Yes All Boys, Yes All Girls, Yes All Women, Yes All Men

The “girl as trophy” trope is being challenged again. The tragedy in Isla Vista has made us question how we — all of us, women and men — let it become thought of as normal. (This article sums it up nicely.)

I’m not laying blame on any one movie or filmmaker. It’s not all Judd Apatow’s fault. It’s everywhere you look, for time immemorial. I learned the role of trophy as a little girl watching Popeye and Bluto fighting for Olive Oil, for crying out loud. My kids see that cliche story line again and again, whether it’s Nickelodeon or PG-13 movies I shouldn’t let them watch. Even “The Most Interesting Man in the World” bears guilt for (or simply expresses) the culture that led a disturbed young man to a rampage as, in advance of Cinco de Mayo, he advised that it’s best to start “with two.”

"Start with Two"
“Start with Two”

(Granted these ladies are not blonde, but they are beautiful. And totally lucky to be with that guy.)

I am TIRED of the trope that women are the trophy. The object, not the subject. Did anyone think to ask these two ladies if they gave a shit about the old guy with the scratchy beard? No. Because if anyone did, I’m pretty sure they’d say, “Hell, no. It’s Girls Night Out and we’re going dancing with ourselves.”

I don’t have the answers. I’ll flail around, trying these tactics:

1. Drop an editorial comment while my sons watch TV, asking about the female-object-of-desire character, “I wonder what she wants to be when she grows up?” or “Why would she like either of those dudes?” or “I bet she likes math (or history, or art, or anything that’s about HER).”

2. Be a role model of a strong woman.

3. Find books, shows and movies where women and girls have agency. (Really, we’re back to Marlo Thomas and the Story of Atalanta all these years later?) Marlo Thomas

4. Watch and share any of the thousands of videos from, mini-documentaries about pioneering women that PBS will be debuting this Fall, and which are immediately available on I think I’ll start with the one about Violet Palmer, the first female NBA referee.

5. Don’t let up. We’ve got a world to change. For our boys and our girls.

What are the ways you’ve thought of to challenge these cliches? Please click the comment icon to the right of the headline above to share.







4 thoughts on “Yes All Boys, Yes All Girls, Yes All Women, Yes All Men

  1. I think from time immemorial males have desired and wanted to have as their own, females in the human and animal species. That is fine. I like being desired. It doesn’t make me less and it doesn’t prevent me from being my own person. In fact, being my own person makes me more proud of myself and more desirable too! Maybe I am missing something, but what is wrong with that?

    1. Here’s what I think you’re missing. The problem is not that men may desire women, or that by being desired you are lesser. Not what I’m saying at all.

      I’m saying that much of our pop culture promotes a world view that females exist SOLELY as the objects of men’s desire, solely as objects to be won, lost or traded, not as individuals with their own independent minds and desires, precisely what you have said makes you proud of yourself. You are NOT the helpless, flimsy, “dumb blonde” who only lives to be desired and kept on some guy’s arm. Can you even imagine a world where what YOU wanted to achieve, what YOUR opinion was, did not count? Perish the thought! You are an independent, ambitious, successful woman, and you can be as beautiful as you want. Those are the role models, the complex and layered characters, that are good for the world, good for boys and girls. Real women. Not brainless characters.

  2. Yesterday Sandy Banks had a terrific article in the L.A. Times which is as powerful as this is on the same subject. I highly recommend it.

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