Twilight vs. Porn

10886003_det[1]Women often worry that porn raises men’s expectations about what their bodies should look like and what they should do in bed. And why does he want to have virtual sex with those other women, anyway? So women can end up feeling like they’re not enough or not good enough.

Men may worry that Twilight raises women’s expectations for a “one true love” that is deep and intense with a man who only has eyes for her. Who can meet to such standards?!

Men craving sex with lots of women and women wanting sex with one true love. Funny how the visions are so often at odds with each other.

In fact, the appeal of Twilight for young girls may be the opposite of porn. Porn is all about getting sex. But as Edward yearns for Bella — yet avoids intimacy for fear of killing her in vampire bloodlust — Twilight is more like abstinence porn.  Sex without sex. As a writer for Psychology Today put it:

Let’s get back to the sex, or lack of it, which is what hooks girls on the first volume: female readers love that Edward sleeps beside Bella and apparently only wants to kiss her neck.

So in Twilight girls can imagine safe crushes on boys who love them, while avoiding all the complex, confusing and scary adult realities of sex.

But it’s not just naïve girls who fall for Twilight. So do their older sisters and moms. But while their male partners are turned on by hard-core porn’s over-the-top fireworks, Twilight is all about the subtlest sex. Here’s how a blogger at Huffington Post described it. Twilight is all about the:

building of sexual tension. So much so that when Edward brushes Bella’s arm, you can almost feel him brushing yours… They get to really know each other, their passion is allowed to build, we revel in the innocence, the time it used to take to truly build a relationship. Do you remember how amazing your first true kiss was?

A Salon blogger continues:

Instead of relying on tight shots of penetration, these books get their sexual spark from extreme emotional close-ups. The ‘money shot’ in these novels typically isn’t a geyser of bodily fluids but rather a declaration of love, or a man on bended knee.

I was struck by the male/female difference when I heard Meryl Streep and director, David Frankel discuss their movie “Hope Springs.” Frankel said the movie’s themes were universal because, “Who thinks they’re having enough sex?” But Meryl Streep suggested the nuances behind the desire:

If my team were here – women – they’d say it’s not necessarily sex, it’s what sex pulls from you… brings you to. It’s connectedness, it’s intimacy, it’s being known, it’s being seen, it’s being felt, it’s being wanted. The whole thing… But yes, you can reduce it to that part.

For many women, a guy can do the exact same moves and it can feel like nothing if you don’t feel emotionally connected to him, and it can be off the charts amazing when you do.

I suspect the female/male difference is due more to nurture than nature, but it’s a pretty strong pattern. Fortunately, not all men and women fit these molds. Some girls do just wanna have the fun of porn sex and some guys do seek consummate love. Or, what’s wanted may change with context.

But too often, like star-crossed lovers whose pairing is “thwarted by a malign star,” it’s an unfortunate trick of nature – or society — that men and women so often sexually connect at cross purposes.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych, women's 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 University. And I have blogged for Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos.

Posted on November 19, 2012, in men, pornography, psychology, relationships, sex, women and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 16 Comments.

  1. Well done and thought out, Georgia!

  2. Reblogged this on Scott Williams and commented:
    Broadblogs takes an insightful look at the Twilight Phenomenon.

  3. You’re right on. I actually do watch the Twilight movies despite the fact that objectively they’re quite awful, and it’s definitely for the sexual tension. I’ve always said so, in so many words, actually. I think it may be the romantic version of suspense in a horror movie, in fact. Good call. :)

  4. I have to argue the article quote It’s not that Edward does not want sex… he was from a time or era where things were done differently. Women’s virtue was of value then. He believes in doing it the “right” way and waiting until they are married. Yes, he is concerned about hurting her with his vampire strength, but it’s also his value system that is his reasoning behind the abstinence. It’s not that he doesn’t want the sex, or doesn’t have the urge. He has to fight it like any warm-blooded human being.

    • I’m saying that he wants sex with Bella in this quote, “But as Edward yearns for Bella — yet avoids intimacy for fear of killing her in vampire bloodlust.” He cares about her enough to not want to hurt her, and so refrains from his desire.

      I’ve only seen the movies. Maybe the additional concern of his value system is explained in the book.

  5. Very nice post. With regard to male/female difference however I find that generalisations by gender often hide the real picture as there is a huge range of views and preferences within each gender group. Also, people often change over time and might have difference views/preferences on different stages of life.

  6. I’d agree with a sad heart. It took years for me to untangle the damaging messages I received as a man and to get underneath them to a more genuine understanding of what sex was. I too think male sexual modes are primarily culturally reinforced – and exclude men from the best sex within intimacy, leaving them with a series of shallow orgasms and striving egos.

  7. I like Twilight. Although I am team Jacob, I like Edward as well. He is respectful, and puts Bella’s needs above his own. He truly cares for her to do the right thing well for them at least. He waits until marriage. He wants everything to be perfect. I like when he says he has been waiting for her for a long time. Bella is his true love and he could not imagine being with anyone else even before she existed. That says a lot about him. Not a lot of people could wait for that one special person. Not saying that they have to or anything like that, it just takes a lot of willpower. Some people prefer not to wait for their soul-mate or what not.

  8. This is true for me. For a long time, I noticed that when I started being affectionate to my fiancée he would automatically assume that I wanted to have sex so we eventually always ended up having sex as a result. I love my fiancée, but after sex I noticed that I still felt emotionally unsatisfied. Soon, I realized that the reason I was being affectionate was simply to get his attention to try to fill the emotional void. For many girls, like myself, what makes sex great are the moments before where there is emotional connection or when that special someone spoils you with attention and shows that he or she notices certain details about you or shows that he or she is thinking about you. These type of gestures turn the act of sex into an act of love and makes the experience so much more meaningful and fulfilling.

  9. One thing that I wonder about is : if men and women have been experiencing this sort of disconnect ranging from young teenagers today back to Meryl Streep’s generation, how come there hasn’t been much progress in shifting these perspectives on sex closer to the middle ground? The young generation of women today are still being oppressed into being “well-behaved” and thinking that the “perfect” man will wait and be ever so subtle with sex. In the meantime, young men are being fed half naked sex symbols in more ways than ever with all of today’s marketing and technology. Instead of going towards an equal balance, they are influenced to crave the opposite direction. So how can they ever really have a reasonable expectation for sex with their partner?

  10. for me feeling loved doesn’t ever come from sex, but from those nights cuddled together because its cold out and spending time with our family, and sex is just as its called sex i dont look for love in sex i look for an orgasm. and i dont feel badly about him watching porn as long as he takes the time to give me what im looking for during the act. some women just feed to much into then whole porn watching adventure that men seem to be curious about.

  11. This is a very interesting post because i think that twilight and porn are kind of similar in a way that it raises the society’s expectations on love, relationship and sex. Twilight is a movie that raises women’s expectations for men as Edward is very romantic and devoted towards Bella, i think that if women watches twilight, they will have a higher expectations of guys who is after them because they want their guys to be as sweet, understanding and romantic like Edward Cullen. Then if women gets boyfriend who does not treat her like how Edward treats Bella, they will feel dissapointed. Moreover, porn also does the same thing to men, it also make men expect the women in the sex life to be as sexy and appealing as those women in porn. Watching porn and movies like twilight will cause people to create a higher expectations of their love life and results in them being dissapointed as they will not get what they see in porn and twilight. Very intruiging post

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