On Adulthood And Gender
Posted by Mel Campbell on February 14, 2009
I have been pondering the difference between boys and men and between girls and women. I don’t know if I am a girl, a woman, or Britney Spears. But there have been shifts in what adulthood really means – not just the traditional milestones of acquiring houses and babies, or losing interest in hedonism, but “putting away childish things”. So many people are adults on their birth certificates but not in the way they conduct their lives.
There’s also been a fair bit of discussion online recently about the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (never Manic Pixie Dream Woman). She is a stock character who whose free-spirited whimsy and excellent taste in indie culture awaken in the sensitive but emotionally constipated hero a new lust for life. She has no inner life of her own, and seems to exist purely to interact with the male protagonist. Cases in point: Elizabethtown, Garden State, Along Came Polly, Breakfast At Tiffany’s.
Are there Manic Pixie Dream Boys (who are not gay)? Back in 2004 we met the whimpster – that sensitive, boyish hipster who is passive-aggressive in a relationship, draining his girlfriend of emotional energy, yet when she finally gets sick of trying to ‘fix’ him and leaves, he’s shocked and devastated, as if he never saw it coming.
More recently, Jezebel coined the term new bromantic for the more charming and masculine but still sensitive and fragile dude (eg Forgetting Sarah Marshall) who yearns for a woman to believe in him.
It’s not an especially original thought, but I can’t help feeling resentful that men are repelled by a woman with needs and insecurities, whereas women are not only expected to put up with neediness in a man but also to actively seek it out. Women quickly learn that they must hide their needs and insecurities from men, lest they be branded ‘neurotic’, ‘obsessive’ or ‘high-maintenance’.
Aren’t neediness and insecurity childish traits? Surely a key marker of adulthood is a certainty about what you want and your ability to get it for yourself, rather than a reliance on someone else, a parent-figure, to get it for you?
Happy Corporate Love Day, all. Buy yourself some flowers. Take yourself out to dinner. Don’t wait around for someone to tell you you’re special and cherished; know it in your own heart.