Tuesday, November 30, 2010

The Dumb Bitch Problem

So. My little brother watches horror movies. Lots of them. 

I'd watch them, too. But... they sort of... you know... scare me. And unless you're a horror movie that's totally brilliant and fresh and original, I'm not going to watch you. Sorry.

Going back to my little brother, though. We were discussing the overall suckiness of horror movies lately (won't name names, but YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!!!). For reasons I still can't figure out, I told him about The Mortal Instruments series by the ever-fabulous Cassandra Clare. I totally stood up for Clary, her protagonist, by saying she's an assertive young lady with a good head on her shoulders. 

Then I told him about another YA girl protagonist. Who is her total opposite. 

And no, it's not Bella Swan. Cut the girl some slack!

Anyway, this other YA girl does stupid things. Like walk into alleys. Alone. At night. My brother laughed, then said, "well, that's the same as with horror movies. Some people call that kind of girl the dumb bitch."

I stared at him. And stared. Then stared some more.

People referring to girls as dumb bitches? Doesn't shock me.

And that's the problem. 

Seriously, the words "dumb" and "bitch" aren't exactly flattering, right? They're what I hate most about this lil' old society we live in--labels. Labels suck. Hard. We all know this. 

So why do we keep using them?

That's only Problem #1. Problem #2 is why I wrote this post: there are authors who write about the Dumb Bitch. I don't have a problem with a character who is naive or sheltered or trusting. I DO have a problem when that naive/sheltered/trusting girl never learns a lesson. She stays her same naive/sheltered/trusting self all the way to the end. Say it with me, folks: "why???"

I, unfortunately, can't answer that. Every writer has his or her reasons for writing what they write. And they sometimes fall victim to the Dumb Bitch Problem. They keep putting girls in these little boxes where they fit nice and comfy, keeping them there until Hot Dude comes and saves the day. Or, in the case of horror movies, Creepy Psycho Killer finishes them off thirty minutes into it. Dumb Bitches must die first, after all. 

So please, folks, try to keep your girls out of this box. Or if you really want to put them there, make sure their journey isn't static and predictable. Let them take risks on a whim, but also informed and carefully thought-out decisions. Let them grow up, just like the Real Live Girls reading your books are. 

They deserve better than someone who sucks at life. 

They deserve someone who... oh, I don't know... hates labels. Preferably, ones like "dumb bitch."

Okay. Rant over. *sigh*

***Don't forget! Tomorrow is Operation Awesome's Mystery Agent Contest! Get those one-line pitches ready!! 


  1. Hahaha, I personally love the phrase Dumb Bitch which can't be a good thing. I totally agree with you, though. A novel should show change and growth in its characters! Otherwise, what's the point? My main character is a bit needy and demanding but I am hoping to make her more independent as a result of what happens in the book. Great post!

  2. Totally makes sense in a horror movie, because in order for the bad guy to win, the good guys have to be kind of dumb. But it's not just the pretty girl who walks into danger. The guys do it, too. Even the nerds in horror movies aren't bright enough to stop the bad guy.

    And that's why I don't watch horror movies. :) I like my bad guys soundly whooped in the end, and that can only be done by strong men AND, OF COURSE, strong women. Down with labels!

  3. I'm not huge on horror films, but I like the Scream trilogy. They even talk about the dumb girl who runs upstairs when she should run outside. lol.

    I do like a character who learns something/changes. Otherwise what's the point of going on the journey? I second Katrina's down with labels!

    Awesome post. :)

  4. I'd hate for the phrase "dumb bitch" to be acceptable! And I would rather much read character driven stories of whatever genre where there is catharsis and change - especially with good strong female characters!

    As for easy targets in films, for some reason I'm thinking of the guys in the red shirts in Star Trek original series shows. Once you see a guy in a red shirt you know he's gonna be bumped off! :-)

    Take care

  5. Oh you are too funny! I'd had my share of embarassing moments with my sister who actually yells at the movie screen "run, bitch, run."

    There's always one, or two, of those.


  6. Right on, sista!

    I have a secondary character who (because of a dictatorial system) is quite unable to think for herself. I'm working on letting her take the reins back and advocate for herself.