The Sexist

In Defense of Abstinence-Only Vampirism

Much has been made of the "true love waits" aspect of current tween blockbuster Twilight, a pseudo-Christian, vegetarian vampire romance composed largely of aching stares of longing betwixt vampire and human, and capped by an anti-climactic prom scene (based on the novel by Stephanie Meyer). For the uninitiated, the abstinence part comes in when comely vampire Edward Cullen can't have sex with awkwardly gorgeous high school human Bella Swan because his lust for her blood is simply too difficult to deny. If they fuck, it might kill her.

Like Moe Tkacik, I don't believe that true love waits, but I don't believe in vampires, either, or that a dude with such exquisitely defined cheekbones could possibly be enrolled in any high school in the world. Sure, I understand that fantasy films can hold strong moral messages that have implications for the real world, the one inhabited by less attractive human specimens.

But Twilight is not mere fantasy. It is completely and gloriously absurd. A high school biology classroom fan doubles as a wind machine to blow our heroine's hair seductively (and in slow motion). Images of prancing wolves cut in to underscore the film's climax. The staring fits go on for minutes. Meadows are lounged upon. The vampires' skin glitters flamboyantly in the sun. A game of vampire baseball is played.

One of the film's most absurd aspects is how quickly the relationship between Bella and Edward escalates. Edward hates Bella, Bella hates Edward, Edward reveals he's a vampire, they go on a couple dates and then they are completely and irrevocably in love with each other. They are so in love that Bella yearns to be turned into a storybook monster so she can be with him for all eternity and Edward pledges his own eternal life to keeping her safe. This happens, seemingly, in a period of weeks. Plus, one of them is seventeen, and the other one is, like, a hundred.

In context, not inserting a vampire sex scene here is (a) certainly not the most ridiculous choice made by the storytellers and (b) hardly prudish. Can we really fault them—these absurd student vampires—for not having sex right away? They have an eternity to have sex!

  • Erin Shea

    So I went to high school with this kid named Edward Cullen and the Publishers totally tried to get him to take his Facebook page down, thinking it was a weird fan fiction profile. Luckily, he prefers "Ed" anyway.

  • Bobby Allyn

    I thought vampires couldn't/weren't interested in having sex.

    I guess only Sweedish vamps are celibate:

    Thankfully, cleared up my misconception. phew:

    While the act of feeding replaces all physical urges, vampires can still indulge in sex and even take pleasure from it. Curiously, however, the emotional aspect of sex vanishes after the Embrace. A vampire might enjoy the physical sensation of sex, but no more than she enjoys a particularly savory smell or the touch of a luxurious fabric.

  • Jian

    technically it's "Mormon" tale, not Christian.

    ...wait a sec, what if HBO takes this idea and makes some unholy amalgamation of "Big Love" and "True Blood?"

  • Amanda Hess

    You're right, Jian. But hey---pseudo-Christian? That's close, right?

  • Swift Edgar

    So my problem with the whole abstinence thing was two-fold: one, the actions of vampires are and always have been something of a sexual metaphor (they always seem to go after nubile maidens, and the loss of life/loss of virginity connection is a long-standing literary topos [think big bad wolf]), so adding the literal abstinence requirement for keeping Bella (reference to Bella Lugosi, I hope?) alive seemed to be piling it on a bit too high; and two, why does their sex have to result in her death? Why can't they be a couple of high-schoolers who don't want to sleep with one another? The whole abstinence-requirement just seemed to get in the way of the movie. I wanted them to just do it so they could stop staring at each other and get on with some sort of plot.

  • Amanda Hess

    Long story short, I would totally do it with him.

  • Mdesus

    again I just feel the need to reiterate I was count chocula for 3 consecutive Halloweens. I'm just waiting for all the twilight propelled ass to come my way.

  • Aaron Leitko

    Are Mormons Christians? Has this been settled?

  • Amanda Hess

    I don't know. God?

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