Monday, April 11, 2011

Talking Points #9: How Being a Good Girl Can Be Bad for Girls

"How Being a Good Girl Can Be Bad for Girls", Tolman and Higgins
In "How Being a Good Girl Can Be Bad for Girls," Deborah Tolman and Tracy Higgins explore the "cultural" stories surrounding being a female in our sexual society. These cultural stories are pervasive ideas such as:
  • Good girls don't have sex unless they're married/it's to procreate.
  • Bad girls have no morals and will have sex with anyone.
  • Sex (for females) is not for desire, but relationships.
  • If you have sex with more than one person and/or outside of a committed relationship, you are a bad girl.
Males cannot be given such titles because they are hormone dominated and just can't help it.
    These ideas take the sexuality away from females, and puts it in the hands of society to judge them with.  Tolman and Higgins focuses on how these cultural stories effect sexual assault victims. I thought of two very high profile cases:
    • Roman Polanski's sexual assault case; specifically, a witnesses statement. One of only two witnesses (the other being Jack Nicholson), Angelica Houston claimed:"[The Victim] appeared to be one of those kind of little chicks between - could be any age up to twenty-five. She did not look like a 13-year-old scared little thing."(Source)
    • In Cleveland, Texas there was recently a gang rape of an 11-year-old girl. The press coverage, specifically a New York Times article, has been incredibly victim blaming and focusing on the girls appearance.
      • "They said she dressed older than her age, wearing makeup and fashions more appropriate to a woman in her 20s."
    These sexual ideals for females have gone past what they do and has grown to include what they wear or how they look. These features - the way they dress or look - are taken as signs that they have desires and thus are sexually available to all men.

    "Since the moment I fell down that hole, I've been told what I must do and who I must be." - Alice

    Both Atalanta and Alice deal with this idea - being told what you must be.  Atalanta, in the end, is successful in taking control over her life - just like Alice. However, while watching "Alice In Wonderland", I focused more on the portrayals of woman who weren't Alice. Alice was a positive portrayal of females, especially for a period movie. However, as with "Save the Last Dance" and "Glee", there can be the "but..." factor when it comes to media that tries to be empowering. Many of the other females, especially the older ones, are used to highlight how wonderful and perfect Alice is. The Red Queen, especially, encompasses all that is "bad" in women. She is jealous, wrathful, easily bought with pretty gifts, and sexual - in fact, she is the only female in the movie who is seen as expressing sexual feelings. Her ultimate punishment is much like the current "slutshaming" - she is to never have a friend and no one is to ever speak kindly to her ever again.

    However, there's a very important scene in "Alice in Wonderland" dealing with the same issue. When the Red Knave is coming onto Alice and is seen, he instantly points the finger at her for being seductive and claims his inability to resist as proof of his innocent. She is ultimately sentenced for her "crime." This is the very essence of much of our society's victim blaming, and it was really interesting to see it portrayed.

    I ended "Alice in Wonderland" very confused. I think who wins here is very important in this case while discussing the topic of sexuality specifically. The film has very positive messages regarding female independence (though it's interesting to note all of the positive figures in Alice's life, excluding the white queen, are male), but the way it presents the good girl/bad girl in regards to sexuality is...confusing. 

    Why is the only female who ever shows true romantic inclination the one who is ultimately shamed out of society? Is this a representation of the good girl and bad girl that Tolman and Higgins discuss? 


    1. I used your thoughts for an extended comments post!! :)

    2. wow you bring up some really interesting points i enjoyed reading it thanks for the experience i especially enjoyed the talking point in which you askWhy is the only female who ever shows true romantic inclination the one who is ultimately shamed out of society? Is this a representation of the good girl and bad girl that Tolman and Higgins discuss?

    3. ex-cell-ent. Love what you do with this, Lexi. Great points to talk about in class!

    4. i totally agree with Doc, i loved reading your work and you made some amazing points about female culture in mainstream media representations!!