This has been one of the bigger issues I have had with the series as a whole. For people confused about what grooming is, let me explain. Grooming in this case means that someone who is over the age of consent (usually much older, though it could be as young as 18 depending on the situation) takes time to prepare someone under the age of consent for a sexual relationship. Giving gifts, spending extra time and attention, or using manipulation and threats in order to eventually have a sexual relationship are all examples of grooming.
There is a thought piece by Dr. Leslie Kay Jones (https://www.nbcnews.com/think/opinion/twilight-vampire-diaries-are-actually-about-very-old-men-grooming-ncna1206376) that was posted on NBC that is extremely interesting about this topic in relation to vampire fiction specifically that I hope you will read, but I will share my thoughts on the whole is this grooming thing now:
At 12 years old, I didn’t know what grooming meant. I don’t think it was at the top of anyone’s mind back before the Me-Too movement. Now that we are in a situation where we as a general public have a better understanding of what right and wrong look like, I can’t get over this situation. As an adult, I can never encourage a child to think that this type of relationship is okay.
At the start of their relationship in the books, Edward has been in his body for over 100 years (there is an argument of “alive”, at least from his point of view, so I will be avoiding that word), while Bella has only been in her body for 17 years. The concept of the book is that Edward, whose body was frozen in time at the age of 17 years old, develops a relationship with 17 year old Bella, and from that relationship, they marry and eventually have a child.
Now, we let’s have the conversation of “is this still grooming if he appeared to be 17?” Yes. It was very clear from the beginning of the novel that he has maintained the mentality of his years on the Earth. He has learned, retained his knowledge, and experienced plenty of years, many more than Bella ever had the chance to yet. With all of that being said, he also constantly pushed for her to be older before they took things to the next step (changing her and sex).
And listen, there are always going to be people who are going to say that a relationship with someone older could also be considered grooming because he had the body of a 17 year old. I’m just saying, maybe the whole “turning vampires into sexual objects” thing for young adults isn’t the best idea.
But in case all of that is not creepy enough for you all, let’s talk about Jacob and Renesmee. Now, I already know that Meyer explained it and that it isn’t a sexual thing, but like, I’ll say it, imprinting is 100% a sexual thing. Maybe not right away, because she is a BABY, but at some point, she is going to reach adulthood, and guess what Jacob is planning on doing one day. I’ll say the statement that is controversial, yet brave, imprinting is an excuse for grooming. To anyone who is considering reading the Twilight series, and especially anyone who is reading this who is considering letting the younger generation read this series, please teach them that lesson. These men (who are in their late teens. I believe Jacob was 17 when he imprinted on Renesmee who was born less than 30 minutes prior. I believe Quil was 16/17 when he imprinted on a 2-year-old) have given gifts, spent extra time and attention, and have used the excuses of “it’s a wolf thing” and “it’s not like that” to manipulate the adults involved and justify their relationship. Sound familiar?
I am not an expert, I’m just a concerned reader. And I don’t know everything about grooming, but there are certain things about these books that I just can’t get past. If you want to see other people’s opinions about this topic, you can check out these links as well (please note: there are a lot of links I did not add. There is a lot of information on this topic, so please do your own research if you want to know more):
If you or someone you know is being sexually exploited or assaulted, call 800.656.HOPE to contact the National Sexual Assault Hotline. Or you can text 741741 to get in contact with a crisis counselor.
If you guys have any thoughts or ideas, feel free to leave a comment, find me on the social medias at @elizabooksblog, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. And as always, I’ll see you all in the next book!