Recently, I saw comedian Natasha Leggero do a joke about the way that some women project childlike vulnerability in order to gain male attention. I laughed (my high-pitched childlike laugh) and then cringed (vulnerably) worrying that I embodied this quality. I hate the idea that women might infantilize themselves for male attention. I hate the manic pixie dream girl ideal frollicking in the fantasies of insecure men. But am I reinforcing it with my bike, bangs, squeaky voice, and non-taxidermy stuffed animals? No. Obviously, if I were trying to get men interested in me, I wouldn't hang garlic on my door nightly for protection. My least favorite piece of gender politics this week is the fact that women can't do whatever they want without it being viewed as part of a plot to land a man.
I resent the media cliche of the quirky girl because it reduces women to an extension of one surface characteristic. Guys always say they want to date a quirky girl, but what they mean is Zooey Deschenal on a bicycle. And what they don't mean is an actually quirky girl, like me, sitting in a darkened room, crying into two separate jars—one for sad tears and one for happy tears, just to see which one's winning. Initially, men appreciate that I'm childlike. They're like, "You brighten up my day with your silly dances and your struggles to reach things!" And then after a month they're like "Buy some socks! Stop singing to cats! Throw away the dead bird in front of your house! It’s creepy."
The hilarious writer Julie Klausner wrote an essay called "Don’t Fear The Dowager: A Valentine to Maturity." She writes, "We all know these manic pixie Muppet Babies are really just in it for the peen." I’m not being childlike to attract men! I’m being childlike to attract pedophiles of ALL genders. And what’s so attractive about being vulnerable? Is it that I sleep on an inflatable mattress and rarely shave my legs? My childlike desire to cry in public places is super sexy. You should see my inability to clean my room!
Klausner went on to write, "The larger issue is that it is a lot easier for men... to demean us, if we’re girls. It’s much harder to bring down a woman, or to call her a moron, when she’s not in pigtails and Ring Pops.” Yes, I agree... but it’s probably even easier to demean us when we’re not being ourselves. Women AND men, wear whatever you want, just be happy and like yourself. That has been my least favorite piece of misogyny this week. Tune in next week to please help me open this jar; it’s stuck!