Girls

Hex

Write, monkey, write
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
6,248
Location
Edinburgh
I've been embarrassingly fascinated recently with the oeuvre of a band called Five Seconds of Summer, whose music is aimed squarely at people about a third of my age. Anyhow, I'll use my kids as an excuse.

The point, though, is they have a song called "Good Girls", which attacks the concept ("a good girl's a bad girl who hasn't been caught") but it made me wonder. In this age of equality and whatnot, do we have a concept of what a "good boy" is? We're really solid on good girls and what they are (and what they're not), but it seems kind of a dated concept -- or maybe it seems like it should be a dated concept.

And is this something we need to watch for when we write? I'm aware that most of my female protagonists are basically good girls, whereas the boys vary rather more. Am I perpetuating a stereotype? The heroine of Holly Black's The Coldest Girl in Coldtown has a shady past, and I noticed as I read the story in a way I wouldn't have noticed for a boy.

Meh. Romance cliches? Societal oppression? Hex should drink less coffee?
 

Ensign Shah

Ship's Counsellor
Joined
Jul 25, 2015
Messages
282
Location
West Yorkshire, England
It's a minefield... My niece who likes sports and wears shorts gets called a 'tom boy,' she disagrees and says she's just being herself and she is a girl! (y) My nephew is described as a good boy. Does everything a typical boy would do but it he just knows how to behave!

There does seem to be a right and wrong for girls, that wouldn't be applied to boys. I remember when the 'ladette' term was coined because women dared to drink pints.:confused: Perhaps women just want a pint!

If as a writer you can change or challenge stereotypes, then what a wonderful thing to do. I love YA books like The Hunger Games that did just that. Hunter girl Katniss and baker boy Peeta.

As a side issue, I listen to that song too! :X3:
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: Hex

AnyaKimlin

Confuddled
Joined
Sep 21, 2011
Messages
6,020
Location
North Scotland
I'm actually far more likely to write a good boy because I have this habit of writing homicidal big sisters. Even with Cece - her fiancé George is a far nicer and more decent human being. She's a snob.

There is a recent song about good and bad boys but I can't for the life of me remember who it's by or what it's called.

I come up against this discussion at lot because my husband is trans - and I have discussed it with a number of trans so why can't a woman like cars and football it doesn't make you less feminine. I do find men when they first transition to a woman do tend to chase a stereotype.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Hex

Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
8,090
Location
The Mid West (of Ireland)
I do find men
they mostly chase stereotypes, till the stereotype catches them and then they discover that most stereotypes are an illusion. :)

There is nothing wrong with goodness in a good sense, nor promotion of it. Nor any virtue in promoting badness because it's fashionable.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Hex

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
13,145
Location
nearly the New Forest
I would judge a boy on the same terms I would judge a girl (in real life or in a book). Someone who steals and hurts people, or conversely is helpful and honest, or who sleeps around or goes to church or likes cooking or undertakes charity work or kills animals for fun, is the same kind of person whatever his/her sex.

I don't know that I'd pay any attention either way to eg what sports the protagonist played. Though I do worry that in the rush to ensure girls can be seen to pursue what have in the past been considered male activities -- eg contact sports, fixing up old motorbikes -- we are effectively belittling other pursuits which have traditionally been regarded as female. I don't want every girl in every book to take up knitting and cross-stitch, but I also don't want those hobbies devalued, and those girls who might be interested in them to feel themselves devalued as a possible result. (I fully intend to have a male character in my SFs be an enthusiast of petit point. But I have to confess that feminist as I am, I'd fight shy of letting it be the hobby of choice for any of my male MCs.)

But then I'm old-fashioned. I was horrified last year at reading a critique of Rebecca which said, in as many words, that women today would sympathise more with the beautiful dead Rebecca, who lived life on her own terms, than the dowdy, down-trodden narrator. Rebecca is a lying, deceitful, serially-adulterous, cruel, manipulative woman who uses people so she can live in idle comfort and elegance and whose final act is one of revenge to, in effect, murder her husband. I'd despise a man who acted that way, so I see no reason why I should admire a woman for doing it, just because she is female.
 

Hex

Write, monkey, write
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
6,248
Location
Edinburgh
I agree that in important things, boys and girls would -- pretty much -- be judged the same way. Maybe it comes back to sex, and the idea of the good girl as chaste whereas the good boy doesn't have to be -- or it's not a defining characteristic. And while I think I would probably in real life judge people in the same way, I think in fiction I may not.

In YA, as I have said repeatedly without achieving much of a conclusion, there is an attractiveness to murderous, controlling men that is kind of alarming -- and not even vampires. I wondered where it came from, and then I read some romance.

And I'm shocked about the critique of Rebecca. She was awful. Says a lot about what the author thought of today's women, I suspect.
 

AnyaKimlin

Confuddled
Joined
Sep 21, 2011
Messages
6,020
Location
North Scotland
I've never had a problem giving my characters "feminine" hobbies. Angus enjoys knitting and Tim is rather good at pole dancing. Its always been a fun way to round out a character.
 

Hex

Write, monkey, write
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
6,248
Location
Edinburgh
It is in real life (it should be) but that's not the way we respond to it in practice. And romance is full of that libertine male who has slept his way round London (or where ever) who only needs TheLoveOfAGoodWoman to humanise him. See all those books with "Rake" in the title.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,197
Without wanting to sound rude, is this a writing issue or a social one? Almost every sort of writing "perpetuates stereotypes" if you try hard enough to find them. I say this because the longer I write for, the more convinced I get that the question in fiction for any detailed character isn't whether they convince as a man, teenager, lesbian, deaf or whatever other category they fit into. Most of the time, such groups are so varied that they won't contain one or even a few types of people. I think the question for a character must be whether they are convincing as an individual*.

And I agree that Rebecca was a villain. Ok, she came from a time where most women characters who actually did stuff were villains, but she was still a baddy. Just because she was from Interest Group X, the normal laws of morality aren't suspended. It's a bit like the number of people who are willing to let Jaime Lannister off the hook because his fortunes have taken a downward turn of late.

*And I think it follows that if a character convinces as an individual, they will also convince as a sort of person or a member of a wider group.

EDIT: I changed "less" to "more" in the third sentence to properly express what I meant.
 
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: ctg

Hex

Write, monkey, write
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
6,248
Location
Edinburgh
I forgive you.

I do think there's a social thing, but it might be my issue (and the music I listen to). I suppose if I don't think about it, my automatic character is a good girl, and I find books where the author has deliberately chosen otherwise are often a little artificial. Maybe this is YA. Maybe this is YA fantasy. Or maybe it's my take on these things.

I do agree with your take on characters -- as long as they're individuals, they convince. I think.

When was Rebecca set?
 
Last edited:

Nick B

author Nick Bailey, formerly Quellist.
Joined
Feb 13, 2014
Messages
1,847
Location
UK
But when a boy/man is a womanizing sh*t arn't they called a bad boy and chased by most women?
Remember sexisd and stereotypes go in every direction.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
25,177
Location
UK
IMO few writers are aware of their own personal and social biases, let alone able to challenge them.

Recently I've found that if I struggle with a character, I reverse their gender. That forces me to think harder on how to develop them better. And, hopefully, stereotypes don't survive the switch there and back.
 

The Judge

Truth. Order. Moderation.
Staff member
Joined
Nov 10, 2008
Messages
13,145
Location
nearly the New Forest
When was Rebecca set?
It was written in 1938, and I've always thought of it as being set at more or less that time -- though it's always worried me that it opens with them swanning about Europe some years after the whole thing happened, and I want to yell "What about the flaming war?!" So perhaps it's early 30s, and they have time for the swanning.
 

Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
Joined
Jul 16, 2014
Messages
8,090
Location
The Mid West (of Ireland)
It was written in 1938
Well, published or accepted by publisher. She may actually have started on it in early 1930s.
Perhaps set earlier? Though USA didn't join war till 1941, British people surely wouldn't have been there. [While working as the companion to a rich American woman on holiday in Monte Carlo]. Since it's stuff that happened before the book is narrated, surely then the events must be mid 1930s? I never thought "What about the war"!
I do feel a "Joan Aiken" style alternate reality though reading some of Daphne Du Maurier's books, but not this one. It's strange that we never know the name of the 2nd Mrs De Winter, the narrator.
 

Zebra Wizard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2015
Messages
164
well in terms of real life, a good guy(boy), good girl, are just mannerisms. It doesn't have to do with morale ethics.

there are likely "good guys" who probably have darker motives, but are just afraid to act upon them or bottle them up etc.

The term good girl, bad girl is all just behavourial traits in the dating world. a bad boy is not nessecarily bad or evil but instead, confident, doesn't shy away from conflict, flirtatious and daring. Where a good guy is seen as polite, reserved, courteous and less dominating.

It's the same with good girl and bad girl, they could both have the same ethical views, interests and morale standpoint, but their behaviour is different and the way they deal with situations, interactions or confrontations is different.
 

Hex

Write, monkey, write
Joined
Mar 3, 2011
Messages
6,248
Location
Edinburgh
But conventionally, isn't a girl who sleeps around (and is known to do so) rarely described as a "good girl"? Or am I out of date and confused by music I don't understand because of my advanced age?
 

Zebra Wizard

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 31, 2015
Messages
164
But conventionally, isn't a girl who sleeps around (and is known to do so) rarely described as a "good girl"? Or am I out of date and confused by music I don't understand because of my advanced age?

Yea conventionally, I suppose because she does not care so much about what others would think about her, where a good girl does. nowdays its alot more liberal, atleast in my opinion. But they do go hand in hand in alot of cases, a good girl may not "sleep around" as much but she could desire it on the same level, same with guys.
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
6,197
Actually, I think an awful lot of it is persona and attitude these days for everyone. I've known completely monogamous people of both sexes who have had a reputation of being "a bit wild" because of their willingness to talk about sex or people they fancy. Similarly, it's amazing how exciting and decadent your life seems to your friends as soon as they have children and you don't!
 

Similar threads


Top