I should preface this post by saying that I used to be a Twilight fangirl. I loved Eward and could argue for hours over why I did. I defended him mercilessly.
It wasn't until Breaking Dawn came out - the book, not the film - that I began to reconsider my love of the books. My review said it was good, but I remember telling my mom it read like bad fanfiction. I only reread the books after that once before being disgusted and getting rid of my copies.
It wasn't that the content had changed. It's that I was more aware of what I was reading. In most cases, this is a shift that won't happen to a Twilight fan soon, if ever.
But here's the fact of the matter: Edward and Bella have an abusive relationship.
Here's another fact: Most people refuse to see it that way.
Edward and Bella might be in love in the books. Considering their willingness to die for the other, I'd believe it. But I wouldn't call it "twu wuv." It's puppy love that most teenagers experience and most adults think they want to live.
Even if they are in love, that kind of all consuming relationship isn't healthy on any kind of level. A solid relationship is when two people can survive without the other, but would really rather not. This is why Hermione and Ron have a healthy relationship, but Voldemort and Harry don't. (See? It's a Harry Potter joke. I can be funny.) This is an obsession that leaves Bella emotionally and mentally bereft for months.
Oh, you innocent of heart and mind.
Would Edward do anything to protect Bella? Undoubtedly. This is to the extreme of emotionally abusing her. (We won't get into the physical side of Breaking Dawn, where him beating her in bed until she's covered in bruises is construed as romantic.)
Edward stalks Bella prior to their relationship. He lives in constant danger of killing her. Rather than worry about himself, he instead warns Bella against seeing friends and family. He isolates her from others.
Edward's control of Bella may be from an honest need to protect her. However, he doesn't take into consideration her needs and wants (outside of her need for him) and ignores her potential ability to be or do anything.
I don't disagree.
Bella is clumsy, stupid, incompetent and constantly wanders into danger.
But how Edward handles her is crappy. How Meyer handles her is crappy. Why can't Bella become Buffy? Learn to hang with werewolves or set traps or have some form of defense. Why can't she say, "No, Edward, I really do want to go to college and live a life before committing myself to becoming a VampMeyer for all of eternity?"
It's not that I mind her choice. I mind how she made it. Her life surrounds the codependency she has with Edward. She is literally unable to function when he up and leaves her. In what way is wanting to stop existing, over a man you've known for under a year and has put you in constant danger, in any way healthy?
I DEFY YOUR GENDER NORMS.
I REFUSE TO ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR STEREOTYPICAL SOCIAL ORDERING.
If you want to convince me that their relationship is romantic, not abusive, I suggest you listen to step one: romantic relationships don't need some broad kind of excuse. All relationships have problems, true. But saying that the problem comes from having 107 years of emotional stupidity due to having dangly bits isn't an acceptable excuse.
And even if you assume "all men" are like that, you're making the assumption that Edward is, ya know, a man. He's not. He's a vampire. Who is 107. That is PLENTY of time to learn how to trat another person with respect, regardless of their stature or sex or how badly they need protection.
And not "all men" are like that. If he was 16, 17, 18 instead of 107, is that really an excuse? My boyfriend, brother and guy friends all know better than to treat a girl like how Mr. Cullen treats her.
Never make excuses for assholes.
Whether or not you like to acknowledge it, fiction shapes our lives.
Perhaps in the generations before mine, it was easier to separate fact from fiction. There was no reality television. Much less product placement. There weren't people like the fabulous Stephen Colbert and Jon Stewart, who play themselves.
We're told, from a young age, that fiction reflects life. We're taught to read into things and look at things and learn from them.
If you're going into Twilight knowing that everything in there is cold hard fiction, good. That's the way it should be.
But if you're one of the people who read and learn from what they read, whether it's how to write better or how to handle being teased or how to save your life, fiction affects you. You take it, you look at it, you learn from it.
I always prided myself on not dating in high school because there weren't guys there I liked. I had read enough books to know that good protagonists, the really awesome ones, never settled for anything less than the best. The hell if I was gonna be a bad protagonist -- this is my life.
And other girls do the same thing. They learn from what they read.
But what do they learn when they read Twilight? To drop everything for the guy you just met a week ago? To abandon your friends on his orders? If he bruises you, love him more?
I'm not saying it's Meyer's place to teach. In my opinion, didactic works never work as well as works that are simply there to tell a story.
But you can't say it's an okay relationship because it's just fiction. Because like it or not, fiction affects us as a society, as to what we think is okay and isn't okay.
And honestly? I don't think Edward Cullen is, at all, okay.
Feel free to comment, but any comments that are just offensive will be deleted. (Controversial comments, however, are HIGHLY ENCOURAGED.)
[EDIT] James' post about his experience with Twilight is also worth checking out.