I'm on the verge of unsubscribing to the historical fiction forums on the NaNoWriMo page because the people are SO STUPID! All of the posts are people that can't spell asking huge, vague questions, like a detailed explanation of social history for an entire continent over the course of a century. Why ask these things on a fucking message board? Even in this day of lazy research, when Wiki and Google are ubiquitous, can they not even turn there? Each question seems to beg me to respond, "yes, I know the answer to that, but I couldn't explain it all here even if I wanted to, and I certainly don't
want to because you are insulting those of us that do research by refusing to."
Which brings me to my newest LJ icon, which references the golden-eyed, sparkling vampires of the Twilight
books. I've seen quite a bit of anti-Twilight sentiments on the internet, but was never really sure why
. Ok, the writing is terrible and the characters are Mary-Sue cliches that don't deserve publication.
I've always been of the opinion that 14-yr-old-girl stories, that is, fan-fic, Sue-fic, vampire romance, and the like are essentially masturbation on an emotional level. It is cathartic for angst and isolation and such. But please
, have the shame to do it in privacy or with really close friends, not all over the internet, and don't mistake it for bloody Shakespeare.
Unless, of course, we mean Romeo and Juliet
, the tragedy for me being less that feuding families kept lovers apart than the teenagers killing themselves over the melodrama of first "love."
This, I have discovered, is the real reason that people hate Twilight
. It depicts a foolish, young girl that considers her own future, college in this case, a "plan B" to twue wuv. If you can call a controlling, possessive stalker that doesn't trust her to make her own choices about whom she interacts with and keeps her under house arrest a true love, though I would call it the antithesis thereof. Later in the story she risks her life so that he won't die alone, because she honestly doesn't see that her own life is of value.
I don't approve of banning books, of course, and feeling that burning them as an act of protest is to be done by individual consumers, not governments, school boards, and the like. Soon, Mary Russel, soon . . . but I digress. I do, however, firmly believe in both literary critique and good parenting. These books, when they are bought and read, especially by minors, need to be accompanied by discussion. "Why do the characters do X? What are the consequences?"
I know a lot of girls that have spent years in emotionally abusive relationships, often running from similar homes, that didn't have the maturity, experience, hope, self-esteem, understanding of psychological factors, logistical security, etc . . . to get out of them or at least not right away. It seems, amongst my peers, to be a normal right of passage for young women (and some young men, I know, but I shall write this with the pronouns that applied to my situation). We all have those "dark years" where we isolated ourselves from family and friends and turned control over to someone else in order to survive and because we did not see, or thought we did not deserve, any options.
It isn't an ordinary part of growing up, as normative as is. It's something some women spend their entire unhappy lives in, their entire unhappy and potentially very short
lives. The world needs less of this. Especially in a society where people and women do have options. We're not property; we're not likely to die before 20; safety, health care, education, jobs, and civil rights -- while increasingly scarce -- do still exist. The life you squander, throw away, or surrender has the potential to be great and beautiful.
And it is an insult to those without the same options to abandon yours.
I know what it is like. To think there's no way out, or that you don't deserve one, or that it isn't that bad, or that you owe him, or it's your own fault, but CONTROL IS NOT LOVE
. I saw these words on a poster at my undergrad uni, and wished they'd been up when I went there. That someone had noticed the hints I dared to give or spoke up past my rationalizations. There was a time when my friends did, but as he threatened their lives, I pushed them away. Besides, they were kids too, they couldn't give me a home and keep me safe, so why bother? I was not rescued by family, employers, teachers, or other "adults" that didn't see, or care about, the signs. It was years before I had the self-respect to rescue myself. This Thanksgiving (3rd Thursday in November, for the non-US readers) will mark the 5-yr anniversary of that exodus.
Only in my grandest day-dreams did I imagine the life I am living now: safety, respect, freedom. It terrifies me that girls are getting into these situations. It saddens me that the generation of adults that should be raising them to avoid it is pushing them toward it. Not just people like my parents that gave me no where else to go, but also people like Stephenie Meyer, author of Twilight
who romanticizes the situation.
These books could
be an empowering allegory, the vampire a symbol for a predatory, draining relationship. The character could save herself, but doesn't, and the author and legions of her young readers don't see the tragedy in that. I want to make a stand; this post is the beginning of it.
I shall reach out, first, to you dear readers. You may email me if you need to talk.
To one friend, especially, that is in such a relationship, I say:
You have true friends. We love you. We want you safe, happy, and free. We can get you out and provide you a home, if you need it. We can keep you safe, if you need it. You don't owe him anything; you have given enough. It is your life and you deserve anything you want and you can achieve it. With or without our help, please save yourself, for your life is too precious to give away.ETA: a link to a brilliantly accurate (but funny and happy) review of Twilight with some other much needed literary emotional analysis.: http://cleoland.pbwiki.com/Twilight#Bookdiscussionentries