Following in the footsteps of Buffy, Twilight is now getting its round of academic writing, and it's kicking things off with a little abstinence. As research for a new book called Bitten by Twilight: Youth Culture, Media, and the Vampire Franchise, researchers talked to fans about their obsession with the books, and, they, say, "what really surprised us was the obvious abstinence message in the book and that teens were responding favorably to this message. Many of the young women that we interviewed had felt pressure to perform sexually by their peers, but now they have a desire to find their own 'Edward,' who will be interested in them for nonsexual reasons."
This isn't a case of abstinence and girls wanting to save themselves for marriage. This is a case of girls seeing a romantic ideal and coming to the logical conclusions that a chivalrous, over-protective super-hottie sounds more tempting than a moderately cute, immature classmate eager for a mundane and all-too-brief adolescent romp. But oh, the problems with this. While those books may talk about Edward's interest in her smarts and personality, a good 95% of their interaction is sharing the bed without sex every night and hot makeout sessions that almost lead to more over and over again. These ain't "nonsexual reasons." While Stephenie Meyer may get chastised for chasteness, the Twilight Saga is rife with pent-up sexual feelings and almost uncontrollable physical obsession that is only stopped by Edward's extreme vampiric will -- which the regular Joe or Jane just doesn't have.
I'd put money down that if any of these girls thought they'd found their Edward, abstinence would be the furthest thing from their minds. In other words, they're not talking about abstinence, but simply putting more thought and consideration into who they have sex with. And if the books are how they develop their romantic and sexual self ... these poor girls. You know that many will expect the headboard-biting, house-breaking, Buffy-and-Spike-like sex when all is said and done. Or print their own Old Maid cards because no guy will ever measure up.
I'm sure this whole Twilight Saga craze will prompt many to say: "See?! Abstinence is good!" and ignore every other subtlety that goes along with this whole mess. (Like Edward's controlling ways and Bella's "OMG he's so pretty" mindset that often keeps her from truly holding her ground and laying down the law.) When really, this is even more of a reason for good and honest sex education and open discussion about male and female roles. If The Twilight Saga is anything, it's a prime metaphor for unfulfilled desire and the messes pent up feelings can bring.