Feminist Friday: The Problem With The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Roll the opening credits. Enter Average Troubled Male.

Average Troubled Male has a mediocre, meaningless life. He feels trapped in his job and either hates his friends or has none. He can’t see the fun in anything, and he’s on the road to depression.

What does he need?

A) To get out of his cubicle and give back to his community.

B) To move to a foreign country.

C) A prescription for antidepressants.

D) A woman.

If you answered D, you’ve bought into the trope of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl.

According to tvtropes.org, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl is “stunningly attractive, high on life, full of wacky quirks and idiosyncrasics (generally including childlike playfulness and a tendency towards petty crime)…she will focus her kuh-razy antics [on Average Troubled Male] until he learns to live freely and love madly.”

elizabethtown09Nathan Rabin created the term “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” in response to Elizabethtown, but that’s not the only movie where we see the MPDG. Garden State, Almost Famous, and Breakfast at Tiffany’s each have a perpetually charming woman who saves a man from his own demise.

While movies that include a MPDG are often considered cute, heartwarming, or romantic, they’re also problematic.

The Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a one-dimensional character. She’s flawed in her flawlessness, and she suppresses her own needs and emotions to serve as a crutch for Average Troubled Male’s journey of self-creation. Sure, she has her weird traits that create a facade of depth, but ultimately she represents a distorted and reductive view of women. Most women aren’t and can’t be genuinely bubbly and charming all the time. Frankly, if they were, they’d be frustrating, not adorable.

Furthermore, dating someone who is depressed, especially if you have a bubbly disposition, isn’t enchanting. It’s difficult, it’s emotional, it’s demanding. Loss of interest is a classic symptom of depression, so a real-life Average Troubled Male might not even be able to appreciate an MPDG’s whimsical adventures.

In short, the MPDG is unrealistic and misrepresents how women actually act.

But hey, movies are often unrealistic, right? So what’s the big deal?

garden-state-originalThe big deal is when this misguided ideal permeates real-life interactions and relationships. When men expect their partners to fit the Manic Pixie Dream Girl mold, they’re looking for “the supporting actress in the movie of their lives,” explains Harris O’Malley, who goes by “Dr. NerdLove” on his blog.

The MPDG’s only purpose in a movie is to create Average Troubled Male’s happiness and further his storyline, which makes real-life Average Troubled Males want real-life MPDGs who will dedicate themselves to his needs despite his brooding, unappreciative attitude.

“The Manic Pixie perpetuates the myth of women as caregivers at our very core, that we can go ‘fix’ these lonely sad men, so that they can go ‘fix the world,'” explains Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency.

O’Malley argues that the men who crave their own MPDG often feel helpless to get out of their uninteresting rut on their own.

breakfast_at_tiff“They’re praying to find somebody whose boldness counteracts their repression, who can break through their suppressed emotions and bring the drama that he feels is lacking in his life.”

But while Manic Pixie Dream Girls are nearly ubiquitous in comics, literature, and film, they aren’t ubiquitous in real life. In fact, I’d challenge you to find even one woman with no life of her own–no job, no interests, no familial obligations, no friends begging her to ditch the mopey loser who never reciprocates.

Oh, that’s right. She doesn’t exist.

“Women are not here for men’s inspiration or celebration or whatever else. We are musicians and artists and writers with our own brilliant and creative endeavors. But you wouldn’t know that from the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope,” says Sarkeesian.

We already know how powerfully Hollywood influences human behavior. The prevalence of the MPDG encourages women to aspire to Manic Pixie Dream Girl status, which is harmful to their sense of individuality. We need to resist pursuing the qualities behind the trope, both in romantic partners and in our own identities.

I’m not the supporting actress in a man’s world, I’m the leading lady in my own. And I refuse to be seen any other way. 

Zooey-Deschanel-500-Days-Of-Summer-zooey-deschanel-21079861-1280-534


The #FeministFriday discussions are back! Last week Gene’O hosted at Part Time Monster and wrote a great post about why he’s a feminist. Next week the discussion moves to LM at The Lobster Dance.

If you want to read more about female representation in movies, my last #FeministFriday post discussed whether the Bechdel Test is valuable. (Next time I’ll write about something besides movies. Maybe.)

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90 thoughts on “Feminist Friday: The Problem With The Manic Pixie Dream Girl

    • I love that movie. LOVE that movie.

      And I think the character of Clementine takes the MPDG trope and turns it right on its head. She does the things a MPDG would do, but she has her own troubles and her own desires. She not always perfect or even predictable. And, at the end of the day, a *lot* of what we see of Clem is straight out of a guy’s head. She makes us so aware that she’s constructed, that she’s being de- and re-constructed as the memories are erased.

      Liked by 4 people

      • “I’m not a concept. Too many guys think I’m a concept or I complete them or I’m going to make them alive, but I’m just a f**ked up girl who is looking for my own peace of mind. Don’t assign me yours.”–Clementine Kruczynski , Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

        Liked by 3 people

    • I agree with the other comments, and I love that I’m not the only one whose thoughts went to this movie! Definitely an exploration of this trope, but by showing more than just the start of the relationship, it shows the beginning, middle, end, and memory-wiping recovery period, of a real-life-ish relationship between these two types of people. From tropes to life! And it doesn’t go nearly as well as might be expected.

      Meaning in part it might be an overall Hollywood problem that we tend to see the build-up to a relationship, rather than the middle of one.

      Liked by 3 people

  1. Love this and very true so many films dapple with this stereotype off the top of my head Along Came Polly and 500 Days of Summer spring to mind. You could argue that the book The Rosie project uses this stereotype to a certain degree but I liked the way Simsion makes the point that Rosie is the one that could do with changing, its a nice little subversion on this usually rather predictable story line.

    Insightful post, I’m a big fan of Feminist Friday!

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yay for Feminist Friday! 500 Days of Summer is definitely up there. I haven’t seen Along Came Polly or read The Rosie Project but they sound interesting. If you like the inversion of the MPDG you’d love the movie Ruby Sparks. Thanks for reading/commenting Rachel :)

      Liked by 2 people

    • 500 Days of Summer should be disqualified. The thesis of that one is how acting like a jackass and expecting a woman to be a MPDG savior will make you a lonely miserable putz.

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      • I purposely didn’t include it in the main post because you’re right, it shows how putting someone on a pedestal only hurts you more. But you have to admit that Deschanel’s character is (for the most part) a MPDG, which normalizes that ideal/standard.

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        • I don’t think she really is, Tom puts her into that mold more than he puts her on a pedestal. When he starts to look through all the memories, he’s dragging her places that a MPDG would go and she looks unhappy and bored. She barely flips through the records, doesn’t touch the pancakes…the only thing that really fits is that she likes “The Smiths”. Which apparently is a huge thing in the MPDG world…

          like that…

          Liked by 1 person

  2. The Average Troubled Male’s problem is that he is well educated, he has a decent career, good looks and money. Hang on a minute, those aren’t problems! He’s doing great. His main problem is that he’s been conditioned to think he can only enjoy the more playful, spontaneous and enjoyably irresponsible side of life by hooking up with a woman who will liberate him from his dull grey world in return for him picking up the tab for the both of them.

    Hollywood movies depict these hard working, successful, young, attractive men as living colourless, shallow, meaningless lives. And that is true to a great extent. But this is mostly down to how men have always been conditioned in a patriarchy.

    In a patriarchy women claim an effective monopoly on the right to indulge in comfort, self expression, frivolity, unpredictability, spontaneity and above all selfishness. Boys are raised to feel IMPORTANT!!!….. and important people are far too important to enjoy life! Important people have commitments and responsibilities, like earning money and running society and making sure the resources get mined and the infrastructure works properly.

    Even today we generally discourage boys from being overly emotional, playful, self expressive, spontaneous and fey. And even though men still do the vast majority of dangerous, smelly, dirty and demanding jobs in society (men are killed twenty times for frequently at work than women as a result) we still treat a man wanting to indulge in a scented bath and some quality ‘me time’ as suspicious. And any man daring to express his quirky, frivolous, playful nature beyond the sporting of novelty tie is viewed as a rebel at best, and more likely some sort of deviant.

    The reason why women claim a monopoly on frivolous self indulgences and general fun time – and brand them as exclusively ‘feminine’ – is so that men are always craving them, and feel they can only enjoy them via women. The MPDG’s personality is the embodiment of all the natural traits that has been conditioned OUT of men since birth, not least by their mothers, nannies, daycare staff and teachers…. the vast majority of which will have been women.

    Creating this hole in a man’s life is all part of patriarchy’s Resource Acquisition Strategy for women (and by association for children). In a patriarchy women deprive men of the comforts, indulgences and pleasures that brighten up life, and then offer to let men share in these things with women in return for men providing resources and protection for those woman.

    And of course by playing the role of child-like, unpredictable, irresponsible, compulsive, frivolous, emotional, basket case women are effectively forcing men to take on the opposite role in the relationship. If you are walking with a partner and you feign a sprained ankle you effectively force the other person into the role of responsible carer. For centuries this has been the basic strategy used by women to get men to do all the grunt work in society.

    MPDG’s are often petite and cute women who understand the enormous power that comes with being able to easily trigger men’s natural hard wired urge to take care of women and children. The MPDG is half woman and half child. Men find that irresistible and will practically saw their own foot off to provide for these kinds of women. This is why MPDG’s gravitate towards successful, independent, materially wealthy, dutiful, loyal, decent (if rather bland) men. These are the men they can most easily make a transaction with….. he supplies the money and security and the responsible outlook on life…. and she provides the playfulness and spontaneity.

    And there is nothing inherently right or wrong about these kinds of relationships. There are what they are. As long as they are mutually consensual it’s all good.

    These relationships only cause harm if people involved aren’t aware of their role and don’t understand the nature of the transaction. For men it can lead to being vulnerable to gold digger women, and he can end up working flat out just to please his high maintenance wife who has all the fun.

    And for women it can lead to an unrealistic – or rather unsustainable – sense of power over men. Women have most power over men in their late teens and 20’s. An attractive, bubbly, petite women might have the whole world at her feet at 20. She will be surrounded by a field of penises gently wafting in the breeze with gifts attached, and she can choose whichever she likes…… but this huge power over men will start to rapidly diminish after she hits 30 and and this is the time when men’s power starts to increase because by this time a man usually has a career and some money in the bank, making him suddenly rather appealing to women.

    Playing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl starts to get very tiresome once a woman hits 35 – especially if she hasn’t developed any other skills in life, a career, an intellect and a personality. And if she has spent her 20’s partying and flitting from one man to another she may suddenly find herself alone, and now competing for a man (from a diminishing pool of men) with women ten years younger than herself.

    Her options now are to settle for a low status male of her own age (probably some ex with kids in tow and tons of baggage), or look for a man 20 years older than herself and become his trophy wife.

    As for Saarkesian…. she is neither manic, nor a pixie. She is just an ordinary scam artist.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I think you’ve said a lot of really interesting stuff here, especially about the ways that the patriarchy makes men responsible for showing emotions.

      But this statement puzzles me: “In a patriarchy women deprive men of the comforts, indulgences and pleasures that brighten up life, and then offer to let men share in these things with women in return for men providing resources and protection for those woman. And of course by playing the role of child-like, unpredictable, irresponsible, compulsive, frivolous, emotional, basket case women are effectively forcing men to take on the opposite role in the relationship.”

      I’m just not sure I quite understand– it’s sounds as though women are controlling the patriarchy, which of course they cannot be if it’s actually a patriarchy. I’m also not sure I understand when/how women gained all the power to be emotional manipulators and only used it as such. Which women are doing these things? When, historically speaking, and where?

      MPDG and her counterpart, Sadly Responsible Guy, are made up. They are often male-authored. While it can be valuable to look at how the relationships work on-screen and in-books, it’s important to note that the primary reason the relationships work that way is because they are written that way.

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      • “It’s important to note that the primary reason the relationships work that way is because they are written that way.”
        Yes. And the reason that they’re mimicked in real life is that they’re common in pop culture, and they provide an unrealistic view of something to aspire to.

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      • > I’m just not sure I quite understand– it’s sounds as though women are controlling the patriarchy….

        Well yes. Women control the patriarchy *at least* as much as men do – and I would say far more so. Women are not (and never were) the pathetic, weak, inept, naive, wretched ‘acted upon’ objects that feminism claims they were. Women are (and always were) perfectly capable of defining and negotiating their own gender identity and gender roles in society, and to a great extent dictating men’s roles too. After all it is women who have always had the most influence in child rearing of both boys and girls and our gender identities are mostly formed in early childhood.

        > ….. which of course they cannot be if it’s actually a patriarchy.

        Only if you’ve already subscribed to feminism’s ‘patriarchy theory’ BEFORE you start thinking about gender roles throughout history. Feminists have defined traditional gender roles (AKA ‘the patriarchy’) as men systematically oppressing women to create a society which benefits men at women’s expense. This automatically defines men as having all the power and women as having very little if any power. But feminism’s explanation of traditional gender roles throughout history makes absolutely no sense, and does not fit with basic facts or logic.

        If men always had all the power and they used it to oppress women we would expect WOMEN to have been the ones digging ditches, mining the coal, ploughing the fields, going off to die on the battle field etc while the MEN stayed around the relative comfort and safety of the home, wearing fine clothes and generally being provided for and protected by women – in return for men doing housework, cooking and providing sex! LOL

        Feminism’s claim that women have always been oppressed by men in a patriarchy implies that men’s traditional roles were always more preferable to women than women’s traditional roles. But that is ridiculous. Even today most women (and most men for that matter!) do all they can to avoid doing manual labour jobs, even though those jobs are 100 time safer and more pleasant today than they were before we had machines and decent protective clothing and health and safety regulations.

        Throughout history SOMEBODY had to do a bunch of dangerous and strenuous manual labour and SOMEBODY had to stay around the home and do the housework, look after the children and prepare and cook food (which was a full time job in of itself when there was no electricity or indoor plumbing or modern chemicals or supermarkets). Those were the jobs that needed to be done each day just for communities to survive. It is ludicrous to assume women were jealous of men’s traditional roles outside of the home. Being a housewife might seem grim compared to the opportunities women have today, but at the time it was still preferable to working outside of the home as men were expected to do. And if men’s roles were LESS appealing to women than women’s roles were, how can we say men oppressed women? If anything it was men who always got the raw deal. And if men dared to try and opt out of his traditional role as traditional patriarchal man (ie self sacrificing, dutiful, loyal provider and protector of women) he was shamed, ridiculed and ostracised BY women. In flippant terms – he wasn’t going to get any pussy. (EXAMPLE: the men who refused to go to war who were given white lilies by women as a symbol of their disapproval).

        What feminist theory refuses to acknowledge is that when life is harsh and brutal (due to lack of technology) and day-to-day survival is a struggle it is PREFERABLE to be ‘second class citizens’ who surrender a degree to agency in society in return for opting out of ‘front line duties’ and being protected and provided for instead.

        This is why when work outside the home mostly meant doing dangerous, dirty, smelly, strenuous manual labour women CHOSE to wear skirts and petticoats and shawls and corsets and they said to men “We are but weak and puny women, inferior to men in every way” before having to go and lie down in a darkened room ;)

        But when new technology created job new and appealing opportunities in comfortable centrally heated offices and mechanised factories women CHOSE to ditch the skirts, put on a pair of pants, roll up their sleeves and say “Right you bastards. We want to work like you men in those comfortable offices earning loads of money without getting our fingernails dirty. We’re fed up of being treated as inferior to men!”

        Work means shovelling shit in the pouring rain = women put men in charge.
        Work means comfortable office environment = women demand equality with men (or better yet ‘fast tracking’ into those appealing jobs AKA ‘positive discrimination’).

        If a meteorite struck Earth tomorrow and sent us back to the middle ages feminists would be the first to demand men do all the hard work again, while women stayed at home (“we are but poor puny women, inferior in every way!”), and they would CHOOSE once again to surrender a degree of agency and control in wider society as a concession to being allowed to opt out of mining, fishing, logging, building roads by hand and fighting wars.

        Feminism is basically a continuation of patriarchy or traditionalism in this modern liberated age of new enabling technology. Whereas most women count their blessings and just get on with living an independent life enabled by all this new technology and the new jobs it has created, feminists keep on demanding stuff from men….. only (a) feminists have run out of things to demand and (b) feminists (unlike traditional women) are not willing to make any concessions or give anything back to men in return for men doing all the dirty work. So feminists just end up trying to shame men who wear the wrong kind of shirt, or men who call them bossy, or men who sit with their legs to widely spaced etc. And feminists invent a ludicrous historical narrative about male oppression and they use it to make men today feel guilty about imaginary crimes their ancestors committed against women in the past. The aim of feminism is to make men feel guilty and ashamed. Then feminists offer men a way to redeem themselves and win back a degree of social acceptance again …. by giving feminists more free stuff and special treatment. LOL

        Feminism’s “He for She” is just a rebranding of chivalry. But instead of praising and rewarding chivalrous men for their self sacrificing efforts, feminists just try to shame non chivalrous men for not putting women’s needs and wants before themselves.

        > I’m also not sure I understand when/how women gained all the power to be emotional manipulators and only used it as such.

        Women control who ‘belongs’ in a society, and who gets to reproduce in society. Women have pussies. Women are the gatekeepers to their pussies. Men will do all sorts of things to get access to women’s pussies, not just for pleasure but to reproduce. Women can reproduce whenever they want (there will always be men willing to have sex with her), but men must win over a woman first before being allowed to reproduce.

        Here’s an example of women’s power in society. If enough women closed their legs to soldiers and shamed soldiers for murdering children in Iraq or wherever, then all wars would end within a month. No young man would want to be a soldier if that meant women would snub at him in bars and refuse to be his girlfriend or have casual sex with him. But instead most women practically rub themselves in public at the sight of a ‘man in uniform’ (a man dressed in the costume of a hired assassin). So wars continue.

        Also women’s health, safety, wellbeing and comfort is associated with successful reproduction and nurturing. The more a society looks after its women the lower infant mortality will be (a big deal throughout most of history). Women are the limiting factor in reproduction. A tribe can lose half its men and birth rates will not be affected – not so with women. This is why in a patriarchy women are objectified as ‘precious ornaments’ and protected as such….. whereas men are objectified as ‘disposable appliances or tools’ and they are sent off down mines or out to sea or off to war.

        Feminism defines being protected and provided for as ‘oppression’ and being sent off to do some dangerous job as ‘privilege’. However I don’t know a single feminist who has chosen to get a ‘privileged’ job the mining industry, or on oil rigs, or emptying garbage, or in the construction industry or any other traditionally ‘male dominated’ job. Do you?

        It’s almost as if the traditional male role in society is not so privileged after all :)

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        • Could you provide examples of women controlling the patriarchy as much as men do?

          I’ve not (nor has anyone else here) said, nor do I ascribe to the belief that women are “pathetic, weak, inept, naive, wretched ‘acted upon’ objects.” Feminism doesn’t claim that either, and if you’re going to say that it does, I need evidence of that from somewhere. Citations.

          Oppression does not only come in one form. You are conflating at the very least gender, class, and economic privilege here, which do not work the same across the board even in the fairly new country of the U.S., much less in older countries who’ve been through several systems of government.

          Women’s role as housekeeper and childminder is only a “privilege” if it is the choice a woman chooses to make. And do not mistake or underestimate the danger and difficult work of child-bearing and child-rearing.

          Frankly, this is all a diatribe about what you think feminism is, and you’re wrong.

          Liked by 2 people

    • Saw this early this morning, been thinking about it all day. I’ll bite. It is truly interesting, and there is a lot to unpack — lots of stuff I can go along with, especially some of the things you’re pointing out about emotional conditioning. I differ with the overall thrust, though.

      Allowing entirely for the sake of discussion that your account of patriarchy here is sufficient to draw conclusions about power. You are looking at the system of rewards and punishments that perpetuates the whole thing. Carrots and sticks. I would argue the power over men that you’re talking about near the end there is not actually power. At best, it’s influence gained for a short while as a reward for conforming to a narrow and restrictive way of trading on one’s sexuality. It can be parlayed into long-term gains, but it comes at a steep price.

      The institutions that decide who gets rewarded and who gets punished for which behaviors are the actors with the actual power, over both men and women. This may seem like I am playing a semantic game here but I assure you I am not. What constitutes power is of supreme importance in these sorts of discussions.

      To the extent that frivolity and self-indulgence are defined as exclusively feminine — and you are going way further with that monopoly idea than I would go, especially If we are talking about the here and now — it’s just as much conditioned behavior as the discouraging of boys to express their emotions.

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      • Yes I’m not saying that (young, attractive) women’s effortless sexual power over men serves women’s interests in the long term. It is a power, for sure, but like all power it can lead to disaster! Being able to coast through life with everybody wanting to treat you like a princess in the hope of getting to have sex with you – or just hang out with you – means there is little motivation to develop skills, a personality, a career and it’s very easy to end up a narcissistic, bratty, self entitled princess. Then you hit your mid thirties and suddenly that sexual power is gone and you have no other redeeming features to compensate.

        So I agree that the power women have over men is precarious, fleeting or not without its drawbacks….. but the exact same thing can be said about men’s power in society too. Men’s traditional ‘importance’ and social standing in society is obviously an advantage in some situations, but it is just as often a burden and a disadvantage in other situations. Men are restricted by their importance in a way that women don’t have to deal with, being much less ‘important’ than men. Self expression is one obvious example. A man who dares to express himself outside the narrow confines of acceptable male clothing or behaviour immediately attracts a huge amount of attention – most of it negative. The wrong brand of trainer or the wrong kind of hairstyle can easily result in a man being beaten up. Yet women can pretty much express themselves however they want and nobody cares, and most people are not just accepting of female self expression, they are encouraging.

        As the saying goes “Women’s facade of weakness is their greatest strength, men’s facade of strength is their greatest weakness”.

        We could say the same thing about ‘importance’ and social standing too.

        I’m anti feminist NOT because I believe women have all the power and men have none, but because I don’t believe in ANY narrative which doesn’t acknowledge that power, privilege and importance is very much a double edged sword.

        Also I don’t believe we can split men and women into separate opposing camps as if everything must always be win-lose. Women have always benefited enormously from (what feminists would call) male privilege. A lot of the things feminists complain about today are precisely the result of women gaining equality with men!

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        • Okay, this post is riddled with some fundamental misunderstandings (that I’d like to briefly correct) and some straight up falsehoods, that are frankly demeaning and damaging. I also, as an activist, feminist and decent human being, feel obligated to respond to any post that ends in “I’m not a feminist because I don’t believe in female superiority”.

          To begin, you don’t seem to understand what social power (or social capital, as a lot of sociologists call it) actually refers to. It is NOT being able to manipulate or control individual people, nor is it the ability to get things from other people. Social capital instead refers to the net level of value placed on you as an individual (which is usually determined by wages or perceived difficulty and selectiveness of a job). This is a much more useful definition because it relates social value to the actual currency of survival (that is, literal currency). It doesn’t matter how much people like you if they’re not going to support you with that appreciation. Also, if you are charismatic but still unemployed, that charisma doesn’t somehow make you more powerful or socially valued than the slightly autistic CFO at Microsoft or Amazon. We live in a country where value is measured is dollars per hour; it would be irresponsible to measure it another way in our research.

          Also, you don’t seem to understand what feminism is, probably because you’ve never read the work of an actual feminist. Which is fine, I’ve never read the work of a single astrophysicist, but I don’t comment on articles about how Pluto isn’t a planet with my personal feelings on the flaws in the planetary classification system. Since you have chosen to comment, let me direct you to the feminists who answered your complaint in the early 80’s. bell hooks wrote, “Simply put, feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression,” in her book Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center, published in 1984. This is not “anti-men” it is anti-oppression and anti-exploitation. You should also probably read Angela Davis and Judith Butler for a more nuanced description of how race, class and gender all intersect to create oppressive systems of white-supremacy and patriarchy.

          Now onto the actually wrong and damaging things you’ve proposed. For starters, let’s talk about women’s sexual power a bit. Lots of people get really hung up on this, particularly (in my experience) men who don’t have sex very often. If a woman is pretty, we argue, she can get lots of things! She manipulates men like a vixen into doing her bidding, fighting her wars, keeping her in pretty dresses and heels without ever lifting a finger! All she does is pop out babies and nap all day (in the 20th century, now she shops all day, but same difference). You recognize there might be some drawbacks to this (like that women age) but I don’t think you acknowledge at all the most pernicious drawbacks. First, no one actually wants to lay around being pretty all day like a “spoiled princess”. It’s boring and leads to actual mental health deterioration (hysteria, even) and leaves you 100% constantly dependent on whoever is supporting you in this lifestyle. That dependance is where the real violence comes in, violence that you have conveniently chosen to ignore. Yes, a woman can be gorgeous and “express herself” by wearing a tight, low-cut dress to the bar where, yes, she will get some free drinks–the only price is that she accept being raped by any man who has chosen to buy her one of those drinks. And no, I’m not saying that having sex with anyone who buys you a drink is rape. I’m saying that, should a woman have the misfortune of being assaulted during her night out on the town, her accusation will be thrown out before it leaves the police station. I mean, she CHOSE to be in that bar, and look at what she was wearing…

          See? You’ve heard this before. This is what results from living in a culture where we view women as objects for male consumption. We don’t do this to men (excepting trans-women and feminine presenting men, which is a subject for a different time. If you’re genuinely interested, Dude You’re A Fag by C J Pascoe is a book about the way we police femininity in men, and it’s terrific). Women’s power is false when they’re expected to attain it by selling themselves to men, in one way or another.

          Which brings us to your final point, the “double-edged sword” of power. This is bullshit. Apply this mentality to arguments about racial inequality. Sure, maybe it’s hard being white and not having any real meaningful culture or holding the burden of being the ruling class, but white boys are not being shot in the streets for being white. And Black boys are. Maybe it’s hard being a dude and suppressing your emotions and not crying in public, but men are not being raped on camera, or yelled at on the street, or groped in public, or dying of anorexia and bulemia. And women are. If putting on a suffocating mask of masculinity every day is your only issue, pardon me, but I’m not going to sit around feeling too terrible for you. Maybe some Manic Pixie Dream Girl will.

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          • Ysabel, You’re right. The boys committing suicide because they feel they are a girl inside shouldn’t get attention from feminists because “well at least they have their privilege.” The men who are sexually assaulted or abused and have no where to go because no one believes them should just remember how good they have it. The men who have diagnosed bulemia and anorexia should just deal with it because “look at the way women are portrayed as objects in the media! Someone else has it worse so you shouldn’t feel bad about it.”

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    • I agree with your points about the double standard for men, having to be emotionless despite being expected to have certain responsibilities that come along with strong emotions. Not sure what you mean about Sarkeesian being a scam artist though. She definitely isn’t manic or a pixie, and she doesn’t want to be.

      Liked by 2 people

    • (Curiosetta, actually responding to your two comments below, there’s just no more nesting available down there…)

      I think you’re applying far too much rational choice theory. We don’t start with a clean cultural slate each time someone is born. Each person doesn’t have the opportunity to choose how they want their culture to be. Women can’t all secretly conference together and decide “I don’t feel like fighting this war today, let’s make the men do it.” Neither do men all secretly conference together and decide “Let’s oppress women.” Patriarchy is an aspect of our culture, and individuals can work with it or against it, but they don’t create it of nothing with each generation. A mother doesn’t have the option to teach her child whatever she wants, unless that child is brought up in a bubble. There are always non-maternal interactions, including those with fathers. Plus, the mother didn’t start from scratch with a culture she created herself, either.

      Most of us freely acknowledge that patriarchy harms men, too. For instance, the perception that men are the fighters and workers while women need to be protected. The idea that men shouldn’t express their emotions because that’s a feminine thing to do. That doesn’t mean patriarchy doesn’t exist or isn’t bad, it just means we’d all be better off as human beings without it. This also doesn’t mean patriarchy harms men and women -equally-. And yes, there are plenty of feminist women who have chosen or would like to choose jobs in traditionally male-dominated fields. Like… most of them, because there aren’t many female-dominated fields. Class comes into this, of course, especially if you’re thinking of manual labor, but that’s hardly the only male-dominated field.

      Emotionality and self-expression tend to be associated with women in our culture, but I think you overestimate that freedom. The range of things women are allowed to express is still quite limited — for instance ambition is out, anger is out unless it’s sort of a feisty-sexy anger that means nothing, etc. Anyone who wishes to express their gender nontraditionally is subject to stigmatization and violence. Plus, the alleged emotionality of women is constantly used against them, to condescend to them. This attitude toward emotionality harms men, women, and everyone else too.

      Finally, please do not reduce people to their reproductive organs. It’s rude and dehumanizing.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Thank you, Hannah!

        You are hitting the nail on the head with the too much rational choice theory there, and we should probably have a conversation about the shortcomings of that particular theory. People apply it to all kinds of things that it doesn’t work for. Rational choice thinking is one more problem we need to get around to, eventually. It excludes so many variables.

        And yes, yes, yes on that last sentence.

        I am not done with this thread, btw. It exploded while I was doing other stuff, and it seems I still have a misunderstanding about power to sort out. I am processing all this info and thinking about how to approach that. :-)

        Liked by 1 person

      • > I think you’re applying far too much rational choice theory. We don’t start with a clean cultural slate each time someone is born. Each person doesn’t have the opportunity to choose how they want their culture to be.

        Fine. But this means the feminist narrative is a fraud. You can’t have it both ways. If culture just ‘is’ then feminism is wrong when it claims men have systematically oppressed women throughout the ages and that women are – as women – victims of the patriarchy.

        > A mother doesn’t have the option to teach her child whatever she wants

        Of course she does. Women have agency, just like men. Women’s lack of agency is another myth promoted by feminism.

        > Most of us freely acknowledge that patriarchy harms men, too.

        Yes but this is a cop out. Men suffering under patriarchy is always framed as a kind of ‘friendly fire’ (men hurting their own). It is never suggested by feminists that patriarchal norms might be being invented and imposed BY WOMEN and that it is women who are in fact harming men. In feminism’s version of patriarchy women have no agency and so are nothing but ‘acted upon’ victims, therefore any harm inflicted on men must be men’s fault, just as the harm inflicted on women is men;s fault too.

        Feminist theory strips women of all agency – and thus responsibility – so that whether women are wretched victims or triumphant victors, they are always always the innocent bystanders of society.

        > That doesn’t mean patriarchy doesn’t exist or isn’t bad, it just means we’d all be better off as human beings without it.

        Well actually no. Patriarchy has served some groups extremely well over the centuries. If you were a woman and you valued your health, longevity, safety, comfort, security, protection and self expression/ individuality then patriarchy hs served you very well indeed for centuries. And the reason for this was always to ensure the safety and security of CHILDREN. Patriarchy places women at the heart of society to ensure children are the most protected and are given the most resources via women.

        Patriarchy is what dictated that men had to fight wars in return for voting rights. Patriarchy is also what allowed women to get the vote a few years later without any obligations at all. That’s just one example of patriarchy serving women’s interests which feminism defines as ‘gender equality’, even though it is obviously female privilege. If women had been the ones forced to fight wars and men had been let off and millions of dead women soldiers had accumulated in piles over the last century I don’t think you would be saying we’re ALL better of without patriarchy. You’d say patriarchy has served men’s interests and harmed women.

        > And yes, there are plenty of feminist women who have chosen or would like to choose jobs in traditionally male-dominated fields.

        No there aren’t. For centuries women refused (or were just physically unable) to do ‘men’s work’. As technology raised living standards and made certain types of men’s work more viable and more ATTRACTIVE to women they started to show an interest. But there have been no calls by feminists to get women into the more unappealing ‘male dominated’ jobs in the name of ‘gender equality’. Feminists only want ‘gender equality’ in the jobs that are attractive to them – jobs that are well paid, and don’t involve getting your hands dirty or putting your safety or health at risk.

        > The range of things women are allowed to express is still quite limited — for instance ambition is out, anger is out unless it’s sort of a feisty-sexy anger that means nothing, etc.

        I disagree. Society champions ambitious women and angry or driven women PROVIDED they let go of their second class citizen status and the automatic entitlement which comes with that status and accept full responsibility for their actions (ie assume the same status as men). What feminists object to is not being allowed to be ambitious, angry or driven like men while simultaneously keeping their status as fragile, responsibility-free, second class citizens who deserve special attention, extra protection and automatic sympathy and favouritism.

        The problem is that women are told from birth that men are privileged and women are oppressed. And when some women choose to participate in the traditionally male dominated wider society and assume equal status to men they are shocked to find this world is not so privileged after all, mainly because you are on your own and no longer get to be treated like a child. People call you ‘bossy’. People feel they have the right to stare at you in the street, or even say nasty things about you within earshot. Men were raised to just accept this as part of life, but for a lot of women being treated this way comes as a shock. They assume it is because of their status as women, but it is actually because they have assumed equal status to men. It doesn’t occur to these women that assuming equal status to men can mean a step DOWN in many respects.

        > Like… most of them, because there aren’t many female-dominated fields.

        Nursing/ healthcare, education, administration, social services, beauty industries, fashion and of course homemaker. Women receive far more *unearned* money (or free services) from men and from the state (mostly paid for by taxes taken from men), than men receive from women. This allows women to maintain the same standard of living as men while working in less demanding, or more fulfilling or more flexible jobs …. or simply staying at home and doing a bit of cooking and cleaning. If more women supported men financially then we’d see a lot more men going into less demanding (and thus less well paying) careers, because they could finally afford to!

        The glass ceiling is in fact an indication of female privilege, not male oppression. But of course feminists have twisted the issue to fit their victim narrative – so they can then make even more demands for ‘free stuff’ and special treatment! LOL

        > Anyone who wishes to express their gender nontraditionally is subject to stigmatization and violence.

        I’m sorry but that’s ridiculous. Women can walk down the street in dirty overalls and a spanner in one hand and not be at any risk from violence. But a man exhibiting the slightest feminine traits (much less wearing a dress or make up) is very likely to encounter harassment or violence.

        > Class comes into this, of course, especially if you’re thinking of manual labor, but that’s hardly the only male-dominated field.

        Yes men ‘dominate’ the most prestigious AND the least prestigious jobs in society. In general women tend to occupy the middle band.

        > Finally, please do not reduce people to their reproductive organs. It’s rude and dehumanizing.

        I was not reducing anyone to their reproductive organs. Understanding and acknowledging the massive influence sex and reproduction play in shaping our behaviour is a sign that you are thinking ‘above’ that level. The people who exploit human sexual drives the most are usually the ones who object to a rational discussion about it. Just saying.

        Acknowledging sex/ reproduction as a drive is no more ‘rude’ or ‘dehumanising’ than acknowledging hunger or the desire for shelter as a drive which influences our behaviour.

        More than anything else the patriarchy is a survival strategy which got us through the most arduous and brutal circumstances. We would not have survived as a species without traditional gender roles.

        Like

        • For most of this, I’ll just direct you to Gene’O at the bottom of the comment section. We seem to be operating under very different concepts of feminism here. I’ll just add a few things that are relevant to our personal thread in the conversation:

          Systematic oppression is by definition part of the existing culture. That doesn’t mean every individual man is out looking for ways to oppress women, or would even agree that it’s happening. Systematic oppression refers to structures — like laws that prevent women from fighting in wars, and governmental structures that (in effect) kept those laws from being changed for a long time.

          “A mother doesn’t have the option to teach her child whatever she wants” is half of my sentence, the other half being “unless that child is brought up in a bubble.” I have what my mother teaches me, what my father teaches me, what all my other relatives teach me, what I learn from classmates and educators, what I observe on the street, what I see in books and movies, what I discern for myself. We are all part of culture. Each of those sources of input is important, but in most cases, no one source will entirely dictate what I, as an adult, believe about life or believe to be normal.

          There are places in the world where all kinds of gender expressions are welcome, and perhaps you come from one of those places. If so, I’m very glad. I’m from Alabama — the American South. A woman walking down the street in dirty overalls with a wrench — okay, she probably likes trucks. A woman walking down the street in a tie — she could be beaten up. A woman walking down the street with her girlfriend. A person walking down the street without expressing as male or female. And that’s just at the “walking down the street” and “violence” level, not including someone’s daily behavior or interests. Of course this applies to men expressing traditionally feminine traits as well, and the backlash may be even stronger, but that’s a function of how culture devalues women and traditionally feminine behavior.

          Reproduction and sex are important, particularly since they’re one of the few areas in which men and women differ biologically. However, it is possible to discuss this without reducing it to genitalia. We can discuss “access to sex” and “access to reproduction” as part of culture, without reducing women to the ones who “have pussies.” Or, indeed, reducing men to the ones who want them. We’re all humans. As you said in another context, we all have agency. I have other issues with your allegation — the idea that women always get to choose their sex partners, and the heteronormativity of your assumption — but discussing people as people is a baseline of this discussion.

          Liked by 3 people

          • “For most of this, I’ll just direct you to Gene’O at the bottom of the comment section.” Is totally the right play here. Why I wrote it instead of doing other stuff. To give you something to refer people to.

            And BTW, this one is well and truly pegged. Don’t feed it, ever again, for any reason, is my advice.

            And of course since I am talking about a person who I respect as another human being I have to explain that the “it” refers to the behavior not the actual person, whoever the heck that is. What I mean is do not feed the behavior of this actual person on a thread you are involved with. But do continue to treat them with respect. Because everyone is worthy of dignity and respect, even when it is difficult.

            My advice is to respectfully banish them from the kingdom, without interaction, if they appear on one of your own threads :-D

            Liked by 1 person

    • I just have to address the Saarkesian comment at the end, since I am in the process of putting this entire conversation under the microscope and formulating a post-length comment of my own, since we seem to be communicating in post-length comments this weekend.

      That last sentence is a non-sequitur: “a conclusion or statement that does not logically follow from the previous argument or statement.”

      Neither the post nor the Sarkeesian article claims that Sarkeesian herself is either manic or a pixie. So, I am assuming that last line is an attempt at humor that fell flat. I don’t pay enough attention to her to have an opinion about whether she is a scam artist or not, but, um. Not really something you want to be saying about people without providing specific examples of scam-artistry.

      I will respond to your response to my own comment soon enough. Sabina does not nest her comments very deeply, so I will have to do it in a new comment, but I will be sure and address it to you, because this discussion has been both fun and profitable so far.

      Liked by 2 people

        • yes, there is a setting that lets you control them, if you are on wordpress.com. It is in settings/discussions. I have mine set to go about six deep. Have played around with them a bit. Six to eight is enough for just about any conversation, and more than that, depending on your theme, the comments get so narrow they are illegible, especially on the phone.

          Liked by 1 person

      • > Neither the post nor the Sarkeesian article claims that Sarkeesian herself is either manic or a pixie.

        Yes but Saarkesian was quoted talking about the subject. Yes my remark was facetious, but it was backed up with a link to a video showing – among other things – clips of Saarkesian lying together with screenshots proving her thesis is a fraud and she does not even play the games she claims to have studied. So plenty of evidence to back up my claim that she is a fraud.

        > Not really something you want to be saying about people without providing specific examples of scam-artistry.

        The specific examples were in the link. And a quick web/ youtube search will provide hours and hours of evidence proving she is an absolute A1 class fraudster of epic proportions. But because she is a woman and she claims to be ‘defending women from the evil patriarchy’ the media and the general public have accept everything she says without doing ANY fact checking. This is because in a patriarchy we are taught that women can do no harm to society and that men can take any harm dished out by women anyway (and if they can’t who cares because men are disposable anyway).

        This is all horrendous sexism of course.

        If she were a man claiming video games hurt men and there is a culture of misandry in gaming culture, the media and the public would not simply believe it all at face value and she (he) would not be able to raise hundreds of thousands of dollars for basically doing nothing except promoting a bunch of gender political ‘woo’ in some youtube videos and then disabling comments and ratings when the intelligent criticisms start to flood in.

        Like

      • Totally missed that there was a link because I read fast, and this theme doesn’t underline them, and have not looked at it. Can’t really click a link left by someone I don’t recognize and who links neither a blog nor a gravatar to their comments. That’s like clicking links from total strangers on twitter. But I will do a YouTube search at my convenience and I am sure it is not difficult to find. For now, I will just concede that I missed the attempt to back that up, apologize for my oversight and my mis-founded criticism of that one thing, and move on.

        As for the entire rest of the discussion. I said my say in my last way-too-long comment. Happy to keep talking in a conversational way, but we’re mostly talking past each other. So I’m done writing essays on comment threads, and done reading essay-length comments for the weekend.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. I like the way you connect the unrealistic representations to unrealistic expectations here. And everything is better with TV Tropes references :-)

    Interesting about the origin of the trope name. I assumed it was older than that.

    Will be around later this pm.

    Liked by 2 people

    • The list of MPDGs and MPDG-like characters and MPDGs-turned-on-their-heads on the TV Tropes website is incredible! And Nathan Rabin actually later wrote a piece about how he regrets coining the term because now it’s being overapplied–a lot of female characters with unique traits are called MPDGs when they aren’t, they just have personalities like a normal human female.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. This is gonna go so well with my Women in Refrigerators post in a couple weeks. ;)

    The way I see it, there’s no problem with Holly Golightly being Holly Golightly, or Margo Roth Spiegelman being Margo Roth Speigelman. The problem is a) the MPDG is a stock character, which often means lazy writing full of stereotypes, and more importantly b) the MPDG is a character in the man’s story, as you described. She’s basically defined solely by her relationship to a male character. Can anyone think of a MPDG who’s the protagonist/main character/POV character? Is there any way that wouldn’t be a subversion of the trope by its very nature?

    Actually, going through the TV Tropes article, there are a lot of subversions… But they don’t seem to be working. People remember the MPDG, like Margo Roth Spiegelman, but don’t really register the subversion. Or an alternate interpretation might be that people claim to be writing/try to write subversions but are ultimately unconvincing or unsuccessful.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Yes and yes. This, especially “the MPDG is a stock character, which often means lazy writing full of stereotypes, and more importantly b) the MPDG is a character in the man’s story.”

      And Women in Refrigerators??? Something tells me you’re bringing the awesome.

      Liked by 1 person

    • An MPDG can’t exist as a protagonist/main character/POV character because then she’d be having a life of her own. Her weird adorable quirks would no longer be in the eyes of a love interest, it’d just be a normal woman having a personality (whoa, what a concept). I liked how many subversions there were in the TV Tropes article too, it gives me some hope for the future that in changing the trope around it’ll highlight the problems with it.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. I enjoyed this – and the further discussion in the comments. I have a friend in her mid-20s who is playing MPDG and I know she will not be able to sustain this behavior (nor find it fulfilling) much longer. I will be sharing this with her.

    Liked by 3 people

  6. Fantastic post! I agree with everything you’ve brought up. Though I will say that one of the reasons I enjoyed 500 Days of Summer is because [SPOILER ALERT] the MPDG dumps the ATMale and goes on to live her own life, leaving him to deal with his by himself.

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  7. “We already know how powerfully Hollywood influences human behavior. The prevalence of the MPDG encourages women to aspire to Manic Pixie Dream Girl status, which is harmful to their sense of individuality. We need to resist pursuing the qualities behind the trope, both in romantic partners and in our own identities.” I find this interesting because I don’t know a single person, man or woman, that watches these movies and says “that’s what I want to be like” about the MPDG or “that’s what I want my SO to be like”. Instead, these roles have resulted in women looking at the role and seeing its ridiculousness and saying “I don’t want to be like that”. I know I don’t watch movies with these types of characters. I know that my daughters have seen these same movies and have laughed at the role portrayed by the female leads. They know it’s not really like that and it should not really be like that. The same goes for their friends. I’ve overheard discussions where they just laugh at how ridiculous the female role is portrayed in those movies. I hope that is the norm and not the exception. I can’t see it any other way.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Partly a function of age, I think. We are susceptible to accepting these tropes as models of behavior at particular points in the development. I am not a child development specialist, nor a media specialist (bit of a dilettante here, really), so I cannot lay it out in an analytical framework with specific ages, but that could be done.

      Kids have to be taught to resist tropes. That is a part of the parental responsibility these days. Trope-resistance is a part of literacy. Sounds like you did well by your daughters :-)

      So glad you made it for this discussion!

      Liked by 4 people

    • I think consciously we can reject the MPDG as frivolous and not something to aspire to, but many women DO want to fit that mold or at least pieces of it–being interesting and quirky, showing a man all the great things that she knows life offers, etc. I’ve occasionally found myself wanting pieces of that or even having pieces of that. I mentioned in another comment that I want to do a follow-up piece about my relationship during my senior year of high school in which I woke up one day and realized I was a quasi-MPDG.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think it’s okay for us to want to be “interesting and quirky, showing a man all the great things that she knows life offers”. I think that makes for a good relationship. It is only a problem, at least in my book, when we relinquish our own interests and desires to fulfill or complete those of a man. And I would also add that we would do well to remember that this goes for any relationship whether it be the woman taking on the role of the “completer” for the other person, male or female or even for men to take on the role of taking care of every need and desire of the woman or other partner. It isn’t solely a male-female issue. It’s a partner-partner issue, regardless of gender.

        Liked by 3 people

      • I’ve been thinking about this today… I’ve never watched an MPDG movie and thought “I should be more like that!” but I have definitely thought “Maybe I’m just not fun enough for people to want to date me” under other circumstances. “Fun” meaning “Quirky and unexpected and with a crazy slightly-illegal lifestyle to draw someone into.” I’ve seen attractive people and tried to make myself sound more fun and quirky and mysterious to gain their romantic interest.

        I mean, sure, everyone tries to sound better than they are, but I was essentially thinking “I should act more like an MPDG,” that SPECIFIC set of behaviors and specifically linked to romantic relationships, all without explicitly linking it to the MPDG characters I’d seen. It’s just the impression that “This is what people — young men in particular — are attracted to.” Given the fact that it’s basically male wish-fulfillment, that much may be true for a given subset of men, but that doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Now that I’m older/familiar with the MPDG as a trope/more knowledgeable about healthy relationships in general and for me personally, it’s not really an issue anymore. But books and movies are an important part of how adolescents perceive normalcy.

        I’d be interested in that follow-up post, Sabina!

        Liked by 2 people

        • Exactly, Hannah. I don’t think at the time I was consciously trying to be a Manic Pixie, but I was trying to emphasize my interesting, adventurous side because of what I’d seen so many times in movies.

          Liked by 3 people

      • I don’t think wanting or having pieces of it is the same thing as following the model. You can have pieces of it and still be the leading lady in your own story. Just don’t wander off into parrothood. The following of models is the feminist problem here, I think, and this discussion has helped me see it.

        What you are saying about MPDG is kinda sorta what Plato was saying about the poets of his day, except you are just talking about a trope, and he was aiming at the producers of the tropes. (I have read The Republic several times, but am rusty on it just now, so hope I am doing this right. And yes, I am actually dropping some Plato chatter on your wonderful, beautiful thread). The malrepresented gods and the ill-considered tropes have this in common: they give people patterns of behavior to to follow.

        The social danger, and the behavioral troubles we are talking about here are the result of people being offered patterns of behavior at moments when they are impressionable, and deciding to imitate them.

        But I will not banish the poets from my ideal state. I will have citizens who understand that poets are just people who have a way with words. They can be wrong, or be dishonest, or make errors in a creative moment when they are in a feverish state and producing something beautiful.

        So I guess what I am saying here is critical thinking and personal autonomy FTW. But someone has to teach that stuff to little kids for my ideal state to function properly. I think it must be parents. I do not trust institutions — not even ones custom-engineered by me for the purpose of producing an ideal state — with the task.

        Liked by 2 people

        • Oh definitely. Critical thinking and personal autonomy do come from parenting. I won’t stop watching movies in which the female lead is a MPDG or almost an MPDG, but I’m much more conscious of the trope and my reactions to it.

          Liked by 2 people

      • Agreed, Gene’o. Pieces are certainly fine. And there’s nothing necessarily wrong with one character who’s an MPDG, or with having MPDG traits oneself! It becomes a problem when one set of tropes becomes the way everyone “should” be, and when it becomes about pleasing someone else to the exclusion of one’s own personality. I usually think in terms of presenting other tropes and patterns, a variety of realistic women, but I really like your focus on critical thinking and personal autonomy! Responses to input are just as important as the input itself, if not more so.

        Liked by 3 people

      • I’m not sure to reply to! lol

        This whole conversation has been fascinating.

        I think the pressure to be quirky these days is pretty high–especially for a girl. It’s interesting, and sort of weird, but it’s like a beauty standard. We must be quirky and interesting.

        And yes, I do know women who wish they were someone in the movies—haven’t we all at some point? Maybe it’s not a conscious decision to emulate what happens so much as a saturation with images that lead us to believe that this is how the story goes: these are the kinds of people who get to be happy, this is what they look like and sound like and who they are; and over here are the kinds of people who will always be unhappy, and it’s because they don’t look and sound like the happy ones, it’s because of who they are. On some level, being submersed in culture is profoundly affecting.

        Liked by 4 people

  8. Revisiting this thread this morning, I feel like we should also pay attention to or acknowledge the role that different cultures expect of women. Many cultures still believe that women should be subservient to men, that women were put on earth to fulfill men’s needs and desires. In a country like the U.S., where we have so many different cultures immigrating here, it is even more difficult to fight the stereotypes and molds that others think women should fit into. I know my family still thinks that women are secondary to men. When I went to college, my father stopped speaking to me because I was expected to not leave his house until I was married, not to go off to college to live in a co-ed dorm! That was a real fight and although it was almost 40 years ago, the expectation of that culture (Mexican culture) is still very much unchanged. That poses additional problems.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Yes! Cultural differences are very important. We tend to write about issues in Anglo culture because that is where most of us are, that is the easiest frame of reference we have, and we have to be very careful when we talk about cultures we haven’t experienced, lest we do more harm than good.

      But I agree, and I am always happy to have insights into the goings-on in cultures I am ignorant of. That is one of the most important parts of this. Here’s a safe and friendly space that people can find on the internet and talk about this stuff. And it moves from blog to blog :-D

      And we could have a whole other conversation about daughter-father relationships. That would be an interesting and fruitful topic for discussion sometime. I am so glad you chimed in this week!

      Liked by 3 people

      • I’m glad to be able to participate in the discussion. It has been a long time since I’ve used that part of my mind. I haven’t worked since 2000 when I had a car accident which left me with severe back and neck issues so I don’t get to “play with grownups” much or even think to myself about things. So this is a treat!

        Liked by 3 people

    • Very much so! Gender issues can be very different from one culture to another, and I hadn’t thought about how much stereotypes might get muddled when cultures mix. And thank you for sharing how you see the MPDG as ridiculous above… I imagine it does look pretty bizarre outside of a certain subculture!

      Liked by 3 people

  9. @Curiosetta: Since I agreed with half of your original comment and then explained my differences in a very welcoming and good-faith way, then you more or less just tossed another post-length comment at me that repeated most of what you’d already said without speaking to the differences — which is the only way to make progress, really. Acknowledging and sorting out differences — I am pasting pieces of your response to me into this comment and responding to them.

    “Yes I’m not saying that (young, attractive) women’s effortless sexual power over men serves women’s interests in the long term. It is a power, for sure, but like all power it can lead to disaster! Being able to coast through life with everybody wanting to treat you like a princess in the hope of getting to have sex with you – or just hang out with you – means there is little motivation to develop skills, a personality, a career and it’s very easy to end up a narcissistic, bratty, self entitled princess. Then you hit your mid thirties and suddenly that sexual power is gone and you have no other redeeming features to compensate.”

    1. It is not “effortless.” People get twisted up in all kinds of ways over having to behave this way to get ahead.

    2. Almost no one is “coasting through life.” Nearly everyone is struggling to keep it between the ditches and just remain in the world one more day. Even rich people. Even shallow people. Even beautiful people.

    3. You are still misunderstanding what I said about power and the reward-punishment system. Re-read my first response to you. You are making no attempt here to be thoughtful about power. I accepted your account of patriarchy just for the sake of discussion and gave you props in the form of spending way too many words telling you I agree with part of what you are saying before pointing out a very significant difference. You are just elaborating on the easy stuff and that is leading you to make even more errors, because you have not dealt with the definitional problem.

    4. The subtext of your comment seems to indicate that you have almost as big a problem with young and/or attractive people as you have with feminists. “Young” and “attractive” are just as much categories people cannot control as biological sex and gender identity are. We can’t decide what year we are born any more than we can decide what colour our skin should be. And attractiveness is subjective. I am not young, but I remember what being young was like. Nothing young people do is effortless. Nothing. Even being lazy requires effort. And I am an attractive person to a lot of people. I don’t take kindly to assumptions that attractiveness is the controlling variable in anything attractive people do.

    “Yet women can pretty much express themselves however they want and nobody cares, and most people are not just accepting of female self expression, they are encouraging.”

    1. This is simply not true. It’s a colossal misunderstanding at best, and it is taking all the restraint I can muster to not just call bullshit right here and be done.

    2. See #1.

    As the saying goes “Women’s facade of weakness is their greatest strength, men’s facade of strength is their greatest weakness”.

    1. This is what I call a “sickly-sweet aphorism.”
    2. To the extent that it is pointing to anything true about how social systems work, it is highlighting the stereotypes and the enforced gender roles. You are parroting it like it’s wisdom. It is not. Back-handed ironic criticism is the only use I can see for it.

    “I’m anti feminist NOT because I believe women have all the power and men have none, but because I don’t believe in ANY narrative which doesn’t acknowledge that power, privilege and importance is very much a double edged sword.”

    1. Once you define yourself as “Anti-” anything, you’re pretty much sunk.
    2. So, you don’t believe in any narrative which doesn’t acknowledge that power, privilege . . . etc . . . is a double-edged sword.” Acknowledging the double-edged nature of power and privilege is EXACTLY what feminism works best for, when it is skillfully applied. It’s about criticizing social systems that damage EVERYONE, even the privileged. Plus, feminism is not a narrative, but if it were, it would not be a single narrative that you could make such a definitive statement about.

    “Also I don’t believe we can split men and women into separate opposing camps as if everything must always be win-lose. Women have always benefited enormously from (what feminists would call) male privilege. A lot of the things feminists complain about today are precisely the result of women gaining equality with men!”

    1. No one who is commenting on this thread or writing these posts is trying to divide men and women into opposing camps, and no one is playing a zero-sum game with gender either. That might be a thing feminists do in some corners of the internet, but I know the people who read these particular threads pretty well. They’re going to read this as you flogging a straw man half to death. They will either snicker and move on, or bite their tongues. Either way, on most weeks, no one but me will even acknowledge that statement as something that deserves a legitimate response.

    2. Women benefiting from male privilege is something you have to provide evidence for if you want anyone to take that statement seriously, and the parentheses read like scare quotes. Male privilege is not something feminists constructed. It is something that actually exists, and feminists are better than almost anyone at describing it. The reason I know feminists did not invent male privilege is that male privilege existed long before feminism came into being. Time ordering is important, and you always want to be careful and look at history before you go making these sorts of statements on a thread full of people with adequate critical skills.

    3. Give me examples of “Things feminists complain about these days,” and be sure to provide me enough information so that I can see who, specifically, is saying those things. No one here is complaining about things that are the result of women gaining equality with men. Being thankful that we we’ve made the progress we have so far with the equality, talking about the fact that women actually haven’t gained full equality, and complaining about things that are a result of women NOT being equal to men is what these discussions are about. If you have a problem with something some feminist-identifying persons said someplace else, my advice is go and take it up with them. Everyone answers for themselves in my multiverse.

    Perhaps you have mistaken us for a different gaggle of feminists.

    Given the number of unsupported claims and definitional errors you have made about not only feminism, but fairly-well-understood social concepts like power here this weekend, I am thinking maybe you are using a few very important words to mean things other than what I mean when I use them.

    I think we are mostly talking past one another. Speaking different languages. So if you are interested in having a productive discussion, why don’t you explain to me what you mean when you use the word “feminism” and let’s start over from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Ok, I’ve had enough.

    ENOUGH.

    Curiousetta—and anyone else who wants to play this game.

    If you are going to make wide-spread claims about what feminism is/does (or anything else actually), then you must prove it. You must find source material to back up your claims. You must explain how your source material ties to your points, and you must use it. For an example, see the actual post Sabina wrote that we’re discussing, something concrete and grounded in existence. For evidence, she uses established critics, films of the era, and other internet articles, appropriate evidence for a blog about a stock film character.

    I keep seeing post-length comments that assert the same things, over and over, about what feminism is/does with absolutely zero grounding in actual feminist teaching.

    I will not allow someone who is “anti-feminist” to define the movement for themselves without pushing back against that—-especially when there is zero grounding in fact.

    Same goes for assertions of what women do and do not do. And never again tell me that women don’t work in what you call “men’s jobs.” You’re an idiot if you think that there aren’t women garbage collectors and miners. And you’ve been watching too much “Parks and Recreation” and taking it seriously. I know women who do all sort of “men’s” jobs. And don’t mouth off about their motivations, either. You don’t know them.

    And that’s part of what bothers me about ALL of what you said.

    You have this contemptuous attitude toward women, especially young and attractive women, in every post-length comment. Attractive women, young women, old women, unattractive women—they don’t owe you, or the world, a thing. And you don’t know them.

    Even the people you know best hide things from you. And you know it’s true—do you not hide things from other people, even those closest to you? Do they always understand your true motivation? Doubtful—people are very complex and don’t always share their secrets. Don’t presume to understand those you’ve never even met.

    And did you really have the audacity to say that it was the patriarchy who gave women the vote, and for no obligations? Women in America were given the vote because they were hunger striking in prison and the government couldn’t afford to be seen breaking their jaws to force-feed them. Because women were LITERALLY DYING. You couldn’t be more wrong.

    Last, and this is an important one, and I think Hannah’s already said something to this effect—Don’t refer to people as their genitals. It’s unspeakably rude and unnecessary. Each of us is far more than our “pussy” or “dick.” Reducing the human world to only those things misses oh so many people and oh so many other important things. It’s heteronormative and again does that thing whereby you assume to know what all living beings want and what their motivations are, which is pretty fucking ridiculous.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Nice job pushing back and not allowing someone else to change the terms of the conversation by offering an alternative reality and plowing right along without acknowledging that is what they are doing. You are closing in on your next level, if you have not already gained it. Have a TV Tropes link just for fun, and do put a few skill points into rhetoric!

      http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/TookALevelInBadass

      I needed to be spending my words on blog posts and tweets instead of arguing with an anti-feminist on the Feminist Friday thread this weekend, which is why I so rarely engage with that stuff and I advise other bloggers that it is rarely a good idea. It is a drain on the resources.

      But this is progress, so I am ok with having spent the time I’ve spent here so far. I’ve gained some conceptual clarity about my own position, and learned a thing or two about managing threads this weekend.

      Liked by 1 person

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