|Written by Douglas Wilson|
|Wednesday, 09 December 2009 13:01|
In my previous post on this, I got a little into the theological weirdness that is pervasive in this Twilight business. This time, I would like to explain why this whole phenomenon gives me the pastoral fantods. I am referring to all the lessons that I don't want the young ladies in my congregation learning, and which presumably their parents don't want them learning either. The fact that they are willing to learn this kind of thing from such a book indicates a high level of antecedent neediness -- a neediness that was nurtured by fathers, brothers, boyfriends and husbands, and not by Stephenie Meyer. Meyer is just the person who had the presence of mind to make a mint off of it.
So let's talk about how these books train young women to respond to abusive relationships in all the wrong ways. In this chapter, Bella faces up to what she might have to do if Edward Cullen is in fact a vampire.
"[One option would be to] tell him to leave me alone -- and mean it this time. I was gripped in a sudden agony of despair as I considered that alternative. My mind rejected the pain, quickly skipping on to the next option" (p. 139).
Any pain is preferable to the pain of having the destructive male gone. Got that? You can think up a lie to tell the nurses at the ER when you go down there to have that black eye looked at. There has to be another option to quickly skip on to, right?
In her dream, when she saw Edward fanged and ready to destroy her, she realized that "even as he called to me with sharp-edged fangs, I feared for him" (p. 139, emphasis in the text).
Yeah, what about that? What might happen to the live-in boyfriend thug if somebody found out what he is doing to destroy the girl he is beating up every night? After all, a guy with great abs can probably look pretty good in a wife-beater. The poor buddy needs looking after, he needs someone to fear for him, to cover for him.
"And I knew in that I had my answer. I didn't know if there ever was a choice, really. I was already in too deep" (p. 139). "This decision was ridiculously easy" (p. 140).
In too deep is right. Ridiculously easy is right.
To pile irony on top of irony, in this chapter Bella is also writing a paper on "whether Shakespeare's treatment of the female characters [in Macbeth] is misogynistic" (p. 143). This means Meyer knows the word, and presumably what it means. And Meyer acts like Bella knows what it means, even while she walks her step-by-step through what might be called truly "idiot choices for a female." When she goes to school next time after this "decision," she is confronted with the fact that Edward is not there, "Desolation hit me with crippling strength" (p. 145). Anything but that. Anything but the absence of the one who wants to hurt me so bad. So sure, foolish parents, encourage your girls to look up to a protagonist like that. What could go wrong? It's just a fictional book, you stupid Puritan.
Before untangling this wicked snarl, let me put a few background observations on the table. In an earlier post, I described this as "cartoon porn for the emotions." Let me explain what I mean by that. Lust is not a sin that afflicts one half of the human race, leaving the feminine half entirely unaffected. Because men are male and women female, because men are convex and women concave, their desires are correspondingly fitted to their natures. Men want what they want, and women want to be wanted that way. Men desire and women desire to be desired. This is a matter of emphasis, obviously. I am not saying that men don't have a need to be desired, or that women don't desire. These desires are both present in both sexes, and they are both weighted differently. And that weight is different enough to drive men and women into very different forms of personal destruction. Men destroy women very differently than women destroy men. But they both do it, and the recipients of these destructive powers are the hormones with feet that are currently frisking around them.
Now Bella is a perfect screen onto which women can project these sorts of desires. She is nondescript; she is klutzy. She is no great beauty; she is ordinary in the extreme. Now take someone like that, someone who does not appear ever to have been desired in any significant way, and put her in a position where she is all of a sudden desired in every significant way. If a woman can be desired in a particular way, Bella is desired in that way. She is desired that way with no practice in handling it, blam, right out of the blue. She is now desired for sex, she is desired for her blood, she is desired as an object to protect, she is desired as an object to destroy, she is desired for her smell, she is desired by multiple predators and buffoons, and on and on it goes. And right at the center of this maelstrom of cosmic lust is a plain Jane high school girl. Now, three guesses why this whole thing is so popular with needy women.
Men have to be told, as Proverbs says over and over, that to desire a particular kind of woman is to desire destruction. Women have to be secured against the flip side of this same kind of destructive pattern. To desire to be desired by a certain kind of man is to desire destruction. As wisdom says, all who hate her love death (Prov. 8:36).
So gather round, girls, (says Meyer) and let me teach you some stinking lies. Why buy the book? If a man treats you terribly, it is all because he loves you. If a man confesses he might kill you, you should just stay with him forever and a day. If a man abandons you without explanation, it is because he loves you so much. If your lover needs to be changed, it must be possible for you to change him. And anyways, after that doesn't work out, it would be better to be swallowed up by his problems than to be without him. Anything but going without him.