(Read the Summary first)
this article is also posted to support midnightqueen12's reaction to twilight; as well as amy2609's 101 reasons why Twilight sucks, as well as my article of why anime is much greater than twilght; and of course, other booksie members' articles concerning the flaws of twilight series. This article contradicts any other articles that support Twilight's 'positive points'.
Arzim Rebuttals (Part 01 of 04)
(the ultimate reasons why twilight SUXXX)
1. "Edward is abusive"
2. "Fantasy does not excuse a lack of realism"
3. "The books are sexist"
4. "The books (Twilight specifically) have no plot/character development"
5. "Bella and Edward are in lust, not love"
6. "Bella is an idiot (aka Meyer tells and doesn't show)"
7. "Imprinting IS sexual no matter what (aka imprinting is sexist and pedophilic)"
8. "Twilight sends bad messages... and it DOES matter"
9. "Science: Why Nessie can't exist"
10. "Science: Meyer fails at it"
11. "Choice: What Feminism isn't, and what Bella doesn't have"
A common trend I’ve seen in the development of debates on Twilightsucks.com is that the Antis tend to argue in terms of the conceptual; the idea of sexism or the theme of misogyny. In converse, most of the Twilight fans I’ve come across rebut those cerebral arguments with semantics ones; i.e., they argue the plot (ha!) point of fact as opposed to the foundation of ideas at the root of those plot points.
Anti: “Edward is abusive”
Support for this argument includes the following (and this is just a quick list):
1. Edward is controlling and domineering
2. Edward has an unequal share of authority over the relationship
3. Edward threatens suicide
4. Edward manipulates Bella into marriage
5. Edward actively attempts to prevent Bella from seeing her friend (removes engine, has her kidnapped)
6. Edward encourages Bella’s isolation from others
Now, I’ve found that the most common argument in rebuttal for “Edward is abusive” is “But he only does it because he loves her” or “He’s trying to protect her” or “His intentions are good” or “He recognizes that he makes mistakes/overreacts”.
I’m going to address these arguments in two parts.
First, in terms of semantics; that is, the actual actions and consequences in the series, and
second I’ll deal with the abstraction of intentions versus actions.
FIRST: What is abuse?
Obviously Edward is not abusive physically to Bella, but that doesn’t mean that he’s not still abusive. That is, he is emotionally and mentally abusive. And the fact that he’s a vampire has nothing to do with it; Meyer is portraying a relationship between two people, and given the fact that Edward has a very human psyche (i.e. he experiences human emotions (anger, ‘love’, worry), human desires (sex), and was once in fact human) it is not a reasonable argument to simply excuse his bad behavior by simply arguing, “he’s a vampire, so it doesn’t count.”
So: abuse. What is it?
"An abusive relationship is an interpersonal relationship characterized by the use or threat of physical or psychological abuse. Abusive relationships are often characterized by jealousy, emotional withholding, lack of intimacy, infidelity, sexual coercion, verbal abuse, broken promises, physical violence, control games and power plays.'"
Let’s break this definition down in terms of Edward and Bella.
Jealousy – If anything, Edward’s defining characteristic is in fact his jealousy. It is his jealousy (more than anything else) that instigates his abusive acts. He admits after the engine episode that the main reason for not wanting Bella to see Jacob was in fact his prejudice and jealousy, and that’s hardly the only instance of his jealousy.
Emotional withholding – The fact that Edward and Bella are supposed to share this incredible, transcendent relationship is undermined by the fact that rather than discuss his fears and uncertainties, Edward chooses to leave Bella at the beginning of New Moon. While it’s not a crime to end a relationship, the fact that Edward chose to do so in such a cruel and unusual manner instead of explaining his feelings and emotions on the subject is pretty abusive.
Lack of intimacy – The intimacy issue is a trickier when it comes to Edward and Bella. First, in terms of physical intimacy: the fact that Edward controls every single chaste little kiss AND withholds sex is incredibly controlling. That he does so supposedly to protect her is negated by the fact that he’s more than willing to sex her up once they’re married, even though she’s still a puny, fragile human (and she does get hurt). Their lack of emotional intimacy (again, with the above point about emotional withholding) is just as damaging (as referenced by Bella’s zombiefied state in New Moon).
Sexual coercion – Again, Edward controls every aspect of their sexual lives, against Bella’s will and in fact he demeans and treats her like a child when she attempts to sex him.
Broken promises – at the end of Twilight, Edward promises to stay with Bella no matter what. Yet at the beginning of New Moon, he massively overreacts to the supposed threat of danger and decides to break that promise, rendering Bella suicidal. Maybe this isn’t traditionally abusive, but it’s unnecessarily damaging.
Control games and power plays – All the above points serve the idea that Edward’s prevailing character (served by his jealousy) is controlling. And I don’t care how ‘powerful’ and ‘omniscient’ and ‘old and wise’ Edward is, when you’re in a romantic relationship with someone one partner cannot be completely dominating and the other submissive (unless it’s a BDSM relationship, but that’s another subject entirely). It simply isn’t healthy, particularly when it’s supposed to be this ‘great love of all the ages’ and representative of an equal partnership.
Let me just say this once to make it clear: intentions (good or bad) do not matter. It’s an instance of the classic phrase acta non verba, or “actions, not words.” It doesn’t matter if I tell you “I love you so much!” if I immediately follow that statement by trying to kill you. It doesn’t matter if I honestly DO love you and I STILL try to kill you; the action of attempted homicide still stands (and I’ll be charged with that) regardless of how I feel about it. If I kill someone and then say “I made a mistake” or “I loved him/her”, the fact that I feel bad about it in retrospect does not change the irreversible fact that I did, in fact, kill someone.
So if Edward removes the engine from Bella’s truck and then replaces it later, the fact that he replaces it later is irrelevant to the issue at hand; the fact that he performed the abusive act in the first place. I don’t care if he felt bad about it or changed his mind; he still performed the act to begin with.
If Edward only does anything “in order to protect Bella”, it’s again an instance of the irrelevance of intentions. Simply put, he doesn’t have the right to upend another person’s life or to attempt to control what that person does, even if he cares about them. It is not my roommate’s place to lock me in our room to prevent me from going out and getting trashed, even if she thinks she’s doing it to “protect me” or “because she cares about me.” Likewise, it isn’t Edward’s right to decide who Bella sees, when she sees him, where she sees him, and for how long. Just because he decided NOT to kidnap Bella for the weekend a second time doesn’t make the fact that he kidnapped her for a weekend for the first time moot.
Basically, intentions don’t matter. Actions matter. Even if Edward changes his mind or feels bad about it, that doesn’t erase the fact that he performed the act in the first place. If he feels bad about it, it doesn’t mean that his character isn’t an abusive one; you don’t judge a character based on the person he is by the end of the novel (or series); rather, you judge them (and form an understanding of them) by incorporating EVERYTHING you learn about them throughout the series. So while Edward DOES change and DOES make different decisions, his good decisions don’t negate the bad ones. He performs an abusive act = he is abusive, even if he feels bad about it. Capisce?
Fantasy does not excuse a lack of realism
Antitwilghts would say: “[x] doesn’t make sense”
For the sake of argument, you may replace “x” with the lack of realism (in terms of plot and setting and especially the various relationships), the sparkly issue, the biology issue, contradictions and hypocrisies, the abandonment of traditional vampire lore, etc.
The response to this is either
a) an attempt to prove that [x] makes sense using a minutiae of plot point and semantics;
b) “It’s fantasy; it doesn’t have to be realistic!”
Since point-A. varies from debate-to-debate, I’ll stick with point-B for the time being.“It’s fantasy; it doesn’t have to be realistic” is so completely and utterly wrong on so many levels that I almost don’t know where to begin.Let’s start with definitions.
“Fantasy” from Wikipedia:
"The identifying traits of fantasy are the inclusion of fantastic elements in a self-coherent (internally consistent) setting.Within such a structure, any location of the fantastical element is possible: it may be hidden in, or leak into the apparently real world setting, it may draw the characters into a world with such elements, or it may occur entirely in a fantasy world setting, where such elements are part of the world.
American fantasy, starting with the stories chosen by John W. Campbell, Jr. for the magazine Unknown, is often characterized by internal logic. That is, the events in the story are impossible, but follow "laws" of magic, and have a setting that is internally consistent.
“Realistic” from Merriam-Webster:
"The theory or practice of fidelity in art or literature to nature or to real life and to accurate representation without idealization."
In short, just because something is fantasy does not mean it is unrealistic. The object of writers is to make you believe the story they are telling; whether that story is a crime drama or Lord of the Rings is irrelevant. The point is that the author tries to immerse its reader so fully into the story that not only does the reader understand the complexities of the world they have created (like Trekkies translating the Bible into Klingon, for example) but can use the imagination to "believe" that that world exists.
Realism does not mean that everything is exactly how it is in the real world; it means that the media (the book, the movie, the play) is so well-crafted that it seems real. Good writers make their readers believe.
How does the writer do this?
1) Create characters to whom readers can relate; characters who are complex and representative of three-dimensional people (and have complex, three-dimensional relationships);
(Since no one is perfect, Edward fails this test)
2) Create a world with rules (and don't contradict those rules)
3) Use reason and logic to determine the course of plot and character arc.Basically, giving "it's fantasy" as an argument against the total lack of realism in Edward and Bella's one twu luv-ness is just wrong. A good fantasy can utilize the idea of soulmates (like Richard and Kahlan in Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth series) while still taking time to develop the relationship and the characters in a believable fashion. Attraction is not equal to everlasting love.
Everlasting love happens when you get two people who understand, respect, and enjoy the other in terms of personality and character. Edward's hotness and Bella's delicious blood do not a soulmate make. And justifying the pitiful relationship development with "it's fantasy" is only a crude cop-out reserved for those with no understanding of good storytelling.
The books are sexist
Antitwilights would say: "The books are sexist and even misogynistic at times"
Generally, the antis argue the following points:
-Bella plays the weak 'damsel in distress' role;
-Bella is weak-willed morally (wants to have sex; but Edward, the good, upstanding, moral man wants to wait until marriage);
-Bella has no ambitions outside of Edward (doesn't want to go to college);
-Bella cooks and cleans for her father
-Bella forgives Edward instantly for the New Moon fiasco ("forgive your man no matter what")
b.) The other females are inferior to the male characters across the board
-The "shallow" friends (Jessica, Angela, etc.) are not given as much screen time as Mike, let's say, and Bella writes them off as basically Barbie dolls whereas the boys are given personalities.
-Bella's mom is flighty and inconsistent whereas her father is solid, dependable, caring.
-Rosalie had shallow ambitions as a human, was a damsel in distress, and has a victimized backstory as opposed to say, Jasper, who was kickass.
-Esme does nothing; she exists for sole purpose of Carlisle having a mate.
c.) The werewolves
-They're shocked when Leah becomes a werewolf, but instead of becoming kickass like the rest of them she's a "burden" and a "harpy" because of Sam.
-Imprinting. The women get no say.
I'd call these the three main points that are argued, with the possibility of several more variations and much more support.What the Twilight defense usually says in response to these arguments is the following:
1."Bella doesn't mind", "Bella knows that Edward loves her", "Bella offers to cook and clean", "Bella DOES have ambition--marrying Edward"
2."But Alice is strong, so therefore the books aren't sexist"
3."They're just surprised that Leah is a werewolf, and wouldn't you be mad at Sam if you were her? That's not sexist!", "Imprinting is romantic, like soul-mates"
I mentioned the trend that I've noticed in the pro-Twilight versus anti-Twilight debates, that the Antis tend to argue in terms of the conceptual while most of the Twilight fans I’ve come across attempt to use semantics rather than philosophical rebuttals. The sexism debate is a perfect example of that.
Let's look at the "Bella doesn't mind" and "Bella offers to cook and clean" arguments.
"Bella doesn't mind."
The point that the books are sexist is not whether or not BELLA thinks they're sexist; the closest she gets to thinking about feminism is her essay on whether Shakespeare is misogynistic or not. It doesn't matter if Bella likes playing the damsel in distress or if Bella appreciates Edward telling her what to do--rather, what matters is the essential message of the book: the subtext, theme, and suggestions.
Even if Bella excuses Edward or Jacob's bad behavior,
it doesn't mean that a) the readers should forget it or b) that the behavior isn't sexist.
Who cares what Bella thinks? Meyer gives us ~1500 pages full of Bella's whiny rambling and TELLS us that it's not sexist or that it's not misogynistic, but what is SHOWN contradicts that.
In brief, even if it doesn't occur to Bella to say, "Hey! I want some gender equality!" or "Hey! I don't need some sparkly vampire to save me!" or "Charlie, cook your own food, you've been doing it yourself for fifteen years!", it doesn't mean that the sexism doesn't exist. In fact, the idea that "Bella doesn't mind" actually becomes an argument for the Anti-Twilight side--Meyer uses her main character to basically shout out from the rooftops that sexism isn't a big deal. Bella SHOULD mind, especially if she's supposed to be a strong, smart, independent female character.
It's the ACTIONS, not the intentions that matter. Bella does offer to cook and clean for Charlie, but again I say who cares what Bella thinks? Why couldn't she have offered to mow the lawn or fix the roof instead of pigeon-holing herself into the traditional female role? The part the matters is the fact that it's the female who performs the "female" duties as though it's expected of her. It's the subtext which tells the reader "this is what good, dutiful daughters do" that is the problem, NOT how Bella feels about it.
"But Alice is strong, so therefor the books aren't sexist."
I can't tell you how much I hate this argument. In short, 1 sort-of strong female character does not cancel out an entire book's worth of weak, pathetic female characters. Not only that, but Alice is only a strong character when compared to Bella or Jessica--if you pitted her against Buffy or Willow or Drusilla or Hermione Granger or Claudia (from IWTV (Anne Rice)), how do you honestly think she'd fare? Answer: not well. Just because 1 crappy female character is lightyears better than the rest of your crappy female characters does not make her a strong character independently.
"But she can see the future!" is not an argument for her strength as a female character. In comparison to Edward and Jasper's gifts, hers is by far the most inconsistent and the most limited--for example, her visions don't always come true and she's unable to "see" the werewolves whereas Edward's gift does not err and he can read the werewolves' minds. Why is the female vampire's gift so inferior to the males'? Why is hers inconsistent (females=unreliable?) whereas Edward's and Jasper's are completely reliable?
Yes, Meyer tells us that Alice is a strong character (she can fight, she's physically strong), but other than that what do we really know of her? Instead of giving her some meaty interests like, I don't know, science or literature or art or history, Meyer turns her into a vampire version of the "shallow Barbies" whom Bella detests. She's 100 years old and Alice still likes playing dress-up and going shopping and planning parties? Why not give her some REAL qualities rather than the vapid and uninteresting activities of the boring, stereotypical fifteen year old girl?
So, just because Alice is a cut above the rest does not make her a good character. Just because she's stronger than the rest of the female characters does not make her a strong character. Just because she's more powerful than the rest of the female characters does not make her powerful. It's all relative, and if you judge Alice on her own merits she does not make the cut as a strong female character.
"They're just surprised that Leah is a werewolf, and wouldn't you be mad at Sam if you were her? That's not sexist!" and "Imprinting is romantic, like soulmates"
I think the naked fact that Leah turned into a werewolf is great. It really interested me. The problem is how Meyer handled it. Instead of Leah becoming a functioning, useful, and integral part of the pack she becomes a nuisance and drives the pack crazy. Why? Because she's broken-hearted. So what does this say?
A) allow your heartbreak to completely take over your life and make you a vindictive harpy bitch and
B) your happiness is dependent on your love life. Why is it that Jacob gets sympathy for his heartbreak but Leah is just considered an annoyance?Certainly Sam's betrayal of Leah was worse than Bella's rejection of Jacob (though that's a topic for another day). The fact that Bella, who just lived through a terrible experience (New Moon) is unsympathetic to Leah is just another example of the rampant sexism in the books. Why does the only possibility for a strong female character have to be made into a petty and vindictive annoyance?
Concerning imprinting. It is not romantic. It completely removes the power of the female half of the relationship--rather than build a relationship on mutual interests, trust, and personality, the male imprints on the female and it's OMG! TRUE LOVE FOREVER!
And how about Quil and Claire? Now, the author says that "it's not sexual; the boy will be whatever she needs until she's mentally mature", i.e. a brother or cousin or uncle figure until the little girl is all grown up. The problem is that no matter how non-sexual the relationship between the adult male and the child female is, the fact is that imprinting happens for the purpose of reproduction, thus necessitating a sexual relationship in the future. So the little girl will be "groomed" to be the male's future mate, with no possibility of choice otherwise (Meyer says "it's hard to resist that level of devotion") and will eventually engage in a sexual and romantic relationship with the man that has supposedly been a brother-, father-, or uncle-figure her entire life (an authority figure). That's sick, and there's no excuse for it, not to mention that it totally removes the right to choose from the female.
Conclusion? The books are sexist.