White folks will ignore the fact that most TV shows are exclusively white casts but as soon as there’s one black person who has more than two lines? All hell breaks lose. Suddenly it’s not “realistic” when you have minorities doing more than just shucking and jiving, but it’s perfectly realistic to have an all-white cast. Ooookay.
So Jezebel has this post on Manic Pixie Dream Girls and I’m feeling like this has to be a white girl thing. The author goes on to talk about how she basically embodied a male fantasy of the forever childlike creature who inevitably fixes your sad, broken life with a smile. She’s basically every character Zooey Deschanel has ever played.
I read the article (if it can be called that, since it was originally a comment on groupthink that was mainpaged) with interest, but ultimately didn’t identify with it. I’ve been called “random,” “quirky,” “childlike,” “Jess” (Zooey Deschanel’s character on New Girl), etc. more times than I can count. I embody so much of this trope while not at all being a muse for the male gaze. Sure, I’ve had a few guys fall for me, but they weren’t clamoring in droves like the men in the author’s piece to get a piece (for lack of a better term) of the quirky weird girl who is always optimistic and likes to draw flowers on her notebook.
This might read like jealousy, and perhaps there’s an element of that, but this isn’t my main purpose. It’s no surprise that when you read about characters in film who embody this fantasy, the characters are exclusively white. I’m not talking merely overwhelmingly, as is the case with much of our media. But essentially exclusively. I’m sure there does exist a black MPDG, but I have yet to find a writeup about her.
It almost feels like in order to truly capture this stereotype and be the male fantasy, you have to be white. Which is not to say that you want to take on this persona, because as the author noted, it is incredibly self-destructive to live out your life as the object that completes an otherwise depressed and/or brooding man’s life without any real aspirations of your own.
So it isn’t so much that I want to be regarded as a MPDG. It’s the feeling that my race precludes me from being one. It is the feeling that this wealth of dress up personalities and trying on different personas is limited for me because an unspoken rule is that you must be white in addition to being a woman and taking on all of these characteristics. It’s analogous to the feeling that you have as black woman when white women complain about being seen as only valuable for their beauty. It isn’t that you want this for yourself. It’s the fact that as a WOC, you don’t even have the option of being embraced for your mainstream beauty. If anything, you get the exoticized scraps.
I am often regarded as a MPDG-like, but my manifestations of it don’t count in the sense that Zooey’s or the author’s personas count. I cannot function as a woman primed for the male gaze because ultimately this is a trope only a privileged white woman can fulfill.
I hate having to answer questions about my racial makeup because invariably some dumb shit is going to follow. I guess that’s to be expected, though, since anyone who would ask you about your racial background within five minutes of knowing you is not exactly going to be all that racially sensitive.
A lady asked me this today, saying that I am clearly a “mix” of something. I explained and she said, “Oh, you’re biracial!” I wasn’t aware that only black and white mixes are biracial, but okay. And then she told me how you never know how mixes will “turn out,” as if mono racial people all look the same or something. She also said that she wasn’t sure if I was Asian or something else and then her coworker told me to not “feel bad” about being potentially mistaken for Asian, as if this is something that would actually make me feel bad. I was pretty disgusted.
The scary thing is that this lady has a mixed race daughter. How can she possibly help her daughter navigate a racist, white supremacist world that often fetishizes mixed race people (particularly women) when she is so cluelessly offensive? How can you have a child of mixed race background and have not learned that it’s creepy to treat mixed race people as some sort of experiment and insulting to imply that “looking Asian” (not even sure what this means) is a bad thing?
If you cannot tell the difference between a term of endearment and a racial slur, you can’t be helped.
Kind of sad when Skip Bayless does a better job discussing racism than Stephen A Smith. Not cute to see fellow black people play politics of respectability. It is NOT even the slightest bit Riley Cooper’s teammates fault that Riley felt comfortable using a racial slur. It’s sad that Skip can see this, but Stephen A can’t.
I’m over the “out of touch” euphemism for politicians who do shitty things. No, they are not “out of touch.” They know exactly who they are trying to harm. They are very “in touch” with all of that. They are straight up assholes and bullies. Let’s not sidestep the truth.
It’s really about race, I just don’t want to have to feel bad for being a racist.
I was talking to a friend about racism and she brought up high profile trials, particularly the Casey Anthony trial. She asked me why a white woman murdering her child became such big news and I said it’s because of the narrative surrounding motherhood. WOC are seen as unfit mothers and a danger to their own children, so a black mother killing her child isn’t seen as if it’s completely unexpected like a white woman killing hers. Not to mention Casey is conventionally attractive, which adds another layer. But what I wanted to ask her is why are you asking me? Why don’t you ask your fellow white people, the Nancy Graces of the world and her ilk and following, why they case became so well-known? People of color didn’t make this into a big deal, white people did. So don’t lash out at us when a white woman’s name is dragged through the mud in the court of public opinion by other white people.