When I titled my novel Bad Girls, I worried that the whole good girl/bad girl issue was so over already, nobody would get it. Perhaps it's a mindset that doesn't really resonate anymore, relegated to the kitsch of "Mad Men" episodes and killed by feminism, Madonna and the pill. Wasn't that dangerous line of good girls turning into bad girls gone?
Apparently, the line is alive and well, just "Blurred," apparently.
My God, back in the day, how hard we worked at being the good girl, and how thoroughly we bought into it, letting the impossible quest hijack our true selves. I shouldn't speak for anyone else, though; I can only speak for myself, having come from a family that had very strong ideas of what it meant to be a good woman during a time period that reinforced those ideals. I recall my father telling a friend of his that it was his job to make sure I didn't have a good time. He meant it, and by gosh, he succeeded.
You were either one or the other, good or bad. Virginity was key. Back then, it was the kiss of death to be a bad girl, which frequently meant that you were damaged goods, no good. You were ruined. For life. Those were the bad old days for women.
When the feminist movement emerged, I embraced it wholeheartedly. For my daughters, things would be different. I bought them singles of "I Am Woman, Hear Me Roar" to play on their plastic, red-white-and-blue Wonder Woman record players. They grew up with "No" means no. Roe v. Wade provided them choice and dominion over their bodies. And women were in charge of their own sexuality. Done! Whew, thank heavens we won that battle!
Fast forward to the 2013 VMAs. A young woman whose fan base consisted not long ago of very young Hannah Montana followers came on stage leering and twerking with her tongue hanging out of her mouth. Apparently, her marketing team thought the best way to propel her to the next level of her career was to blur the lines of childhood and sexuality with teddy bears and a hairdo pulled into stunted pigtails while she performed bumps and grinds in her underwear with both life-sized teddy bears and a man dressed like a pimp. The man, Robin Thicke, sang his hit song "Blurred Lines" with lyrics like these, "I'm gon' take a good girl. I know you want it. Just let me liberate you. I hate these blurred lines. I know you want it."
I'm so confused. I guess, we women haven't moved as far forward as I thought. In fact, the song title should be "Same Old Lines." Same old battles. But because my generation thought those battles were won, many of the girls and young women today, don't realize it's an ongoing fight.
Miley Cyrus is the subject of a fair amount of derision and disgust -- and accusations of betrayal to her young fans -- because of that performance. I think it's misplaced. Although I found it sad and discouraging that her primary reaction was delight at the astronomical number of tweets she accumulated over it. She is the product of her managers, her marketers, her team. No doubt, the same type of middle-aged men that blurred Britney Spears' Mickey Mouse image with pedophile-like fantasy videos of her dressed in knee socks, schoolgirl uniform and long, bleach-blonde pigtails sucking on her finger while singing in a baby-doll voice, "Oops, I did it again," deliberately blurring lines between children and sex, innocence and lust. I picture all the guys sitting around a coffee cup-littered conference table, with pot bellies and flow charts molding the careers of young women, blending their own misogynistic, adolescent fantasies with business acumen and marketing degrees. Maybe I'm wrong; in any case, those are different kinds of blurred lines, but the same old kind of manipulation and exploitation of girls and young women.
Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" is a cautionary tale. I'm glad to see the controversy it has provoked. It has re-drawn the old battle lines and pulled women from their comfort zone to face the reality of bad girls vs. good girls -- what it means to them, what it means in our society, what it means to men... still.
My novel has many layers, it is a story about the choices women face, family and a mystery sprinkled with a little magic. I am relieved that Bad Girls is an apt title after all, containing subject matter as relevant today, as it ever was.