Why the vampire craze is bad news for feminism

That is the question that has plagued the mind of most teenage boys and young men, baffled parents and young women disturbed by their own sexual desires.

We all know about the vampire craze. The other day I was in a book shop that had a vampire section; no joke! Vampires are everywhere, I’m sure I don’t need to list the obvious culprits like True Blood, Vampire Diaries, Being Human and the most obvious culprit Twilight.

The strange thing is, I used to quite like Twilight before this craze happened because it was nice to have a slightly different take on the vampire world than Anne Rice (who is by the way the best vampire book author). Unfortunately when the films came out, we had the Rob Pattinson mania. He never has been and never will be Edward in my eyes.

Anyway, pre-Twilight and tweeny blood hysteria we had Anne Rice and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Now for those of you not familiar with Anne Rice, she wrote a huge series of books about a whole load of vampire generations that kind of overlap and relate to each other. These vampires do NOT sparkle, they are vicious and they won’t fall in love with whimpering Bella-esque characters.

Do Anne Rice’s vampires have sex appeal? Sort of. In a sense that I might think the notorious Vampire Lestat sounds quite hot. However, if I were to meet him in a dark alley? I would RUN for my life for the simple reason that he is a cold-blooded monster.

In Buffy, the vampires are generally the bad guys (except Angel who is a little more complicated) and most of them are ugly and hideous to contrast with the attractive human cast.

But…where did this Edward Cullen, sexy-evil-broody-guy-that-might-kill-me-but-oh it’s-ok-he-loves-me-so-he-might-not-do-it, come from? Why did the relationship between Edward and Bella suddenly turn out to be a destructive and abusive one? Because it is abusive if your boyfriend wants to eat you.

I don’t want to focus on Twilight, there is already a great analysis of it written on the f-word website. I’m interested in why this idea of an all-powerful male figure with potential to hurt and abuse is suddenly so attractive.

Think of the ratio of female to male vampire characters in these TV programmes and books: there are far more males and they usually control a helpless human woman.

Why do women want to sit down and read about a world where male characterised monsters control helpless women? Are we seeing something that reflects our own society and so seeking a ‘romantic’ solution such as the union of Edward and Bella?

There is a disturbing underlying message within these books and their vast popularity presents bad news for feminism.

1 Comment

  1. John

    “I’m interested in why this idea of an all-powerful male figure with potential to hurt and abuse is suddenly so attractive.”

    I’m not sure this is particularly sudden. Attraction to abusive or violent/evil partners is a classic trope in literature and real life. It’s part of the notion of the “co-dependent” relationship, the submissive woman, the attraction to people with power over others, or the desire to share that power and so forth. It may also be related to bonnie and clyde syndrome, which causes people to fall in love with horrifying criminals (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hybristophilia).

    Vampires are an easy way to exploit this I think – they have ready-made templates for power and evil, as well as the allure of dark, historical/folk imagery and magic. Misogyny is closely bound up in this system, and always has been.

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