Does The Twilight Series Promote Abstinence?

I’m going to have to go with “Yes, sort of.” Being that Twilight‘s author, Stephanie Meyers, is a devout Mormon, I didn’t really expect to crack open the first book and get some vampire erotica. Add to that the fact that the books’ target audience is supposed to be teenagers, and you’re going to be disappointed if you wanted a blow-by-blow description of how blood suckers are in the sack. You’ll have to watch “True Blood” for that.The New York Times did a story this weekend on the impending release of the “Twilight” film and discussed the fact that the books are closer to the romance genre than horror or sci-fi, but also are careful to not “promote” teen sex. While Judy Blume’s novels certainly didn’t feature rampant sex scenes starring Margaret or Deenie, I always felt that they illustrated the curiosity and fear that teenagers feel about sex. “Twilight” takes that one step further and definitely seems to urge “waiting.” In the book (and I assume the movie), vampire hero Edward Cullen can’t bone his precious Bella because he’s afraid he’ll get so wrapped up in the lustiness that he’ll, like, devour her. Bella is the one who seems to want to go further, with him always stopping things before they get too hot (or even barely naked — I swear, these two don’t even go to second base!). Writes Terrence Rafferty:

“Bella is, recognizably, every teenager who is terrified of going all the way, and Edward, less grounded in reality, is a fantasy incarnation of that scared girl’s ideal boyfriend, infinitely — you might say eternally — patient with her trepidation. (And have I mentioned that he’s extremely good-looking?)”

Obviously, this is an important point — the Twilight novels, I hope, are not supposed to be realistic, while Judy Blume’s novels were intended to reflect the average teen girl experience. That said, the borderline obsession many teen girls — and twentysomething women! — feel towards the series has got to make you wonder if they are taking lessons away for their own real lives, even if the potential of falling madly in love with a “devastatingly, inhumanly beautiful” vampire is pretty minimal. So, yeah, the books definitely do send an “it’s better to wait” message, but it also might encourage some unrealistic expectations of future boyfriends and admirers — that boys won’t pressure for sex, that they can and should be relied on for life-saving, etc. But, frankly, soap operas did that to me before the “Twilight” series existed, and Disney movies did it before that, so how is this news?

Ultimately and selfishly, I’m totally disappointed “Twilight” doesn’t have any sex. I’m nearly 29, I know what men are really like when it comes to sex, and while the scenes between Edward and Bella are hot in that totally teasing sort of way, I would have liked to have read about them doing it. Don’t laugh at me. I’m single and hard up right now. [NY Times]

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