Counting down the days until the Twilight premiere?
I am, too, and I'm enjoying all the media attention the books and movie are getting.
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But a recent Gawker post about the Stephenie Meyer series ticked me off. In "Vampire Chastity Belts: Anticipation for Sex That Never Comes is the Highlight of Twilight," blogger Alex Carnavale complains that the lack of sex in the book series is unrealistic, especially since the two main characters pine over each other for hundreds and hundreds and hundres of pages. Given the fact that Meyer is a Mormon, Carnavale seems concerned her book is preachy about sexual abstinence.
"...no one getting laid, even just in a passing reference? Some have chided the book for preaching abstinence and never discussing the sexuality of its central character, and it's hard to argue with that."
True, that's unrealistic -- especially for bored teenagers in a rural town! I do understand Carnavale's point, and I appreciate his concern about a "destructive message":
If Bella's attraction to Edward were based on anything more than his striking physique, I'd probably applaud the book's desire to push sex out of the picture. Yet she spends most of her time idly worshiping the chiseled features of her undead one-and-only. In the sequel, New Moon, Bella is now eighteen years old, and she never thinks for a moment about sex. Sure, sometimes she'll press herself against Edward's cold carapace and feel awesome, but that's as far as it goes.
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The vampire side is more easily explained: Edward is consumed by a desire for Bella's blood (it sings to him), and he doesn't want to get too close. In fact, it's his elusiveness in the first novel that makes her disregard all the advances of her new classmates in the rainy Washington state hamlet of Forks. In this way, the book's story might make a better instructional tool for young men than young women. This approach makes less sense for Bella, who is far from free to express herself sexually. Was this the right move to ensure the books could be read by all ages? Indisputably, but that doesn't mean it can't also be a destructive message.
I'm the last person to say teenagers, young adults and even children shouldn't be exposed to safe, healthy sexual content -- I think American culture is schizophrenically both slutty and prudish. To that end, I support comprehensive sex ed in schools and I'd love to see a loosening up of the sex-related controversies in our pop culture.