It would be hard to disagree with this on any level. “Women’s liberation,” as the movement was called when I was young, was always about liberating all of us from the tired old tropes that limited our possibilities.

You make a strong case for eighty-sixing this hackneyed story line, and with it nearly all the rest of its damsel-in-distress derivatives. (Except for Princess Bride, my guilty pleasure.) Bad boys — antiheroes of whatever gender — are still necessary, though good storytelling IMO does require that they rebel for the sake of some admirable cause or principle, something more than simply hating rules.

As for the figure of the “girl next door,” I guess I never thought about her in the way you analyze her here. I always thought the point was that she was the sensible friend, the childhood buddy who the slow-maturing male was overlooking in his quest for the glamorous and exotic, the one who reminds him where his roots are, saving him from self-destruction just in time.

Retired psychologist, wordsmith, teacher, MFA candidate. Buy me coffee:

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