Seeing the best in life's challenges

Good Girls and Bad Boys

on April 24, 2012

I’m thinking today about how we like to label people, especially kids.  We do this all the time and don’t think about it.

Growing up, I was a good girl.  I was nice.  I didn’t make waves.  I did what I was supposed to do.  I got along with most everyone.  I got good grades, the teachers liked me, I was a good sport.  I avoided conflict.

Once you get the “good girl” label, and it really sticks, you don’t get questioned.  As long as you maintain your appearance, you don’t really have to be as perfect as everyone thinks you are.  I could have gotten away with all kinds of stuff.  No one believes that a good girl would ever do anything bad!

Then there are the bad boys.  They fight.  They’re stinky and loud.  They ask too many questions.  They break the rules.  They fidget.  Need I go on?

We expect boys to be bad.  Of course they are going to get in trouble.  It’s what boys do.  We have to tame them, get them to conform, break their spirits if they are too feisty.  With boys, we sigh knowingly and assume the worst.

Has anyone else ever noticed all the mixed messages and judgments we hand out in the form of generalizations?

  • “Peer pressure is bad.”
  • “Get along with your friends.  You need to pick up on social cues.”
  • “Look at what a wonderful man Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was – he spoke out against injustice!”
  • “Too bad, kid, life is not fair – you just have to deal with it.”
  • “Strangers are bad, don’t talk to strangers.”
  •  “Teacher knows best, do what your teacher tells you.”

We make blanket judgments about entire groups of people all the time.  It makes it easier to hurry through life.  Hang out with the good people; avoid the bad people.  Listen only to what the good people say; those bad people are idiots.  What’s kind of crazy when you think about it, is that there isn’t even a consensus about who belongs on what list!

To me, this is just laziness.  It’s a bad habit.  I, for one, try not to let myself fall into that trap.  But heck, I’m not perfect – even good girls sometimes mess up.

What do you think?

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