I have an obsession with “Bad Boys.” I like feelings of control and submission, which with understanding and caring can be as healthy as the next relationship, but I also have a tendency to lean toward those unhealthy relationships. There are a multitude of possible reasons for that tendency, many of which probably have to do with my relationship with my biological father.
It’s good that I’m at a place where I can now recognize it. Two years ago before a certain man named Brecht
entered my life, I had no objectivity when it came to my feelings. Yes I closed them off and separated my emotions, but I couldn’t look at them.
When it comes to what I want to do with my life, I’ve never been sure except when it comes to one thing: being a mother and wife. Career choices and lifelong goals have never held as much sway as thinking about raising the family of foster children I plan on having, staying home to pack lunches and help with homework, and helping children who might otherwise grow to hate themselves, have every advantage they can possibly have from a loving, two-parent home. This is not to say that single-parents are deficient, simply, that I always felt as though something was missing, and I would like to take away that feeling for someone else. This leads into my concept of love.
When I first read the Twilight series, I was attracted to the idea of true love. The idea that Bella felt so strongly about Edward that she would have no second thoughts or doubts was immensely appealing. The idea that she would do anything to stand by him and would and could trust him completely and totally was equally riddled with allure. At the time, I was convinced as Bella was and still is, that Edward would do the same. Since then however, I have come to notice all of the insensitive and thoughtless actions he performs. Yes, the concept of Edward is that he is in reality (albeit a vampire) only human. However when considering their relationship to the questionaire on the National Abuse Hotline
, red flags must be raised that all 15 questions are answered, “Yes,”
when only one is enough to be considered abusive.
This does not bode well for Twilight, Stephanie Meyer or the message we are sending to America’s youth, when they then take this novel out of it’s fantastical construct and apply it to their own relationships in real life. And before you say that these books are “just stories,” remember that the faerie tales the Brothers Grimm told have lasted well into today, and that the books you read as a child, helped shape who you are today. This doesn’t reflect well on the message I sent to my own younger sister when I introduced her to the Twilight series, especially given that family history. The fact that these signs of an abusive relationship are hidden beneath a fantasy world which makes all of their actions okay, makes the message all the more insidious. These were particularly hidden to me. Having the aforementioned tendency, I couldn’t see what was right in front of my face.
Added it the lack of an outside moral compass with which to observe Edward and Bella’s actions. Bella’s father Charlie is dismissed as a parent who “just doesn’t understand.” The only “adults” who know all of the information are themselves vampires and decidedly on Edwards side if they ever had to chose, and therefor unreliable. Bella is as the hotline warns against, cutoff from those who would protect her, and we the reader are in effect cutoff with her.
Taking all of this into consideration, I agreed wholeheartedly with most of what Alyssa Rosenberg stated in her recent blog TwiHards Strike Back
, which is an update to her article “A Condemnation of Sparkly Vampires.” One paragraph at the end, however left me surprisingly with a bad taste in my mouth:
“Bella, even though she’s fictional, stands, like the rest of us, on the shoulders of giants, like Elizabeth Bennet, like Morgaine,whose fictional lives provided templates for rebellion in their own time. If what we choose to do with those fictional struggles is to ignore them, to fail to build on them, that strikes me as more than a little sad.”
The implication was that by only focusing on her own family and loved ones and not going out to save the world, while falling in love at the same time, Bella was letting down our foremothers and their struggle for equality. While I have come to recognize the dangerous tendencies in this novel, I don’t agree that this is one of them. Not all women are built or have the need to accomplish everything. While the working woman is starting to be accepted if she choses not to have a family, the family woman is till considered backward in her actions and lifestyle. Just as women were frowned upon for entering the workplace, there is a growing tendency to judge women, in big cities, who chose not to. The women before us worked hard and long for equality and justice and the ability for all women to have choices in their lives over what they do, how they act and how that relates to the rest of the world. The key word however is choice. I will someday chose to be a stay-at-home mom, if I am lucky enough to be able to do so. I think that through the works of the feminists who came before us, we and I now have the right not to be judged for making that choice. It is after all, mine, as it was my grandmothers. My mother now choses to use any chance she has to stay at home with her new child. She has that right. Someday I hope the world will accept that without prejudice or the label that this is somehow lazy, or a waste.