It is clear that 50 Shades of Grey and Twilight are trying to be romance novels but instead it gives a view of gender roles that depict women as helpless and in need of men’s guidance.
Twilight show that women are dependent on men to solve their problems and aid them with everything. Once he leaves she slips into a dark depressive state. A similar occurrence happens when Grey leaves Anastasia, even when it is just for a night. It makes women seem week and powerless when it comes to relationships. The movie Sexy Baby touches on the fact that children at a younger age are watching and being affect by media meant for older audiences. Mass media depicting sex and relationships is all around them so it is hard for them to understand what a healthy compassionate relationship is like. In the case of Twilight, we shouldn’t be exposing young girls to books that degarade women. How will books like Twilight affect the way young girls view relationships?
She gives him completely control over the relationship although she believes that she is. The S and M displayed in the book is completely inaccurate. There is more trust and premeditated planning in order to ensure the safety of the participants. The BDSM community does not like this book because it misrepresents what actually goes on in their relationships. In 50 Shades of Grey, Grey does not talk to her about the acts before she engages in them, which gives him complete control over the situation. She never asks him to stop when he is spanking her, even though there are safe words in place to prevent her from being harmed. Grey does not release control in the satiation by telling her exactly what he is going to do to her. Instead, he gives her headphones and a blindfold so she is completely unaware of what is happening.
Male dominance in heterosexual relationships is also brought up in “Sex and Power” where Barber says that “hetero-sex is a mechanism by which men dominate women” (NSS p. 45). Men is the one who is assertive and typically “wears the pants” when it comes to heterosexual relationships. In 50 Shades of Grey, Anastasia does not get to touch him or engage in the romantic relationship she wants with him shows the huge divide between Grey’s control over the relationship and her own. He tells her to embrace her sexuality and he fines pleasure in pleasing her sexually but it is all under his terms. 50 Shades of Grey displays the relationship as though Anastasia has control because she can sign the contract and argue over the specific elements, but if you critically analyze the novel you can see that it is not the case.
Twilight gives power dynamics in a relationship a little bit different approach due to the fact that sex is not the driving force in the relationship. To Bella, Edward is attractive due to his masculinity and “bad boy” façade. In society boys have to be masculine in all ways so many men try to compensate with over exaggerating things. Since Edward sparkles in the sun, he has to embody masculinity in other ways. He has to be strong and powerful instead. Edward also shows his control in the relationship by being the one to control how far they go sexually and how close they get. It is all about the emotional aspect of the relationship. This is why Bella has a more emotional withdrawal when he leaves her. It is displaying the gender roles that expect women to be emotional and fragile.
Both books show the binaries that society expects women and men to fulfill. The authors try to make the female characters be shown as independent and intelligent women. They clearly do not display behaviors of independent women by the way they attached. In 50 Shades of Grey, Grey gets in the way of her future career by distracting her before her interviews. Bella also skips school and is distracted by Edward in class. It feeds into the idea that men should be a women’s main priority. Many of my friends are exactly this way. From my area it is a common from people to find the perfect doctor or businessmen and move back there. Their main purpose of going to college is to get an MRS degree. The idea that a woman needs to focus on finding a man and not their education is based if the fact that women used to be housewives and not expected to do anything else. After World War One and Two women are more likely to get a job and an education but unfortunately where I grew up women went to college only to find husbands. Luckily now a days it is expected of women to get jobs and work outside of the home, even though on average women earn less then men do. Have the role of women in the house actually changed or do they just have extra responsibilities now that they are part of the work force?
Both of these novels show unhealthy relationships where there power in the relationship is not evenly distributed. They both “can’t stay away” from these female characters because they are able to control them. It is hard to understand why both of these stories are so popular when the relationships in them are so dysfunctional.