December 29, 2008

Twilight, abstinence porn, virginity pledges and the inevitability of SEX!

Filed under: Gender,Media,Sexuality — Tags: , , , , , , — Melanie @ 3:59 pm

Bitch Magazine featured a recent article on the abstinence message in the Twilight series and the uproar that followed the inevitable consummation (after marriage, of course!).

Abstinence has never been sexier than it is in Stephenie Meyer’s young adult four-book Twilight series. Fans are super hot for Edward, a century-old vampire in a 17-year-old body, who sweeps teenaged Bella, your average human girl, off her feet in a thrilling love story that spans more than 2,000 pages. Fans are enthralled by their tale, which begins when Edward becomes intoxicated by Bella’s sweet-smelling blood. By the middle of the first book, Edward and Bella are deeply in love and working hard to keep their pants on, a story line that has captured the attention of a devoted group of fans who obsess over the relationship and delight in Edward’s superhuman strength to just say no.

The Twilight series has created a surprising new sub-genre of teen romance: It’s abstinence porn, sensational, erotic, and titillating. And in light of all the recent real-world attention on abstinence-only education, it’s surprising how successful this new genre is. Twilight actually convinces us that self-denial is hot. Fan reaction suggests that in the beginning, Edward and Bella’s chaste but sexually charged relationship was steamy precisely because it was unconsummated—kind of like Cheers, but with fangs. Despite all the hot “virtue,” however, we feminist readers have to ask ourselves if abstinence porn is as uplifting as some of its proponents seem to believe.

Given that teens are apparently still having sex—in spite of virginity rings, abstinence pledges, and black-tie “purity balls”—it might seem that remaining pure isn’t doing much for the kids these days anyway. Still, the Twilight series is so popular it has done the unthinkable: knocked Harry Potter off his pedestal as prince of the young adult genre. The series has sold more than 50 million copies, and Twilight fan fiction, fan sites, and fan blogs crowd the Internet. Scores of fans have made the trek to real-life Forks, Wash., where the series is set. The first of a trilogy of film adaptations of the books, starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson, was scheduled to hit theaters in time for Christmas.

Another study just confirmed that purity pledges and abstinence-only education (surprise, surprise!) doesn’t work.

Teenagers who pledge to remain virgins until marriage are just as likely to have premarital sex as those who do not promise abstinence and are significantly less likely to use condoms and other forms of birth control when they do, according to a study released today.

Instead of wasting money on failed “sex education” programs and “sexy” movie propaganda selling the sex of no sex, let’s face reality (people have always fucked, they like to fuck and will continue to do so) and offer some real education, guidance and protection.

December 16, 2008

The Notebook isn't good for you

Filed under: Gender,Media — Tags: , , , , — Melanie @ 10:34 pm

A recent study blames romantic comedies for unrealitisc relationship expectations. FINALLY!

Rom-coms have been blamed by relationship experts at Heriot Watt University for promoting unrealistic expectations when it comes to love.

They found fans of films such as Runaway Bride and Notting Hill often fail to communicate with their partner.

Many held the view if someone is meant to be with you, then they should know what you want without you telling them.

Psychologists at the family and personal relationships laboratory at the university studied 40 top box office hits between 1995 and 2005, and identified common themes which they believed were unrealistic…

“We now have some emerging evidence that suggests popular media play a role in perpetuating these ideas in people’s minds.

“The problem is that while most of us know that the idea of a perfect relationship is unrealistic, some of us are still more influenced by media portrayals than we realise.”

I’ve been lecturing on this very topic for years. It became evident in my own life many years ago when I went to see Kate and Leopold. Here’s an excerpt from a piece I wrote in 2002:

I did it again…thinking about the movie I saw last night- “Kate and Leopold.”

I don’t think these romantic movies are good for me. Entertainment inventing reality. Cold, eternal winter, heart frozen, walking to my car alone, sitting in the theater alone, feeling disappointed with my own experiences, my lack of quality experiences with men, yearning for Leopold. Hoping I’ll meet a man like that or have a situation like that. Dreaming. Feet hitting the ground evenly, beat of heart and step of feet in unison.

I’m pissed for thinking about this, because I feel like that’s so much of what women do…fret over, discuss men, scenarios, fairytale meetings, fairytale marriages, mystical connections, unborn babies, and none of it is real. It is not happening right now. I don’t know if it ever happens, if I want it to happen, if it could happen. Why does this matter? It shouldn’t matter. Spoon-fed illusions, unrealistic images of what I should be, what we should be, and what relationships should be, what we should hope for, what I should expect. Dangerous expectations. Manufactured dissidence, manufactured bliss built on a delusion.

Romantic comedies are like heroin.  I know it’s bad for me but I keep shooting up with the latest installation. It’s not surprising, really.  Romantic comedies or “chick flicks” simply reinforce the same themes, messages, images and heterosexual story lines that we’re socialized to adore and believe in as young girls. Rarely, do I feel better about my love life or my romantic relationships after one of these films.

The Notebook has got to be one of the worst films ever.  I realize this is not a romantic comedy but it serves the same function.  It creates a set of expectations about what heterosexual relationships should look like. I always advise my students, women and men, to view this film critically. Shit, this guy builds the love of his life a house!  A freakin’ house! Talk about unrealistic.

And, we (women, specifically) watch film after film, year after year and the we wonder why we aren’t satisfied or why we compare our relationships and ourselves to characters and plot lines from films.