I was thinking more with my small group tonight about Twilight (I’m up to the third in the series: Eclipse) and some of the guys helpfully wanted to explore the porn thing a bit more. Just as porn is sinful for guys, do I think that reading Twilight is sinful for girls?
As we were talking about it, I remembered a sermon from two weeks ago that our pastor gave about sex. Part of what he argued is that in fallen marriages, men are lazy are don’t make the effort to come into the world of their wives; and women are filled with contempt for their husbands and attempt to be independent from them. The link to porn is pretty clear here for men – you don’t have to make the effort with porn, and there’s a quick thrill. But I think that my pastor’s principle helps us here with Twilight as well.
If Twilight causes a woman to view her husband with contempt (presumably because he falls far short of Edward’s ideal) she ought not to read it. As I argued last time, she should do everything she can to love the man that God has given her, not to shut him out by dreaming of someone better.
Guys can correct me on this one but I wonder whether it’s a similar idea to classical art. I take it that some men can appreciate the beauty of the female form in a classical painting without it having the same effect as porn. Of course, if he can’t, he ought not look. But the same is true for women and romantic comedies and Twilight. These stories do celebrate what is good – love is a gift from God! But if it becomes the ideal, raised above loving the reality and, even leading her to despise the reality, it has become unhelpful and she ought to avoid read it.
Categories: Written by Tamie
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.
Interesting thoughts Tamie, and, (as much as I am loath to question your knowledge of postmodernism!), I was wondering if you could comment on the authorial intent aspect of this.
That is to say, Do you think that Twilight is written for the purpose of titillation? Does it matter?
Conversely, does it matter whether an image is the cover of playboy or a renaissance depiction or the rape (=raptio=kidnapping) of the Sabines?
Is the question of ‘pornography’ one which is purely up to the reader, or is there a communal/authorial/absolute aspect to it?
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Hmm, authorial intent is a tricky one. Thinking out loud here….
At one level, what the author intended doesn’t worry me. Regardless of what she was trying to do, the response to her book is clear. I see little point in arguing about what she was trying to do.
It’s precisely because of the reaction to the book that I have problems with it though. Some may be able to read the book and be unaffected by it but this has not been the case for the vast majority of women, and especially teenage girls, its primary readership. For them, it’s been unhelpful.
So there’s a question of social responsibility that arises. While I’m normally in favour of getting kids to read controversial texts and then talking it through with them, I think this one is just too seductive. I wouldn’t teach it in my classroom, nor would I recommend to teenage girls I know. Or even other women my own age for that matter.
But that’s somewhat hypocritical, because I’ve kept reading them.
I’m sure porn can come in a number of forms and it doesn’t have to be contemporary. If the renaissance depiction of the Sabines is an unhelpful turn on, of course a guy shouldn’t go near it. But I suspect that classical art isn’t what men are googling when their wives leave the house. Authorial intent may have something to do with that.
What do you think?
Thanks for your thoughts – mine are not particularly well thought through, so may be completely off track!
When it comes to the *use* of a text/image (hereafter ‘text’), I would agree with you entirely, and follow your conclusions. However I am unsatisfied by the placing of all moral responsibility on the reader. (While of course they *are* responsible for their behaviour.)
I think there is a level at which there is an ‘authorial’ intent present in the presentation of a text/image (hereafter ‘text’). This is independent of its use. I would argue that the presentation of the text entails an implied usage, hence, I would say there is a difference between a nude Madonna and child, and, say, the cover of playboy – even though the effect of these images may be similar in some contexts.
Perhaps this would be clearer if I argued that I cannot see any text as an entity in its own right, but only within a general context, which therefore includes the presentation of the text, and a reasonable expectation of its use.
In the same vein, I wonder whether the presentation of the twilight series, with the associated advertising and merchandise (which you mentioned earlier), is at least bordering on the immoral, as it encourages and endorses its use in this type of fantasy. (I can’t believe I just said that – I feel like a prohibitionist ranting against booze!)
As I said before, I’m not sure about any of this, but I am unwilling to place the entirety of the burden on the reader…
I’ve enjoyed reading your thoughts on twilight, and I agree with most of what you’ve said. I am wondering though, about your comments about whether it is good for teenage girls. Do you think that maybe, in this day and age, where sex is considered so socially acceptable, that girls reading, and being enticed by, a male character who stands against much of what the world promotes may not be such a bad thing?
I totally take your point that if reading such books tempts you to be ungrateful for the man God has given you, you shouldn’t read them. Is there however a problem with finding a character alluring if they are perhaps alluring for the right reasons?
To take a giant leap from here (just to throw it out there) could you not argue that a woman may become discontent with her husband because he fails to be like Jesus Christ? (Im in no way comparing Edward Cullen to Him, but its perhaps in the same vein?)
While I see the dangers of such an alluring male character, is he a good example to both men and women (or teenage girls) of what to aim for, and not to settle for what the world pushes for? Or are there other things you see in him that make him poisonous to girls’ minds?
Just wondering! (say hi to Arthur for me)
Good to hear from you! Two initial thoughts…
I take your point – it’s good for girls to have models of good husbands and boyfriends. Although I take it that desiring that man or wanting him for yourself could amount to adultery, either because you will one day belong to someone else (and/or because he may already.)
In the end, I’m suspicious of using Edward as a model precisely because he is so attractive in so many ways. And I wonder whether this is so intoxicating that it leads to an infatuation. I guess what I’m getting at is that I’m suspicious of giving girls an idea to fall in love with. Instead, I would prefer to train them to love a fallen man.
Yeah fair enough. Its pretty tough on guys if too many girls have an unrealistic idea of what they want. Just in the same way as its unfair to girls if guys look at porn and get the idea that that is what all women should look like!
Thanks for your thoughts.