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5.13.2009

"Jealousy is the art of injuring ourselves more than others." (Alexander Dumas)

So, pretty typical morning, surfing the web...what started as a simple search to see if I could squeeze in a viewing of Star Trek before work (sadly, no) ended with bitter diatribes against a movie sub-archetype called the "Manic Pixie Dream Girl."

I wanted to post my own reply to the articles I read, but since most of the articles were months, if not years, old I decided instead to voice my thoughts here and share them with you lovely people.

Apparently, there's some resentment building against a female type of character, most notably summed up by Natalie Portman's Samantha in "Garden State." This is what Jezebel had to say: 'The A.V. Club defines the MPDG as "that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of sensitive writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures."' AV Club also provides a worst-offenders list of cinematic examples, which includes at least two of my favorite movies.

There was also a link to a blog by The Petite Sophisticate which ranted about the real-life versions of these women, whom she termed "Amazing Girls."

Now, I'm not going to repeat or try to relate all of the frustration that was poured out against this type of girl. I can, in fact, see where some if it stems from. However, since when is it okay to bash a whole genre of female? Petite seems to imply that somehow these girls are willfully manipulating the men around them, tricking them into wanting only their brand of love and adoration. She comes off sounding jealous; I wasn't the only one who noticed.

There are some things about Amazing Girls (AGs) or Manic Pixie Dream Girls (MPGDs) that I like and can relate to, and some I can't. Sometimes in movies, their quirky, free spirited ways make me (like the guys who they work their magic on) feel like being less afraid of everything.

However, posts like Jezebel and Petite's make it sound like these girls always steal the guy away from the down-to-earth, ballsy, opinionated chick. Not true. In fact, I've found the opposite to be true in my life. I'm not exactly a pixie, nor am I brunette, but I do love the arts, and I do tend to be wide-eyed and sentimental. Did I get all the guys in college? Nope. You know who did? Girls like Gina--short, sassy, and opinionated. I have another friend like this, and I swear--every time she's around, the guys gravitate toward her.

I always felt overshadowed by this kind of girl--ultra spunky, able to talk about guy stuff and sound knowledgeable, unafraid to try anything. In fact, I was quite jealous for a long time. But the truth is, I knew these girls were not as fearless as they seemed to the guys who swarmed around. None of us really are, right? And I knew they dealt with their own insecurities, and felt threatened by different types of girls.

But why should we women spend so much time feeling insecure and threatened by women who are categorically different from us? Instead of heaping girls into categories and labeling them, dissecting them so they sound less special and unique, we should be celebrating each other. I am serious.

I may like the MPDG, but I also like (and always have) the tough action-figure chick. Princess Leia has been one of my favorite heroines since I was about 3. I loved her! Firing guns, barking orders, strangling Jabba, dressing up as a bounty hunter to save the man she loved...she was flat-out awesome. BUT what made her awesome too was that she had another side: a side that cared about her brother Luke, and who was drawn to Han despite her protests.

I also love Rogue of the X-Men, Batgirl, and Sydney Bristow. Heck, I even loved Daria. She was hilarious in all her dark humor. I love the way my BFF can bluntly say what she really feels. She's full of compassion, but has a low tolerance for BS. She voices her strong opinions without worrying if it's going to offend anyone. When I first met her, it intimidated and kind of annoyed me, but now I love that about her. Because I am not like that. I can't shout my opinions and not be concerned about hurting someone's feelings. At least, not yet.

That's why this whole silly debate over which feminine archetype is superior is pointless. We need each other. We need women who can say what needs to be said, and we need women who love wholeheartedly. We need to hang out together, learn from each other, rub off on each other. We need Realists and Idealists. We need starry-eyed dreamers as well as capable and practical doers.

This starts at a very young age, this categorizing. I know second graders who group girls into "girly girls" and "tomboys." And yet at that age, most of the girls are a beautiful blend of both! So why do we start boxing ourselves in and drawing imaginary geographical lines??

Instead of feeling threatened over which group gets the most guys (or attention), we need to realize the bigger picture. We're on the same side. We shouldn't be competing with each other like the contestants on The Bachelor. No, we won't always get along or see eye-to-eye. But we can help each other. I really believe that.

Truthfully, this is something of a new viewpoint for me. I've spent most of my womanhood being jealous. Of skinny girls. I've been threatened by those cute, petite little girls, like the friends I mentioned earlier. I was angry that some girls seemed to attract guys so easily, while most of my guy friends stayed "just friends."

But I'm on a new kick right now. As I prepare to turn 30, I've decided it's time to leave my perpetual insecurity in the dust. I've spent most of my 29 years feeling inadequate and apologizing for existing. Not just with guys. One of the great things about turning 30 is that I'm realizing all the ways in which it's time for me to grow up. Sometimes it's rough, and none of it happens instantaneously. But one way in which it's become glaringly clear that I need to mature is this basic attitude about myself.

I've decided I don't want to spend the next thirty years of my life trying to live up to other people's standards. Even well-meant ones. I will never be as perfect as I'd like to be. I'll never have it all together. I still don't know exactly what I'm doing with my life, but I have a lot less guilt and angst over it, and a lot more grace.

Grace is a beautiful thing, and I feel like there's not quite enough of it here in the world of cyberspace. So I'm sending out this little tidbit in the hopes that it will "tear a little corner off the darkness," the way God has been doing for me lately.

1 comment:

Grace DeWitt said...

Great post! We're so alike. I feel like I spend so much time worrying about how come across to people especially instead of enjoying myself and feeling comfortable in my own skin.

Like when planning and shopping for my wedding I let my supposed best friend totally stomp all over me and act like even though it was my day it needed to be all about her. I didn't have the guts to tell her how I felt.

When I see girls who can just say it like it is (Beth-El is one of them) I wish that I could tell people how I really feel. The problem is I’ve been hurt so many times when people “tell me how they really feel” and use it just to tear me down.

I wish I could find a happy medium between speaking everything’s on my mind and worrying about other people’s feelings. I agree that we need both types of people because we tend to balance each other out.

Thanks for your post, as always it made me feel like I’m not so alone :)

I love you!
XOXOXO