Real Manic Pixie Dream Girls of LA

Real Manic Pixie Dream Girls of LA

 

In TV and in film, the stock character of the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” has gained popularity and thus become prevalent in Hollywood. The character is usually a young girl who is quirky and often artistic. She usually exists to pull the (male) protagonist out of his comfort zone and comparatively less exciting life, aiding in his character development. Zooey Deschanel is probably known as the actress who plays this role the most. Her frequent movie roles eventually turned into the part of Jess in New Girl, the Fox sitcom that premiered September 2011. Interestingly, the “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” in this case, is, in fact, the protagonist, which is uncommon.

This archetype is more socially acceptable and has also become a real-life persona many female celebrities adopt. Deschanel is one actress who embodies these qualities, and so does Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence is a media darling because of her perceived realness and down-to-earth attitude. Unsurprisingly, this popularity has resulted in a backlash against the archetype, namely Lawrence.

Many people have accused Lawrence of being fake and manufacturing this persona in order to ingratiate herself with the public. Women like her are often accused of being attention-seeking or phony. Obviously, we will never know if her persona is genuine or not. What’s more, it doesn’t matter. The only person who knows is Lawrence. There is a problem here—it is always women who are accused of this behavior. Because a woman is beautiful, it is considered impossible that she might be vulnerable, or weird.

Celebrities are their own brands. People support them and buy their products based on who they are, and we may never really know these celebrities. Unless, you happen to be friends with one of them. Women have less “roles” to fill in life than men—Madonna Whore, “Gotta have it all” Liz Lemon type, etc. While ideally, these roles wouldn’t exist—no roles would, in fact, for anyone—at the very least, this “Manic Pixie Dream Girl” role has been added, and is one that encourages accepting her weirdness and not being ashamed. The role also has more dimensions than the previous ones mentioned. A case of life imitating art.

Girls are weird, too. It’s okay. Weirdness keeps life interesting and art, such as film, fresh and unexpected.

Micaela Gardner

Men Can Help Fight Sexual Assault Against Women Too

Men Can Help Fight Sexual Assault Against Women, Too

Sexual assault is increasingly becoming a discussed issue. More advice than ever is dispensed towards potential victims―most frequently, female victims. Women are told where is and isn’t a safe place to be, how to dress and how to interact with men. These lessons are well-intended–after all, the goal in mind is to prevent sexual assaults. In a way, teaching women how to avoid these situations should theoretically empower them. However, this is entirely the wrong approach to this problem.

The fact that males aren’t rigorously taught that they have control over these situations, that the assailant is the one instigating the attack, is a serious problem that will impede advancement in the decrease of sexual assaults. This generation has been much more compassionate towards bullied children than any other previous generation. Though there are still people who tell the bullied to “toughen up” or fight their aggressors, there is also an increase of awareness of the devastation this takes on the child.

Do we criticize a child for being the smallest in his class? For being different? For incurring a random wrath based solely upon perceptions of his vulnerability? Rarely. And when someone blames the bullied, it is considered insensitive and offensive, and the person is publicly shamed for being cruel.
Nearly every day, there is a story about a preteen or teen who attempted (or committed) suicide because of relentless bullying, and for the first time in American history, this has become a prosecutable offense.

We are acknowledging that it is not the victim’s fault but the aggressor’s. Anti-bullying campaigns have sprung up all over the nation and that is essential to the improvement of our society. Yet, why hasn’t this happened more with sexual assaults? It is not an easy topic to discuss, but it needs to be discussed more to ameliorate a stigma, sexual assault needs to be faced head-on.

Even side-stepping the notions of problematic views on masculinity and femininity, slut-shaming and rape culture, there is still a very disturbing conclusion to be drawn: Decreasing sexual violence starts with educating potential attackers, and we almost never do.

Let’s talk about the case of Stacey Rambold, the teacher in Montana who raped his 14 year-old student who subsequently committed suicide. This travesty finally put the struggle of rape survivors in the spotlight, albeit via tragic means of a painful life cut much too short. An article from the NY Daily News dated April 30th spoke of the public backlash that occurred when Rambold was sentenced for merely 30 days. The attention on this heinous case is inspiring because finally a sexual assault case is widely talked about and inciting public fury.

The case has since been kicked up to the Montana Supreme Court, which has ruled that the punishment was absurdly miniscule. Nevertheless, there are still enormous problems, including a link at the bottom I used for reference which reads: “…a district judge misruled when he sentenced Stacey Rambold to days in jail for sex without consent with one of his students.” Last time I checked, “sex without consent” is considered rape. The euphemism, which promotes negative ideas about sexual assault, is completely unacceptable.

However, the star-studded “1 is 2 Many” PSA created by the White House, which came out on April 29th, inspires hope in how society treats these crimes. Social change begins at the grassroots level: Ordinary citizens who seek to change things. The more the issue is discussed and faced head-on, the easier it is for victims to speak up and get help before suicide is a consideration.

This is an issue that will always be present, but it can be reduced by help from very high-up places, which encourage men to be mindful of their actions, not just as potential perpetrators but as bystanders, too. Such attention breathes new life into a tragically common struggle that plagues not only women, but society as a whole.

Micaela Gardner

NY Daily News Article
http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/judge-gave-30-days-teacher-raped-teen-misruled-court-article-1.1774209

1 is 2 Many PSA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xLdElcv5qqc

How I Met Your Mother

How I Met Your Misogyny

Allow me to first preface this article by openly admitting that I have a soft spot for sitcoms, even the mediocre ones. There is something oddly comforting about a story that is (sometimes) funny, and oscillates safely with resolved story lines and perhaps not fairy tale endings, but contentment. The best stories are the ones that can be funny, heartfelt, painful, dramatic, and shocking–but the “comforting” sitcoms I tend to gravitate to aren’t the best stories, they’re televised junk food.

*SPOILERS AHEAD*
How I Met Your Mother is a show, not about the mother that the protagonist, Ted, beds and weds, but rather his journey getting there. It’s a fairly cheap (yet forgivable) plot device that allows narration to speed things along to get the most out of the paltry 22 minutes of television. The female characters in the show important to the story and/or are the main characters include Lily Aldrin: college and close friend of Ted, Robin, the on-again-off-again girlfriend and friend: Robin Scherbotsky and The Mother (whose name you learn, rather unnecessarily in the last few minutes of the series’ finale): Tracy McGrady.

Since the start, one of the largest problems I’ve had with the show is the treatment and depiction of the female characters. Lily is an artist who teaches kindergarten, but aspires to do more with her painting. When she does try to pursue her dream of becoming an artist by breaking up with her fiancé and moving to San Francisco, it turns out to be a completely terrible experience that shows her that she belongs home, with her fiancé, changing her dream to fit around the man in her life. Robin is a career woman, a news anchor, who at the beginning of the show is on, an unwatched channel at weird hours.

Throughout the show, she blossoms in her career and becomes more prominent and gets more opportunities, including getting a job in Tokyo. This job is depicted as ridiculous—there is a chimpanzee on the show as her fellow anchor, for example. She returns to the U.S. within the same episode to attend Ted’s wedding. Later on, when she is dating a man named Kevin, who was formerly her anger management counselor, they break up because she neither can have children nor wants them. She gets married and divorced, in part because she travels too much and her husband dislikes having to accompany her everywhere. In the end, she has become an accomplished career woman, but is romantically alone, until the last few minutes of the show in which Ted arrives at her door with the same romantic overture that he used in the pilot. Since he is a widower with children, it is implied that they get together and she ends up having to take care of his teenagers despite never wanting children. Essentially, all of her impressive accomplishments are outshined by getting back together with her ex-boyfriend.

Lastly, there is The Mother. Everything we learn about her is mentioned in passing. She is finally introduced as an active character in the last season of the show. She is an intelligent, interesting and funny woman who would have added a lot to the show had she been introduced earlier. With the use of flash forwards, we find out how her relationship with the protagonist develops though we know nothing of her career or much of her history. Then we find out the ultimate twist: she bears his children, they grow up to preteens (their ages are never stated) and then she dies of cancer. Her role on the show is to propel the storyline, add a twist on the story, and bear the protagonist’s children. That is all.

To punctuate this blatant sexism, Robin’s ex-husband ends up impregnating a woman whom he refers to only as “Number 31” (because he vowed to have sex with a new woman every day for a month, and she was the last), who ends up getting pregnant. We don’t see nor know anything about the mother of his child, including her name, except that she was the womb for his child. After he has this baby, his views on women change, though remain just as misogynistic. Instead of the usual, objectifying women, he lectures two girls at the bar he frequents that they should put on more clothing and that they shouldn’t be drinking that early in the day, even though he is at the bar drinking.

Individually, these story lines might be acceptable, but cumulatively, it sends a very negative message about women. The first is that if a woman has children, she owes them everything, whereas the father does not. Moreover, if she doesn’t want to have children, there is something wrong with her, and somehow, she will end up mothering if she wants to or not, because that’s what women do. The concept also exists that there is something wrong with a woman if she wants to pursue her dreams (creative or occupational), even if it means foregoing, other opportunities.

She is punished for this; especially, in her love life. Lastly, this show ends up being about all the male characters. Ultimately, everything the women in this show do either propels the males’ storylines forward or position the women standing behind their men. Everything I feared about this show, all of the subtle sexism that already existed and the problems I had, multiplied in the finale.

In conclusion—thank you, How I Met Your Mother, for reinforcing antiquated ideas about male/female relationships, and further bolstering legitimate fears women face every day.

Take a bow.

What Drag Queens Teach Us About Perceived Femininity

What Drag Queens Teach Us About Perceived Femininity

Generally speaking, there are two types of drag queens-campy, comedic queens, and “fishy” (meaning feminine), glamorous queens.

The fishy queens tend to focus on the aesthetic and styling, often enhancing feminine features, whereas campy queens typically have a more defined character based around wit and schticks. There is a sort of schism between these two types of queens. Possibly because each group possesses something the other group lacks, in comparison.

The most successful drag queens straddle both worlds, but even some of the most successful are still categorized as one or the other.

Nevertheless, drag is an exaggerated form of femininity, which embodies an already prevalent idea about how women are viewed. There always seems to be a toss-up between a female celebrity being considered funny or beautiful as if one negates the other. Even though time and time again such an assumption simply isn’t true. Those who are generally considered “unattractive” comediennes,” for example, are often heckled or roasted based upon their looks.

However, there are an endless abundance of Hollywood movies in which the everyman, mediocre-looking funny guy gets the “hot” girl at the end. Thus, proving that a male comedian’s attractiveness is relatively moot because he is so funny and charming in comparison to an “unattractive comedienne.” This is something that rarely happens when genders are reversed, but then again, there are significantly fewer comedies with the female lead being the “funny” one-an entirely different issue.

What is so ironic about this whole idea is that most of the people I know find funny women attractive. Not only does being funny not detract from her appeal, but usually adds to it. So, this idea constantly drilled into the audience isn’t accurate. Which begs the question, why does such an idea exist at all?

Micaela Gardner

Is Rape a Hate Crime Committed Against Women

Is Rape a Hate Crime Committed Against Women?

According to the 2011 documentary When Strangers Click directed by Robert Kenner, when online dating, women most fear meeting a serial killer and men fear meeting someone overweight.

It seems that every morning when I am working my way through the daily news, there is some story to the right of all the “important” ones, tucked between tips about improving your resume and heartwarming local pieces. Woman gets raped after online date gone awry.

What’s sad is how desensitized we’ve become about this news that is hardly news, anymore. More horrifying, however, are the comments such a story elicits. While some Internet trolls sling hateful, misogynistic speech for their own amusement, I have to think that there is a deeper issue. More than just offensive jokes. If your first instinct is to comment about what a whore the girl is, or how stupid she was to expect not to be sexually assaulted, you should really reevaluate your views on women.

The irony of the whole situation is that those who say women shouldn’t put themselves in these sorts of situations, asking what did they expect, etc., are by extension saying that women don’t belong in this particular social sphere. If women didn’t participate in dating, online or otherwise, the heterosexual dating dynamic simply wouldn’t exist. Women are an integral part of the equation.

I don’t know what the solution is to this problem, but I do know that problems ensue from such a twisted point of view. If words beget actions, then the hatred that began as thoughts will only percolate and become more dangerous with time.

Micaela Gardner

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