Is ‘Twilight’ ‘abstinence porn’ and promoting young marriage?

Is “Twilight Eclipse” actually abstinence porn? Is it promoting that girls marry young and start their families young?

That is what one professor said recently in a USA Today article  that was discussing what type of example Bella sets for girls.

From USA Today:

“Christine Seifert, a communications professor at Westminster College in Salt Lake City who has studied Twilight online message boards and fan fiction sites, says that the saga is strongly Mormon in tone and that a subset of Mormon culture prefers that girls marry young and start families. She says the abstinence message is so strong it could be labeled ‘abstinence porn,’ designed to convince teens that sexual self-denial is actually sexy. Will it work?”

“The author of the Twilight books, Stephenie Meyer, is a devout Mormon who says about Bella on her website: “’ never meant for her fictional choices to be a model for anyone else’s real-life choices.’ “

“Kristy Campbell of Marin County, Calif., a non-Mormon mother of five and a columnist for Mommytracked.com, says she won’t let her 9-year-old read the books but she’s OK with her 17-year-old doing so, as long as Mom and Dad help explain ‘the fiction in the fiction.’ She worries that Twilight over-romanticizes teen sex and marriage, creating unrealistic expectations.”

‘I’d like to see Edward and Bella one year into their teen marriage living in their parents’ basement with a screaming toddler, no college plans, working at a 7-Eleven and wondering where the fun went,’ she says.”

I still have not read any of the “Twilight” books or seen any of the movies but I think it’s kind of funny to have people complaining about the abstinence. I can understand the complaint of making early marriage look glamorous when we all know how hard it really is.

I can’t decide if some people are upset  just because the marriage is so young or is this an anti-Mormon thing?

So all you mom “Twilight” fans out there tell us what you think: Is “Eclipse” promoting abstinence in a good way or bad way? Is it promoting marriage too young? It is making teen marriage seem glamorous? It is promoting Mormonism in a good way or bad way? It is just a movie about vampires and we are reading way too much into this?

48 comments Add your comment

Didn't we discuss...

July 9th, 2010
6:42 am

…this book series last year when the last movie came out? Same topic, different spin…And just so motherjane will not get on me, my comment on the topic is that I have never read the books (and I do not have kids that are interested in reading the books) so I have no constructive comments to make – just consider me a lurker today (as others say)…also, isn’t “abstinence porn” an oxymoron?

motherjanegoose

July 9th, 2010
7:17 am

Oh wow…I have not read any of the books nor seen any of these movies either, nor do I plan to.

My husband and I saw Grown Ups last week and we enjoyed a few laughs.

T..are the topics this week the ones people were supposed to be suggesting last week…just wondering.

OFF TOPIC:

I was thinking about the whole Nanny/Daycare thing, while waiting at the bank the other day. JATL mentioned perhaps being able to get a Nanny for reduced rate, due to the economy. I was wondering if, after you invited the Nanny into your house and made ( her) privy to all of you personal information ( plus your children) …would she then leave if offered more money ( in 6 months)?

Another customer at the bank was sharing with the teller that his daughter just got a job and that it was not enough money for her.
“She is looking for something else and will leave as soon as it shows up…this is just temporary.”

I think there are lots of folks out there looking for something else too!

Rally One

July 9th, 2010
8:06 am

Saying that it is promoting Mormonism in any way is a far stretch considering none of the characters are Mormon and I didn’t even know the author was (I’ve read all four books) until you just said so. I can see how it promotes early marriage. But if you read/watch the movie Bella doesn’t even want to wait till marriage (actually she doesn’t even want to get married at first, stating that she is too young), it is Edward who wants to wait…and it is pointed out that his character is old-fashioned because technically he is 100+ years old.

Elliot Garcia

July 9th, 2010
8:18 am

You are really missing out…read the books first, then go see the films…

Bikerchick

July 9th, 2010
8:22 am

Abstinence porn? Really? Is that all it takes nowadays to get your name in the paper? Complaining that a fictional book about teenage vampires is dangerous because it promotes waiting to have sex until you are sure you want to spend the rest of your life with someone? Danger! Danger!

Here’s a better topic, that actually is a dangerous trend, biting. Teenagers, who follow the vampire trend are showing affection for each other by biting each other, sometimes to the point where the skin is broken and bleeding occurs. Also, they are cutting each other and exchanging blood to become linked together. That to me, is a real danger considering that it can spread Hepatitis C, syphillis and HIV. It’s also seriously twisted with regard to showing affection for someone by hurting them. Comments?

FCM

July 9th, 2010
8:23 am

OMG!

Bella lets both Jake and Edward in her room through the window all the time…thinks nothing of running around in the dark all night, not to mention running off to AZ or Italy “alone”, while her LOCAL CHIEF OF POLICE FATHER remains oblivious to not only all the crazy life threatening events in his jursidiction but to the very things happening under his own roof!!!!

And someone is worried that their is an ABSITENCE message here? Bella herself points out that her main objection to marriage–and teen marriage is definately discouraged in the books–is that everyone will assume she is KO and has to get married! She is appalled at the idea of getting married…she would rather monkey around and states that clearly on several occassions. Bella asks why marriage is some imporant “when it is just a piece of paper” (movie) of Edward and he said “ask me in 100 years when you gain perspective”.

Bella does end up getting the perspective she needs. She ends up realizing the lifelong commitment she would be making. The sacrafice she is making. The life she could have vs the she would have.

Now if any teen today can also understand that AND then decide to get married. Well then then I think they stand a better chance than most “adults” who get married…and I assure you the absitence until married arugment isn’t the factor here.

Lori

July 9th, 2010
8:30 am

Wow, if your child can’t tell the difference between fiction and real-life, then perhaps these FANTASY novels are a bad choice.

Becky

July 9th, 2010
8:51 am

I’m with MJG on this one..I haven’t read any of the books, nor have I seen any of the movies and I don’t plan on it..Have a good day..

JATL

July 9th, 2010
9:06 am

My vampire is and always will be Lestat! I have no desire to read or see any of the “Twilight” stuff, but I know if I were 14, my world would be completely fused with it! It’s fiction people! If your kid doesn’t have any better direction than to run off and get married because of what a fictional vampire and his teenage crush are doing, then you completely failed as a parent. Sorry -but it’s true. I’m so freaking sick of this tired, OLD argument -that music, books, tv, movies, etc. are going to make your kid do something crazy and life-changing. I know there are some lost souls who may use fictional characters or rock-n-roll lyrics as a guide to life, but most people (even teenagers) have better sense. It’s entertainment -they read it to be entertained!

TechMom

July 9th, 2010
9:26 am

Read all 4 books and not one time did I ever connect the book with Mormonism; and I did read Stephenie Miller’s site about her growing up Mormon too but I still never made any connection in the book to it. Bella gives a strong argument against marriage and yes it is the older, “wiser” Edward who wins out by making her see that she’s willing to make an eternal commitment by becoming a vampire but won’t make a lifelong commitment to marriage. It’s really one of those “duh! moments”.

I’m pretty much OK with anything that promotes abstinence and waiting till marriage. Of course, I’m also OK with anything that promotes waiting to get married until your 25 too. I guess this book does one of those so that’s better than nothing. But yes, in the end this is a book series. It’s enjoyable and fun to read and I really think people are reading way more into it than is there (just like they did with Harry Potter and probably a hundred other fiction books over the years).

Nora

July 9th, 2010
9:31 am

I have no comments on Twilight (it doesn’t merit any, IMO) but I can’t help but comment on the knee jerk assumption that it is such a bad thing to marry young. So what? My parents married at 18 and 21. They are still happily married 56 years later. I married at 18 and am still happily married 30 years later. And no, none of us are “uneducated” or on welfare. This may come as a shock but people CAN further their educations WHILE being married. Gasp! What a concept!

The best part of young marriage? All my children are grown and leading their own lives and I’m still in my 40’s with lots of “life” left in me. Believe it or not, happy and productive lives can come from young marriages!

(I am not promoting the idea that young marriage is preferable, I’m only saying that it is not necessarily a bad thing for no other reason than that we are young.)

DigALittleDeeper

July 9th, 2010
9:43 am

If your children are influenced by celebrities, movies/tv and books; it’s time to have a talk about real life, fiction and plain old fantacy.

Nora, thanks for the last caveat...

July 9th, 2010
9:48 am

…we married for the first time when both of us were age 30, and are still at it 27+ years later; and I am not advocating waiting, either. My parents were both 18 when they married, and they are still at it 64 years later…

MomOf2Girls

July 9th, 2010
9:51 am

Two things….

First, I agree with those who say that this is only a novel, and it shouldn’t be used as a guide for life. What if we judged all novels that way? No more Harry Potter, we might all run off and start practicing witchcraft. Wuthering Heights? Yes, Cathy is definitely my role model for life. Edgar Allen Poe – ummm, don’t even know where to start with him.

Second, I guess I’m confused by the argument that getting married in your late teens / early twenties is a bad thing. The reason usually is given is that you’re too young to make that kind of life-altering decision or commitment. Where are many people during this time of their lives? In college. What are they doing there? Choosing a major, which will usually translate roughly into their life-long careers. So choosing what you want to do with your life career-wise at that age is acceptable, even strongly encouraged, but choosing what you want to do with your life marriage-wise is not?

Just something to think about on this lovely Friday.

JJ

July 9th, 2010
9:57 am

Dark Shadows and Barnabus Collins turned me off of Vampires A LONG time ago. I read the first book in this series, but didn’t finish it. BORING……

BUT, it got both my nieces to read. They both hate reading, but they read these books in less than a month. Same with my neighbor, she just discovered the books, and she can’t put them down. So in that case, READ ON!!!!!

I’m sure TWG won’t allow Rose or Lily to read these books.

RxDawg

July 9th, 2010
10:00 am

So let me get this straight…..Twilight promotes having sex after your married, not before, and this has people upset?

I think I’ll file this in my crazy people bin and move along.

Cammi317

July 9th, 2010
10:05 am

My 12 y/o daughter is finishing up Eclipse now. She discusses the book a lot and not once did Mormonism ever come to my mind. The only thing she got out of the entire scenario is what I have gently tried to encourage anyway…waiting until marriage.

Cammi317

July 9th, 2010
10:07 am

RxDawg….EXACTLY! We live in a backwards society to say the least….

motherjanegoose

July 9th, 2010
10:09 am

JJ…I forgot all about Dark Shadows…we watched it in our basement with the lights off, on a black and white little TV with antennae….:0. GEEZ…that was almost 40 years ago!

Momof2Girls…I was 23 when I married and had just finished college. I am not following your comparison. Yes, I wanted to be a teacher and that has always stuck with me. I have worked in various educational capacities, over the past 27 years. Getting married young and sticking with the same person is not ( to me) like working in the same field but switching locations and employers along the way. There are a few who have taught say Kindergarten for 25 years in the same school but I do not see this very often. Many stick with their same career path but switch locations and employers.

Kinda like saying, “Oh, I love to be married but I am just switching partners.” I have been married for 25 years…5 years with 5 different partners! I am not sure about this.

I would not be crazy if my 18 year old daughter came home, in the fall, and told me she was getting married. Of course, it is her life. I saw lots of friends get married and drop out of school ( when I was in college a million years ago) . Maybe it is different now. Anyone?

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 9th, 2010
10:12 am

I’ve never read the books, but everyone knows that a vampire PENETRATING his/her victim with their fangs and SUCKING their blood is just a metaphor for having sex with their prey, right?

MomOf2Girls

July 9th, 2010
10:18 am

@mjg – Perhaps I didn’t explain myself well enough. My point is that they are both very big decisions, and we (as a society) say with equal conviction that you are too young to choose a life partner, and you are old enough to choose a major. While there are those who will go back for a different degree, most people choose a major with the intent to base a career on it. Switching employers is not the point – choosing the career path by virtue of the major is. I would compare switching employers more to moving with your spouse from one home to another – same commitment (spouse, major), different location.

Monica

July 9th, 2010
10:30 am

If Bella and Edward were getting married for the sole purpose of being able to have sex without breaking the rules, then I would say that the book sends a bad message. However, that’s not the reason they get married. I personally love the message of waiting until marriage to have sex, and I love it even more that it’s the boy who wants to do so. I see no dangerous themes here, with the exception that maybe some whacked out readers may actually believe that vampires really exist…

I am not into the whole vampire genre, but these are really good books. I enjoyed reading them and and now love watching the movies (but the books are much better).

Monica

July 9th, 2010
10:31 am

“abstinence porn…” reckon I could get away with using that as an example of an oxymoron in my high school classroom next year ? :)

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 9th, 2010
10:42 am

Seems this isn’t really a sex and marriage themed movie/book as it is just hopeless and dramatic romanticism aimed at tapping into young women who will pay hand over fist to buy into being pursued endlessly by competing male interests from the other side of the tracks…oh and it doesn’t hurt that her parents would absolutely despise the girls love interest!

I doubt anyone is having this discussion about whether Romeo and Juliet was promoting an unrealistic and damanging message of early marriage…of course the movie adaptation of that play had Romeo and Juliet dancing the horizontal mambo too, so maybe that isn’t a good example.

Like I said though, I didn’t read the book or see the movie…not for lack of interest, but as I guy I just couldn’t physically do it. I actually went to a different movie over the weekend and as I walked by the entrance to “Twilight” I had an intense spasm in my abdomen. Fortunately, there was a doctor there, and he told me this was happening to men nationwide at movie theaters and that I had grown a uterus being so close to the movie. He prescribed “The Godfather” I and II to me and after watching them back to back the next day, I was cured.

JATL

July 9th, 2010
10:44 am

I know the author is a Mormon, but I seriously doubt her Mormonism shines through in the novels. If they can’t even drink alcohol or caffeine -I seriously doubt blood is on the “okay” list!

www.honeyfern.org

July 9th, 2010
10:48 am

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp, love the user name, and love the comment about Romeo and Juliet. Perhaps the reason R&J didn’t raise as much hue and cry is because it was actually well-written.
Just saying.

JJ

July 9th, 2010
10:58 am

Tiger, you crack me up!! Thank you for the Friday giggle…..

DB

July 9th, 2010
10:58 am

OK, I will say, up front, that I have read all four books and have seen the movies. I normally don’t care for the whole supernatural genre (except for Harry Potter!), but there was just “something” about this series that made it a fun read. I gave it to my daughter at 17, and she enjoyed it, too. If some of Stephenie Meyer’s Mormon upbringing bleeds through a bit (pun intended!), it’s understandable, no?

The fact that I enjoyed it the same way I would enjoy a box of chocolate-covered caramels doesn’t mean that I read it critically or agree with everything that’s in it. Personally, I found the writing average at best, and some of the dialogue was wincingly painful. I didn’t care for the obsessive nature of Bella’s love for Edward, because it felt a little like it was catering to the obsessive nature of love that many teenagers feel for their “first love”, etc. I mean, the girl goes practically catatonic when Edward breaks up with her?! Puh-leeze.

Books are books, they aren’t real life (at least, for most of us!). While I don’t think that any reasonalbly sensible young person is going to suddenly go out looking for a really cute vampire to cuddle up to, I have to admit that if the books have romanticized the concept of “waiting” just a bit — is that such a bad thing? While our society tends to encourage young people to finish their education before they choose life partners, the fact is that we don’t seem to be nearly as successful in encouraging young people to wait for sex until they are in a committed, monogomous relationship — of more than a week. If the “Twilight” books puts a brake on it and makes people think a little harder about their choices, is that so bad?

I really don’t care if some of Meyer’s Mormon cultural background comes through. It’s not my faith or background, but I’m not against it. What is the concern with a Mormon influence? Are people equally concerned when they read books with a Jewish influence? Or a Muslim influence? Or how about Beverly Lewis’ Aimish novels — do we think a whole slew of young women are going to turn Amish after reading those? Hardly. Did I turn into a raving Southern Belle bitch just because I was obsessed with “Gone With the Wind” growing up? Umm — no. Did I hold out for a rich aristocrat after reading “Pride and Prejudice”? hahahahahahahaha!

motherjanegoose

July 9th, 2010
11:01 am

@ Mom…I agree with what you are tying to communicate, regarding making a life choice around 20.

I am saying that getting married, with the intent of perhaps staying with a partner, can be more difficult than selecting a career path. Changing one’s career does not usually involve an attorney or breaking a marriage contract.

My son just signed a contract on an apartment for 1 year. He is 23 and paying his own way. He found the place himself and that is fine with me. I asked him all sorts of questions about the place, to which he answered: “I don’t know.” He is obligated for 1 year…so that will work itself out. If this were a 30 year mortgage, I might be worried.

Women have more choices today, than settling down to have someone provide stability. They also expect more than perhaps their mothers and grandmothers. ( we lived in a trailer park and it was TRASHY….all we could afford!)

My mother accepted her role to do all the yucky stuff around the house…she married when she was 18 and never worked outside the home. She handled all the housework. I am not as ready to assume that the dirty dishes, laundry, dog poop, toilets etc. are my role. I bring home a decent paycheck too.

I think young adults today need to figure out what their role is in a marriage and what role they are willing to accept. Not sure if anyone is ready for this at 18. The other issue I see, is children who are being parented by children ( 18-20 year olds can have kids :0). The parents are not mature enough to figure things out.

Oh yes, my parents were quite a bit more mature at 18-20 than the kids today. More was expected of them. My own daughter is more mature at 18, than many of her friends but I do not think she is ready to pick a life partner. JMHO.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 9th, 2010
11:54 am

just thinking a little more about this….if you have a kid that is would be influenced significantly by a work of fiction like Twilight….you just may want to censor what they read….aka Catcher in the Rye and the like.

FCM

July 9th, 2010
12:05 pm

JATL you bring up an interesting point. The teens in forks are not out drinking, doing drugs, nicatine even the soda seems largly absent in the books. If the Mormism “shines through” it is in the lack of these teen vices.

As to the influence of literature….well oddly enough Twilight itself is just a retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Eclipse is very much like Wuthering Heights…in fact it is quoted there!

The series is more about taking responsibility and making informed choices. Rose and Edward both hate Bella’s choice but accept she has the right to make it.

As to the moron in the article saying that crap about 7-11.. Hello it is 5 teenaged vampires living with “parents” in their 20s. They are wealthy….you don’t get married and move out…you get married and move in! That is so not normal in real life…I hope.

Yes, it is a fictional work. I know that.

TechMom

July 9th, 2010
1:30 pm

Anyone see this article about the twins found this morning?? No one has claimed them yet. I sure hope they aren’t given back to their parents without a thorough investigation.

http://www.ajc.com/news/gwinnett/two-toddlers-found-wandering-567495.html

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 9th, 2010
1:35 pm

Biker chick is right — big story on ABC news from GMA on kids biting each other!!!!!!!!!

http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/twilight-movie-effect-teens-biting-vampire-fascination/story?id=11122324

Wayne

July 9th, 2010
1:53 pm

I read the first book because I didn’t have any shoot’em ups to read. I was really hard up there for a bit so I broke down and read it. Much as DB suggested, not all that well written, and man, I thought it was the sappiest thing I’ve ever read! It’s one of those things that you start, and it’s so bad you can’t put it down because you’ve invested time into it; you just HAVE to find out how it turned out.

I’ll not read another one, or see the movie(s).

My daycare person absolutely loves it and she’s not a teenager. She and her friends are just fanatical about it.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

July 9th, 2010
1:54 pm

I didn’t read it when I saw it on the front cause it always makes me so sad but since you linked to it I read it — crying. They are so cute. This another Haiti time where I would totally take them in and feed them and love them. that is a job i could do. they’re so cute eating snacks at the police station!

Becky

July 9th, 2010
2:05 pm

Wayne..There are 3-4 “older” (50, 62 and 64) people here at my office that have read all of the books and spend hours discussing them..I just have never been interested in the vampirey(??) type books, so more powere to them..

Wayne

July 9th, 2010
2:18 pm

I’m with you Becky. I’m good for a Stephen King novel, or maybe even a Koontz, but that’s about as far as I go. Granted, it’s pretty far, but the strictly vampire type stuff, nah. Especially if it’s sappy.

Tiger Ochocinco Mellencamp

July 9th, 2010
2:26 pm

@Wayne and Becky. You want good vampire type stuff….True Blood on HBO. I’m addicted.

lakerat

July 9th, 2010
2:56 pm

I’ll take “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” any day over any of the current stuff.

Wayne

July 9th, 2010
2:58 pm

I don’t get to watch TV all that much, so book-reading ends up being my thing. I get’em at tag sales, Good Will, etc. Much cheaper that way.

Not that I don’t like a good TV series, just not enough hours in a day for it.

Becky

July 9th, 2010
3:12 pm

@Wayne..I really enjoy reading the true murder stories..Also, I’m like you, I won’t buy a book new..It has to come from a yard sale or thrift store..We have a thrift store near my house that I have bought several books from there that are stillon the shelf at Wal-Mart or Target..I can’t see me paying $7-25 for a book when I can get it for $2.00 or less..

@Tiger..I don’t have HBO..As I’ve said before, TV and movies aren’t a big deal for us, so I can’t bring myself to pay more for cable than I already pay now..I’m just now catching up with the modern world by getting a computer at my house..:)

A

July 9th, 2010
3:21 pm

@lakerat, I’m with you. No one comes close to Buffy. Spike and Angel are the vamps for me!

FCM

July 9th, 2010
4:45 pm

@ Tiger I like True Blood too. However like DB said there is something about Twilight that just got under my skin. Of course I read the series and wanted to find a wolf ;)

Monica

July 9th, 2010
5:19 pm

You can’t blame biting each other on the Twilight books as the main characters don’t do it at all.

Tiger – Romeo and Juliet were married when they did the “horizontal mambo.” Granted, she was 13, but she was still married first! I teach this play, and we spend a lot of time talking about the foolish choices of the star-crossed lovers.

Jenny

July 9th, 2010
6:50 pm

if you teach your child right ( that they need to wait to get married and start a family ) then all they are gong to see out tof the movie is that it is wired and good they wont look beyond that they might end up looking at it as a good thing like no sex before getting married.

jan

July 9th, 2010
7:31 pm

I don’t get how Twilight books, and yes I have read them all but have not seen the movies, get pulled into OMG if my kids read it they will won’t to get married when they are young. You sound like a Harry Potter fanatic….can’t read those cause my son might want to be a wizard. What happened to books being read just to be read without underlying meanings. GEEZ I don’t believe this one.

the Baron

July 10th, 2010
1:34 pm

Turnabout is fair play, isn’t it? The Left have pushed their agenda for years through the arts and entertainment media, and anyone who disagreed had to suck it up, and face taunts and name-calling if they dared speak up. Remember Dan Quayle’s comments about “Murphy Brown”? Or the comments about Bart Simpson encouraging slacking. Now, here’s a perceived traditional message, and academics and those who have grown up in the moral relativism that has obtained since the Sixties are up in arms. How does it feel to have the shoe on the other foot?

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July 14th, 2010
8:19 pm