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Sex and Gender Themes in Twilight Eclipse

Eclipse of the Heart: Sex According to the Latest Twilight

As teen girls and grown women run to see Eclipse today, what messages about sex and gender will the third installment of the Twilight saga send them? I asked myself this during an early screening of the movie, and while you might expect the wait-until-marriage message from an author with a Mormon background, some of Eclipse's love lessons do surprise. If you haven't read the book, my observations will spoil the story, so keep reading at your own risk.

A man must protect a woman's virtue: "Stop trying to take your clothes off," Edward says midway through the movie. He's a traditional vampire, so he wants to marry Bella before they do the dangerous deed. Bella, on the other hand, is a modern-day Eve who couldn't care less about saving her soul. If the conservative message of the movie gets teen girls to think twice about having sex when they're not ready, that's great. But I could do without the implication that a woman will be damned for tasting the forbidden fruit of sex before marriage.

Immortal men and women can be physical equals: Fighting scenes take up much of Eclipse, and it struck me how male and female vampires battle on the same level. In addition, female vampires act as leaders. Victoria controls the army of newborns, Dakota Fanning's Jane gives the Volturi pack orders, and in the flashback scenes we learn about Civil War-era female vampires who acted as generals. It's all relatively refreshing.


For two more lessons,


Sex is a reliable weapon for women: In Eclipse, women use their sex appeal to get what they want. Maria and Victoria get control of their respective newborns by making them their lovers — and these men are just pawns in their partners' quests for power. Bella does it too. When she needs something urgent from Jacob, she makes out with him passionately, even though she already accepted Edward's proposal. True feelings or not, we get the idea that Bella has no other way to talk some sense into Jacob.

A controlling boyfriend is just showing his love: Edward acts as fragile Bella's bodyguard. He messes with her truck so she can't leave her house (it's for her own good), asks her to stay in his car on another occasion, and disapproves of her friendship with Jacob. Throughout the movie Edward evolves a bit, but in real life, some of his actions would surely be considered abusive deal breakers. In Eclipse, we're supposed to see them as gallantly protective.

Be sure to check out BuzzSugar's review of Eclipse!

Join The Conversation
boredgourdless boredgourdless 7 years
I saw the movie yesterday and did not like the "I need to protect your virtue" line. A more realistic and positive approach would have been to stick with Edward's "this is my personal rule" regarding celibacy before marriage. There's no problem with choosing celibacy and making your partner aware of your decision. Suppressing another person's wants in a blanket of "you're a silly girl whose mortal soul must be protected from her own sexuality" is a problem.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
buy=guy :headsmack:
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Yeah, I did read the first book and found Edward super creepy, so no, he's not the buy that every girl wants to see next to her.
elizabethsosewn elizabethsosewn 7 years
i disagree dana. While I love a chivalrous protective guy, i take great pride in defending myself and don't think I'd truly "appreciate" Edward by my side. Also I have a feeling that comma was totally unnecessary.
dana-stewart dana-stewart 7 years
I think Edward is the guy, which every girl want to see next to her.
janneth janneth 7 years
Edward was never pushy or controlling. He had no choice but to protect Bella, who lacked the understanding of the vampire world, and the powers to defend herself.
girlbassist girlbassist 7 years
Within the context of the book, his over protectiveness makes sense since she does have an army of psycho vampires after her. In real life, it's as creepy as you can get. He does respect her space and respects her decision of who she wants to be with. He always said he would willingly walk away if she asked him to. As Jocupcake said, the window is just a signal to him of whether she wants to be left alone or not.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
I guess that makes a little more sense, jojo. I still find so many other things creepy and disturbing. And, while you seem very sensible, some other Twilight fans frighten me. Sadly, I think a small, vocal minority of fans can make all Twilight fans look a little creepy sometimes.
jocupcake jocupcake 7 years
LOL at Lilkimbo. The whole window shutting thing is not what you think. If I'm remembering correctly, Bella and Edward get into some sort of argument, she is angry with him, and he tells her that if she is upset enough that she doesn't want him to come up to her room tonight she should just signal it by closing her window. He's not saying that Bella has to physically keep him out. The point is that he's respecting her decision, either way, and she just needs to signal it to him (remember she's in HS and has a dad in the house). But I could totally see how this would be confusing if you never read the book. I agree that Edward would be totally creepy if this were real life. But Mari84 is right, this isn't real life at all. I mean honestly, if my boyfriend took out my spark plugs to keep me from going somewhere dangerous while evil vampires were hunting me down I'd probably understand. You could argue that Bella has the right to do what she wants, even if it is dangerous, and that is true. But I definitely don't think that Edward is acting all crazy and stalkerish within the context of the book. I'm pretty darn concerned about the safety of my loved ones in real life; I'd rather they get a little annoyed at me for being over-anxious then see them hurt. Disclaimer: I am not a crazy twilight fan. I did however think the books were fun to read and generally enjoyed them (except for the pregnancy + ridiculous scientific explanation in the last book).
nancita nancita 7 years
This post is fascinating! I haven't read the books or seen the movies and well...they sound pretty creepy and weird. :)
genesisrocks genesisrocks 7 years
Whether it's fiction or not, it's creepy. If my boyfriend took the engine out of my car, I'd dump the loser so I guess that's why I can't believe so many women find this guy appealing
skigurl skigurl 7 years
yes, I read the books I didn't hate them but I really didn't love them like some people I found them boring and skimmed some of it but wanted to see what happened in the end And like tres said in the article, in REAL LIFE his behaviour would be abusive deal breakers. like breaking her car so she can't drive away? I know he's "trying to protect her" but it's still creepy as hell if that happened in real life. yes, i know it's just a story, but the point is, we're discussing sex and gender themes here, and the theme that bothered me the most is that he is overprotective to a fault.
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Well yes, Bella is just a little, impulsive woman. Good thing she has a creepy vampire to take care of her! I just read somewhere that Edward tells Bella that if she doesn't want him coming to her room, she has to close her window. Of course, the man can't control himself. It's up to the woman to make sure he can't access her. (Even though she apparently can't make other decisions on her own.)
lilkimbo lilkimbo 7 years
Chloe and skigurl, I could not agree more! I saw a picture of a woman at one of the premieres with a sign saying she wanted a man to tear her pillow and break her headboard, too. It just seemed, well, creepy.
skigurl skigurl 7 years
chloe - I know what I'd do - RUN
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Skigurl - I thought the same thing! I don't even know what I would do if my boyfriend insisted on watching me sleep every single night. Very creepy!
mandaleebee mandaleebee 7 years
I read all of the books a long time ago and never thought Edward's over-protectiveness was appealing. I don't want to date someone who treats me like they're my father. Also, in Eclipse Bella is genuinely torn between Edward and Jacob - that kiss is way less manipulative than her just trying to get what she wants, even more so in the actual book. I did enjoy the movie. Eclipse was always my favorites of the books (probably because I was always a Jacob fan after reading New Moon) so I was happy with the movie's outcome... even if they did sort of change one of my absolute favorite lines from the entire book series...
skigurl skigurl 7 years
"a controlling boyfriend is just showing his love" - that's what I've been saying about these books. He is soooo creepy if you really think about it in real life. Like so creepy your dad wouldn't let you date him creepy, and yet about 14 billion girls around the world are swooning over this controlling/borderline abusive behaviour.
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