In Photos: Why the 'Good Girl' Is Bad for Women


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In Photos: Why the 'Good Girl' Is Bad for Women

The notion of the "good girl" is as pervasive as it is a detriment to women everywhere. Because of innate biases that are instilled at such a young age, many women enter adulthood unprepared for the realities of what men can do to them, or without...
August 1, 2015, 10:00am

Dylan Chavles, hairstylist

Why do you think our society places such an emphasis on the notion of "good girls"?
I think a big part of raising "good girls" is to perpetuate a system in which men financially and egotistically profit off of girls' insecurities. A powerful woman doesn't feel pressured to buy a magazine detailing "10 Different Ways to Shave Your Labia for Him," nor does she validate her self-worth by gaining the approval of men.

Alexandria Boddie, performance artist

Are there consequences of teaching girls to be obedient?
I know firsthand the consequences of raising obedient girls. My mother is a warrior queen [who] made hard decisions and so many sacrifices. My mother loves my sister and I fiercely [and] is our defender--but my mother is also a black woman from a small town in Alabama, the ninth of 10 children, yet the first of the family to attend an integrated school. The legacy of slavery and Jim Crow is such that we, as black people of the working poor, had nothing except our dignity and respectability, which was always under assault and still is. So by the time my mother was out of college, married, and raising me and my sister in north Dallas in the early '80s as we attended fully integrated schools, she believed that discipline and control was how you keep young black girls safe. And keeping young black girls safe means teaching them to do as they're told, no questions asked, and policing their assumed heterosexuality and appearance as soon as it looks like you might have boobs coming in. Basically, the message I was given at 16 was: "Sex is bad, unless you're married, and only then for procreation, and it's not something that's all that great anyways and I don't even like it so you won't either so you better not do it because hell." It was so unhelpful, but she didn't really have any other vocabulary or understanding.

The constant message to obey and "be nice," and also the sexual harassment I'd dealt with since the second grade, and my libido that kicked in in my preteen years that shouldn't have existed because: for shame-it was a recipe for some serious mental trauma. So for me, the consequences of being raised to be obedient/nice made me deal with some serious shame issues.

Melissa Howard, owner of Stock Vintage

What defines a feminist for you?
Unshaven armpits.

Elizabeth Valleau, creative director and owner of Empire Mayonnaise

Why do you think our society places such an emphasis on the notion of "good girls"?
Because that there is nothing more dangerous to the patriarchy as women that cannot be controlled. I think there're few forces on earth more capable and unstoppable than a bad girl. In truth I am hoping these colloquial value judgements are cast aside soon, and a "good girl" will be redefined as a powerful girl who follows her instincts, respects her sexuality, and knows her own mind.

The consequences of raising obedient girls is that the world will be denied half of its power, which is a failure on the part of our species. Women who are raised to feel incapable of trusting their own judgement and following their instincts will continue to turn on themselves and each other [out of] grief and frustration. Men will fail to develop into their full expression because they've been taught to subjugate or subdue the feminine spirit, even in themselves.

Janelle Fishman, stylist

Why do you think our society places such an emphasis on the notion of "good girls"?
Because "good girls" are easier to control.

Lori Huitron, hairstylist

What's your biggest fear?
Why would I fear anything?

Kendall Tichner, director of digital marketing and partnerships at Mana Contemporary

What defines a feminist for you?

To me, feminism is both believing and embodying the fact that anyone, regardless of where they identify on the gender spectrum, has equal ability to succeed.

Nikia Phoenix, model and photographer

What makes you angry?
The expectations and obligations that are placed on [women] really annoy me. As a woman, I am supposed to be educated and a great multi-tasker in order to assist, but not outshine, my male counterpart. And for some reason if I deviate from this plan or speak up for myself, instead of being assertive, I'm a bitch. If I'm overqualified, extremely talented, and incredibly driven then there's no reason I shouldn't be earning the same if not more than men. There's no reason I shouldn't be afforded the same privileges as a man.