Stephanie Meyer`s Twilight Saga, heaven knows, gets its fair bit of exposure. Precisely because of this I want to give it some space on our own venerable blog. The amount of impressionable people worldwide hopelessly in love with its characters or ideas make it worth taking seriously.
The ”twilight is sexist” debate can be argued convincingly from either side. While Bella replaces her absent mother in exclusively performing traditionally female chores for her father, suffers from a lack of professional ambition in terms of a career outside the home, is perpetually in need of rescuing and puts up with an emotionally abusive boyfriend who also supervises her every move 24/7, bruises her during sex and prevents her from seeing her friends; there is plenty of objectification of the male characters to counterbalance it, from lingering descriptions of male beauty in the books to many many minutes dedicated to the sight of muscly topless men in the films. By the fourth book Bella is strong enough to stand up for herself, and becomes a protector instead of a victim, albeit mainly in the role of a wife and mother. Also the author, screenplay writer and director are all women, the audience is predominantly female and there is some attempt at a reversal of the Adam and Eve story in terms of who is tempting whom into sexual maturity.
So much for gender.
What I`m concerned with is the heteronormativity of it all.
In the world of Twilight borderline inter-species sexuality, necrophilia, paedophilia and sado-masochism are allowable and more or less practised. Nothing is off limits but the same sex. Werewolves undergo a process of “imprinting” when they find their soulmate, and whenever it is discussed the subject is represented as “he” and the object as “she”. Vampires never seem to bite a human of the same gender, and following in the footsteps of Buffy there is a certain devotion developed towards to the one who changed you. There is no exploration of sexual identity, all the characters are introduced in ready-made boy-girl pairings, in fact there is no possibility, in this world of societal outcasts, counter-culture and misunderstood teenagers, of any LGBT experience.