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I Was A Manic Pixie Dream Girl

freshly-pressed-circle*This post was featured on WordPress Freshly Pressed picks on March 27, 2015.

Remember when I wrote that I felt like a character in someone else’s coming-of-age story? I was only scratching the surface with that. I’ve been long intrigued by a stock character in popular fiction – the Manic Pixie Dream Girl. For the non-literary of mind, this is a female character that is quirky, bubbly and helps the male protagonist grow from his limited state to a more liberated, mature place. She is immensely likeable and for awhile, it’s easy to confuse her for independent. It’s just that she is such a PERSONALITY, you tend to think of it as a strong one.

MPDG

*Image via Reluctant Femme

It turns out I’ve been a Manic Pixie Dream Girl in many of my relationships with men in the past 10-odd years. No man who has been around me in this time would accuse me of being boring. Even the most hostile of them will admit that things tend to be exciting, in flux and unpredictable when I’m around. I’ve challenged their beliefs, railed against their ways of being and blurred more boundaries than most people do in their turbulent teen years. The nicer ones among them will admit to being charmed and even changed for the better because of my presence in their lives. The others would probably roll their eyes and thank their stars its over. I don’t tend to get moderate reactions. Collage Who I am draws from and defines who I draw to me. I thought I was breaking a pattern by moving to younger men, these past four years. But it turns out, I’ve stayed true to the pattern. Twenty-something men have had enough experiences to know the worries of the world. They are also not wise enough to have made their peace with them or found ways to address them in a way that doesn’t disrupt other things in their lives (health, family, society etc). That’s the exact target audience for a Manic Pixie Dream Girl. She intrigues them because she is quirky (and not just pretty in that shiny object way) and unpredictable. Plus she is flawed enough to not intimidate their still fragile sense of masculinity. I suppose the other choice I had among the pop culture/fiction archetype pantheon was the Child-Woman. MPDG seems like a more nuanced character with only a few flecks of the immature, broken child-woman. So it was Manic Pixie Dream Girl then. I still like how colourful and vibrant that title sounds (not to mention verbose). So what’s the problem? I thought I was a boring kid and if there was a way to send a message back to that depressed little girl I was, I’d say,

“Mission accomplished! Boringness slayed. Achievement unlocked!”

Men talk

*Image via SparkNotes

But I’m not a little girl anymore desperately needing to prove something. And there is something terribly limiting about a stock character, especially a supporting one. Because Manic Pixie Dream Girl, make no mistake, is a supporting character in a man’s story. She is boxed and she has no real story of her own. She exists in a permanent state of desperate chaos, which draws men like flies to her but doesn’t do her many favours in the form of stability or happiness. Men eventually tire of her or grow away from her (Here’s a man who tells his tale using the MPDG lexicon: ‘Uh honey, that’s not your line‘). Even the creator of this title, Nathan Rabin, has tired of her (here’s his apology to the world for coining the phrase Manic Pixie Dream Girl). It occurred to me over a sandwich today (yes, how random, how MPDG of me) that perhaps the reason I was drawing exclusively younger men these days was not only because they were the only single ones around. Perhaps it was because I was being exactly one kind of girl that twenty-something men found themselves drawn to. There’s nothing wrong with twenty-something men, of course. The MPDG character draws a very specific kind of man and story. The men can think but they’re yet to gain mastery over emotion. They are also at a peculiarly specific kind of self-centered place in their lives, having gotten ahead of themselves and tasting responsibility for the first time. They do not have the ability to deal with a complex human being over a length of time, especially what MPDG would be, if she was a real person (which I am). The story that plays out – inevitably – is the same one. The sudden struck-by-lightening style attraction, the broad gestures and lavish promises, the unimaginably magical conversations, the sudden crashes, the melodramatic outbursts and the inevitable sugar crashes. Been there, so much done that. I so hope I’m over it.

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*Image via TheFrisky

Before you go all people-don’t-change on me, let me tell you, yes, they do. We are constantly evolving creatures and this is extremely superficial, social behaviour that I’m talking about. That doesn’t determine me anymore than the colour of the pyjamas I wear to bed. I do have control over the kind of character I project. I can modify this without curbing any of my  natural spontaneity. I’m pretty sure it’s possible to express who I am fully, without limiting it to bite-sized quirk pieces that equally limited men can digest. I just have to figure out how to do this, especially considering the men and I are both so used to the familiar storyline, we fall into it by default.

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*Image via HVNG

I am not terribly alarmed at discovering that I’ve been unconsciously mirroring a fiction character type. After all, I am woefully short of role models. Besides, I’d rather follow ideas than real people with their limitations and flaws. Ideas can be modified or discarded more easily. Sigh, yes, that’s another very Manic Pixie Dream Girl thing to say. But MPDG is as limiting in real life as it is in fiction. I don’t want to be only seen that way. And I’d like to be seen by more people than the ones that this character was created to make happy. I have very little idea who I am going to be beyond my MPDG persona but identifying the box should be the first way out of it. Besides 2015 is a bare few days away. What better new year resolution than to be a different, new ME? Me I found several other pieces by women about throwing off Manic Pixie Dream Girldom:

ELIZABETHTOWN

*Image via Salon

Note: If you are intrigued by how stock characters can mirror our ways of being, go to TV Tropes to find others. If you find yourself relating to one of them, post a comment here telling me which one. It’ll make for a fun conversation!

Update: A reader took this thought and drew a more comprehensive parallel between her life and other TV Tropes. Here’s Rae M.Meadows’ post.

Update 2: Here’s an excellent spoken word piece on Manic Pixie Dream Girl

XXFactored Aug2011: Relationship Anarchy, Divorced Friends, Crushes & Glorious Singledom

August saw XX Factor introducing its very first guest-writer, TheSingleMarriedMan. I’ve been asking him to write a guest post for ages but he only recently consented. He’s newly single (after a longterm relationship) and is bringing his own brand of humour, cynicism & wisdom to XX Factor. I’ve also been on the lookout for alternate voices, male or female for this space. The battle of the sexes, relationships, dating & love are too big for just one person to talk about, don’t you think? If you or someone you know is interested in being one of the voices of XX Factor, do write in to me at ideasmithy at gmail dot com. And until then, here’s what we were looking at in August:

  • Indian Relationships: A State Of Anarchy‘: In this age of limitless social interaction, are we also setting ourselves up to relationship predators? (via Yahoo!RealBeauty)
  • Tips for women on dealing with a male friend in the throes of divorce (via TheSingleMarriedMan)
  • You’re never too old for a crush! (via Yahoo!RealBeauty)
  • Socially Obliged‘: A passionate viewpoint on being single & the way society may be heading (via Facebook)
  • Would you want women-only subway cars to stop sexual harassment?‘: An angle on street harassment – should women have to be segregated on public transport for protection? The question is raised by a US citizen for the US but the discussion holds valid everywhere, even ‘safe’ Mumbai with its ladies’ compartment. (via TheFrisky)

XXFactored Jul2011: Dating, Male Behaviour & A Woman’s Point Of View

Another month has run through and we’re into the second half of the year. It’ll be festival season in Mumbai very soon and the partying/celebrations will carry on right up to new year. I’m going to have something to say about all of those, of course (the female perspective on every thing!!). But in the meantime, here’s some link-love to keep you reading:

  • Decoding Dating Profiles Part II: More Guys You Want To Avoid‘: You can never have too many of these, can you? Lists I mean, not avoidable guys! (via BettyConfidential)
  • The Best Kind Of Guy Friend‘: How many of us are this lucky, ladies? (via Yahoo! Real Beauty)
  • Why do men Email porn clips to friends?’: A funny analysis of some of the useless things that men do. (via Emandlo)
  • In this day & age of limitless social interactions, are we setting ourselves up to relationship predators?: ‘Indian Relationships: A State Of Anarchy‘ (via Yahoo!Real Beauty)
  • Top 5 Things Not To Say To A Woman Over 30‘: I know wayyy too many people who need to read this article. (via AskMen)
  • The Faceless Hand In The Crowd‘: Who says this is a safe city for women? (via Yahoo!Real Beauty)
  • Sweaty Apples, Dance Cards & Dainty Gloves-Dating Rituals From Days Of Yore‘: Ewww, sweaty apples, what? (via TheFrisky)

XXFactored Jun11: Living In, Female Sanitary Products, Appropriate Parenthood, Male Orgasms & A Playboy Bunny

June feels like a good month. It’s the first time I have ever welcomed a monsoon in Mumbai.

I’ve been doing some writing, outside of these two blogs. My commentary on relationships has been getting an interesting (read masaledaar…look at the comments) response at Yahoo! Real Beauty. But the site’s new Recommendations section also featured a style post, a book  review and 2 app stories, all by me. FriendsOfBooks carried my list on 10 Great Vacation Reads For Children. I did some advisory content work on the topics of Romance, Relationships, Love & Sex (sorry, I can’t explain more due to the terms of the contract).

And in between all that, here’s what I was reading:

  • Notes On Living With My Ex-Boyfriend For Eight Months: Egad! When living in goes wrong. It was strangely comforting, though….to know that you don’t stop feeling or living. (via ThoughtCatalog)
  • ‘Should I Be Embarassed To Buy Tampons?‘ : Funny, I always thought it was very thoughtful of local chemists to newspaper-wrap sanitary napkins on sale. Was I being unknowingly regressive? Or do we just not *have* to shout out every little detail about our bodies? (via TheFrisky)
  • Dads, Hug Your Daughters!‘ : Pertinent but preachy? (via TheFrisky)’
  • ‘Man Takes Revenge At Girlfriend With Abortion Billboard‘ : Does this make you go “Aww, how sweet!” or “Ooh, touchy, touchy!”? (via YourTango)
  • Just in case you ever wondered…’What A Male Orgasm Feels Like‘ (via YourTango)
  • Indian parents seem to be caught in that unfortunate tug-of-war between the conservative ‘ladki se paisa nahin lenge’ attitude and pro-feminist/independence world for their daughters. (via Twitter)
  • The 5 Stages Of Most Relationships ‘ : Rather depressing how many of these are true! (via Maxim)
  • A rather funny (and annoyingly familiar) flow-chart on ‘How Men and Women Argue’ (via Maxim)
  • The story of an ex-Playboy bunny‘: Actually a rather good read. (via The Good Men Project)

XXFactored Feb2011: Defying V-Day Month With Sugar Mamas, Smart Girls & DIY

February, month of Valentine’s day and mush-mania from the media. I’m determined not to add to that deluge of pink teddy bears, silk hearts, roses and chocolates. Here’s presenting my picks for the short n’ spicy month of the year:

  • The Rise Of The Sugar Mama (via YourTango).
  • I’m actually flattered as I think a smart woman would be if she read on to page 2: Thought Catalog on why you should date an illiterate girl (link courtesy Alfred Lee).
  • A good piece on innovative alternate uses for everyday products in beauty/fashion. (via Vintage Obsession)
  • This is so not good news for us. Ladies, what’s this strange fascination we have with mystery (the more dangerous, the better)?: “Want to pique a date’s interest: Play hard to get” (via LiveScience)
  • Sexual success dampens criminal behaviour. It’s not so much ‘calming influence of marriage’ as it is ‘ambition fulfiled’. (via The Economist)
  • “Admirer Calls out Girl’s Facebook Status ‘Im so sick of boys being such dicks”…and ‎….and the comment-war that follows touching on everything from boy-girl relationships, online venting and Digg vs Redditt. (via Digg)
  • An erotic writer writing as a man experiencing a woman. Gender lines crossing all over. (via RamyaRanee)
  • We’re not a stockinged country but everyone loves legs (yes, we women do too!) and I love graphs in pop culture. So here’s presenting a matrix of stocking styles. “What your hosiery says about you” (via The Frisky)

XXFactored Jan2011: Dutch Dates, Blind Dates, Lipstick, Wingmen, Dumping, Sex & Style

The first month of 2011 opens bright and clear for me. I think I’ve gotten a grip on this Bookmarked feature but I’m still waiting for your inputs. Talk to me! Tell me if this works for you and why. Do you prefer getting the links as-and-when on the XX Factor Facebook Page? Or do you like seeing a ‘best of’ list at the end of the month? What else would you like to see? What would you like to dump?

Here are my picks for the first month of the year. We’re heading into the (not going to say it, not going to say it) pink, heart-shaped month of February and  that could mean a number of interesting things for XX Factor. Keep reading!

  • As a bonafide geek-girl, I guess these are the women, it would be a compliment to be compared to: Ten Classic Nerd Queens Over 40 (via Gunaxin)
  • To go dutch or not, that is the big question. Here’s some reasonably sound advice from a man: The New Take On Going Dutch (via ManOfTheHouse)
  • Pop psychology has its uses, especially in dating!: Judging A Guy’s Dating Potential By His Job (via YourTango)
  • There’s nothing quite like red lipstick. It really is the superhero cape for a girl! How To Do Red Lips For Indian Skin (via Republic of Chic)
  • If this were in a movie or a book, I’d deem it cheesy. But here, I’m all “Awww…”: “The customer is only enrolling so she can see you more often. The customer is in love with you.” (via PostSecret)
  • A Girl Who Set Up 15 Dates In The Same Bar…And Stood Them All Up! (via Nerve)
  • Find The Perfect Wingman! (via Foster’s)
  • Harsh but true: “You always post those “85% of people don’t have the courage to post this as their status” FB status updates.” (via ThatsWhyIDumpedYou)
  • On bad-boy-loving women and how to behave around them (via AskMen)
  • 12 Types Of Friends You Should Break Up With (via YourTango)
  • A matrilinear society in modern day India? (via TheGuardian, tipped off by Sveccha Kumar)
  • 10 Fun Facts About Kissing: See no.4 on this list! I’m tempted to say it’s worth living a short life if you live it rightly and kissfully! (via TheFrisky)
  • Tricky Tacky Trousers (via WTForever21)
  • Health is a privilege for Indian women: 70% can’t afford sanitary napkins, reveals study (via TimesOfIndia)
  • I’ll stick with ‘Familiarity breeds contempt’.:Passion Fades & The Phenomenon Has A LOLsy Name (via NakedCity)
  • What women really think of sex (via Twitter)
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