Edward Cullen. The name causes hearts all over the world to skip a beat. Chivalrous, dangerous, protective. His love for Bella, 90-odd years his junior, has captivated the hearts and minds of girls and women everywhere. They leave cinemas green with envy; wishing that that had a love like that.
In this post I want to look at this vampire love and explore some of the thoughts I had about Edward and Bella as I sat there in the New Moon screening. Is this love realistic? Is it harmful to the girls who long for it? Why is it so attractive?
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Why is Twilight so attractive to girls and women?
Let’s start this post by looking at why Twilight is so incredibly captivating to girls and women around the world. This will serve as a base for discovering whether or not it is a positive thing.
1. Edward is dangerous
Anyone who went to high school will know that some girls love the bad boy. They are attracted to the danger and the thrill of being associated with someone so loose. Edward takes this danger to a whole new level because he wants to eat Bella! Her smell intoxicates him. Add to the mix that a tiny cut on Bella’s finger can turn Edward’s relatives into a pack of blood-thirsty killers and you have yourself a dangerous man.
2. Chivalry is alive
Edward Cullen is extremely old fashioned. Having been turned into a vampire sometime in the early 1900’s he has a set of values that many women today long for. He is romantic and extremely chivalrous. Mix that in with the element of danger and you have a very attractive male figure.
Later in this post I will touch on why I am extremely happy to see this back in popular culture.
3. A mind reading protector
Some women love a protector. The love of being protected is something that, I have read, occurs naturally in many women due to the relationship with the father and the history of having a male go out and hunt for food and fend off dangers in ancient times. Nowadays women are completely independent of course and no longer need the protections of a male. But many of my female friends remarked that the way Edward fights for Bella is one of the most attractive things of all.
Why this vampire style love is a good thing
Before I get into the reasons why Twilight could be harmful to some relationships, I want to start with the positive and talk about why I am extremely happy that many young girls and boys are seeing these movies.
And it goes back to one word – chivalry.
A generation of teenagers valuing respect for women
I’m a male. And I have male friends. And when you go out with males you inevitable get onto the subject of women. Sex. And the conversations that take place are often enough to make your stomach crawl (my stomach anyway). Call me old fashioned, but I really struggle to participate in conversations where women are just games, sexual objects and described in vocabulary that you would never call your mother.
And for all intensive purposes one could say that this view of women is getting worse. Pornography is now more wide spread than ever. I recently read a statistic that the number of women appearing in pornographic material online doubles each year. Doubles. So when you mix the two facts that men are watching more pornography and more women are appearing in pornography you start to create a culture that has little respect for women other than as sexual beings.
But Twilight paints the relationship between boy and girl in a different light. Sure there is sexual tension and sure there is romance, but it is of a very respectful nature. Edward values Bella more than anything else on Earth and because of that value he behaves in very a chivalrous way. And this is a very important thing for young men to see women enjoying.
Why Twilight is NOT helpful for relationships
Now I would like to get into my usual critical self and talk about why I think the love portrayed in Twilight is potentially harmful.
They cannot live without each other
The most amazing thing about Twilight is also the most concerning. We all love to see how desperate Bella and Edward are for each other. When Edward leaves Bella in New Moon she sits by her window for months on end. She is depressed. She begins to seek out dangerous hobbies in order to feel close to him again. She cannot live without him.
Now let’s be honest, teenagers do not really need any encouragement in this area! We all remember what it was like with our first love. It had to go on forever because we simply could not live without them. The pain and the angst was crippling. And we all got hurt. And while the great love of Edward and Bella has created an incredible love story, it also paints relationships in an unrealistic light.
You can live without your partner. If they leave you it is not the end of the world. Your identity is completely separate from them and you will move on. If you know this then you can sit back and enjoy the eternal romance without any issues. But if you base your idea of a relationship on that of Edward and Bella’s then you are bound to have some problems.
Love does not last forever
Here is the part of the post where I say something that gets me into trouble. Especially if my gorgeous lady reads it. But I do not think it is true to think that love is eternal. I think it is a view that causes more problems than solutions and I think it is based on fear. Here’s why.
I love Mrs. Daily Minder with all my heart. I have loved her since high school and there has never been a day where I have stopped loving her. Captivated by her intelligence, her compassion and her companionship I imagine I will go on loving her til the day I die. But at death there is a separation. And it is a separation I want to be aware of. I do not want to ignore it.
As brutal as it may sound, I think the idea that love goes on forever and that you will meet in the afterlife is something people say to hide the painful truth that one day you need to part. We are not vampires that can live forever in some timeless romance. We are humans with bodies that get sick and die. And at that moment of death the attachment to your loved one will cause you immense suffering – you will struggle to let go.
Why the impermanence of love is a good thing
Understanding that you are going to have to leave your love is a good understanding to have. It is a very positive and workable situation. It is not a cause for depression.
Because all of a sudden you are pushed into a realistic world where you know that your time with this person is finite. Much like a person who has survived a serious illness, you now look at life and love in a new light and you do everything you can to make the most of the opportunity.
Imagine a marriage where you spend 50 years together knowing that you have to part and making the most of each day together.
What do you think?
Here is the interesting part. What do you think about Twilight? Do you think the ideas about love and chivalry portrayed in the movies are helpful or harmful? Why do you think it has captivated so many young women? Do you think I am wrong about love not lasting forever.
Please leave a comment and let us know.