Edward & Bella: An Abusive Relationship?
Blogger of the Week/Guest Blogger:
This week Sara Raasch, who blogs at SeeSaraWrite offers a guest post delving into the underbelly of the relationship between Stephenie Meyer's Twilight characters Bella and Edward.A lot of conversation has rolled around the book/movie phenomenon Twilight. But there is one topic that has not yet been breached (at least, not that I have read), and it's a subject I'm personally familiar with, so the insane glorification of it lately has left me fearing an epidemic. Hopefully you have recognized it too; it's one of those silent-but-deadly things that
far too many girls (because, let's face it, guys aren't as widely affected by this) are unaware of. What am I talking about? Here I go:
Everyone knows they're "bad." Everyone knows they don't want to be in one. But what I'm seeing lately is a slow and completely unintentional brainwashing of young, impressionable girls into thinking abusive relationships are okay. Magical, even. Quite frankly, I am sick of this. This is both a PSA and a plea, a desperate beg, to writers everywhere to stop writing characters like this.
Characters like Edward Cullen. Remove the actual story and look at the facts of what Edward does: he keeps Bella from her family; he won't be with her unless she changes very materialistic things about herself (the car she drives, her stance on wearing engagement rings/getting married); he breaks into her house and hides in her room while she sleeps; he does all this under the banner of "I know what's best for you. You don't." While Meyer (probably) wrote these things to be charming in a young-love way, they ARE NOT charming. Hearing them for what they are (alienation, ultimatums of the petty and controlling sort, stalking, manipulation) automatically evoke the response of "No. These things are wrong." But in the context Meyer put
them, they're disguised as all right.
Maybe I'm blowing it out of proportion. But hearing my 16-year-old sister say that these things are CUTE is disgusting and terrifying, and I'm very angry with Stephenie Meyer for telling her legion of tween-age fans that these things are all right. Thousands of girls get into abusive
relationships without seeing it, and don't realize until afterward how they could've avoided it. But now, with Edward Cullen as the prime love example, will girls be LOOKING for men like him? I can't stomach that.
The most disturbing part of all this is the response girls have to being told Edward Cullen is a horrible example of a boyfriend. I went to the Breaking Dawn release party last August, wearing a "Team Jacob" shirt. Edward fans, whom I didn't know, would come up to me and make snide remarks about "that stupid dog." When I asked what Jacob did wrong and pointed out what Edward did wrong, they got red-faced angry and stomp away. People at this release party throughout the night continued to get angry because of my Team Jacob shirt. At first it was funny; now, though, it's a little worrisome.
Again looking at the facts, Jacob was what should have been the "perfect" boyfriend. He accepted Bella for what/who she was; he helped her become a stronger person; he supported her and comforted her, never pushing her into any decisions about herself; her friends and family approved of him. And yet, despite his good qualities, the Edward fans HATE Jacob. HATE him.
And none of them has ever given me a straight answer as to why. They can only say that Edward is better, Edward is better, Edward is better. Which, if you ask someone who is in an abusive relationship why they stay in it, they are so blinded by it that all they know is that he is the one. He is the one. He is the one.
I take advice from a lot of what I read and know that if I had read these books before my own relationship, it would've been a lot harder to let go and get out. Books like these give girls a battle cry:
"Edward did it, so it's all right."
"Maybe my boyfriend really does know what's best. Maybe there's some secret,
magical reason he's doing this to me too."
THERE IS NOT a good reason. There never will be. And girls need to STOP being told this is all right behavior.
I know if any hardcore Edward fans read this, I'd probably get some nasty hate mail. And maybe it's just my rather cynical view of the male species that makes me pick out every bad detail about Edward, but I honestly do like Jacob. He was the one thing Meyer did right. And he, not Edward, should be who all the tween-fans swoon over and hope for.
Sara Raasch started blogging in December 2008 and just celebrated her 100th blog post on Monday. "My mission behind blogging was to connect with other writers and authors to delve even deeper into the world of writing. I'm a writer of YA fiction and am actively seeking an agent. Through having a blog, I've found a network of support and encouragement that I can't imagine facing the publishing world without!"
Sara served as a staff member of Passages, Ashland University's literary magazine; placed second in the Dayton Daily News Short Story Contest in 2008; and her poem "Who Do You Want To Be?" was published in *Credo* magazine in February. Click here to visit her blog, SeeSaraWrite.