Weaker sex fantasy: Another reason why women love Twilight

twilightcoverFantasy is not my favourite literary genre. It was a struggle, I admit, for me to read The Hobbit, not to mention Harry Potter; and I didn’t even go near The Chronicles of Narnia. So when I heard about the next fantasy-series craze that was sinking its teeth into millions of readers around the world (of course, the Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer), I was about as excited as a vampire in a vege patch. But then I began to hear whispers that they weren’t your ordinary fantasy novels, and that what had Meyer’s mostly female readership hooked wasn’t spells and sorcerers, but the sexual tension between the main characters: the fact that they resist the urge throughout the entire circa 2000-page story to have ravenous vampiric sex.

Abstinence… exciting? My interest piqued, I decided it was time – two years after the book’s release – to break my ‘fantasy’ abstinence and find out what it was that made Meyer’s writing tick, or tickle, the fancy of millions of women readers.

twilight-movie-image-61-115x1151I am currently half way through the first book, and what has struck me most so far (and what has me addicted) is not the repressed eroticism of the main characters’ impossible romance, but the way the female protagonist – Bella Swan – invites you to snuggle down into the cosy mentality of a small town 17-year-old girl whose only real concerns in life are love, love and love. The plot drugs you with carefree teenage themes, somehow making you believe that to be a weak and vulnerable woman who is highly dependent on a man for survival is something you want.

This is the confusingly intoxicating part: Bella is made up of qualities that paint her as the archetypal helpless female; she’s clumsy, wimpish, not particularly attractive in the glossy magazine kind of way, and every effort she makes to assert her strength and independence is undermined by her vampire-man love interest (Edward) who ‘saves’ her at every opportunity. And for all Bella’s apparent resistance to his coddling, she soon enough embraces the role. Feminists would ordinarily be critical of her ‘no means yes’ interactions with Edward; yet for some inexplicable primal reason she, and what she goes through, is so completely enviable that we, the readers, can’t stop turning pages for fear of going back to Real Life.

twilight-movie-4-115x115The thing is, in Real Life we don’t often get to play the part of the ‘weaker sex’, or the part of the woman that’s simply content with being loved and looked after for life. Confess you want this in reality and you’ll be shot down by a history of women who have worked hard to have it otherwise. But there’s no denying that behind every woman’s desire for the feminist ideals of financial independence and world-dominating career success is the knowledge that we would throw it all to the wind if the offer of a hot superhero who was desperately in love with us and would support us for eternity arose. Twilight lets us play out this secret longing to be cared for, kept alive and infinitely adored within the safe and short-lived confines of a paperback. Sure, in reality this way of life might become tedious – especially if forced to abstain forever from ravenous vampiric sex – but for 2000 pages, it’s a nice fantasy: one I won’t struggle to read.

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8 thoughts on “Weaker sex fantasy: Another reason why women love Twilight

  1. Ally Ireland February 17, 2009 / 5:43 am

    You’re totally right. I think I found myself wondering with scorn a couple of times why Mike couldn’t be more like Edward. Well, I wouldn’t mind a bit of the “stone chest”.

    btw I didn’t say they NEVER do it… did I?

    • Jodie McLeod February 17, 2009 / 5:50 am

      OMG, they actually do it? I’ll be interested to see how Meyer writes it! I bet we get a glimpse of bare flesh before it teasingly cuts to another scene…

  2. Ally Ireland February 17, 2009 / 7:16 am

    Ha! You are dead on! Here is a quote, Annie’s favourite:

    “If I hadn’t seen him undressed, I would have sworn there was nothing more beautiful than Edward in his khakis and pale blue pullover.”

    Ewww

  3. Jess Martin February 17, 2009 / 7:45 pm

    Oh.. but it gets better.. there are broken bedframes and feathers everywhere from the pillows!

    I also think that it’s because he just loves her so much, that he was willing to die cause he thought she was dead. I envy that. I know that it’s just fiction, but.. you know!

    I am looking forward to the next movies too.

    • Jodie McLeod February 19, 2009 / 3:00 am

      @Jess – Woah… broken bed frames and feathers? Looking forward to reading about that

  4. Jodie Chyb February 18, 2009 / 1:13 am

    For a minute there you had my heart racing Jodie – i thought you were going to rip the Twilight series to shreads and i was going to have to get all defensive of my little love interest – so I was very relieved to hear that you like it.

    The second book isnt as good but the 3rd and 4th are unreal. Hope you get a chance to read them all.

  5. Jamie February 18, 2009 / 2:00 pm

    (Preface all the following with: “In my opinion…”)
    I don’t have anything against fantasy – romantic, vampiric or otherwise. I tried to read “Twilight”and just couldn’t. Good lord, is the writing clunky! I felt like my brain was being given an enema with a garbage truck. I’ll put up with that sort of malarkey from someone like Lee Child because he has shootouts and technojargon. Stephenie Meyer: not so much.

    • Jodie McLeod February 19, 2009 / 2:58 am

      @Jamie – I must admit there is a lot of repetition, and probably 90 percent of the writing is made up of descriptions of how hot Edward is… but Stephanie Meyer is now a multi-millionaire… so is it bad writing? Not so, if the measuring tool is cash. She’s lucky she just happened to stumble upon the right formula of a simplistic girly voice met by a very hungry girly audience

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