For this week’s post, I’d like you to think about how romance narratives “work,” broadly speaking.  What makes them so powerful?  Why are they so much more powerful to women?  Do men like romance narratives? How does actual sex figure into the equation?

The article for Wednesday offers a few suggestions, and you can pick up on those and add your own thoughts…but you can also suggest other interpretations.  You should invoke Twilight at some point.

For this week, I’d like you to place your “post”  in the thread of this post.  In other words, don’t make your own post — just comment on this one.  This “primary comment” should be about 200 words.  Your secondary comment should comment on someone else’s thoughts — and make sure to hit “reply” to the specific comment, which will allow your comment to appear directly below.




53 thoughts on “WEEK 10 BLOG POST

  1. Within the consideration of the fandom of Twilight, a series that seems to have established itself as the poster-child of all teenage romance novels, romance seems to be framed in relationship to the concept of lack. Bella is incomplete without Edward, and vice-versa. Jacob’s actions are governed by his, in Meyer’s terms, irrevocable love for Bella until he imprints on Renesmee. Thus, the Twilight series seems to perpetuate the cultural phenomenon of incompleteness without love. Moreover, these books are powerful because they posit a simple solution for the problem of lack: through the finding of a soul mate. Indeed, “true love” appears to be the catchall fix to problems to such an extent that real-life considerations, including education and individuality, are no longer relevant within the scope of eternal passion.

    The phenomenon of the popularity of the romantic narrative, especially as it relates to women, is possibly explained by the values the stories espouse. To use Twilight again, Bella sacrifices her old, normal, and arguably healthier life in favor of an immortal one with her true love. And although the implications of such a decision are alarming, this choice is nevertheless hers. That is, perhaps, the reason this narrative and others like it are so popular: They allow for a woman to opt for a not-so-traditionally-feminist mode of personhood. I do not mean to insinuate that all (or even most) women desire to be utterly controlled by a codependent, emotionally distant lover. But I think that we would be kidding ourselves to say that it is uncommon for women to dream of being caught up in a love so passionate and fulfilling that it is life-changing and all-consuming. After all, in magazines, TV shows, the Internet in general, and the movies, that goal is what we are told to believe is the endpoint of our lives despite our other options.

    • I think your point about the way in which romance narrative may utilize certain not-necessarily-feminist norms and values to attract popularity is really interesting, particularly in light of Bella’s decision to carry Renesmee. This decision represents the one place in the movie where Bella defies Edward in any way. However, the romance narrative is able to account for this transgression by portraying Bella as in line with normative femininity and domesticity that takes motherhood as its primary object. In this way, Bella is simply caught up in another passionate and all-consuming love rather than challenging her relationship to Edward. The pleasure in watching could then be explained in the pleasure of transgressing the sometimes stifling dictates of feminism and giving up control to more normative structures, whether they are feelings for a lover or a child.

      • I thought that my comment posted yesterday, but for some reason it didn’t and now I can’t figure out how to add to this post so I’ll put my post here and I wanted to respond to this comment as well!

        I think that Twilight portrays Bella very interestingly in light of feminism. It reminds me of what we talked about in class about how there are stay at home mothers who argue themselves as feminists and I think this is completely acceptable. This goes back to the importance of labor divisions and how gender plays into labor divisions. A stay at home mother has just as important as a job as the husband, but a career that brings in the majority of the income (especially for a male) is somehow deemed more important in our society. I think that a woman with many different careers besides a stereotypical feminist job such as a doctor/lawyer can also claim feminist. What this calls for is for society to place more importance on women who either choose to stay home or something else that isn’t a stereotypical feminist career. More specifically to twilight, I think this is interesting because both of the main male characters dedicate their lives completely to her. This seems to be a gender reversal of something that we might see gender normative media. I think it could be argued that in most media, the women fall submissive to men, whereas in Twilight both Jacob and Edward are so in love with her that they would do anything for her. Also, as we discussed in one of my politics class, there are different types of feminists. There are types of feminists who believe they should encompass the motherly, nurturing aspects of being a female – which would include birth. So it could be argued that this is something we are seeing in Twilight. Altogether, I don’t think that Twilight is really a piece of feminist culture – but it is interesting to see the different viewpoints that can be seen from this text. I think my post also sort of answered the post I am commenting on in the way that Bella balances her relationship with Edward once she is pregnant. She chooses her child over Edward, whereas she chose Edward over everything else before she was pregnant. Also, once Edward knew that the baby loved him, he also became okay with Bella keeping the baby whereas before he hated it and wanted to get rid of it. This shows an interesting balance to what we see in romance.

    • I think you bring up a good point about the “problem of lack.” Starting with the Disney princess movies girls are taught that life revolves around finding the perfect man and any problems can be fixed by a boyfriend. For example, in the Little Mermaid Ariel’s life is unfulfilled until she finds a man who she gives up everything for (literally even gives up her voice) Therefore, its no surprise that as they get older women often feel inferior when they are single. I know I had lots of friends (including myself) who loved Twilight because it allowed us to imagine having the perfect boyfriend, something we had been taught to want since we were little kids.

  2. When looking at Twilight (specifically Breaking Dawn), it becomes more and more clear to me what it is about romance narratives that makes women flock to them. It isn’t just about sex, although that is part of it. As was mentioned in the article, “hook-up” culture has taken the place of traditional romance, a culture including courting, falling passionately in love, and not simply just hooking-up, but finding the right moment and having it feel magical and special. In other words, a one of a kind experience. It is more about the buildup than the actual sex. This is a large part of romance narratives. They allow women an in to this kind of world. Even if the events in the story are unrealistic, and oftentimes even sappy, it reminds them of this traditional sense of the word romance. I mean, who doesn’t occasionally dream of falling madly in love, going to a deserted island with this person and skinny dipping in the moonlight? This is where the appeal comes from. The beginning of a relationship is always exciting, and the prospect of feeling this exhilaration again (or for the first time), even through the realms of a vampire story, can be absolutely irresistible. Another aspect that often makes these narratives appeal to women specifically is that most of these stories take on the perspective of the women in them. For example, in Twilight, a majority of the story focuses on Bella and what she is feeling toward Edward. Sure, he does get some screen time, but she is ultimately the main protagonist. I have seen, however, my fair share of men reading Twilight. But perhaps this is the reason that men seemed to have enjoyed movies like (500) Days of Summer a little bit more. The latter focuses on Tom and his feelings toward Summer and their relationship/breakup, making the story a little more relevant to them. It is possible for men to like romance narratives, but more likely when they can relate with the protagonist.

    • I think you are absolutely correct in saying that women are drawn to these stories because of the women perspective. But it is worth mentioning that Stephanie Meyer has rewritten Twilight from Edward’s perspective. (50 Shades has also been teased to be written in Christian’s point of view) But women still read and loved this book. I do not know how men have perceived the rewrite, but I think it is interesting that even from a males perspective, women still love this story, it it could just be because they fell in love with it first through Bella’s eyes?

    • I definitely agree that women enjoy romance novels and movies mostly because of the build-up and the process of falling in love. The build-up is the main story-line in the majority of romance books and romantic comedy movies, and gives women that desired fantasy of the overall experience and journey of a relationship. I think that women would be less inclined to read a book similar to Twilight from a males perspective because the so-called girly statements, thoughts and descriptors of Edward and their relationship would be much different, and would make it harder to fantasize about.

  3. I think that it is really important to note that most ‘romance’ novels and similar narratives are written by women, ostensibly for women. Because of this, the male voices in the text are written in a way that is appealing to women. In Twilight, Edward and Jacob’s inner monologues and interactions with Bella are created in Stephanie Meyer’s head. The way that they treat Bella is written specifically to illicit palpitations in heterosexual women who are craving this sort of interaction.
    The article talked about how reading Twilight would “rekindle” the “teenage feeling” in non-teenage women. Twilight had a strong affect on them because they could relate to the characters and it recalled their own teenage experience.
    My personal experience of Bella, as noted by several of the respondents in the article, is her extreme lack of self, of substance. Without identifying as ‘the-girl-Edward-loves,’ she is really boring and has no personality or interests of her own. Interestingly, I think that this very lack of character substance is what allows so many women to step into the role of ‘Bella’. Edward and Jacob are the true main characters of the book. When people are choosing “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” they are deciding which character they like for themselves, not for the character of Bella. The fact that the book is written in first person compounds the idea that Bella serves only as a vessel for the reader to fill, not as a character in her own right for the reader to interact with.

    • I really like your point about Bella being a “vessel” and something I never thought about before. I think the ambiguousness of who she is actually in love with helps contribute to this idea of choosing team Edward or Jacob. Even when Bella marries Edward, she still looks happier than ever when Jacob arrives. I think this leaves the opportunity for fantasy of the reader, which is a huge part of the entire romance novel experience.

    • I think the “Team Edward” and :”Team Jacob” is so interesting because I remember people asking me that question. My standard answer but “Team Edward, but Jacob is so great too.” I remember it being weirdly a hard decision and I think Stephanie Meyer did an awesome job at having Bella and the audience struggle between the two even though you know she is going to end up with Edward. I think this refers to Maya’s point about choice and how their Bella has the ability to choose who she loves and this has postfeminist qualities.

    • Great analysis! I agree that Bella is a complete shell for the reader/viewer’s fantasies, which is why everyone in the movie (especially these two attractive men) is so enamored with her. It struck me how the wedding was completely about Bella- every single wedding toast, including every toast from Edward’s family, was all about her.

  4. The phrase “happily ever after” is an integral part of the socialization process for many women. It infers what every woman can have if she follows the correct steps to land the “man of their dreams” by being pretty, pure, and willing to surrender her autonomy (See the general plot of a Disney Princess Movie’s damsel in distress saved by Prince Charming). The promise of eternal happiness makes these narratives compelling because they are written in a way that allows the viewer to “trade places” in their imagination with the character. Many stories stop soon after the “Honeymoon” phase, allowing the viewers to fantasize about a worry free future as each adversity, no matter how large, has been overcome by the couple. Take Twilight, for example, girl meets boy who could kill her at any minute . . . they fall in love (many, many dramatic twists and turns ensue) she is willing to give up her humanity for him, they get married, have a beautiful blissful honeymoon on a private island, she gets pregnant with a “monster” that literally sucks the life out of her and nearly kills her, yet they manage to weather it all with only a few bite marks. These narratives work because they offer hope and illustrate that no challenge is too much for the power of love. I think narratives such as Twilight are more compelling for women who desire everything that was often promised to them in their childhood, the fairytale wedding and happily ever after; sex comes with that, but isn’t the focus, rather it is seen as almost an inevitability that is supposed to occur on the wedding night. For men, reading romance is often stigmatized. The “problem” with the romance novel for men raised in a heteronormative environment is that they would play the role of the object of the affection, rather than the one who pursues.

    • I think that you make so many great points! No one really wants to read about a couple’s problems–we look to romance novels and rom-coms to provide happiness and distract us from our actual relationships which could have problems. The ideal in a relationship is that the “honeymoon phase” will last forever–happily ever after–so I feel like that’s something that books like Twilight and 50 Shades can give readers. These books give readers the endless honeymoon phase and happily ever after. They do exactly what you said–they give us hope. If Bella and Edward can get through birthing a “demon child” then we can get through our “mortal” relationship problems.

  5. A reason romance narratives like Twilight are so powerful is because they draw on specific archetypes and well defined plot devices. The story of Edward and Bella is not a new story, it has been told many times many different ways. Twilight is a simple dangerous boy who deep down is fuzzy and vulnerable takes the beautiful bored girl away from her simple average human existence. Edward and Bella could be anyone and that’s the point, it’s a pragmatic story. Once you take away the fact that Edward is a vampire there really isn’t that much different about him. Edward is the taboo dangerous relationship that young Bella is told not to have. This pragmatic, enchant as many screaming teenage girls as you can, type of story is why Twilight is so powerful. The story is not really about Edward and Bella it’s about a romance that someone can imagine applying to themselves, it resonates with people.
    This kind of romance narrative could be more effective with women because men have a different type of romance narrative. Expecting a guy to sit through a slow-burn movie like Twilight is futile, we need to see things happen we need progress. Coming of age movies like The Karate Kid in which the hero overcomes an internal as well as external obstacle (and overcoming the internal obstacle wins him the girl) is the male version of a romance narrative like Twilight. It’s not that men don’t like romance narratives it’s that the catch-all net of a story like Twilight isn’t designed to catch male attention.

    • I agree that the classic “bod boy” narrative is one of the reasons Twilight is attractive to women. I think what’s important is WHY this type of story resonates with women more than with men. Saying that men can’t endure Twilight because “we need to see things happen we need progress” implies that there is some innate difference between men and women that influences their pleasure in movies. Of course, the types of narratives women enjoy verses the ones men enjoy can only be explained through socialization. You’re right, “Twilight isn’t designed to catch male attention,” but why?

  6. Emphasizing “Choice” in Post-Feminist Romance

    After reading the article, That Teenage Feeling, it has become clear to me that romance novels, especially Twilight, disguise themselves as feminist by adhering to the idea that women have a “choice” to live their lives as they want and to take control of their lives. I found Bella’s decision to keep the baby, instead of listening to Edward’s suggestion to “take that thing out of her”, particularly interesting. While many would criticize Bella, or Stephanie Meyer’s decision, to keep the baby despite it threatening her life, Meyer disguises the situation as Bella taking control of her own body, which is appealing to the modern-day post-feminist who says “I get to decide to harm my own body for love and devotion”, which is essentially how I interpreted Bella’s argument with Edward. According to both the article and the messages from Twilight, many women today feel that romance novels empower them to take control of their sexuality, and if that means being passive or submissive, as long as they are happy, it is OK. As far as the actual act of sex within the romance novel, I believe that the purpose is to “re-virgin-ize” middle-aged women. This is once again, women being able to take control of their sex lives and believing that they have the “choice” to lose their innocence all over again, but exploring passive and submissive roles where someone can take control. In my opinion, these novels are regressive as well as oppressive to women and women’s power, but they are so attractive to women because they are presented as something that is a choice. Whether or not this choice is highly influenced by social norms and the post-feminist lifestyle, is where things start to get trick and suddenly it becomes an informed and socially conditioned choice.

    • Your concept of “choice” is so on point! I was equally confused by Bella and Edward’s argument about keeping the baby. This movie presents an interesting stance on abortion, since Edward is so keen on “getting that thing out” whereas Bella insists on keeping it. Throughout the Twilight series, Bella also has to make a choice between Edward and Jacob. At many points, the male characters try to force this choice on Bella, and in the end, she’s really just making a decision between two equally (overly) emotional and destructive male characters (one is a vampire and one is a werewolf!). Her only safe/realistic option is Mike Newton, and Meyer presents him as lame and undesirable. So in the end, it seems like Bella’s agency isn’t all that powerful.

      • I think your comment about choice really speaks to the fictional choices Bella has, in terms of her sexuality. For example, in the scene you reference, she is literally surrounded by people who are plotting to take out the “monster,” against her will. Her resistance results in a skeletal figure that is sickened by the minute. The only way she survives is by doing what vampires do and drinking human blood, the very thing that endangered her in the first place, and what she essentially gives up her life to do for love. She must renounce her basic instincts as a human to bear his child. This scene also seems to be chiding against “unsafe sex,” which takes the form of sex before biting, even if it does occur after marriage. For example, Bella is shocked that she is pregnant (and even must drum up the courage to sleep with Edward in the first place by reminding herself that she “not be a Coward”), stating that it is “impossible” for her to be pregnant. Jacob warns Bella that sleeping with Edward without being “bitten” will kill her, she turns red and protests. While Edward doesn’t kill her, he does bruise her and she protests that she isn’t “sure how much better {sex} could get for a human;” yet, what results from the improper practice of sex before biting results in a child that wreaks havoc on Bella. The entire time she is pregnant she is at the mercy of others who try to figure out what is best for her, as she lies to her family.

  7. I admit that I read all of the Twilight books. Like the women described in the “That Teenage Feeling” I spent hours just sitting, absorbed by the books. The books were “young adult” and were designed for our generation. Yet they surpassed this limited group. I remember my mom reading all the books and constantly being annoyed with the Bella character for complaining and dropping school, yet despite being annoyed she read them all. I remember viewing Bella differently than my mom, instead of finding her annoying for complaining, I saw Bella as incredibly in love and that it was all a part of the “process” of how love works where the couple had their rough points but ultimately end up together.
    I think the concept romance narratives works starts very early on for young girls with Disney princesses that always ends with the couple living happily ever after.
    This concept of romance persists then into Romantic Comedies with “27 Dresses” and “Serendipity” where the woman lands the man of her dreams.
    In the “That Teenage Feeling article” Anne Petersen writes, Cowie’s “nuanced theorization of female fantasy speaks directly to a greater understanding of female desire, particularily as it pertains to fantasy spaces such as an ostensibily.” I did not end up seeing all of the Twilight moviesbecause I felt like they would ruin my “fantasy” that I created in my imagination after reading the books. For many women, Twilight brought back memories of past love or young love and for young girls, like myself, it set expectations of what “love” could be like. Twilight’s “slow burn” keeps the reader excited and rooting for the couple to come together.
    I know many men that read Twilight and many men that enjoy Taylor Swift and romantic comedies, because while the hookup culture does exist I am pretty sure guys still have positive views onlove that does take place and they too want that passionate all consuming love.

  8. As the article suggests, Twilight is attractive to women (who are above the age of the typical teen audience) because it allows them to participate in fantasy. Twilight allows women to partake in the fantasy of a romance that continues to build rather than being immediately consummated. But there is also an element of something else. The pleasure of watching Twilight lies in not just fantasy generally but specifically the nostalgic fantasy of returning to a virginal and innocent state. For women viewing the movie, identifying with virginal Bella occurs partially based on the memory of once being in the same situation. Despite the fact that Bella and Edward’s relationship is anything but ordinary, it presents the possibility for women to imagine themselves within the context of having a first love or sexual encounter again. This reading is attractive because it allows women to relive the strong feelings surrounding the loss of sexual innocence or virginity from a privileged vantage point in which pleasure is magnified and pain or anxiety are only memories of the past. In this way, the sexual act itself is less important than what the characters feel before and after it. Twilight highlights this dynamic by focusing on Bella’s anxiety before sex and on foreplay while spending very little time depicting the act itself. In choosing this focus, the movie allows viewers to identify with Bella in a way that forces a visitation of their own experiences. Ultimately, the power of this narrative rests in the fact that women are socialized to value and protect their virginity. Innocence is seen as a desirable state that will inevitably change. The romance narrative is then desirable because it not only allows women to revisit this state, but it also inverts any pain or shame surrounding the loss of virginity. Rather than mourning the loss of virginity, romances celebrate it as an inevitable concession to the power of love.

    • FANTASTIC point, Michelle — indeed, I wish I would’ve included this in my article. Your point also explains why the “abstinence porn” works alongside the romance. It’s pre-sex, pre-act, all anticipation mixed with fear but also purity.

    • I really enjoyed your take on Twilight, Michelle. I think that you raise a really good point, and one that I never really considered, about the idea of virginity and returning to the point before that is lost. The feeling before and after are definitely more important and clear in the mind than the act itself, which makes the focus on the events before and after in Twilight more likeable for the readers/audience. I also was very interested when you said that it allows women to celebrate the loss of virginity as an “inevitable concession to the power of love”. Through reading or watching something with a romance narrative, it presents sex as something special and meaningful, as opposed to the view of it in the realms of “hookup culture”. If women are allowed to look at this way, it allows them to fantasize of love and the feelings of first falling in love without the negative stigma attached to any of it.

  9. I think that the main reason that romance narratives “work” is because of the social conception that this is what people should dream to happen in their lives. It can be seen as early as the Disney Princesses with their lives being literally saved by men. But this idea is in practically every movie and television show. And just like Twilight, the romantic couple goes through difficulties to create the drama that the viewers are expecting. While many of the women are enthralled with the romance in the show, the drama keeps them hooked with the slow burn of “Will they?” or “Wont they?” That’s exactly why Twilight and many other movies and television shows are so popular without the sex. It’s the other small romantic actions that create the slow burn that so many readers and viewers fall in love with. Just as Annabelle said, “it’s kind of strange how hot a description of hand holding can be (62).” I think those are the ways that help make these romantic narratives so much more powerful to women. Twilight is giving women an outlet of fantasy and romanticizing their own expectations on how love should work. However, that is not always a positive thing, since I have heard anecdotes of marriages becoming strained because of the woman expecting their husband to be as romantic and in love with them as Edward was with Bella.

    • Good point on the negative effects of fantasy on reality! I think modern media, Twilight included, kind of does the same thing with sex. It simplifies and glorifies sex just like it does love- when in a movie does a couple ever have bad sex, or boring sex? I mean, good lord, Edward and Bella had sex for the first time and it was so unbelievably great for both of them, it was the best night in his hundreds of years of existence. And of course they don’t have to communicate at all to make it so unbelievable- it’s all just instinctual, and intrinsically tied to the fact that they love each other so much and so purely, that the sex has to be great because it’s an expression of this deep love.

  10. Romance narratives are an extremely powerful ideological force because they hail a young female audience through the plethora of “tween” media sources. I begin with this assertion about a target audience of tweens because I think it is critical to understanding why these narratives like Twilight are deceptive hegemonic strategies.

    Anne’s article features many older feminists who enjoyed twilight because it allowed them to fondly remember the romantic ideals and instances that saturated their youth; still, they could remain true to their feminism by discussing the post-feminist connotations critically. Anne points to the way Twilight can still be a discussion for young women who are not explicitly feminist, but as a pre-teen reading the books, I cannot remember having any conception of the post-feminist implications rife within Twilight. Due to the fact girls are fed the romance narrative in so many key facets of their lives -their peers, magazines, novels, movies, and television- they are conditioned NOT to explore the greater issues and ideas about romance. Moreover, how are girls supposed to even recognize the issues of dependence, submission, and false empowerment if they have been constricted to the all-pervading romance narrative that constantly reiterates the same (regressive) ideologies. As Wendy 25 importantly notes about Twilight, “the author never makes any commentary on the unhealthy nature of this relationship” (61); thus, while the problematic qualities of the relationship seem fairly obvious (Bella’s disregard for her own life for Edward and her conservative choices, Edward’s dangerous power, etc), there is little chance that young girls will question or have a negotiated/oppositional reading of the text, nor will they find anything that teaches them counteracting messages of empowerment.

    Additionally, the intended audience of tween girls is satiated by the “slow burn” represented by a heated finger touch because sex is not yet a priority or a pressing question. The ultimate sites of pleasure for young girls seem to be the romantic gestures, the prospect of finding an ideal male suitor, and being in love; whereas for older audiences, the culmination of sexual tension leading to consummation is the fantasy and desire.

    All in all, I do not believe twilight spurs new conversation for young girls as it does for feminist women; rather, I believe it further ingrains hegemonic ideologies detrimental to the perceptions of a young and impressionable demographic.

    • I really agree that Twilight does not, overall, spur a constructive discussion among the girls who read it. Especially because among the “young and impressionable demographic” which the books and movies are marketed toward, academic and critical discussions are not exactly commonplace or encouraged in our society. Since, as you noted, young women are not conditioned to question the “happily-ever-after” and “true love” paradigms, books like Twilight only reinforce these paradigms. To weave in a Marxist idea, women are socialized to follow these ideas because they keep us complacent and constantly striving to attain our own “happily-ever-after.” Twilight and other such narratives act as an “opiate to the masses,” keeping us content within the patriarchy and normalizing the idea that submissive “true love” relationships are an ultimate goal.

  11. I think romance narratives like Twilight are so successful because they walk a careful line between specificity and universality. As Elizabeth Cowie suggests, “viewers may simply translate the basic architecture of the fantasy to form their own mis-en-scene of desire.” Essentially, anyone can insert themselves into the love triangle between Bella, Edward, and Jacob because Stephanie Meyer provides just the right amount of detail (and ambiguity). Romance narratives also include an element of “want.” Bella does not attempt to attract/flirt with Edward in any way, but he wants her (and so does Jacob!). Though I’m probably generalizing, I think it’s an innately human quality to desire that “want” – to be the object of someone else’s desire. To quote a famous Cheap Trick song, “I want you to want me.” Contemporary “hook-up” culture has deflated this idea of “want” – now it’s like “I want you for one night but that’s it.” I think part of the reason whyTwilight and other romance narratives are so appealing to women is because they reinstall this idea of “want.” Though her vague leading lady, Stephenie Meyer invites females readers to envision themselves in Bella’s shoes and experience the “want.”
    Transmutability and “want” aside, romance narratives are also powerful because they replicate the ideology of true, unconditional, head-over-heals love. Film and media is constantly bombarding us with the idea of “happily ever after,” and romances like Twilight serve as a manifestation of this ideal. However, as a 7th grade girl engrossed by the first few installments of the Twilight series, I found myself disinterested once Edward and Bella had consummated their marriage (I didn’t even make it through the 4th book). Though I probably didn’t realize it at the time, it was the “build up” that kept me reading (and re-reading) the first three books. Not to mention, the “reality” of Edward and Bella having a baby ruined the whole fantasy for me. I think romance is considerably less attractive for male readers because of many factors, including the “girl reader” phenomenon and gendered ideology telling us which media we should be consuming/enjoying.

    • I really like how you talked about the longing to be wanted and how romance is powerful because a romantic want is either long lasting, or longer lasting than today’s flakey and flighty wants which don’t have the weight of romance to hold them in place. There’s still want as you mentioned, but it’s more of a hallow want that always needs to be refilled in short occurrences. (i.e. the hook-up culture).
      I also agree that the build-up of the whole love story is what makes the story of Edward and Bella exciting. To be corny, it’s “the journey, not the destination” of a romance story that makes it intriguing. (Sorry, that was horrible, but…)
      Lastly, I wonder if men would enjoy romance novels if the media and present gender norms did not deter men from romance. I think it’s possible that a lot more men would because there’s already a handful of them who have picked up and read Twilight.

  12. The most resonating part of today’s article was about the power of fantasy within Romance discourse. Although not every romance story involves werewolves and vampires, all do want the consumer to accept and connect with a particular portrayal of romance however based in reality. Fantasy’s build up of pleasure or as Cowie considers “mise-en-scene of desire” and the ability to take readers outside their normal lives (59) represent powerful motivations for reading the Twilight series in my opinion. We all fantasize, daydream call it what you like. Our imagination can be constantly running and what we think and imagine is entirely up to the individual and the process can be instant. Since much of our lives involve interactions with other people and building relationships, it makes since that romance tied with fantasy is a popular theme of media. Whether they not they have experienced it, readers take pleasure in imagining “true, passionate romantic love” (58). I mean Edward taking Bella on their honeymoon to a private island off the coast of Brazil, who wouldn’t want to imagine themselves in that situation with either fictional character or with someone they know?
    While never reading the books and not seeing one of the movies until now, I can still recognize the appeal and interest to a large audience. In explaining why a vast majority of Twilight fans and overall Romance consumers are women is that not necessarily romance is intrinsically a woman trait or feeling, but most popular or produced media about Romance are geared/marketed towards women. As for the connection with men’s interests I can only really write about myself, but I think more than guys are interested and take pleasure from romance narratives. More than just imagining themselves as vampires who can have eternal youth, Edward is certainly portrayed as a strong (albeit moody) male who cares deeply about Bella and wishes for her safety even if that means not being together (initially of course). And it when it gets down to it, Bella has miraculously found her soulmate or potential partner and wants to be with him. So much of our lives is a struggle for finding a potential partner right? Or is that just the normalized Romantic life we are supposed to envision and live?

    • I definitely agree with your thoughts about romance mostly being geared towards women due to their desire to fantasize about “true love.” It makes me wonder what kind of romance men enjoy and relate to most. I agree that men are interested in romance, but what specific characteristics are most appealing? Are they the narratives of which feature a strong male protagonist?

    • I definitely agree that fantasy has a huge place in modern Romance- so much of our enjoyment of it rests on accepting the love they represent, the all-consuming, passionate romance, as idyllic, rather than being critical (Is that level of codependence really healthy? What on earth does Edward see in the shell that is Bella? Is it just me or are they horrible at discussing their feelings with one another, and incapable of compromising?) I wonder if the additional aspect of literary fantasy helps with the suspension of disbelief and makes it easier to get caught up in the Romance.

  13. I think that something particularly interesting about romance narratives is that things like 50 Shades of Grey earn their hype as books rather than movies. It is so much easier to hide my copy of 50 Shades of Grey from whomever I want than to risk being caught in the act watching these things portrayed on screen…Especially because what I want to consume, which nearly every woman in the ethnography agreed on, is the lead up to the sex—not the sex itself. Reading these things lets us cook up our own emotional stew and thus remain intrigued, rather than overwhelmed by whatever raunchy thing might be unfolding on the pages. The couple of times I have been waiting in line to use the bathroom on an airplane and peeked over a man’s shoulder to find him “reading” 50 Shades of Grey, I’ve found each man rifling through the pages pausing to read only when he has found a sex scene—clearly disinterested in everything in between. Men who consume porn also tend to watch it, rather than read it—because it’s easier to show those sex scenes than describe them. I think that this distinction between the men’s and women’s consumption of ‘romance narratives’ is crucial in understanding why women are so drawn to things like Twilight and 50 Shades—society is just beginning to figure out a way for women to comfortably consume whatever gets them turned on emotionally or otherwise and part of that means reading it privately rather than watching it play out between two strangers on a screen.

    • This goes along nicely with what I mentioned in my thread post about how men seek to watch or consume a narrative without engaging their emotions (such as with porn). Men as a whole tend to be more inclined to skim through everything leading up until a sex scene in a romance novel or movie, and probably porn as well rather than to try and engage their emotions and connect with characters on a more vulnerable internal level. In Twilight for example, I found myself wanting the characters to resolve their issues quickly and move on to something more interesting without really realizing that ‘resolving the issues’ was the entire plot and allure of the Twilight Saga. I completely agree that men and women generally have a much different way of consuming both romance narratives, because it is clearly evident in not only the examples that you point out but also in my personal experience of watching/reading Twilight.

  14. Romance narratives have always been popular among teenage girls because they tell a story of a girl getting swept off her feet. The Twilight series is no exception. Teenage girls dream about their “perfect” man. Through romantic narratives and romantic comedies, young girls are constantly shown romance through a very superficial lens and as a result, desire those grand romantic gestures and perfect relationships. As the article suggests, Twilight is a story of fantasy—of impossible yet irresistible love between a vampire and a human (Petersen, 56). I think what makes Twilight so popular is the fact that Bella is just your average girl—she is not the most popular girl in school, nor the prettiest or the funniest. She’s clumsy and makes stupid, rash decisions that put her in danger often. However, to Edward, she is the exception and stands out to him, and he therefore takes on the role of her protector, and constantly shows his affection. Furthermore, Edward is from a different time period, and throughout the books, his classic, traditional views of love, relationships and the way he cares for Bella is representative of the Prince Charming fantasy seen throughout Disney movies (Petersen, 57). Lastly, the predictability of romance novels and/or movies also draws women/adolescent girls. When reading Twilight, despite the occasional change in heart for Jacob, readers know that Bella will end up with Edward and they will live happily-ever after. This is the same with most romantic comedies. They are predictable, but again, allow women and young teens to participate in a fairy-tale fantasy of the perfect romance. Thus, despite the break-up halfway through the various rom-com, viewers know that the two main characters will ultimately get their “happily ever after” that teen girls enjoy watching.

    • What I find interesting about your comment is the idea of the “perfect” romance/man. Judging from what little I’ve seen about Edward, he’s far from perfect. He is controlling, possessive, volatile, and emotionally unavailable. Yet it is these qualities that make him so desirable. There thus seems to be a strange duality at play between an ideal lover and the bad boy Bella falls for. What is most compelling is that they are each a version of perfect insofar as each is the fulfillment of a fantasy.

  15. I think that romance novels work because of the idea of desire/fantasy. In the article, you (Professor Petersen) write, “desires that have been repressed–as socially unacceptable, untenable within a functioning family unit, or discouraged by a feminist politics–rise to the surface in the form of the fantasy scenario” (Petersen, 56) and that is why they appeal to such a large audience; like in the case of Twilight. Movies and books, like Twilight and 50 Shades are great because they offer an escape from real life. The “kinky” and perhaps non-normative nature of both of these stories allow women to explore something that they are unable to explore in real life and that is what makes them so powerful. I also feel like in our society there are a lot more things that are unacceptable for women, especially in the sexual arena, than for men which contributes to why women are more drawn to romance novels. So, I think that since there is less of a sexual taboo for men; stories like Twilight and 50 Shades are less appealing because men aren’t the intended audience–they are more free to fulfill their fantasies and desires–where as women are expected to submit to the man which is also seen in 50 Shades because Miss Steele is dominating Christian because that’s what he wants; not what she wants. As far as the actual sex goes, I feel like it’s less important when compared to the how desire and fantasy function. The sex is a part of how the desire and fantasy are manifested.

    • I think your point about romance narratives appealing because of the fantasy element is interesting. I doubt many women and girls, no matter how much the claim to, would actually want a romance as all-encompassing as Edward and Bella’s; it would be too exhausting and identity-erasing for a healthy long-term relationship to occur. That’s what makes these narratives so popular–they allow people to imagine they do have a love like that without actually having to live it, as well as explore scenarios not supported by mainstream society.

  16. I remember back when I interviewed my mother for blog post 1 she said that harlequin romance novels were one of the main types of media that she consumed. She and her friend were part of a book share and would get 10 new ones every month. She said that part of what she liked about them was that they gave her hope that there was someone out there for her. Through the romance novels she was able to live in these fantasies. Her parents always disapprovfed of her reading them, in part becuase they were not well written (my granfather is an english professor) but also because of the way the woman were portrayed. My grandmother who has always believed that women should be doing all the same things that men can and disapproved of the characters.
    The women in these novels tend to not be well desccribed and overall somewhat average, allowing for the women reading to easily idenitfy with them in the same way that “Bella’s very lack of distinguishing characteristics facilitates reader identification” (54). Thus with both Twilight and the Harlequin Romance novels the typically female reader can supplement themselves for the main character and thus the story becomes a version of one of their own personal fantasies. As Peretsen notes “personal fantasies often speak to a wide audience” (56). Harlequin Romance novels have a large number of subgenres such as ramantic suspense, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, and multicultural romance. Twilight could then be seen as a combination of fantasy, multicultural (vampire and human?) romance novels since it contains many of the characteristics and readers gain enjoyment in the same way. Yet although Harlequin romance novels have continued to be extremely successful they have not been in the public eye in the same way that twilight has. So what sets Twilight apart and makes it so much more publically controversial? Would reversing Bella and Edward’s roles make the novel appear to men?

  17. I think that part of what makes romance narratives so powerful to women is how they relate to how society has taught us to interact with the world. From a very young age, women are socialized to want a fairytale happily-ever-after ending with the perfect man. This is seen everywhere, from Disney princess movies marketed to young children to, of course, Twilight. At the beginning of the Twilight series, Bella is vaguely apathetic, bland teenage girl. When reading the book, one gets a sense of hollowness from her, something underlined when Edward leaves in the second book and she sinks into a deep depression (the book represents this with blank pages stating the passing months. Bella is literally nothing without Edward.). After she meets Edward, however, she seems to come alive. Her character is still bland, but she is no longer apathetic, at least where Edward is concerned. After a lifetime of stories telling women to want passionate true love and romanticizing or glossing over the banalities of everyday life, the appeal of a love like Edward and Bella’s is clear (at least on the surface and ignoring the abusive undertones). Men are also socialized to want (or at least expect) a marriage and love, but it is in a far less romanticized way, thus the traditional romance narrative may not resonate as powerfully as it does with women.
    As to sex within romance narratives, I think it also comes down to socialization. Women are often expected to appear chaste outside of marriage or relationships, and gaining sexual pleasure from something like porn is taboo. Couching sexual scenes within a romance narrative, especially in a book rather than a visual medium, both places the erotic within an acceptable context as well as separates it from a traditional view of porn.

    • I agree that Twilight certainly builds off or is influenced by the long tradition of princess-like stories written for young girls. Much of the media consumed by children and girls especially is happily ever after and showcases the women/heroine finding the right man and spending the rest of her life with him. And I also agree that on the surface, looking over the problems with the power dynamics of Edward and Bella’s relationship, their relationship is something that a lot of women and/or men could see desiring. I think most people who agree that finding a partner is a major goal in their life and romance narratives indulge that feeling and continually cement that societal ideal to us.

  18. For me, the main reason that I believe that romance novels and movies are generally more appealing to a woman audience has to do less with the content and more with how the stories are told. Like Sophie stated earlier in the thread, most romance novels are written predominately by women for other women and this undoubtedly effects male readers and a male viewership. The most striking aspect of Twilight that I noticed was the pace of the movie. As in IT WAS SLOW, which is stating it nicely. Almost every scene was an overly-emotional, angsty, conversation between two or more characters as they all struggled with inner conflicts. I think most men either do not have the patience or desire to read slowly-paced novels and movies that revolve more around internal events than external. To answer Sara’s question of whether reversing Bella and Edward’s roles would make the storyline more appealing to men, is in my opinion a misleading question because it does still not change the underlying theme of internal versus external events. I have not seen enough Twilight or read enough of it to be completely informed, and I am aware that there are arguably a reasonable amount of action scenes but overall, the pace is slow, quiet, even delicate. I was afraid to move at certain points in the screening for fear of being shushed by engaged classmates or to disrupt the somber mood of the film. I would be interested in comparing a romance novel written by a man and possibly even for men, if there is such a thing.

    • If you look at books, movies, and plays that feature romance as the central plot, (and not just harlequin romance novels) there are some famous ones written by men. Think Nicholas Sparks, author of The Notebook (written by a guy, but probably not for guys). Or hey, Shakespeare is still pretty much the bottom line in Romance, be it tragedy or rom-com, for all genders. I think part of what makes a book or movie ‘for women only’ is a female protagonist. A male protagonist, seen as the basic form of personhood in our society, is generally seen as having universal appeal and relateability, while a female protagonist (who is not heavily sexualized for the viewer) marks that piece of media as something only women might have an interest in.

    • I definitely agree with you about the book being slow and your response that switching up that characters would not change that there are more external events. I was thinking more along the lines though of what if the male lead had the character traits of Bella, aka very few at all and was falling madly in love with some really powerful, seductive woman. Is that a fantasy for men assuming that the narrative was written in a style that also appealed to men? I have no idea nor do I think I could really speck on the subject and I don’t feel like there are nearly as many narratives written in this way. THe ones that I can think of primarily revolved around a really nerdy guy being chosen by the ‘hot’ girl but even these narratives don’t seem as steeped in romance. I don’t know though. Just something I was thinking about.

      • Sarah and Tabor,
        I still think even if the male lead had the character traits of Bella (weak, passive, and obedient) it still would not be appealing for men. BUT it all depends on the way the narrative is written. If the male figure is the same age as the woman and is bossed around – I don’t see much appeal to that. Looking at “Amazon’s popular Alpha Female Romance Novels”, the top books feature an older women “teaching” the younger man different things in bed. It’s hard to tell if men are buying these books, but the difference in the characters age is something to note. Why is it more thrilling to read about an older women in bed with a younger man than two people the same age? And does this type of romance narrative appeal more to men?

  19. Women are attracted to romance novels because they allow for fantasy. From a young age, girls are taught to value romance, but not just any romance, a specific and traditional romance in which girl finds boy, they fall in love, and live happily in complete infatuation with each other forever. These (problematic) ideals are unrealistic, of course, for love is difficult and complicated. The tension between the idealized romance girls have internalized and the relationships they have experienced makes romance novels a welcomed outlet. It is a place where women can forget the nuances of their real relationships (“work, distance, “timing,” finances, ect”), and envision themselves in the simplistic, perfect relationship only fantasy can render.

    This is perhaps why Twilight has attracted such a broad audience. Both teenage girls and their mothers have conceptual ideals of what romance should look like and how they should be treated. These ideals have, no doubt, been influenced by a patriarchal culture that continues to celebrate a passive role for women. I don’t mean to imply that every woman has internalized the non-feminist values espoused in Twilight to be good values. I only mean that pleasure and fantasy cannot bypass cultural ideals of romance. This is why, as Anne’s article concludes, we need a discursive space in which to analyze, rather than dismiss, our complicated pleasures.

  20. Why romance novels work.
    Romance novels are affective because they draw in the audience to visualize themselves as the main character going through extravagant experiences with a man. In Twilight, Bella is like a saltine cracker – ordinary and bland, nothing distinct to distinguish herself as unique. Because she is very general, it creates an opportunity for a wide range of audience members to relate to her. Audience members can escape their reality and picture themselves as Bella as they read the book. Peterson’s article supports this claim by interviewing numerous women who admitted that they had found themselves “caught up in the swoon of the romance” while reading Twilight (Peterson 60).

    Men and romance novels.
    Some men do like romance narratives but majority of men, I’m going to make a sweeping generalization here, have more interest in visual representation of sex rather than reading it in literature. My friend who is a girl explained, “If I were to read a romance novel on a beach (or somewhere relaxing) I would get more aroused then sitting at home watching porn in my bed (alluding to what men do)”. Similar to the student in Peterson’s article who talked about the “slow burn”, my friend explained that women find it more arousing to read a page about two people touching than reading about them having sex. Personally it was hard to watch Twilight because of how slow the pace was. The scene when Bella stares up at Edward who is standing in an epic stance staring off into the distance for five seconds seemed too much for me to get into.

  21. Romance novels work in part because women are socialized from a young age to desire the types of stories they tell. From the Disney Princesses onwards, narratives advertised towards women tend to reiterate the idea that life truly begins once you find your perfect match. These narratives teach women that true love is formed through outrageous and fantastical stories. For example, the concept of “imprinting” as depicted in Twilight suggests that true love is so powerful that a simple shared glance can connect two soulmates forever. Though this idea rationally seems unrealistic, in the framework of the types of narratives depicted in romances it works in to the ideal love that women are taught to desire.

    The power of these narratives is reinforced by the concept of the shame, as brought forth in the article. As smart, feminist women, the respondents in the article understand the problematic nature of Twilight yet they all found themselves caught up in the text. In order to reconcile their attraction to the book many expressed feelings of shame. For example, as one respondent states “I feel so sad that a book about a teenage girl and her vampire boyfriend could drag me in so far, so quickly so…irrevocably.” (Petersen 60) I know as someone who obsessively read the Twilight series over winter break in high school, I remember seeking justifications in order to overcome the shame I felt in liking the book. Yet despite these feelings of shame, despite the fact that we know these narratives are overdone, simple, dramatic or inherently problematic, we still find pleasure in reading them. The power of the romance narrative overcomes critical analysis in part because we are socialized to expect and desire the kind of stories they tell.

    • I think it is also important to note that the process of “love” is purely instigated by the man. Edward can’t resist Bella, and Jacob (the dude) imprints. I think that might be part of the shame. Unfortunately, this book comes in a very anti-abortion, socially conservative, postfeminist and submissive package. I agree that the romantic happily ever after and eternal love narrative comes from disney and childhood, and that is what makes it so great to read twilight, but I think the shame isn’t connected to that. I don’t think many people love twilight because bella drinks human blood, or because wolves can talk, or because they can imprint. I REALLY don’t think many people love twilight because Edward is an overbearing jerkface. People love it because it is a helluva love story, the same kind as a Disney movie, but it comes in a (slightly) more grown up package.

    • I absolutely agree with your opinions on men and romance novels. I would add that an element of the disinterest in romance narratives centers on what we saw constantly in twilight; the constant discussion and regurgitation of emotion. One of the stereotypical masculine qualities in our culture is a repression of emotion, and males tend to steer clear of it especially in their free time or when looking for pleasure. I think twilight alienates men on this basis, as well as the undeniably terrible quality of the film.

      I also think the choices in fantasy reflect the ways in which men and women desire to achieve pleasure in sex. Porn exemplifies the fast, quick, independent process of achieving pleasure through visual stimulation- a method that exemplifies how many men perceive “getting” their pleasure while having sex with a partner. Women on the other hand enjoy the slow burn, the foreplay before consummation reflects the romantic foreplay in these romantic narratives. Thus, as men just want to get their pleasure efficiently and can through relatively little work, women depend on their partner to acknowledge the differing needs and work to satisfy them.

  22. I think that amidst all the exciting revolutions and great happenings in history the traditional idea of romance or courtship was tossed around and lost. At the end of the 20th century society was about defying tradition and common customs to bring to life a new self-identification. Traditional romance was left behind as the casual hook-up scene took its place (Peterson, 58) in society with the changing times and plethora of new views and modes of life. Now, in this postfeminist era, classic romance stories are being resurrected in all types of forms whether through books, movies, or songs (i.e. Taylor Swift, the Twilight series and movies etc…).
    As the article mentions, I agree that much of why romance is so appealing to women is because it casts a magic spell that allows women to suspend reality for a bit and allow the imagination to wander back into a world of fairytale fantasy. (For example, a picture perfect wedding with flowers dangling from the sky, a private getaway island as a honeymoon location with fancy furniture on a private beach. #Breaking Dawn Pt.1). The article says, “the lifestyle afforded by the advances of the women’s movement –including the right to work, to have an independent lifestyle, even the “right” to pay the bill—have obviated the simple pleasures of love and passion” (Peterson, 58). It’s as if people don’t have time to fall in love anymore. In the case of Twilight, the undergrad student Jen made a good point that, “Meyer brought all of those butterflies of falling in love for the first time” (Peterson, 57). And further, as the article notes, it’s not about how attracted the characters of the books are, but rather the whole process of their courtship. I think romance puts more emphases on the falling in love part rather than the actual love. It’s about the “happening” (Peterson, 57) not the “happened”. For example, the whole build-up to Bella and Edward’s wedding is what is exciting about the ceremony—not the actual wedding. The tensest part is when Bella is walking down the altar and right before the big (and long) kiss. (Or rather make out session). It’s as if the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s decided to skip the whole tradition of courtship and go straight for the sex. While that might work for some, I think some women are realizing they want a fairytale, and some juicy details before the couple have actual sex. Sex is great, but for some, there needs to be a build-up. Now, in this postfeminist era where many people think that all the issues of the 20th century have been taken care of, society welcomes back, even yearns for those traditional customs of courtship that before, were criticized because of its passivity.
    However, authors like Meyer should not be solely viewed as some heroine who brought back “real” romance. As Peterson points out, it’s important to look at Meyer’s background (or any Author’s background): she’s a mom of two, and is Mormon. Needles to say, Meyer has incorporated her religious beliefs, and old customs, into the love story of Bella and Edward. Bella lives for Edward only. She is willing and ready to give up her life as a human for him and for the vampire child. Traditional family values are obvious, as well as traditional views on marriage, i.e. sex after marriage for Edward and Bella. Further, even though Bella has the choice to leave Edward, or the choice to let the baby go, she doesn’t which suggests a more conservative view. Romance does not have to be one kind of story where girl meets boy and gives up everything to be with her one true love. I think it’s possible for romance to thrive in today’s world without giving up everything that a person’s accomplished, and where both women and men can be entertained. Men are just as capable of enjoying a good romance story. Yes, it can help to have a balance of female and male voice, (points of identification) but I think female writers can write a really enjoyable love story that men will enjoy just as male writers can create a story that women can enjoy. Society just needs to leave a little room for romance of all types.

  23. Twilight, and many narratives like it, harnesses the magical slow burn. Professor Peterson mentioned this in class and I didn’t quite get it (maybe that’s because I’m a guy, or because I haven’t read enough romance novels, but that seems unlikely, because I’ve read plenty.) The “slow burn” is build up, it is the fact that Edward and Bella don’t have sex until the last book, until marriage, even that they barely have sex on the honeymoon. Is Twilight sexy? For a lot of people, yeah, but it isn’t because of the sex. Twilight does an amazing job of titillating, and revving us up. It is the literary equivalent of foreplay. I know that sounds a bit moronic, but I think it makes a great deal of sense, especially if you’ve ever had any sort of male-female sexual interactions, or heard any jokes about them. Men are bad at foreplay (society says so so it MUST be true, I’m purely speaking in stereotypes.) That might be why guys don’t get the phenomenon. For guys, it is “when are they gonna have sex already?” Twilight doesn’t cater to that, it doesn’t try to. But that is precisely why Twilight has been such a runaway hit, it is slow burn, it is that thing that a lot of women want and quite frankly not enough men know how to give. Instead of being instant gratification and boobs all over the place, it has buildup and it never becomes smut.

  24. What is a romance narrative? It’s easy to define, and even formulize. The cultural script for your cookie-cutter romance is this: a white man and a white woman are attracted to each other, there is sexual tension and potential, there’s a problem, mistake, or miscommunication that threatens to ruin the future romance, but true love conquers all and the couple is united, happily ever after. The man is usually the initiator or active pursuer, and Love in these stories makes the couple more fulfilled and happy than anything else in life possibly could.
    This script is everywhere- movies, books, television; from Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew to the first Twilight book. This is the script of Love that young girls are taught since childhood. Boys have some exposure also, but our society encourages boys to enjoy adventure stories or go play videogames while girls read Cinderella stories.
    Not only do young girls see this fairy-tale rom-com love everywhere, but it is presented as the ultimate goal, what every woman truly wants and desires whether or not she thinks she does.
    In our society, I think that this fantasy is most associated with and most marketed to young girls, girls not yet disillusioned with these unrealistic and simple portrayals of love. Before disillusionment, the reader can immerse herself completely in the fantasy with no reservations, no realization of the problems and inaccuracies with this portrayal. I personally associate this fantasy with being young, giddy, and optimistic.
    The power of these romance novels comes in the memory of this complete idealistic submersion, this understanding of the world where love is simple, pure, and ecstatic, and this perfect “happily ever after” is something to look forward to in one’s own life.
    Twilight’s incorporation of vampires makes this even more effective; by placing itself in the category of Fantasy, it makes the reader less likely to criticize if the love is unrealistic or unhealthy. The reader can submerge completely into this world that many of us inhabited as young girls, maybe even as teenagers; the world where true love is pure and clean, conquers all, and is the obvious and ultimate priority in life, Princess Bride style. It’s a step into childhood as well as a step into fantasy, and this experience of childhood makes the fantasy all the more potent.

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