Does The Term ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ Allow Sexism To Be Better Perceived?

Let me first define a ‘manic pixie dream girl’: A stock character in films noted for being shallow, quirky, feminine and providing inspiration for brooding protagonist male characters. It has been claimed that the term is merely a mendacious trope. The trope suggests that the girl has no interests or agency of her own. The MPDG concept suggests that the qualities of so many women are best employed in assisting a man. Does the use of MPDG allow women in movies to reproduce and exemplify the misogynist? Movies using a MPDG character allow women to be put into subgroups, ultimately impacting on how men will perceive women’s contributions. The concept becomes a trope because it creates women to be one-dimensional and having no interests or desires of their own, useful only for the male counterparts as inspiration.

The archetype of the MPDG needs to be retired, but do women start to relate and recognise counterparts and relatable aspects of MPDG within themselves? Have women started becoming serial monogamists, which have relationship after relationship, becoming a role and moving on? Some women wanting to be idolised as their partner’s muse and inspiration, the role becomes appealing. I’m starting to believe in some respects that ‘some’ women become the MPDG as a reaction created from stereotypes that have been given to them in the past and are still present in some aspects of society, women becoming a product of misogyny which has been directed at them.

I’m actually extremely interested if there is an analogy for a man that presents the same characteristics of the MPDG, allowing sexism (for once) to be recognised and present within male roles. Men are often conveyed as more one-dimensional (women are from mars etc), I’ve had many male friends and boyfriends that conveyed that they had nothing on their mind,  becoming a gender that doesn’t have an original thought or higher thought levels. I recognise that this is highly untrue, yet they are quickly stereotyped and put in the same mental and confining ‘box’ or parameters that are given to MPDG.

Maybe i should call the male representatives: ‘manic pixie dream guy’, he exists solely to help the female protagonist reach her goals. I honestly wonder why these terms are mostly coined to women, usually in a negative lighting. Is it used to try and impose negative connotations for behaviour that doesn’t conform to society? Either way I’m not a big fan of this terminology, I will admit that at times I have even acted like a MPDG, yet it was short-lived, I usually quickly reaffirm my individual identity, these out-dated terms need to be realised and discarded, surely society has moved past this point.

I would like to thank hazelnutpie for introducing me to the concept.

6 thoughts on “Does The Term ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ Allow Sexism To Be Better Perceived?”

  1. Thanks for writing about this! I’ve been meaning to post something about MPDG, but I wrote my senior thesis on the topic this summer, so I’m a bit MPDG’d-out for the time being. I argue that I actually still like the term…for lengthy reasons. ^_^ I see a special sort of depth in the MPDG’s one-dimensionality.
    No “Manic Pixie Dream Guy” characters are coming to mind right now. Males in movies often do convey that they don’t have higher thought levels, but in those scenarios, they are not functioning to serve a woman.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You definitely know more than me on the topic, I was pretty interested in the concept. I just didn’t like the concept that people were one-dimensional, guess that’s why I extended it to guys as well, but my counter-argument is the belief that some people are shallow like the MPDG (just one interpretation I came across). Out of curiosity what was your thesis called? I didn’t delve too deeply into the academic side of the topic, mainly people’s personal experiences. Wish I had now 🙂


      1. Just as a note, I harshly criticize how a number of females applied the term to themselves. That’s not to say that it cannot be useful to think of oneself in relation to the MPDG. I discuss how the term itself is psychologically loaded. The concept of the MPDG actually helped me understand some of my own elevated behavior.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I really liked these parts in your essay:
      “proclaiming that viewers have distorted the definition of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl to the point where the term is detrimentally misused”

      “Manic Pixie Dream Girl Disorder is a psychological diagnosis that I derived from the precise comorbidity[20] embedded in the term. If this disorder were real, it would represent the unique concept of medicating mental illness with a mental illness. As a cure for an unstable state of mind, a young woman will imagine herself as a mere concept rather than a flawed human being with a limited amount of energy and optimism”

      “This contemporary term not only adopts literary significance, but it also directs our attention to preexisting feminist film criticism. Recounting an early wave of feminism”

      I especially enjoyed the analysis of people’s blogs who identified as MPDG because they were shallow and quirky. Not realising that being quirky doesn’t make you a MPDG.

      Liked by 1 person

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