Why Are Women Hot for Edward Cullen? Psssssst.

November 20, 2009

This is the INSIDE of Twilight undies, haha!

This is the INSIDE of Twilight undies, haha!

American women are in a swoon, and tonight at midnight they get another shot at indulging their dearest vampire fantasies when New Moon opens. I imagine quite a few of them will end the evening with a busy right hand or battery-operated device. My husband mentioned over coffee this morning that the reviews have been mixed. Pssssshhhhhh. Reviews? Who needs a reviewer to help us decide whether to take in the second installment? (Honestly, I think he’s a little bit threatened by the whole vampire allure thing, and who could blame him? How does a warm-blooded man without immortality even begin to compete with that fantasy?)

In the early days of HUS, I wrote a post called Why Vampires Make the Best Boyfriends. It spoke to the chivalry of both Edward Cullen and Bill (of HBO’s True Blood). These aren’t really bad boys. They’re good guys, respectfully seeking consent before they bite. They are devoutly loyal and protective. They are physically dominating males who are indescribably sweet. In short, they’ve got a lot of what women want.

I don’t think that really explains the success of Twilight, though. No question about it, tonight at midnight, women across the country will be squirming in their seats, tummies will flip upside down, and vaginas will twinge. So what is it that will have women kinda literally glued to their seats? One very intelligent man I know has suggested that it is the female fascination with men of the dark arts. This suggestion does have some merit, in that throughout the history of vampire lore, women have swooned for their attackers. However, I would suggest that the vampire in literature and film has been deliberately crafted as a highly sexual creature. He is almost always male (new egalitarian vampire stories like Twilight, True Blood and the Vampire LeStat notwithstanding). He is completely dominant physically; any form of struggle is useless. He desires his victim so strongly that his eyes glitter and his chest heaves. He bites her most vulnerable spot, sucking her life force right out of her neck, leaving her weak in the knees, to put it mildly.

Does this turn women on? Yes, oh yes.

Women have always thrilled to the sight of a man taking a woman by force. The subject of whether women have rape fantasies is a very controversial one, as you can imagine. Some feminists worry that the notion plays into the frequent perp’s defense that “she was asking for it.” Some sex-positive feminists, on the other hand, have gone on record of admitting to fantasizing about rape.

Meredith Chivers is a researcher and member of the editorial board of the Archives of Sexual Research, the world’s leading scholarly journal on sex. From an article in the New York Times earlier this year called What Do Women Want? comes this statement:

[Chivers] has confronted clinical research reporting not only genital arousal but also the occasional occurrence of orgasm during sexual assault. And she has recalled her own experience as a therapist with victims who recounted these physical responses. She is familiar, as well, with the preliminary results of a laboratory study showing surges of vaginal blood flow as subjects listen to descriptions of rape scenes.

I don’t believe that any woman wants to be raped. But I do believe a great many women fantasize about being ravaged against their will by a man they find desirable. Christina Hoff Sommers found herself unceremoniously kicked out of the academic feminists’ inner circle in 1989:

I ran afoul of the feminist establishment when I published an essay in the Chronicle of Higher Education that said something politically incorrect about the famous staircase scene in “Gone With the Wind.”

“Many women,” I wrote, “continue to enjoy the sight of Rhett Butler carrying Scarlett O’Hara up the stairs in a fate undreamt of in feminist philosophy.”

I can tell you that even as a ten year-old, seeing that movie for the first time, I was totally turned on by that scene.

“It’s not that easy Scarlett. You turned me out while you chased Ashley Wilkes. Dreamed of Ashley Wilkes. This is one night you’re not turning me out.” (Rhett Butler)GWTW

Here we see Scarlett the next morning:


What do you think Margaret Mitchell’s intent was?

There are other examples of women enjoying being dominated in film. In Lena Wertmuller’s Swept Away (1974, don’t bother with the Madonna remake), a rich society woman on a sailing vacation treats a member of the boat crew horribly, belittling him at every turn. When the two of them are marooned, she must depend on him for survival, and he turns the tables. It’s incredibly sexy, though rather violent. (Many women find it objectionable, but I personally think it’s sexy as hell.)

This explains the appeal of the vampire. But why is Edward Cullen the most popular vampire of all time? Why Twilight? I believe it’s the unbeatable combination of the highly sexualized vampire, with a devotion so complete that Edward is incapable of harming Bella. As he says in the first film, “And the Lion fell in love with the Lamb.” He sacrifices sexual pleasure to keep her safe, even though she desperately wants physical intimacy with him. He commits himself to love her for all eternity, dismissing her notions that he will find her unattractive when she is old, and he is still 17.

Is this not everything women want? The reformed bad boy?

Go see New Moon and enjoy every minute of it. Just remember which realm it belongs to: Fantasy.

Photo credit for Twilight undies: http://twitarded.blogspot.com/2009/10/pattinson-panties-edward-undies-we-got.html

3 Pingbacks/Trackbacks

  • morning__glory

    I was about 7 when I saw “Gone with the Wind” and didn't even understood what Rhett and Scarlett did upstairs until she turned out to be pregnant, haha!
    About physical responses in rape victims, first of all, rape starts the moment the woman says the no and the man doesn't listen. Beyond that, I don't think anyone can control the way their body responds to the physical and emotional shock they're suffering. I think that mind over matter is always overrated, but especially in this circunstances. Saying that a certain reaction to rape is normal or abnormal is just absurd. Once, in a class about sexual harassment, a female psychiatrist said: “Well, this is all very subjective, because it isn't SH if you are wishing that it happens”. And I agree with that point of view.
    I think that what Margaret Mitchell was trying to portrait if how in complex relationships the boundaries can be very dinamic. A deep emotional conection can allow place for a little darkness.
    So in film we have the fantasy of surrenderring to a strong man that never would harm us, all very physical and very sexy. So I'll stick to my vampire fantasy, while in the real life I search for a man that I can love and would never, ever hurt me.
    Mmm, I'm starting to feel that Bella has it easier than most of us, haha! Come on, I've never have a guy begging me to be introduced to my parents or to please wear my diamond engagement ring in public! So for me the sexiest part of Twilight was when he said: “Do you wanna come meet my family today?” After that, I wouldn't mind if he could accidentally bite me, haha

  • susanawalsh

    MG, I laughed out loud at the end bit. Yes, Bella is a lucky girl. I thought it was pretty funny when she first met Edward in the science lab – he looked like he could not stand the sight or smell of her. She had no idea that he was incredibly attracted to her!

    You make an important point about reality though – somehow I think that most women would turn down the opportunity to consort with a vampire in real life. Much more fun in the fantasy realm.

    BTW, I would like to state for the record that I am on Team Jacob. I won't see New Moon until my daughter comes home for winter break, but I've read the books, and I prefer the warm-blooded fellow. He's hot too!

  • http://www.gameforomegas.wordpress.com/ Omega Man

    Susan, you expose the futility of your entire project here with this one post.

    Vampires make the best boyfriends? You mean undead Satanic creatures that regularly kill people and drink their blood to maintain their undead status rather than exploding in flame and having their souls proceed to hell for all eternity, which will be their ultimate fate, make the best boyfriends?

    I am not familiar with True Blood. I know a little bit about Twilight since it's impossible to avoid. Edward doesn't kill people, he only drinks animal blood. So he's not *really* a Bad Boy- he's a “Good” Bad Boy. This, I'm pretty sure, is the ultimate female fantasy, if I follow your argument.

    But the “Good” Bad Boy does not exist! There are no “Good” Bad Boys, only Bad Boys! The “Good” Bad Boy is a figment of the female imagination and a literary invention. A “hell slave” (to quote “Beowulf”) who regularly murders people is probably going to be pretty crappy to his girlfriend.

    This could have been your opportunity to explain to young women that this kind of stuff is garbage that is only warping their minds further and they should read some real literature. This stuff is *not* harmless, it's a big part of what you claim to be trying to prevent.

  • http://Ft.com/ VJ

    Yep what part of fantasy don't people understand? This? From MG is sadly impossible in the real world: “So I'll stick to my vampire fantasy, while in the real life I search for a man that I can love and would never, ever hurt me”.

    Most guys, hopefully if they loved you would never want to willingly hurt you. Most human men (&women) obviously retain the capacity to do so. Which is the rub here.

    We combine the best of the alpha male, the 'questing', the 'animal attraction' the 'violent highly sexualized seduction approach & then attack'. The obvious tension between their 'animal/undead souls' and their higher desires & protestations of love. The 'bitching bod', the super human strength, all wrapped up not in a common dull football/basketball player, but in a hyper aware, sensual yet sensitive being that can be both your confidant and companion /love interest. Except they're like 2 different 'species' really. One Undead, one not. “Do you want to meet my family today?” Like they really need to type your blood & serum to see if you're at all compatible. No really now, roll up your sleeves we need to take some samples!

    So no, the guys, being wedded to reality, or a different sort of SF fantasy are not likely to 'get it', but it's worse, far worse than most Rom-Coms. It's Entirely Unrealistic & Unobtainable. Which is why it occurs with vampires. It's easier doing that than creating an entirely new genre of Harlequin Romance novels for the somewhat more chaste, yet mostly unrequited 'perfect' love for women & girls. Wait! That's exactly what they've done!

    So this is decidedly NOT a Feminist 'fantasy', it's a throw back to another era of 'good girls' having all the expected dreams of being 'helplessly' ravished/desired/pursued relentlessly by that 'tall dark mysterious stranger', and then both falling 'hopelessly' in love with the entire experience. Here the boy/man will do the required 'service'/'heroic tasks' of rescuing his fair maiden again & again from the Perils of well Pauline, OK? It's the Princess fantasy slightly 'updated' & 'grown up' and just as fantastic & unrealistic. They don't make humans like this. Not really. And once again we've poisoned the minds of another generation of now deluded girls & women on what romance might look, feel & taste like. No earthly human man might really compete here. And again that's the point. It's a new 'standard' that's wholly 'unobtainable' in it's unearthly requirements (NO Real SEX Yet!) and ethereal wonder. Sensitive new age guys imbued with ancient chivalrous attitudes with the unworldly strength of many men, desired by all but secretly in love with just one. He needs and wants to consume more female flesh, but is restrained by his other worldly unnatural love for this frail, chaste human maiden. All we need is the damn dragon to complete a picture your great granny used to titter about. No really! Going backwards here @ warp speed. We'll repeal the 19th Amendment with this generation if this continues. Edward will protect us! Chivalry is not dead! I can hear it now… Cheers, 'VJ'

  • susanawalsh

    Omega Man, the post about vampires making good boyfriends was completely tongue in cheek. I used these current popular characters to discuss chivalry, which they do possess in great amounts.

    It's interesting that you mention Edward's “vegetarianism.” Obviously, that makes him more palatable as a potential mate (no pun intended). He's not a serial killer. And yes, I would have to say that females do love a “Good” Bad Boy. Actually, we are drawn to a bad boy, but really get off on the idea that we might be able to turn him around. Pathetic, yes, but this is human nature.

    That is why I end my post by reminding readers this is fantasy, and needs to be experienced in that realm. As you know from my previous post, I'm not letting readers off the hook with respect to bad boys. Bad boys are toxic, but if women are going to be expected to avoid them in real life, I think we can let them keep their fantasies, don't you?

    I just read your post on primativeness. This is a very interesting concept. It's true that women are not all the same. Just as alphas are thought to be very high testosterone, levels of estrogen vary in women, and undoubtedly affect our natures as well.

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, VJ, perhaps we are going backwards at warp speed. The culture is full of unrealistic examples of romance, and I do believe it is having a detrimental effect on the expectations of young women. We are deluded by story after story in this vein. I jokingly refer to my husband's being a little threatened by Twilight, but the truth is that men want nothing to do with this stuff, not just because it doesn't interest them, but because they understandably loathe the sight of women getting aroused by undead creatures whose skin is hard and cold as stone. The heads of women are being filled with this stuff, and then they come home from the theater and Sam or Tyler don't seem so special.

    Having said that, it's interesting to note that the Twilight series has been a huge hit with women of all ages. I don't consider it literature by any means, but I read all four books in a couple of weeks. I'll see New Moon with my daughter. The author of Twilight understands women, and she's written something that women want. We could debate the merits of that all day, but she struck a chord with the American female psyche. But yes, it is fantasy, pure and simple. Not gonna happen. Most of us get that, I think. When I come home from New Moon and find my husband, warm and pink, I'll transition back to real life.

  • Secretia

    It is exciting to think about being Taken forcefully, not as in raped though.
    Vampires are powerful sexual beings!

  • http://Ft.com/ VJ

    “It is exciting to think about being Taken forcefully, not as in raped though.
    Vampires are powerful sexual beings!”

    [Banging head against wall here]. Yeah. Alrighty then. Wonder no more about the 'lost' generation of unattached souls who are never seemingly capable of meeting or enduring a relationship longer than a few months with another adult of the opposite sex. They have no applicable role models. They never see them on TV, in the movies, and increasingly in real life. Instead the world is flooded with false choices & fabulous fantasies that are ever increasingly remote from common experience. Yes, the author knows how to couch all this in 'womanly terms' that sound endlessly attractive to all too many. Again I'll ask in vain: 'What's wrong with real life?' What's wrong with Learning to deal better with the real life outside the door instead of the fantasy lives inside our heads & in fiction. Cheers, 'VJ'

  • susanawalsh

    Thanks for leaving a comment, Secretia! I know that many women feel exactly the same way. Forceful sex with a person you desire is NOT the same as rape, though this is a gray area for many feminists. It hinges on consent, which can be difficult to pin down.

  • susanawalsh

    That is a very good question. What is wrong with real life? Are our lives so stressful that we need fantasy to escape them, even temporarily? The American workweek is ever-expanding, marriage as an institution is shaky, college graduates can't find employment, national security issues loom. It would be interesting to compare this period to others in history where fantasy reigned at the cinema. Fred and Ginger movies were certainly designed to provide a respite from mundane worries. My guess is that there's a correlation between the popularity of fantasy/romance and the decline of quality of life, whether through war, the economy, weather disasters, etc.

    Aside from this question, though, the fact remains that Prince Charming fairy tales have been told to young girls for a very long time, and not always by women (see Brothers Grimm). Shakespeare provided happy endings in all of his romantic comedies. Elizabeth Bennet's nabbing Mr. Darcy in P&P is perhaps the original template for all of chick lit. This is nothing new, it's just happening at a time when relationships are in serious trouble in our culture, which magnifies our concern.

    It reminds me of a time when my daughter's choral group sang holiday tunes at a local nursing home. The kids were about 10 at the time. During one of the carols, a man stood up and yelled, “You're crazy if you think this is helping!”

    Fantasy doesn't improve our lives, it just allows a brief, blissful escape from some rather harsh realities.

  • Dystram

    Real life always gets compared to the fantasy, whether you like it or not. It is all well and good to say that the men in Twilight series and Pride and Prejudice are just harmless pretend fun but unfortunately that's not the case. Men get compared to Mr. Darcy and Edward just as much as women get compared to music video girls and Hollywood starlets. Them's the breaks and it does more harm than good.

    I know anecdotal experience is worth jack but I'm going to cite some anyway. The men I know are very able to compartmentalize reality and fantasy and make life decisions without comparing the two – we like the beautiful women on magazines and in movies but we're pragmatic enough to know that most of us just don't have the resources to get one. The women I know, however, seem unable to do this. The man, or men, in their lives always get compared to the fantasy and are sometimes rejected in favor of the idea that the fantasy is out there … some where.

    What is comes down to for a man is this: We don't want you to have the fantasy because we want to *be* the fantasy – in the same way, I wager, that you want to be the fantasy too, rather than the chick in the porn flick or the lingerie ad.

  • morning__glory

    Dear, Omega Man:
    First, I wanted to say that I'm trying really hard to understand where you're coming from. If you wanna write off my opinion as naive or lacking information, I won't object, since I'm not from the US. And even if I were, my purpose isn't to pass judgement on anyone.
    When I read your comments, I feel that your putting all of us, Susan's readers, in the same category. From my perception, a lot of the time, men get to be judged as individuals, based on their personal merits, but women tend to be held accountable for any bad thing another woman does. Even if we would never do it, we're women SO we have the potential to do it, and therefore are just as bad. I'm not saying you're doing that here, you sound like a very smart man to fall into such generalizations, but they do happen everyday. And in your comment I feel that you do are generalizing a little bit (sorry is the sentence is incorrect, I did look it up in the dictionary to see if that term can be used in English the same way we used it in Spanish. I'm still not sure, because it sounds kinda ugly, haha)
    I understand your frustation with Twilight as part of a culture of creating absurd and unrealistic expectations on women. But that's just a partial truth. There's always gonna be women out there prone to having absurd prejudices and who will use this and any other pop item as inspiration for their unfair behavior toward nice guys. I know girls who can complain unendlessly about how their boyfriends gave them a “boring” birthday gift. And the boyfriend is a very nice guy who they have cheated on a couple of times. I get mad everytime I remember that: I don't see the point of being with someone just to make them feel all day long that they're not good enough. Since I have a mother who taught me about integrity, I find this kind of behavior repulsive.
    But anyway, Omega, my point is that hating Twilight is like hating porn. There's always gonna be a stupid guys dreaming about having a threesome with lesbian, Swedish twins. And there's always gonna be stupid girls expecting everyday to be roses, chocolates and millionaire vampires or whatever. And then there's us, looking for a real person to love (and to have real sex with 😉 Neither porn or Twilight are intrinsically harmful, they're both just fantasies and it's up to the viewer to accept them as such or to turn them into sick expectations.
    I do have Twilight on my bookshelf, between Borges and Woolf. And thought I enjoy reading all of them (in different ways), I'm aware there are essential differences among them.
    And finally, Susan's project is not futile. The advice we get here is about being better, stronger woman, living happy and full lives. About being smart, so that when a valuable guy comes into our lives, we can be open to the possibility of having a happy relationships (and about learning to avoid getting hurt by obvious douchebags). About stepping out into the world with an open mind.
    And that's not futile at all.

  • susanawalsh

    I think you're right about this. Men tend to be more pragmatic, and women walk around with their heads in the clouds. VJ above talks a lot about this – part of maturity (and smarts) is making a commitment to someone while you're still youthful. The notion that someone better may come along has, I'm sure, prevented many happy couplings. Both sexes practice this hedging of bets, but I agree that women are more unrealistic, and therefore more likely to follow this foolish path until it's too late (and their fertility is gone).

    So the question becomes, what can we do about this? Hollywood will continue to pump out movies promising everything under the sun to women, who will happily slap down $10 apiece to make them hits.

    “We don't want you to have the fantasy because we want to *be* the fantasy”

    I love the honesty of this. Perhaps that's a good place to start. Communication and perhaps some experimentation. Discovering each other's fantasies, and going with them.

    Truthfully? Many women would be thrilled just to hear a man say what you did. You know why? Because it communicates determination and strength, but also vulnerability. We look for that in men. We don't want you to be weak, we don't want you to be like pets, but we do want to see sensitivity from time to time. Those moments feel like a big win to a woman.

    Thanks so much for commenting, Dystram. Excellent food for thought.

  • Alex

    I'll keep it short and sweet.

    I don't think that women *necessarily* fantasize about being raped. I've never personally thought “Ooh! Wouldn't it be nice to be raped this fine morn?”

    But I do think that women (they'd deny it to their graves, though) like the image of a good-looking stud who is so enraptured by her that–he–must–have–her! He cannot keep his hands off her and must relieve this passionate fury.

  • susanawalsh

    Beautifully said, this is it exactly. I got a little excited just reading it, haha.
    Thanks for commenting, Alex, nice to meet you!

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  • http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200911u/new-moon VJ

    Further there's this from the Atlantic: [Which I had not seen until now]:


    “After decades of girls' fantasy novels featuring empowered, adventurous heroines, it's perplexing that the Twilight saga, featuring insipid Bella Swann, has so thoroughly captivated a generation of teenagers”.

    by Alyssa Rosenberg
    [1st paragraphs…]
    ” A Condemnation of Sparkly Vampires
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    Twilight falls on the United States again today with the release of New Moon, the second movie based on Stephenie Meyer’s series about a benevolent vampire and the human girl he falls obsessively in love with. Meyer’s novels have been a boon to booksellers and movie theaters, who have made hundreds of millions off the Twilight saga, and to cultural and social critics who have feasted on the series’ melodramatic language and convoluted sexual politics. Much of that attention has focused on the story’s vampire mythology, launching a thousand trend pieces about screaming girls and their swooning mothers, and debates about whether vampire mania means teenagers want to have sex with gay men, or dangerous sex, or no sex at all. But Twilight is essentially, and importantly, a fairytale.

    The four-book series traces the transformation of Bella Swann, a competent, if clumsy and withdrawn girl, into a modern-day princess, complete with sports car, credit card, designer wardrobe and country cottage—though the route she takes from drudgery in her father’s kitchen to quasi-royalty includes a transformation into the undead. And Edward Cullen, the vampire who is first Bella’s boyfriend and then her husband, initially believes that he is a soulless monster, but comes to realize “that he belonged here. In a fairytale.”

    Indeed, Twilight’s wild popularity is a testament to the power of fairytale stories—to the “true-loveism” that Salon’s Laura Miller has called “the secular religion of America.” It’s more than a little depressing that after decades of novels for girls in which authors have used magic as a powerful tool to expand the scope of fairytale heroines’ adventures beyond mere romance fantasies, it is Bella Swann—a modified princess in a tower – that’s succeeded in thoroughly captivating a generation of teenagers”.

    Yep. Others have noticed too. Insipid just does not cover the territory. It was nice having the 19th Amendment before it was repealed in a 'spontaneous outburst of populism' that such sentiments & many others of similar ilk inspire. Cheers, 'VJ'

  • Decoybetty

    Re: women wanting a reformed bad boy… I think Anne of Green Gables says it best “I want him to be wicked but he chooses to be good”…Like most of my life, amen Anne with an E. Amen.

  • Screwtape

    I cannot find the scientific report right now, but recent studies point towards woman's arousal during rape is actually a defensive measure of the body. As sexual intercourse without lubrication can cause internal damage to the woman, the body will respond with sexual arousal to bring about lubrication. As the body is only concerned with minimizing damage to itself, and not the mind's well-being, this arousal can cause all sorts of mental issues for women under sexual assault.

    So considering a woman reading a threatening story about some woman being sexually forced causes her body to prepare itself for a perceived sexual attack and, much like anything else that gets associated with causing sexual arousal in humans, leads to a fascination with it. Thus women find themselves enjoying the read, even if they would be deeply scarred by the real thing. Much like enjoying a rollercoaster, but not enjoying at all being in an out of control car…

  • susanawalsh

    Good article, VJ, thanks for sharing the link. Clearly, the story is not expanding any minds. Insipid just about covers it. I just can't see it as damaging though – I really believe most women see the film as an escapist romantic adventure. Yes, Bella is no heroine. She is passive and rather dull. In fact, it's only her smell that inspires Edward's love. It's like a guy saying, you're the one for me because I like your hair. I mean, is that all you got?

    Re the 19th amendment, I'm not sure what you mean here by repealed? I've been colliding with people online recently who truly believe it should be, so perhaps I take this too literally?

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, Anne of Green Gables is awesome. Those were my favorite childhood books. You know what? You kind of remind me of her!

  • susanawalsh

    Screwtape, you've hit on something really disturbing here. And that is the idea that women who have been assaulted feel guilty if they experience any sort of arousal. I can imagine what a terrible burden that would be to bear! Though I haven't seen research on it, the idea that the body would lubricate “subconsciously” makes sense.

    I also think the rollercoaster analogy makes sense. The scenes I desribe in this post are definitely of the rollercoaster variety. I would be very surprised if any woman fantasized about being attacked by a man with a weapon in a dark alley. I suspect that even women who claim they fantasize about rape are in rollercoaster territory. Obviously, getting off on violence or the threat of it is psychopathic, not at all what I'm addressing here.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/scott-mendelson/bella-is-a-indeed-terribl_b_368598.html VJ

    Well let's try this, and see if it takes. More commentary along the same vien: [Most via the HuffPost]



    On a lighter note this too:


    That's the thoughts here for the day. Cheers, 'VJ'

  • susanawalsh

    VJ, those are all good links! I am frankly amazed at all the publicity – the Twilight craze is being given all sorts of attention that I wouldn't have expected. I appreciated Scott Mendelson's piece, not only b/c it's one of the only articles by a man, but also because he compares Twilight to crummy guy flicks in a way that I think makes sense. Thanks for sending.

  • Esau

    “Women have always thrilled to the sight of a man taking a woman by force. “

    Hmm. Perhaps one should be a little more specific here. Is this only true when the man in question is himself beautiful? Compare the scene of Rhett and Scarlett with the scuzzy truck-stop lizard trying to force himself on Geena Davis in “Thelma and Louise.” The first is hot, the second is …. not?

    Meanwhile, here's an open question for the readership: What do you want boys and men to take away from all this? That they shouldn't try to compete with women's fantasies? Or that they should try to fulfill those fantasies by acting domineering at the right time? The first seem rather sad, the second certainly error-prone. What do you all think?

  • susanawalsh

    Hi Esau, no, I don't think it is necessary for the man to be beautiful. As you know, women value other qualities more than looks, so an unattractive man with a good dose of confidence can indeed be very sexy. It's his behavior that makes him so, so seeing him behave in this way would be as much of a turnon as anyone else would. Yes, Clark Gable was beautiful. But Ashley Wilkes, the man Scarlett was obsessed with? Less so. And he was Beta, through and through.

  • http://Ft.com/ VJ

    Still more on Twilight: via the Huff Post


    Cheers, 'VJ'

  • susanawalsh

    From the article, which compares the Twilight and Sarah Palin phenomena, this sums up how most people feel:

    “The mass, separate interest in each has left many who are fans of neither wondering: What the hell is wrong with these people?”

    I think Stuart Whatley does a good job of linking these two cultural forces, though I confess I'm much more likely to watch Twilight for 2 hours than Sarah Palin for 5 minutes.

  • hambydammit

    I just saw Twilight last night, and I think there's an additional element at work here, though it's a bit more subtle. Edward Cullen is a mythical figure in more ways than his vampirism. He's also an alpha who *wants to wait for sex.* I mean shit… they're staring into each others arms, looking at the world from treetops, he's playing piano for her, etc, etc.

    And he won't have sex with her.

    I haven't seen the second movie, and I don't know if vampires in this world have sex with one another or not, but whether they do or not, the sexual abstinence plays heavily as a subtext to the first one. It's not that he doesn't want sex with her. All his actions, the heavy breathing, the eyes, etc, are signals of intense sexual attraction. (Yeah, yeah, we cover it up with vampirism, but we all know it's about sex.) He wants her… badly. But he's going to prove to her that he's not about the short term. He wants a long term thing, and to prove it, he's not going to take her until he's proven himself. He's going to protect her from his own alpha nature.

    You can't tell me an alpha who actually did this in real life wouldn't be able to get any pussy he wanted. The thing that sucks about alphas is that they fuck a lot of women, and you never know if they're serious about you at the beginning. Edward is an alpha who won't have sex, but is still an alpha in all other ways. It's the best of both worlds. Having your cake and eating it, too.

    It's pure fantasy, and vaginas twitch about that sort of thing.

  • susanawalsh

    100% on the money! An alpha who did this in real life would indeed get anyone he wanted, but there's the rub. This alpha doesn't want anyone but Bella. That's what makes his sacrifice so monumental and his devotion complete. He is the best of both worlds, and talk about anticipation! His refusal to indulge her desire is creating incredibly sexual tension. BTW, I do believe that the Mormon author deliberately wrote a story that glorifies abstinence. I have no idea whether that will have any effect on young people.

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  • hambydammit

    I had no idea the author was Mormon. Had I known that, I would have thought discovering the abstinence theme was like shooting fish in a barrel. I'm going to pat myself on the back for getting it with no hints.

    Realizing that I haven't seen the second movie, I will also say that if they keep the sexual tension going, they can probably get lots more movies out of this because of what we're talking about here — the mythical abstinent alpha. Think of all the seasons that Fox and Scully kept viewers interested by not having sex.

    In the real world, of course, one partner usually moves on to greener pastures. You can only keep most alphas on celibate street for a little while, and then they decide you're more work for what you're worth.

  • susanawalsh

    Yes, hamby, you deserve a pat on the back, haha! In the second movie Edward is the mythical absent Alpha, and Jacob the werewolf Alpha tries to score with Bella while he's away. I've always been on Team Jacob, since I would always prefer sex with a warm-blooded creature rather than one who is “as cold and hard as stone.”

    One small quibble, though: Bella really wants to get physical with Edward. I can't remember the details book by book, but she is really determined to have him and he won't play. That opens things up for Jacob – she's the one tempted to move on to greener pastures.

  • hambydammit

    I didn't mean to imply that Bella wasn't into sex. That's the whole point. The fact that she's trying to give in and he won't let her… so much the sexier. He's promising things with his body signals, and not delivering. That's enticing as hell.

  • susanawalsh

    Mmmhmmm, yup. The film critic for the SF Chronicle wrote this dating advice after seeing New Moon – it's pretty funny:


  • hambydammit

    I didn't mean to imply that Bella wasn't into sex. That's the whole point. The fact that she's trying to give in and he won't let her… so much the sexier. He's promising things with his body signals, and not delivering. That's enticing as hell.

  • susanawalsh

    Mmmhmmm, yup. The film critic for the SF Chronicle wrote this dating advice after seeing New Moon – it's pretty funny:


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