100 Years of Sexy Sexless Mormon Vampires
There is, however, one enduring similarity between these Mormon vampires of the past and present that should not be overlooked: virility. Mormons have always been stereotyped as a particularly fertile people, whether it was through the polygamous families of the 19th century or the church-going monogamous pair with ten children in tow. Earlier vampire Mormons were obviously polygamous and insatiable, fulfilling that stereotype quite openly. Edward Cullen, too, exhibits some aspect of the Mormon fertility stereotype as he and his new wife, Bella, become pregnant during only their second sexual encounter. Furthermore, Edward's child develops so quickly that Bella's stomach is noticeably larger in only five days. If Edward is the socially stereotyped Mormon in his abstinence, so he continues to be the stereotyped Mormon in his particularly potent virility.
To be sure, the vampire-missionaries of Winifred Graham's anti-Mormon novels were sensational and propagandistic while Meyer's Twilight series sets out to be anything but blatantly referential toward Mormonism. Yet, the connections are still made today between Edward, his sexuality, and Meyer's faith. The vampire again has become the symbol of that which is both sexualized and mysterious. To the readers and theatergoers of the early 20th century, Mormonism's connections to polygamy made its members seem dangerously charismatic and foreign. To the readers and theatergoers of the 21st century, Mormonism's doctrine of abstinence is what now sets the religion apart from mainstream hook-ups and one night stands. The vampire is still there -- he just may look a little different. Less dangerous, perhaps. More romantically inclined, sure. But, still, he's a Mormon.
Heidi Harris recently completed her M.A. in American Studies from Boston University where she focused on 19th-century cultural history, religion, and gender. Currently, she lives in Coos Bay, Oregon where she teaches introductory philosophy and explores tide pools with her marine biologist husband, Paul.