On the heels of speculation that Twilight was making abstinence fashionable comes a very amusing bit of hand-wringing from Details magazine. Reporting from the Ground Zero of Forks, Washington during Stephanie Meyer Day, Details discovered that it wasn't just impressionable teenagers pinning their hopes on Edward, married women were also carrying a torch for the eternal teenager: "Gentlemen, your wives have something they want to tell you. The polite way to put it is that the pressures and demands of running a home in the 21st century have a way of siphoning off the platelets from even the most red-blooded of romantic unions. To be blunt: Life is a grind, and our wives are bored sh*tless. Edward Cullen has, for millions of passion-starved better halves worldwide, become the undead embodiment of everything the contemporary schlub seems to have shed: danger, poetry, strength, speed, eternal devotion, and an insatiable hunger for the jugular."
The modern man is finding it impossible to compete with Edward, and Details worries about the erotic dreams he's spawning in married women. The magazine listens dutifully to female confessions that range from enthusiastic to cagey, and lends sympathy to the wives whose husbands "don't get" Twilight or what it provides. "But with life so crazy, this is my escape - Twilight. Edward. Men get into that comfortable rut once the relationship is there. Life gets so busy ... Men and women both, they lose that need to impress each other."
I would actually dismiss the Details piece as fluff, but its sentiments were actually reflected in comments left on Monika's abstinence piece. Many men do seem to be infuriated by the dreamy Edward and his hold over so many women. They're critical of women young and old losing themselves in fantasy, and doubt that any Twilight fan will ever be able to settle for a real, normal man.
What no one seems to realize is that women have been reading about idealistic lovers for a very long time. Jane Austen, the Brontes, and Elizabeth Gaskell all created paragons of male sexiness that women have been fantasizing about for centuries. In the modern era, we've had Harlequin and Fabio, The Thorn Birds, Jean Auel, The Bridges of Madison County, and no one seemed particularly worried. Men just pretended not to see that copy of Highland Hunk tucked in the bedside table drawer. I don't know how many men have actually read a Harlequin novel, but the bulging breeches and ludicrous plots make Edward Cullen seem as blase as the Quaker Oats Man. I believe the utter, unbelievable perfection has always been the point, and no woman has been the poorer for knowing Mr. Darcy, and marrying the boy next door. It's simply the pervasiveness of Twilight that makes it seem like a sociological and sexual crisis.
While I give credit to Details for understanding what spawns a fantasy, I'm a little troubled by some of the tongue clucking. There's an implication that girls really shouldn't be reading or watching Twilight because it's unhealthy, and it stems from sentiments as old as parchment. It was one of the reasons religious authorities advised keeping women illiterate. (They'll do nothing but read romance and write love letters! They'll become whores!) Once that became impossible (darn that printing press), everyone tried their damndest to keep romances out of the hands of women for fear they'd become hysteric or infertile. Or whores.
Look, I'm no Twilight fan, but I don't particularly mind those who are. The only thing that's truly annoyed me about the trend is that "Meyer, Stephanie" has taken over many bookstore shelves, and made it impossible for me to find anything by "McCarthy, Cormac" at the airport. (It took three cities to find a copy of The Road during a trip. Three!) But all of this hand-wringing really smacks of prudishness and repression. It's as though men are just now realizing that women have sexual fantasies just as they do, and they're finding it really gross, labeling it unrealistic, and blaming it all on Robert Pattinson. Yet I don't see Details (or for that matter, Cosmopolitan or Allure) worrying that Megan Fox sets up unrealistic expectations, or represents something about American marriages. No, Fox doesn't have a book series or film franchise, but I'd argue she's just as pervasive and fictional.
But seriously guys, don't worry. Girls can separate fact from fiction, and they'll date you even if you don't have sparkly skin and topaz eyes. It's not going to be the end of the human race because girls of all ages are really, really into this Edward Cullen fellow. You just go on being yourselves (though adopting Cullen's manners wouldn't hurt a few of you), and be there when she puts the book down. She'll appreciate it. I promise.