Bookshelf: Twilight Saga

I just finished reading the Twilight saga. I started last Friday, and finished late last night (Thursday). I'll admit I got completely sucked in. It's not so much the love story or the adventure, but Stephenie Meyer manages to pull me along, sometime begrudgingly. About 2.5 books into reading, though, I realized my biggest issue with the novels: Bella. I do not like the heroine.

She is one of the most selfish, whiny, reckless, foolish, manipulative and inconsistent characters I have ever read. Her love for Edward is both her strongest trait and her biggest vulnerability. Often, I was disgusted by her inability to see things clearly and put those she loved first in a practical way, not some self-sacrifice that wouldn't wind up doing anyone any good and just get her into worse trouble/harm. Those around her were portrayed as much, much stronger, like she was a fragile doll that needed protection at all times. No one gave her complete information, no one trusted her to take care of herself (usually with good reason, because she would usually make the illogical choice.) She seemed incapable of looking at a situation objectively, without this obsessive desire to just have Edward and Jacob close to her. Even at their own personal cost. Selfish. Stupid. **spoiler alert** And once she decides to have the child, she doesn't care about the cost. She's maniacal in her martyrdom. And then once she becomes a vampire, I almost don't believe her new identity. But the personal strength she showed as a vampire finally made me, again somewhat begrudgingly, respect her.

What worries me the most is the way it feeds into some of our weaknesses as women (apologies for generalizing my gender). We want a man who will fight for us, who will even stand up to us when we push his buttons, who is both chaste and ravenously sexual. It also wouldn't hurt if he looked like a mythical god and behaved like an old-fashioned gentleman. The problem is not just that men like that don't exist. The problem is that if they did, they would not be looking for a Bella Swan. We need to be the strong, independent women that attract a truly confident, strong man. A partner in every way. So when I think about millions of teenage girls (like my sisters) reading these books, it scares me. I realize that sounds dramatic. But both the books and the movies draw us in, they make us believe in a love that is bigger than life, stronger than eternity, and worth sacrificing everything else. While I do believe in love that strong, it's not forged by abandoning your family, lying to everyone you know, and manipulating those around you to get what you want. So, bottom line is the series is very entertaining and exciting, but hopefully not something to base your view of love and relationships upon...
In the same vein, do not get me started with Juliet Capulet or Lucy Westenra from Dracula. Why do writers exalt such weak women?

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