Twilight & domestic violence

Apple - photo by Heather Hurd, October 2008

Apple - photo by Heather Hurd, October 2008

I saw the latest Twlight movie (Eclipse) with my nine year old cousin this weekend.  She was thrilled (as was I) to have someone to go to the movie with.  She is a great kid, smart and responsible, and she loves the Twilight series.  She was especially excited for this movie because she hadn’t finished the book yet, so some of the story was a surprise for her.

We both enjoyed the movie, though I remember being vaguely uncomfortable during the almost-sex scene.  She didn’t seem phased, which is probably healthy since it means she’s aware that people have sex.  It’s better than being afraid of it.

This morning a Twitter friend posted a link to this article, which talks about groups of teens who are worried about the message Twilight might be sending.  There are several examples of less than stellar relationships pointed out in the article, including a woman who stays with her werewolf boyfriend after he lashes out in (accidental) anger and disfigures her face.  Vampire Edward, of course, has been called out for being a creepy stalker type who watches Bella sleep, removes car parts to keep her from leaving her house, and bruises her rather severely in their first intimate encounter.

Would I ever want my daughter in a relationship like that?  Of course not.  But here’s the thing.  I feel like this is another case of not giving our kids (or our parenting skills) enough credit.  Kids, at least those who are coming from homes with caring parents who seek to communicate with their children, are not learning all of their life lessons from a fiction novel about monsters.  If your kids are making their life decisions based on what the girl in the vampire/werewolf book is doing…  well, you might have missed the parenting boat a bit.

Yes, these kids idolize these characters.  I remember being that age and adoring people from the books or tv shows I was into at the time.  I also, however, remember being twelve and checking a book out from the library which turned out to have an uncomfortable scene of abuse in the beginning… and knowing it was wrong, feeling awkward about it, and eventually talking to my mom about returning the book before I finished it because I didn’t like the theme.  I was twelve, and clearly able to discern right from wrong (in big, general ways) and fact from fiction.

No child should be reading these books or watching these movies (or maybe any books/movies) without an accompanying discussion with parents.  Kids are smart, and with your help, they’ll have no trouble figuring out healthy, intelligent ways to see the world.

Will I let my daughter read books and watch movies like these?  Sure, if she wants to.  I’ll read them first, or maybe along with her, and we’ll talk about the things that concern me.  We’ll have an open discussion about the reasons why that sort of thing is not alright.

So, is our newest generation of preteens going to be ruined by the morals and values of fictional characters?  Only if we let them…

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And the award goes to…: a letter to my 14 month old daughter

Paying: a food hangover and a new determination


3 Responses to “Twilight & domestic violence”
  1. jhywill says:

    I had this exact conversation with my mother last week – although her beef (and I should say she has not read the books/seen the movies; I have) is more with general sexism and what she sees as an unrealistic portrayal of teenage self control when it comes to sharing a bed. I have to agree with her on the sexism issue, but I think you say it perfectly here – rather than ban this book from my daughter’s library, I hope I would be open-minded and involved enough to use it as a way to start a conversation about the difference between healthy relationships and co-dependent, abusive ones, and to help her see that, unlike the hapless Bella, her self-worth and identity should not be defined by her partner.

    • H says:

      Do I read this to mean your mom thinks teenagers can’t share a bed without having sex? That makes me laugh because I think that was what I spent 50% of my teenage years doing.

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