The “Twilight” series created a worldwide splash when it was first released 11 years ago, setting records as one of the biggest selling novels of 2008. The series’ success can be attributed to its inclusion of vampires and werewolves, but most of all, its depiction of an “instant and eternal attraction” between the dark and mysterious Edward Cullen and the innocent and naive Bella Swan. Twilight is, at its core, supposed to be a love story about two teenagers, one human and one vampire.
However, when we look closely at the story, concerning elements emerge. In “Twilight,” Edward has a habit of sneaking into Bella’s room to watch her sleep. In the books, this is shown as the height of romance. In real life? Not so much.
At this point, it has been well established that sexual assault on college campuses is an important issue. And practically everyone agrees that rape is bad. You’d be hard-pressed to find people who openly declare support for rapists, or say that rape is okay.
And yet, progress for campus sexual assault survivors is repeatedly stymied. The system for rape reporting continues to fail survivors. Between improperly processed rape kits and inadequate counseling services, sexual assault survivors on college campuses are routinely confronted with a system that seems to be working against them, rather than for them. Who is upholding this broken system, and protecting sexual assault perpetrators at the expense of survivors?
In theory, there’s nothing wrong with the friend zone. It supposedly describes a common phenomenon: you develop romantic or sexual feelings for your friend, but your friend doesn’t reciprocate. Boom, you’ve been friend zoned. It sucks, it’s awkward, and it happens to everyone, men and women alike.
Yet, even though the friend zone is a gender-neutral concept, it seems to be almost exclusively used by men to describe their relationships with women. Sometimes, men who use this term actually start off as good friends with a woman and develop feelings for her over time—a perfectly natural and innocuous phenomenon that nobody can control.
My friend scrolls through the photos of a man on Facebook. He’s white, lives in a predominantly white neighborhood, and went to a predominantly white high school. But in many of his photos, he is accompanied by Asian women.
“Yes, he has yellow fever,” my friend confirms. No, not the potentially fatal viral hemorrhagic disease transmitted by infected mosquitoes, but rather a preference for Asian women. The term is most commonly ascribed to white men who seem to only ever date Asian women.