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Are Edward and Bella in an abusive relationship?

I’m the first person who’ll tell you how important the Twilight series is – not from a literary standpoint, mind you, but more from a reading standpoint: These are books that get kids reading. And yet, as a feminist and the mom of teenage daughters, I’ve also got some problems with them – namely, their depiction of women and relationships. Why does Bella always need to be rescued by men? Can’t she rescue herself occasionally? Heck – can’t she even drive herself places? (In New Moon, whenever she’s in her truck with either Edward or Jacob, they’re the ones driving.) Why do all the male vampires have college degrees, medical degrees, and so forth, while – SPOILER ALERT FROM ECLIPSE AND BREAKING DAWN!!! – Bella gets married fresh out of high school, with nary a word breathed about higher education? And then, when she becomes pregnant, why does she emphatically refuse an abortion, even though the pregnancy is killing her? (Let me be clear: I’m not saying it’s wrong for a woman to choose marriage and motherhood, or wrong for her to decide against college. But Bella is still a kid, even in Breaking Dawn.)

So last week, in his excellent blog post, movie critic Owen Gleiberman compared Edward to a stalker. And yesterday, in “Is Team Edward Enabling Domestic Violence?”, GalleyCat’s Ron Hogan called my attention to a LiveJournal post describing how the Edward-Bella romance has all the earmarks of an abusive relationship as defined by a national domestic violence group: “Does your partner look at you or act in ways that scare you? Check. Make all the decisions? Check. Threaten to kill you? On their first date….”

Hmmm. what do you think?

Originally posted December 1 2009 — 12:12 PM EST

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