Dr Terri Apter, a psychologist and senior tutor at Newnham College, Cambridge University, who carried out the research for her new book What Do You Want From Me?, found that two-thirds of daughters-in-law believed that their husband’s mother frequently exhibited jealous, maternal love towards their sons. The behaviour ranged from that experienced by 26-year-old Jenny from north London, whose mother-in-law began emailing her two months before her wedding with messages saying, ‘What you don’t realise is that my son thinks about me every day, every minute of the day, every second of every minute of the day’, to more common behaviour, such as making demands, being critical or intrusive, sulking and eliciting pity.
A similar proportion of mothers-in-law, however, complained of being excluded and isolated. ‘My daughter-in-law is so cold towards me,’ said 64-year-old Annie from Yorkshire. ‘She begrudges any time or attention my son gives to me and takes every opportunity to minimise the importance and depth of the bond he and I have.’
First year of college someone who had noted my reading habits gave me a used paperback of Earl Thompson’s Garden of Sand. Ever since, my thoughts about over bearing possessive mothers and their feelings about their sons have been at least mildly tinted by Thompson’s dark story. I realize that Garden was the deep end; maybe it was reading it at just turning eighteen combined with entertaining the idea of being a psychologist that inflated its impact. Many of the women in Apter’s survey had something of an epiphany about macho men and their mothers. They realized that they were suddenly in a contest for affection and esteem they hadn’t signed up for.
college days. not mine by the way.
This not the first time vampires in pop culture have been a perfect expression of the currents and anxieties of their time. In fact, one might argue that that is their purpose.
With immortality, a killer instinct, and a life on the fringes, Vampires are a perfect conduit for musings on the human condition. “Vampires have long served to remind us of the parts of our own psyches that seduce us,” writes Salon’s Laura Miller (in a superb analysis of the “Twilight” books). But the metaphor is often less existential than that, as the vampire bite is easy shorthand for sex. Vampirism allows consumers to take vicarious pleasure in rule-breaking couplings, while also justifying phobias about sex-because the seducers do have lethal fangs, and their condition is quite contagious.
Vampires are about sex and death, the fear of both, but also about romanticizing them – thus the appeal to and reinvention of the vampire for each new generation of teens. These are not things one can discuss in polite company as my grandfather would say – a commonly held view that adds to the forbidden zone cultural mystique and the titillation factor. Vampires and their predilection- straight, gay, and bi make great symbolic stand ins for the real thing. So low and behold a cross section of people from the open minded to modern puritans can take pleasure in seeing prurient behavior rewarded and punished, the pleasures and consequences of non-marital, non-traditional unions played out. Depending on the mental freeze frame and one’s internalizations of what they saw or read, a-Ha, vindicated.
Sarah Seltzer gets into the multiple feminists angles to vampires in pop culture in the full article.
la fille de dracula – the tag line courtesy IMDB, “On her death bed, the old woman reveals to her granddaughter the family curse: they’re all vampires.”