own life. I think the real Bella would seriously weigh what it means to give up a normal life – especially having children. Isn’t this an unhealthy obsession, or am I just projecting myself onto the character?
CK: I think she sees the advantages to being a vampire – you don’t have to eat, sleep, or worry about the more mundane things that HS students have to deal with. He is all knowing, while she has to study and do schoolwork (even though she is portrayed as smart). Not sure she has focused on the disadvantages. Isn’t that how kids make bad decisions at that age anyway?
That's a good point.
I’m taking a break from the Twilight series, so reading the books doesn’t become my unhealthy obsession. Will you read the next book, New Moon?
CK: Already started it. If I want to talk to Elena (my 12-year-old daughter), I have to know what happens next. I expect to read them all.
Sounds good, as long as you promise not to tell me what happens.