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The Sparkle Dick Diaries:

The Problem with Jail Bite in Twilight and Other Teen Romances

By Maria Alexander

In case you missed this, a sex toy company called Tantus makes a dildo called
“The Vamp” that you put in the freezer before using to enjoy an “authentic” vampire sex
experience. Not only can you slip yourself the cold beef injection, but you can take it out
into the sunlight to watch it sparkle. Because, rather than mercifully exploding into butt
ash in sunlight, the vampires in the Twilight series sparkle. I’m sure Tantus made “The
Vamp” in honor of Edward Cullen.
I am not making this up.
Now, what I wish I were making up is Edward Cullen. He’s the vampire hero-lover
in the blockbuster book and movie franchise started by the book Twilight written by a
Mormon woman — yes, Mormon — named Stephenie Meyers.
I’d been avoiding Twilight because the fact that a sexually repressed woman
wearing Magic Underwear™ had Super Sized her career by gelding the vampire genre
made me want to hit someone repeatedly. Eventually I recognized that I needed to give
it a chance. It just wasn’t fair to dismiss the sparkly vampires out of hand. Still, I couldn’t
stomach the idea of actually reading the book. As a close second, I decided to watch the
movie. That would at least keep the printed words of the religious defanger from
scalding my eyeballs.
Sadly, watching Twilight was two of the most agonizing hours of my life — not
just because of the ankle-twisting plot holes, but because of Bella, the 16-year-old
protagonist. Bella was not just boring: she was a talentless, depressed teenage twat.
Although somewhat pretty, her truly attractive quality seemed to be that Edward Cullen
— the unbelievably gorgeous and talented vampire she meets at school — couldn’t read
her thoughts. (Mind reading is his special ability.) Meyers claims that Bella’s telepathic

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blocking is not even due to some kind of paranormal trait — a la Sookie Stackhouse
from True Blood — but rather because Bella has “a very private mind.”
I’m not sure what a banal teenager twat has to keep private, but not being able
to hear her psychic drivel apparently gives Mr. Fright a stiffy. (Well, that and the fact
that he thinks her blood smells “sweeter” than anyone he’s met in a long time. Sexual
chemistry, anyone?) So, Edward the Hawt Vampire picks Bella the Blank Brain to be his
new squeeze after being celibate for decades in a school full of nubile, albeit annoying,
teens.
Personally, I was pretty annoyed by the message here that, no matter how drab
you are, you can snag the hottest guy in school, especially if you keep your thoughts to
yourself. While I find this to be a problematic message for young girls, who need to
learn to speak up for themselves, I was far more weirded out by the realization that
Edward is 92 years older than Bella.
92 years!
If Edward was a saggy, stinky 62-year-old instead of looking like a smokin’ hot
17-year-old, we’d be running around like Kermit with our arms flailing overhead,
shrieking in horror that a stinky old man was lusting after a 16-year-old. Or, more
accurately, we’d be verbally hemorrhaging over the deranged 16-year-old being the
sexual aggressor of this relationship. Mothers would be shaking their daughters,
screaming, “Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! And, by the way — ICK!”
But they aren’t. Mothers are instead reading the Twilight books and getting all
gooey over how chaste Mr. Sparkle Dick is because he doesn’t let Bella talk him into
having sex. They forgive the story’s glaring faults because of this abstinence-only
message — abstinence with which they fully credit the man. And not just any man, but a
vastly older predator.
(Did I mention this was written by a Mormon?)
A lot of people have overlooked or romanticized the issue of age difference in
these teen-vampire love stories — not just in Twilight, but in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

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and even non-vampiric literature like Cathy’s Book, a young adult novel by Sean Stewart
and Jordan Weisman that in 2006 debuted at #7 on the New York Times Bestsellers List.
In Cathy’s Book, a 17-year-old girl is involved with a 100+ year old immortal
named Victor. She doesn’t know he’s immortal, of course, because he happens to look
like a smokin’ hot 21-year-old guy. The book starts when Victor breaks up with her and
he has committed a variety of über creepy acts: he’s drugged and drawn blood from the
naïve Cathy, then abandoned her to her ignorance. Instead of calling the police on her
jail bait-snarfing boyfriend and scrambling far away from an obviously bad situation,
Cathy throws herself in the #1 Lane of Harm’s Highway over and over, even committing
felonies because she wants to know why Victor ended the relationship and did all those
creepy things to her. Of course, despite his creepiness, her immortal is secretly snuggly
and awesome; he’s just deceiving her to keep her from finding out the truth of his life
and thereby “protect” her. While I understand why some readers see Cathy’s reckless
immaturity as courageous truth seeking – and to a degree it is – why the hell is a
dangerous older dude prowling around after what is clearly a child?
Oh, dear. I can hear the whining now. “Age difference shouldn’t matter when it
comes to romantic attraction!” But here’s the problem: We often mark a sexual
predator by the significant age difference between himself and the young woman he is
pursuing. The Sparkle Dick is scarier than ever now because he’s hiding that marker. If
Bella or Cathy were in her 30s, at least she would be a complete person. But at 16 or 17,
she’s not. She’s a child about to step into the adult world and get an ass kicking by Life
until she can stand up and keep walking without the emotional training wheels provided
by family. She has many, many miles of experience to cover before she has any idea
who she can trust or what to do with her free time that’ll keep her out of the 6 o’clock
news. Her greatest liability is that she thinks she has the knowledge of said 30-year-old.
Her ignorance and arrogance make Mr. Sparkle Dick even more dangerous, as he has all
the treachery and weaponry of wisdom.

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(Of course, many young girls don’t even realize that vampires and werewolves
are predators at all now, thanks to Meyers’ destruction of the genre, which even
furthers my point.)
While Buffy is often in the same situation as Bella and Cathy — and a coffin load
of fans wanted Buffy and Angel to be together — Joss Whedon differentiated her in
several respects. Not only can she lay the smack down with Angel and Spike, but she’s
better grounded in some ways. She has more friends involved with her “secret life”;
schooling that might take second place to slaying but not to her boyfriend; a major
responsibility to the world that not only forces her to mature rapidly but to sacrifice her
relationship with Mr. Sparkle Dick; and far more parental involvement — from both
Mother and Watcher. In fact, Buffy’s mother tells Angel straight out that their
relationship isn’t cool because Buffy is in high school and Angel is over 200 years old. So
back off, undead jerk!
In contrast, Bella and Cathy are more isolated and to some extent less invested
in their mortal lives. Therefore, they have more freedom to romanticize their predators
and are more willing to sacrifice their own lives in exchange for the world of that
powerful man.
Which, by the way, for those who are playing, isn’t the message we should be
sending young girls.
What’s interesting is a lot of older women who love Twilight have been pissing
themselves over Roman Polanski. They shout (rightly so) that he’s a child rapist while
totally missing the irony that they’re encouraging teenage girls to fantasize that elderly
predators are sweet and cuddly. It seems faintly hilarious that, when they encounter a
real-life older predator like Polanski, they’re outraged to see the world slide headfirst
into the toilet. What? You mean the predator was actually a predator? The gall!
I want every mother to hand her teenage daughter The Vamp dildo and say,
“Here honey. Put this in the freezer for a bit and, when it’s good and chilly, slide it up
your ya-ya sisterhood whenever you think about Mr. Sparkle Dick.” Because then maybe

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— just maybe — our girls will at least learn that, while fantasy feels warm and slick in
your head, reality will eventually cold cock you.

Maria Alexander is an author living in Los Angeles. Find her at The Handless Poet.

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