A few vanilla friends of mine are Twi-hards. A few others enjoy posting links to stories to Twitter about how anti-feminist the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer is and how horribly written the books are. Eventually I decided to make up my own mind by reading the books. Due to my legal blindness I chose to read them on CD. AFAIK, all my copies were unabridged.
I devoured the books. Poor Master got to listen to me babble about the latest interesting tidbit from the books or my latest mini-rant about how clueless the articles I'd been reading seemed. A few times Master even had me restart a track so he could better hear something he'd only partially heard. *giggles* I admit asking him to sit few a few tracks to see if I was imagining my kinky interpretation of what I was reading.
I read the books a few months ago and I've concluded that in order to truly flesh out this piece I'm going to have to re-read the series. Honestly, they aren't high on my to-read list at the moment so I think I'm going to post this and will possibly post more later.
Apparently I'm not crazy. Twilight as Girl Crack by Sarah J seems to indicate that I'm not the only one noticing a kinky tone to the series. It isn't overt, this is a Young Adult series after all. Frankly, when I was a young adult trying to figure out my sexuality I probably would have related with Bella Swan but the Twilight series wouldn't have been the best into to kink in my opinion.
Who knows if the kink is intentional. I doubt it. If you listen to The DungeonPlace Podcast for long enough you'll probably overhear the theory that Mormon girls are pretty much brought up to be service submissives. Bella strikes me as a service sub. She seems happy taking care of those around her. She doesn't seem to be a neat freak because her own room is described as being in a normal amount of teenage disarray. That tells me that her housekeeping is about helping others and the act of service rather than the look of the results.
Bella and Edward Cullen never seemed to have formalized their Domination/submission relationship but neither did they ever seem to discuss the point when they officially began dating. It is a dynamic that they both seem to have unconsciously and naturally slipped into. This lack of communication is part of why I feel that Twilight isn't a good intro to BDSM for young people.
One example of the power exchange they engage in the way that they kiss. While Bella asks, sometimes insistently, for what she wants. Edward is always the one in control. Yes, he has to be in control of himself but he also takes control of Bella and her actions. He controls how far the kissing goes and how long it lasts.
Many people see Bella as a bad role model for girls because of her submissive relationship with Edward and to some extent Charlie Swan, her father. Bella is not submissive by default and isn't even submissive with Edward when they aren't dating. I'm specifically referring to the period of time after Edward left her and prior to their reconciliation after the trip to Italy.
Bella does stand up for what she doesn't want. However, she does think about the feelings of those she cares about. There are limits to that, however. Dating Jacob Black would clearly make Charlie the most happy but Bella stands her ground and refuses to do so because that won't make her happy in the long run. Whenever people want to coerce Bella into doing what they think is best, they seem to remind her about Charlie. Bella does consider Charlie but there are times she puts her own wants, needs, and feelings over those of Charlie. I think this shows that she is not completely submissive to Charile. She's even done this when Charlie and Edward would agree, iirc.
It isn't clear if Bella likes the bruises that come with sex with Edward prior to being changed or if she's simply willing to accept them as inevitable. So, I'm not clear on if there is more than power exchange here for Bella and Edward. Power Exchange is enough to build a kinky relationship on. While I think most relationships eventually incorporate sensation play, bondage, or impact play it is by no means required.