Posts Tagged Sexuality
There’s a major discussion happening right now about sexual assault on college campuses (i.e. it’s made the NY Times; some other posts and articles here, here, here and here). The basic shape of the conversation can be described fairly simply:
Rape and sexual assault are already underreported crimes. Students on college campuses are victims of rape and sexual assault on a regular basis; college campuses nationwide engage in efforts to minimize reporting of sexual assault on campus and take minimal actions against perpetrators. New regulations are shining a light on the situation.
The consensus seems to be that colleges aren’t doing enough to protect students from sexual assault and aren’t doing enough with regard to punishing perpetrators; it seems to me the worst a college can do is expel a perpetrator and even then they run risks they may prefer to avoid. As I think about this issue, it seems that colleges are trying to thread the needle with regard to legal liability – in the absence of specific knowledge about specific threats to a student from/by another student, they can’t take any action; they can’t expel a student because he might rape someone. Without evidence, they can’t punish a student. In many cases, victims can’t identify the perpetrators. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve been thinking sexual morality for a few days.
A divorced friend of mine shared a a story with me recently. She’d gone on a date with someone she knows; this was probably the fifth time they’d been out. Most of their dates were pretty casual – coffee or lunch. This date, however, they went out for a nice dinner, had a couple glasses of wine, some good laughs and felt some real chemistry. The part that caught myattention was after dinner. “It was so comfortable and the restaurant was closing we went back to his place for coffee. We didn’t talk about it or decide, we just well . . .” The next morning she woke up in the “wrong bed. ”
I tried to read Stephanie Meyer’s paean to abstinence, early marriage and female passivity. Oh lord did I try. The Twilight novels are uniformly badly written, the characters bland and the storyline itself cribbed from Buffy the Vampire Slayer without any of the wit, drama or pathos. For some 2000 pages Meyer drags the reader through a leaden storyline with barely passable writing. Frustrated at the cardboard characters and dull as dishwater story telling, I ultimately, tossed the books aside. The popularity of the books and subsequent movies is fascinating. With the newest movie and inescapable part of pop culture right now, it’s time to take a look at the stories.
Many of the adolescent girls and women I know consumed Meyer’s books – several I know attended book release and movie parties at midnight to see the films to buy the books. So why, I wondered, have so many people – most of them female – fallen utterly in love with Meyer’s books? What do these girls and women see in Bella Swann and Edward Cullen that so attracts them?
Bella is the boring version of Buffy Summers. In Buffy, Buffy and Angel have sex in a dramatic and gorgeously shot scene; Angel experiences a moment of true happiness and turns back into Angelus, the heartless, brutal murdering vampire who once tormented all of Europe. Buffy is forced to send Angel to hell in a climactic battle, which she does just as his soul is returned to his body. Angel eventually returns from Hell. Buffy and Angel realize that they cannot be a true couple and part, even though they are soulmates. Buffy moves on to other loves and lovers, including a mutually exploitive and violent relationship with another vampire, Spike, in season six. Buffy eventually realizes the toxic nature of that relationship and breaks it off, while still treating Spike with enough respect to tell him the truth. In the Buffyverse, Angel moves on with his life as well. Joss Whedon who created the series, recognized that he was telling stories on multiple levels; Angel is Buffy’s first real love and as such will always have a special place in her heart, in dating Spike she was trying to recreate that relationship which she couldn’t have; when Buffy and Angel have sex, it makes real every girl’s fear that the nice guy you love will turn into a monster and leave you once you have sex. The first three seasons of Buffy were shrewdly built around the metaphor of High School as Hell filled with monsters. Empowered and well rounded, Buffy faces the traumas and dramas of growing up – including losing a parent – without sacrificing her free agency to act as she sees fit, as she needs. In one particularly poignant scene, Buffy breaks down weeping with relief that the world has been saved and she tells her younger sister “I can’t wait to see the woman you’ll become.” Buffy is engaged with the world around her, loving her friends and suffering with them when they suffer, but also leading her own life. She is a mature character capable of making her own choices and she does and faces the consequences both good and bad.
Bella by contrast simply waffles and worries and ultimately turns herself over the care of a man. Read the rest of this entry »