As I’m sure you all know by now, it’s International Women’s Day. A day that responds to the need to recognise the struggle women have and are still facing for equality. And I suppose, if I’m going to get my female blogging hat on (It’s a deerstalker, FYI) then I could write about anything. I could write about body image, about the sexism of body art and tattoos, or Jay-Z suddenly realising after having a daughter that maybe he shouldn’t say the word ‘bitch’ so much.
But nope, whilst all those things fascinate me (Jay-Z slightly less so, that just seems stupid) I decided to write about something that’s been bugging me for a while now:
I want to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl.
To be clear, a Manic Pixie Dream Girl is a character model that frequently appears in indie movies. She’s usually played by Zooey Deschanel, my girl-crush du jour, which might be clouding my judgement. A MPDG is an excitable creature, beautiful without being self-involved, fun-loving, able to take joy in small things. She usually exists as a male fantasy, this perfectly strange girl who teaches them how to enjoy life.
If you’re still not entirely sure what an MPDG is, look at Deschanel’s character ‘Summer’ in 500 Days of Summer, or her character Allison in Yes Man, who teaches a class on ‘Running Photography’ and is lead singer in a band called ‘Munchausen by Proxy’. Possibly even Natalie Portman’s character Sam in Garden State, a sweet, out-to-live-life type girl who has funerals for her hamsters and is a pathological liar (but you always know when she’s lying, because she feels bad and tells the truth afterwards).
These girls are everything the poor little self-obsessed, bored-with-life, ‘stuck in his own head’ indie boy could dream of. A beautiful girl who picks him! Him! And she’s fun and crazy and makes him do things! You know what that’s called in the real world? Co-dependency.
Could we take a second to think of the MPDG when she’s not catering to some selfish male fantasy? Does she have hopes and dreams? Is her life exactly the way she wants it? Is she harbouring some dark secret? Is she terrified that her crazy spontaneous nature and desire for new things and underwhelming men is, in fact, a symbol of how fucked up her life is? Life is hard for the MPDG.
It’s like being in the beginning of a new relationship, you know, the part where you’re both trying to be infinitely more appealing and interesting than you actually are? Do you remember that? Right, so do you get how exhausting it is to be like that all the time? We should go here, do this, I know, we’ll have this plan and everything will be amazing and life changing! Well you know what, you want spontaneity, make it happen yourself. Don’t wait for some perfect girl to do it for you. Jeez.
So yes, I wanted to be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, and I think at some point, most ‘indie’ (urgh, there’s no better term, sorry) girls have. Because our role models from most films suck. Because even when we find a role model who has cute hair and rollerskates and does photography running and plays the ukelele, or sings crazy lyrics in a kick-ass band, we have to remind ourselves that she has been created by men, for men. She does these things purely to remain interesting. She may not know that she does, but she does.
So, I propose, this International Women’s Day, as a love letter to all the possible-but-somehow-better-than-MPDGs I know, that we take back the dream girl, because she’s a reality. Yes, okay, we want to sing songs, and climb trees and jump on a boat to nowhere and dance barefoot in the rain. We want firelight festivals and drunken karaoke, and taking a chance on the unexpected. But sometimes we also want to start our own businesses, own our own homes, or spend an evening in front of the television in the baggiest, ugliest pyjamas ever known to human kind.
And we want to do this, not because it’s manic, or supernatural, or dreamlike. Not because it makes us elusive and endearing to men. Just because it’s fun, and it’s ours.
So, I’m declaring myself a Manic Pixie Dream Bitch. Who’s with me?