There’s still time to get your New Moon duvet cover or your Bite Me Edward tote bag before Friday, which is the official release date of the much-anticipated second installment in the Twilight series, The Twilight Saga: New Moon.

Unless you’ve been hiding in a bat cave, you’ll likely have noticed that vampires are hot these days. The television drama True Blood is HBO’s most popular series since The Sopranos and Sex and the City. The CW’s The Vampire Diaries is becoming equally popular. And, depending on your sources, as many as 33 vampire movies were produced in 2008/2009.

So what’s got us all so bloodthirsty? Some would say it’s all about sex. In fact, True Blood creator Alan Ball has been quoted as saying that vampires are a meta­phor for sex. Certainly, the whole seductive, neck-biting, blood-sucking thing has a not-so-subtle sexual undertone; but when Bram Stoker brought the vampire to the masses in 1897, his novel Dracula was also a thinly vampire-cloaked metaphor for the repressed and conservative sexual mores of the time.

Giving into the count’s temptation turned women into dangerous seductresses, the opposite of the unrealistic Victorian ideal of women as virgins or mothers.

Unlike the brutish, macho vampires of yesteryear, today’s young vampires reflect a more modern young man. Sort of like Vampire Metrosexuals, they’re sensitive, pretty boys with tortured souls and perfectly mussed hair.

But today’s vampire tales still seem to act as a metaphor for society’s sexual mores and some of them haven’t changed much.

Just as with Stoker’s Dracula, there is still an underlying message that a woman who gives in to her sexual urges will be punished. While human Bella wants to do it, despite undead Edward’s reluctance, she also knows that having sex with him could unleash his bloodlust, with dire consequences for her.

Edward’s insistence that they wait certainly reflects the current, conservative preaching to young people to practise abstinence. But, just as in Victorian days, vampire fiction doesn’t always reflect mortal reality.

As Robert Pattinson, the actor who plays Edward, put it in a recent interview: “I think it’s hilarious that everyone, especially parents, are saying it’s about abstinence and they’re really pleased their kids are reading it (the movies are based on a book series). And yet so many people who are reading the books are thinking” I want them to have sex! I want them to make me want to have sex!”

• I’m looking for intimate stories from couples for my next book. For details about what I’m looking for and how to submit, visit my Sexcetera blog at