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OPINION: The bad-boy-good-girl trope is problematic

OPINION: The bad-boy-good-girl trope is problematic

The bad-boy-good-girl trope is problematic. People can usually find this particular trope in romance films and television shows. This doesn’t make the story inherently bad. But, the problems within the story include the abusive behaviors that the male lead exhibits, and the fact that these behaviors get labeled as acceptable for women to put up with.

The Vampire Diaries | Damon Salvatore and Elena Gilbert didn’t like each other when they met. He didn’t have any real regard for the chaos he created until he met her, a small-town girl struggling with her parents’ death. He repeatedly indirectly hurt her in more ways than one.

The story always goes like this: Good girl meets bad boy. The bad boy ruins her life but, the good girl thinks she can change him. Then, she falls deeply in love with him. Realizing his feelings for her, the bad boy goes psycho to everybody else except for the good girl. And, they live their problematic lives happily ever after. The end.

After | New to campus, Tessa meets Hardin. Her life gets flipped upside down. He harbors anger issues and there’s an ulterior motive for his interest in her… Spoiler alert: it was all just a bet. Ugh.

What is the bad-boy-good-girl trope?

The “bad boy” remains stoic, silent, and a mystery waiting to be solved. Usually, he has a troubled and tragic past in need of comfort. But, he is also vulnerable enough to need her as well. The entertainment industry labels the bad boy as the anti-hero which usually ranks him as Bachelor of the Month. I’ll admit, the good-girl-bad-boy trope is potentially problematic. Sometimes, the industry and the general audience tend to gloss over the fact that bad boys are indeed bad, and that good girls are just a little too nice for their own good.

Grease | Danny, and Sandy ignited their romance during the summer. Then, he goes back to school and his stupid friends ask him about his summer fling. Of course, he was happy to oblige with the horny details. There are a lot of times that Sandy ran away from Danny, crying. What’s so romantic about that?

The bad boy is usually criminally-inclined, self-centered, potentially abusive, might have trouble keeping a legal job, and will most likely be more interested in the physical aspect of a relationship than anything else. And, of course, the good girl is dumb enough to look past these kinds of things because she believes she can change him. But, sure, let’s pretend that it’s so amazing that the good girl changes the bad boy’s ways. She makes him experience love and a different side of life. Let’s pretend that whenever a good girl falls in love with a bad boy, her life doesn’t get turned upside down.

Cruel Intentions | Sebastian and Annette’s romance started with a bet he made with his step-sister, Kathryn. Sebastian literally played a game to make Annette fall in love with him enough to give up her intentions of saving herself for marriage. It wasn’t romantic. He broke this young woman’s vow to herself just so he could sleep with his sister. Gross!

Why is it problematic?

Because the bad boy has no regard for other people’s feelings. He treats others poorly and is too cool for everything. Sometimes, he doesn’t even respect the good girl’s wishes despite her being uncomfortable in a situation. These types of behaviors are common in romantic movies where pushy and persistent men get rewarded despite disrespecting a woman’s boundaries.

See Also

The Notebook | Noah is a total creep. He was a stalker who liked the way Allie looked on a carnival ride. Then, he blackmails her into agreeing on a date with him. Was that supposed to be sweet?

If a woman says no, it’s a big fucking no. And yet, the bad-boy-good-girl trope ruins this and portrays somewhat abusive and controlling behaviors as sexy. These types of messages are repeatedly shown to young women and it becomes normalized. And, that’s how it becomes a huge problem. This trope remains toxic. It’s full of harmful and sexist ideals and it’s disappointing to see these kinds of films and shows still being promoted when there are better young adult options out there.

The Breakfast Club | At one point, Bender ducks under the table where Claire sat just to hide from a teacher. While there, he takes the opportunity to put his head under her skirt and into her crotch without her consent. Although the audience doesn’t see it, it’s also implied that he touched her inappropriately. When he’s not sexualizing her, he takes out his rage on her and repeatedly mocks her as he calls her pathetic. He never even apologizes for it. Was that supposed to make my heart flutter?

Did you think the bad-boy-good-girl-trope was problematic as well? Let us know!

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