Twilight was under may radar until a friend shared the recent Caitlin Flanagan article with me on girls and a reading life (in the Atlantic Monthly). Flanagan waxed enthusiastic about Twilight but provided enough clues about the books to raise some red flags for me. I breathed a huge sigh of relief when Grace declared that they were probably too old for her and she'd spoil them if she read them now. In the next sentence, though, she shared that a friend and trusted advisor thinks they are almost as good as Harry Potter. Clearly, this kind of book looms in my near future.
Feministing provides a great commentary on Twilight and the back-and-forth in the comments helps me clarify my concerns. On one level, Twilight simply represents preteens entry into erotic literature, and my knee-jerk desire to keep my baby a child for a bit longer is natural, and fine, but unsustainable over the long run. The second level is the kind of eroticism presented - and raises all sorts of questions about how to be a sex-positive but cautionary kind of mom in the 21st century. The idea that girls will first learn about sexuality through books is old -- I've been reminiscing about my own 8th grade read of Forever quite a bit since this topic has come up -- but that sexuality is still presented in such a male-dominated, fear-mongering way makes me sad -- and seems to be an extension of the corporate domination of gender in childhood (so well explicated in Packaging Girlhood).
And yet -- cool young girls that I respect like the books a lot, so is it a generation gap speaking to criticize them in this way?
Are there other good books that we could be putting on our shelves as a way to at least offer more than one way of thinking about romance, sex and sexuality for our kids?
The Washington Post review "Love Bites" offers a synopsis and similar criticism about the gendered representations and relations of the characters