What Women Want: Twilight

twilight-eclipseA lot of men take my women’s psych course because they want to know what women want.

Maybe they should watch Twilight instead.

A woman I know of named Tracie Lamb was surprised that her daughters were more engrossed in Twilight than in their Hawaiian vacation. She knew the book series had soldover 100 million copies and that the films have made about a billion dollars. Curious, she started reading and became absorbed, herself. Wondering about the book’s allure, she made a record of what made her “tingle” and amassed a cornucopia of “invaluable information for the opposite sex.”

Here are her musings from a piece called, Wanna Know What Women Want?”

Women want to captivate the men they love as Edward is captivated by Bella. He gazes at her. He watches her sleep. A sexy waitress flirts with him, but he only has eyes for his love:

She smiled at him again. “You have a nice evening.” He didn’t look away from me as he thanked her.

Later he tells her, “You’re not like anyone I’ve ever known. You fascinate me.”

Edward also listens to Bella, and he wants to know everything about her.

He seemed engrossed in our conversation… He says, “I want to know what you’re thinking – everything.”

Edward is completely devoted, telling Bella that, “You are my life now… I will always want you forever… You’re like my own personal brand of heroin.” (Well, love has been described as being like a drug.)

And instead of being on a quest to satisfy his sexual hunger he seeks to control it because he wants to protect Bella. (He fears he will drain her blood with his vampire instinct unless he controls himself.) That may make him sexy-safe for girls who are just discovering their sexuality, but his desire to protect, generally, is itself a strong draw. He’s not just strong, but his strength is directed at aiding his love. He’s always there for her. And she is more important than his own self and his own wants.

Now mind you, women may want to take care of themselves and their men, but they also like a man who takes care of them and who makes them feel safe and secure. So it goes both ways.

Edward’s brand of love may not appeal to every woman, but it sure appeals to a lot of them.

Tracie concludes with these words:

When a man looks at a woman, he sees the woman. When a woman looks at a man, she sees herself reflected in his eyes. What’s important is not how you look to her, but how you look at her and how you look out for her. It’s how you make her feel: fascinating, cherished, protected.

Next week: Twilight vs. Porn

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on November 14, 2012, in psychology, relationships, sex, women and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. Hmmm. I like what Tracie has to say here, except that part about the woman seeing herself reflected in a man’s eyes when he looks at her. i sincerely hope that when I look at a man; be he friend, lover, or otherwise, that I am seeing HIM as beautiful, and not what he sees in me.

  2. Good stuff. The only problem I have with it is stories like this, especially in romance novels or womens mvies depict the male as protector, unfeeling, never cry,”never let them see you sweat”. Now i realize in the story the male vampire shows emotion by his gaze at the woman he cares for. But generally speaking many romance novels even movies depict the “Prince Charming” fantasy as male as strong protector, stable in every crisis. hardly cries. This mindset caused many men to repress and supress their fellings/emotions which has led and can lead to illness like heart attacks and anxiety.

    In a way this depiction of this guy in Twilight objectifies men. Men as some sort of “Price Charming” who is aways ready to protect -but he does not have the freedom-to express his emotions or weaknesses. Some people have said women who generally are better at expressing their emotions than men should teach their boyfriend or husband to express his emotions more instead of bottling it up “like a man”. The reality is women do not want men to express emotions or weakness despite what they may say. Women want men to be the “Rock” “Prince Charming ” so if a crisis happens they will be stable and a rock. I believe men are objectified in these romance novels as some perfect protecting pronce charming or in the case of Twilight a vampire.

    Fortunately, with the aid of yhe emerging mens movement and books like “The Myth of Male Power” by Warren Farrell many men are learning to get in touch with their feelings.

  3. Thanks for the link, I read the book. I am not sure what you would call it. If you do not want to use “objectification”, perhaps another word but in may female centric romance novels and films, the man is usually the strong, unfeeling, solid protector.

    Of course many men contribute to this unrealistic depiction of males because many men write these books and create these films. Also many fathers still raise their son to never show emotion. I just wanted to show that women reinforce this unrealistic depiction of men in our culture just as much as men.

    • I’ll have to think about a term or phrase.

      Seems women (many anyway)want men who show passionate emotions but not so-called “weak” emotions. They want one-sided strong men.

  4. invisibleimagings

    Samual2112 may have a point. Stereotyping anyone (female or male) dehumanizes them and makes it difficult for her/him to be a real authentic human being with flaws, issues and baggage. Nobody likes it but so many do it. I personally have never fit into the boxes that men and women have tried to wedge me into.

    I personally steer clear of the “dark and silent” types. I would be perfectly happy to date flawed guys who have issues/baggage and express their emotions in healthy ways. To me a healthy man is one who is always striving to learn from their mistakes and improve themselves.

    The most important thing I get from looking at the of appeal of Twilight (and most romance novels) is that the woman is central and very important to the man in her life. In real life this RARE. Most men do not define themselves by the woman in their life. He derives his self identity, his self worth by his work, his accomplishments, the obstacles he has overcome, etc. He has a life separate from her. While this is not a bad thing necessarily, many men fail see the need to show a woman that she is important to him. They go too far and focus on their own wants, goals and gratification almost exclusively. That leaves women feeling marginalized, unimportant and unappreciated. I have felt that way in almost all my relationships. Many times it was all too clear that to men I was dating , my goals, my thoughts/feelings/opinions, my existence was considered less important this his and developing a relationship with me was a very low priority. Many times it’s why I walked away.

    Meanwhile many women make the mistake of defining themselves and seeking validation through the man in her life. He IS the more important to her than anything else. Many women have sacrificed personal goals, careers, friends, and their self esteem to stay with a man she loves. Many woman stay in abusive relationships partly because they believe they will lose a part of their own identity as a woman if she leaves. This is very unhealthy.

    Men and woman need to meet in the middle. More women need to create self identities and base self worth by her career, goals and accomplishments and have healthy, full lives separate from men. And men need to see just how important is for woman to know that she IS important to him and that her life does NOT take a backseat to his own.

    • Thanks for your perspective.

    • Very good points. You know what fascinating and this is why I love the sociology of sex and gender. I see points women make regarding the pitfalls of being female. However, I see it through the prism of a male viewpoint.

      In regards to what you say about many men not giving enough attention to their wives or girlfriend, I can make the same case for men.
      See, while I recognize the sacrifice many women make in terms of caretaking and home economics and raising the kids. Many women sacrifice themselves in a relationship to help their partner.

      You have to see just as much many men sacrifice themselves by working stressful jobs just to take care of their families. My dad worked over 30 years commuting an hour and a half by car early in the morning just so he can sacrifice himself for his family., He was a good provider. He died ay a young age as many men do. The heart attack was caused by a stressful life.

      Many men also feel alienated by no getting attention from their wives. Studies show while men cheat, women do as well. Some marriages or relationships have a situation where the woman feels deprived of attention, others show where the male feels deprived. It depends on the person-not sex or gender.

      Similarly, many men seek validation through a women or being in a relationship. Men get bombarded by advertising and popular culture as well as women that to be normal you must be in a relationship. There is a whole induistry of men now hiring dating coaches and how to pick up women,
      However. some men today are learning to be content with being single either permanent or temporarily. many men are learning to nurture themselves, cook, clean and be content being alone. Many men are marrying later or not at all.
      Only if you are content being alone will you be that much healthier in a relationship,

  5. I would go crazy with that much attention. Absolutely insane. It is a whole lot more fun to be there for each other. Feeling separate from each other is something I treasure.

  6. When the books for Twilight first became popular me and my friends took turns reading them over and over again! We could not get enough of them..and the movies just made it better. So far we have gone to every midnight premier just to see them. I think what makes every girl fall in love and wish that they had a man like Edward in their life is because he is just so caring and protective over Bella. Every girl that I know loves the fact that he is just so hooked onto her and wold literally do anything for her. It is the fact that he is the kind of guy that wants to hear what she has to say, wants to be with her every minute, and that she could not do anything wrong in his mind to change that. It is the sense that she is perfect to him. I think what also gets to the girls that read and watch these movies is that Edward has been around for thousands of years and has never found a girl like Bella to love, and she is just a normal ordinary everyday girl.

  7. I think those who have read the twilight series, including myself, can relate to this idea of what women want. The author does a good job using senses and leaves the reader wanting those feelings to happen to them. In general, I don’t believe twilight is the ideal relationship. it may seem like it is because of the fact that is very well known by people and that is what they are being exposed to. I feel like for someone who hasn’t read twilight, they would have a different perspective on what the ideal relationship is like. Women also want some privacy from their partner, watching them sleep and wanting to know everything (even thoughts) about their partner just seems creepy.

  8. “It’s how you make her feel: fascinating, cherished, protected.”

    Yep. That is what we want.

  9. I remember reading the first Twlight book years ago and I was pretty immersed, however I did not go on to read the sequels. I think that is because I was aware that the book is merely a writing of fiction just like the movie depicts a fantasy tale. I tend to prefer having a more realistic perspective in life, instead of obsessing over some ideal. These stories raise false expectations in people on both sides. For women particularly, they should not expect that this perfect man will enter their life or that every guy is an Edward. Personally, I notice that guys try to make the best impression initially when they want to “sweep a girl off her feet” so to speak. This may lead one to fall in love and focus only on the good qualities of someone. This can create disillusionment because we are reluctant to view and accept flaws or maybe a harsh reality. If the guy loses interest or he’s trying to play her, a girl still justifies being with him or at least wanting him because of how he acted in the beginning. Or even if she recognizes that he’s not right, she believes she can change him somehow. False illusions too often tempt and cloud people’s judgment. If the guy wants to be with the girl, he will sustain a clear effort, but girls should be realistic and follow gut instinct. In guy’s defense, even if he wants a relationship with a girl, he is not entitled to be with her every minute, sacrifice and throw everything away for her – that isn’t healthy for anyone, or compare himself to a surreally beautiful and perfect character. I would argue that true love emerges in a relationship where two people can cherish each others’ flaws and commit to overlooking everything that falls short of our generally too high expectations.

  10. Twilight is the type of book that someone of any age can get hooked on. Especially the female crowd. Twilight gives women, and girls the idea that there are guys out there who want to connect with you on a deeper level. Edward Cullen is the type of character who women fall in love with, and this is because his relationship with Bella isn’t based on sex. He cares about her, and wants to protect her. But as I get to thinking more about it, why Bella? The first thing that comes to my mind is maybe because shes the type of girl who is “hard to get”. Bella is the only person whose mind cannot be read by Edward. There may be signs on both sexes. The female crowd loves the book because it is the type of romantic relationship we look for, but also makes it seem like guys only want the hard to get type of girls.

  11. I thought it was creepy in the beginning of the series how Edward would watch Bella without her even knowing. It makes Edward come off as a “stalker,” in my opinion. Bella thinks anything Edward does is incredible and romantic. However the whole “always being there for her” can also come off as a trust issue to some people who are reading the series. Everyone gets his or her own message from the movie. Some women will even compare their relationship with Bella and Edwards. Some men may even put on a false act and pretend to be someone like Edward and a few months after he is in a relationship he’ll act like the person he really is.

  12. Different women want different things, so you can’t really define what women want categorically.

    Personally, I can’t do the whole devotion thing. I would have to pretend, which just isn’t me. Which is why I prefer FWB arrangements.

  13. i believe that there are all kinds of women out there. some begin to want this type of affection in there early stages of dating and some at there later maybe college years. i dont think its wrong that a women would want this kiind of attention but i do believe that there are some women who even form very early on dont care for much of any kind of romance.

  14. Natthinee Sutjaitham

    “Now mind you, women may want to take care of themselves and their men, but they also like a man who takes care of them and who makes them feel safe and secure.” That is very true at least for me. I think the important message from Twilight is that Why worry about whether you’re a nice person, or interesting to be with, or friendly, or just the kind of person that anyone might want to spend time with? Edward doesn’t care, he’ll love you just the way you are, no effort required. Real relationships require effort and compromise. Because Bella is an ordinary girl just like them, who this perfect, rich, unique physical specimen falls for despite having absolutely nothing in common with her. He is so protective of her and never wants her to get harmed. Every girl wants a man like that or someone who loves them, not looking at her as an object.

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