I am a manic pixie dream girl. Or at least, it appears I have been to many. I am weird and outgoing, I have been told many a time that I’m ‘not like other girls’. I have been called ‘the light of someone’s life’ more than I am comfortable with (read: any more than never.) If not within our relationship, then sometimes after its loss, I inspire change in the way some men live their lives.
I have been treated as a plot device in the story of many. Serving to fill the void left by a loss, to stroke the male ego or to alter paths and inspire. The problem with this is that I am not a two dimensional character, I am a real person. This tends to complicate things for people who want me to play a certain part. When I act outside of my given script I’m suddenly problematic, needy or crazy.
500 Days of Summer nails it pretty perfectly with this excerpt:
So you got a boyfriend?
Tom shoots daggers at McKenzie for that comment. McKenzie mouths “what?” Summers sees nothing.
Don’t really want one.
Come on. I don’t believe that.
You don’t believe a woman could enjoy being free and independent?
Are you a lesbian?
No, I’m not a lesbian. I’m just not comfortable being somebody’s “girlfriend.” I don’t want to be anybody’s anything, you know?
I have no idea what you’re talking about.
It sounds selfish, I know, but . . . I just like being on my own. Relationships are messy and feelings get hurt. Who needs all that? We’re young. We’re in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I say, let’s have as much fun as we can have and leave the serious stuff for later.
Holy shit. You’re a dude.
So then . . . what happens if you fall in love?
Summer laughs at this.
Summer doesn’t believe in love, she doesn’t want a relationship, she doesn’t ascribe to the damsel in distress or the princess waiting for her prince. She is simply an independent woman who enjoys her life. She has dreams and goals that are external to a relationship – shocking, I know.
Holly Golightly from Breakfast at Tiffanies has a similar story. Her cats name is ‘cat’ because she so strongly believes that the cat, like herself, should not belong to anyone. She lives under a new name in a new city. She is whole heartedly her own person, far from many characters of that age.
I identify with these characters. I frequently asked for people not to try and put claim to me or to fall in love with me. Not that I don’t believe in love, far from that. It just never seemed compatible with what I wanted in my life. People who said they loved me saw me as something to own, something that would bend to their script and I didn’t have time for any of that. I found myself frequently apologising for being precisely what I had promised to be.
This happened so often that when I encountered someone who treated me like a person, someone who recognised my own hopes and dreams, someone to share with rather than to be shaped by – this came as a shock for me. To me that’s rather sad. I had become so disillusioned with the idea of love that I didn’t think it possible to be empowered and in love at the same time. I have found only one person who seemed to be compatible for a real life fairy tale. Maybe that is the true definition of love.
I think this is why so many people are so disillusioned with relationships. If you identify as masculine you are taught that your role in love is the hunter, the possessive, the owner and maker of rules. If you identify as feminine you are taught to be the pursued, the passive, and the follower. Feminism has given other options to those who identify as primarily feminine. You can be the passive or you can be the empowered. The problem here is that there is nothing for people who identity outside of this binary, and this forces an adversarial dichotomy on those who are supposed to be falling for each other.
If we want to be happier in our relationships we need to break out of these adversarial dichotomies. Something much easier said than done. As for now I will join the ranks of the Summer’s and Holly Golightly’s. The people who do not want to belong to anyone. Please do not fall in love with me, for the patriarchy has trained your love to be possessive. I’m sorry for wielding my own autonomy, I know that’s problematic for your story line. But I am not, and will not be sorry for being exactly what I told you I would be.