When it comes to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl and Cool Girl stereotypes, both centre on not being one of the girls despite adhering to male ideals of what women should be like or rather because of it to some extent for as long as she doesn’t outmale them either in appearance or in role. She’s into things most women aren’t yet be as conventionally attractive to men as she can be, she has to be approachable to men whilst not alienating them in her androgyny. She’s a near-impossible standard.
Somebody on Tiktok jokingly said that the preference for women who aren’t like other women goes deeper than that, perhaps because they secretly wanted a boyfriend or something. Not that they’re actually gay, but that their ideal woman seems awfully close to what most men want and are into. Not that women can’t be into sports, hunting and other butch stuff, but it seems their ideal woman is devoid of the experiences women get into when entering something masculine like say she’s into butch stuff but without encountering the sexism that comes along with such a field.
A woman without the femininity and womanhood women experience, a woman whose femininity is mostly unrelatable and artificial at that. Their idea of a girl next door, if honest, would be a woman whose interests are very much like a man but without being threatening to their masculinity and considered more approachable than women whose interests are more conventionally feminine. Imagine if these characters like Patty Spivot have more conventionally or stereotypically feminine interests and behaviours. Instead of being bubbly and into science a lot, she’s moody and into romance novels and horses.
You might say it makes her stupid if she reads romance novels but one of my own relatives loved both the National Geographic magazines and romance novels and she was big into reading in general, Patty Spivot could easily be her when you think about it. There’s another woman who’s big into critical thinking and romance novels as well as romantic fanfiction, to put it politely. Patty Spivot would also easily be her too. This Patty Spivot comes off as one of the girls in some regards, too unapproachable for some men even though her interests are closer to the everywoman than the woman of their dreams does.
It’s not that she has entirely abandoned science, but rather if she’s ever outed being big into romance novels and horses she would lose her cool girl status. She’s no longer one of the lads, instead she’s one of the lasses. Now let’s try Caitlin Snow, let’s say she’s not a scientist but rather an aspiring erotica writer who specialises in male homoerotica. You might say it makes her less intelligent now that she’s no longer a scientist, even though ironically it’s not uncommon for geek women to read or write slash fiction.
Some have even made a career out of writing professional male homoerotica, Caitlin Snow would easily do that. Instead of being an idealised geek girl, she’s more like what a substantial number of geek girls are like. By substantial, she indulges in male on male fiction like many geek girls have done before her. She might actually be relatable to other people this way, though that’s something some fans will not and never admit or realise. Even if other women have done something similar before, it’s not something fans would expect from her.
It seems like when it comes to creating these idealised women, it seems like cishet male writers want a woman who’s approachable but also not like other women which’s where their misogyny kicks in full. This stereotype is a standard women cannot fulfill for a long time, not to mention women who enter male fields encounter sexism and added racism if they’re not the majority ethnicity. Cool girls are also not made to outshine the male character in those fields, so such characters and stereotypes remain unrelatable and out of reach for many women.
Out of reach in that it’s always possible and has been possible for a woman to outshine a man in some fields, she could be better at playing football than he does. She might outearn a man, she might outrun a man or outlift a man. Men don’t like losing to women, so they find ways of bringing them down when they surpass them. The cool girl stereotype is something that walks on a tightrope, she can get into boy things but not outboy the boys and not complain or be concerned about sexism either.
Thus she can’t be like other women, she remains an elusive ideal. You can see this character in various forms and shapes, she’s the Goth girl who appears often in animation. She’s the adorkable ‘girl next door’, she’s the manic pixie dream girl. One thing’s for certain, she’s a character women will not relate to easily and a character straight men wish women were. She might as well be a man after all.