Twilight: Impossible Standard for Romance?

So I guess the Twilight DVD comes out tomorrow. I have one teen in my house, at least, who’s dreading it.


Well, because he’s a boy. And if Twilight has done nothing else, it’s ruined life for boys. At least according to my son.


Now if you ask your daughters, they will say that Twilight is the greatest thing since Cover Girl Lash Blast. Every girl I know under the age of 15 has read the book at least four times, and most have read the entire series at least twice. They pine for Edward; they sigh over Jacob; they psychoanalyze the “sparkly” scene and bend their heads to deconstruct the conversation in the biology lab. They have pens, calendars, posters, folders, purses, buttons and necklaces. They proclaim their allegiance to “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” with rhinestone-studded T-shirts.


But where does this leave the boys?


Well, according to my 15-year-old, it leaves them in the dust.


While the girls swoon and clutch their books to their chest and say the series has “revived romance,” my boy, for one, will quibble with semantics. He will not say that it’s “revived romance.” In fact, he’d say it’s “ruined any chance of it.”


Here’s his thought process:


Edward, according to my son, is outrageously unrealistic. He represents an absolute impossible standard to which all boys will be held, but that no boy has a chance of achieving.


With his perfectly-chiseled chin and daringly-quirked eyebrow, he sets girls’ hearts a-pounding in a way that’s wonderfully powerful but … well … woefully practiced (not to mention written for him, and set under ambient lighting, and rehearsed seven times. …). If girls believe boys like Edward exist, surmises my son, how can average, everyday boys like him (those who haven’t perfected their eyebrow quirks and cannot run up pine trees) possibly live up to this standard?


Now, as a mother of both a son and a daughter, I’m a bit torn. The mother of the son does feel a bit bad for him. Because young girls can have romantic notions that are hard to live up to. They already expect elaborate proposals to Homecoming and prom. (You can’t just ask anymore – you must now spell the girls’ name in skywriting or write your proposal in cupcakes.) So the idea that boys must now step it up a notch and use phrases like “and so the lion fell in love with the lamb” – well, it’s all just a bit much, say the boys.


But the mother of the daughter … well, I must admit: That mother is secretly a little glad for the high standard. That mother is pleased to think her daughter might, now, demand that boys be polite and gallant and attentive. The eyebrow quirk is just a bonus, of course, but what moms really appreciate about Edward is that he has a strangely Victorian standard of politeness (he was born hundreds of years ago, you see). He doesn’t pressure Bella to have sex or even be around him much because he has an old-fashioned sense of propriety (not to mention that pesky blood-sucking problem). He’s attentive to her, respects her, and protects her body and heart. What’s a mother not to love? That mother is pleased to think that this ridiculously high standard might trickle into an expectation for her daughter that she might, now, bypass the rude boy in P.E. and believe that a lad who opens doors for her and looks her straight in the eye will come along. And that mother is a little pleased that boys will be forced to step up to the occasion.


So how about you? Do you think high school boys are right to despise Edward? Or are you on the side of the young girls today, who might have slightly unrealistic expectations (but might possibly deserve them)?











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0 thoughts on “Twilight: Impossible Standard for Romance?

  1. I think high school boys need to suck it up, no pun intended. A little work for romance’s sake is good for character development. lol

  2. Great post. I can definitely see both sides of the argument!! It’s wild how this story has affected the perception of romance.

  3. Not only has every girl under 15 read those books, but pretty much every mom I know on my block and at school has read them all. Two moms hadn’t read a book in years before these. Another one read them all through twice. For fun, we all went to the movie the night it opened, at midnight on a school night! (It was silly but fun.)

    Another mom I knew who just finished reading them, said her husband said, “Can we have our mom back now?” We all joked about how, during the period we were reading them, we were really bad moms because we didn’t pay attention to our kids.

    For me, it was fun to get lost in the books. I likened them to those “Flowers in the Attic” books when we were young.

    So maybe Edward is not just setting unrealistic standards for teen boys, but for a few husbands, too? There has to be a reason why so many moms I knew read them all. The attraction to the “mysterious” guy doesn’t seem to go away as we get older.

  4. Great post. As the mother 15 year old boy/girl twins I can see the trouble for the boys and of course they can’t live up to Edwards standards but it is nice to raise the standards after so many years of them being so low. especially with reality MTV and rap music. I like boys being a bit more chivalrous. I love the image of our new president setting a standard for young men. My own son had me shopping for pea coat for him and when I asked him why he said he can’t look like a bum now that Barack is President. I like that the girls are demanding a bit more. I think they don’t demand enough.

  5. I don’t necessarily think that the romance part of the books is bad. But I do think that the constant threat of violence and his possessiveness is a problem. Not only re girls setting this high standard for romance or gallantry or whatever. But they’re also idealizing someone that always had to work not to kill his girlfriend. When she started dating Edward, she completely stopped hanging out with her other friends. And she got her life so completely wrapped up in him that when he left, she became non-functional. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t want my daughter to end up like that. I don’t want my daughter thinking it’s okay for her boyfriend to struggle with not beating her up. I don’t want her to isolate herself from her friends over a boy. Life is all about balance, and I think Bella is the most unbalanced “heroine” I’ve ever read. And I read a lot.

    I do want to say that I read the whole series and I did enjoy them while I read them. But after the collision of awfulness that is Breaking Dawn, my Twilight blinders have come off. The farther away from the books I get, the more I see the very real issues that Stephenie Meyer always has. Even in The Host, she has much older men being interested in young girls, and a constant threat of violence against women. I don’t know what’s up with that, but I refuse to read any more of her books or give her another penny of my money.

  6. I completely agree that girls should have higher standards and I think it’s good for women to have higher standards as well. However, I’m concerned that girls are actually expecting the gallant behavior and manners rather than the chiseled chin and eyebrow quirk.

    I had no idea that asking a girl to the prom had to be a huge production (I’m 26 so I’ve been out of the loop for a while.) I wonder if the production that the girls are looking for is actually the kind of respect that Edward has for Bella? Both are ways to illustrate that you care about a girl’s opinions and have thought of her.

    The one problem that I had with the novel, when I read it, was that Bella plans to spend the rest of her life with Edward after knowing him for a few weeks. Higher standards for boys’/men’s behavior is great one thing. Higher expectations for romance may cause more problems for young girls who may not yet realize that marrying the first guy you date is not the best plan.

  7. Kristen — Welcome! Yes, I have to say, I definitely lean that way in this argument. I sort of like that boys are having to pick up their paces a bit. : )

    Rhonda — Hello! I agree. I imagine romance stories have always set this standard, but not necessarily for young girls, so that makes it a little different, do you think?

    Grace — Yes, true. The attraction to the “mysterious” man doesn’t wane, which I guess is the reason romance novels make a billion dollars a year. And yes, many moms and older women read the book (including me! I didn’t say that, did I? But I did.) In fact, my adult coworker said almost the same thing you did about her hubby “wanting her back” after she spent weeks engrossed in the series. Glad you read them! Which was your fave? Would you want your daughter to read them?

  8. Kwana — Thank you. Welcome! I LOVED your answer. (My son wants a pea coat, too!!! What’s up with that? But nice, huh, that boys are dressing better??) Anyway, having b/g teen twins puts you at a very cool position to watch this unfold. Love the Barack tie-in, too. All of these things are probably good for our boys.

    Maidenfine — Interesting perspective. I haven’t read as far as you, so I guess I still am seeing it through the tunnel. I never thought about about the violence, but I guess because it’s posed as something that doesn’t come from his feelings but his makeup (the vampire history important there), it didn’t seem as ominous to me. Your point is very valid and interesting, though.

    Tully — Hi! Yes, the big production for asking to dances is at least true at my son’s school. (Not sure if that’s a regional thing or era thing or what.) But wow, you make an excellent distinction that higher standards for boys’/men’s behavior is one thing, while higher standards for romance is another. (My son will like that line!) Perhaps that’s why I’m vacillating so. I agree with the first but not with the second. … Well put.

  9. I think Maidenfine should read it more as Stephenie Meyers herself puts it–that it is more like an addiction. He is refraining from drinking her blood because he wants and loves Bella but it is a struggle because by default if he succumbs to his addiction she dies, but it is not his intent to hurt her as a boy who wants to beat someone up would have. My oldest daughter, now 24, had one boyfriend who was truly violent. He was frightening to not only my daughter but to our whole family. When I read the Twilight series at no point do I ever feel that Edward was acting in that way, as a matter of fact, you have to construe the whole second book as an argument against the so-called violence that Maidenfine reads into Edward’s behavior.

    I think our daughters have more to think about when they see things like “Girls Gone Wild” or whatever that wretched show is called.

  10. Kat — Thanks for your usual good insight — the addiction analogy is a good one. That helps explain why it doesn’t hit us the same way. And you’re right — our girls have to stay educated and aware.

    Kwana — Loved your blog post! Yes, my son definitely mentioned the pea coat. And he said that girls are “wearing coats like … *glances at my wool one* YOURS, Mom.” (Which was almost not taken as a compliment!) I loved your blog in general. I’m going to have to spend some time over there looking through your archives. …(We also read a ton of the same blogs!)

  11. Thanks Mizwrite. Take the compliments where you can get them when it come to the kids.LOL.
    I’ll see you at the blogs and over on Twitter!

  12. Just wanted to let you know, I expanded on my idea a little more on my blog. Hope you don’t mind. I did credit you and link to this post as my inspiration.

  13. Kwana — Yes, compliments from kids carry greater and greater weight as they get older, huh? : )

    Tully — Great! You made a good point, so I’m glad you were able to use it for your own post. And I appreciate the nod. Happy blogging!

  14. I don’t know anything about the “Twilight” series, I’ll throw in a Dad’s opinion.

    I want my daughter to expect boys to treat her with respect at all times, and to have the confidence not to put up with anything less. I want my boys to know that they are supposed to treat ladies with a certain old-fashioned gallantry.

    Unfortunately, what I recall in my high-school days is that many of the girls seemed to go for the good-looking guys who treated them like dirt.

  15. Ah, Bill! You hit upon another commonly-discussed topic at our dinner table: the ol’ why-do-girls-always-like-the-‘bad boys’ topic. My son has brought this up a few times (being, as he sees himself, one of the ‘nice guys’ who is losing all the girls he likes to more brutish or troublemaker sorts). (In fact, that sounds like a good post for the future …. hmmmm….) For now, I’ll have to say that I love to hear your wishes for your children, and love to know that you’ll be one of the parents bringing clear-thinking boys and girls into adulthood.

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