by Nondace Garrett, PEP Young Women's Leadership Council
As the premiere of New Moon approaches, I can't help but marvel at the recent vampire craze. The vampire theme seems to be everywhere! Women of all ages, me included, are counting down the days, the moments until we can see Edward Cullen in all his sparkling glory on the big screen again. We're satisfying our Twilight craving with shows like True Blood and the Vampire Diaries, and many of us are looking for our Edward or Bill or Stefan. How can we not be driven to vampires? They're sexy, strong, fiercely loyal, and protective, and have eternal life to boot. Sounds like the perfect man, right? Well, that's what has me worried.
Okay, we all know that Edward would never hurt Bella, nor would Bill ever hurt Sookie, and there is no way that Stefan would ever hurt Elena. We know this because these men are the perfect vampires! And they're in love with these women. While we know these women are safe, how do they know that they are? Bella is convinced almost instantly that she is safe with Edward, despite his numerous pleadings to the contrary. And Sookie, she's drawn to Bill in the first place because of the excitement he brings on account of him being a dangerous vampire. While Elena doesn't quite understand what Stefan's deal is, she knows something isn't quite right, yet the mystery draws her to him. What is it about the danger that is so attractive? Will this, does this carry over into our real lives and relationships?
Young women - well women in general - have always been attracted to the bad boy. While this is not true for all women, there is certainly a part of most of us, no matter how small, that is drawn to that excitement. I worry for younger generations. Shows like True Blood depict sex in a violent bloody way. Intense biting that causes blood to spurt everywhere becomes a part of the whole sexual experience. And very rarely do you see women as the aggressors, or in this case, as vampires.
I worry about what young women will take away from shows like the Vampire Diaries, in which a young high school girl is completely entranced with a young vampire man. Their relationship is not one of love and affection like Edward's and Bella's - it's violent and abusive, yet she can't walk away. Will young women allow dangerous men into their lives in the hope that the men will fall for them - will they think "if he loves me, he won't hurt me"?
I am just as attracted to the vampire phenomenon as the next woman, but as I watch my vampire shows, and go see these vampire movies, I'll continue to wonder and worry what kind of message these stories are sending. And I can only hope that young women will outsmart these fictional stories and value them for exactly what they are - entertainment.