Good Girls Go Bad?

“If girls want to be considered good, nice or even normal, adolescent girls are not (really) supposed to have sexual feelings of their own” (Tolman 154).

The article “Adolescent girls’ sexuality” by Deborah L. Tolman discusses the idea of the “good girl” and “bad girl” and how the distinction between them is becoming tighter and tighter as the years pass by. The article brings up the idea of adolescent girls having sexual feelings versus adolescent boys. Why is it okay that boys get to act out on their feelings and not girls? Society doesn’t believe that girls have sexual feelings of their own, while solely blaming teenage boys’ sexual feelings on their hormones. People always say, “teenage boys only have one thing on their mind”. What about teenage girls? Why isn’t it okay when we have those types of things on our mind as well? When girls hook up with a boy at a party, they are looked at as sluts. But when boys hook up with a girl, their friends go and congratulate them. This is the double standard in sexuality because girls are the only ones who get the bad reputation in sexual situations, while boys are patted on the back and told “good job” for their accomplishment.

In addition to adolescent girls not being allowed to have sexual feelings in today’s world, the only way for adolescent girls to be looked at as “good” is if they are straight. Tolman states, “The ‘good girl’ is assumed to be straight – not lesbian, bisexual or not sure – if she is attracted to women” (Tolman 156). Heteronormativity, being a straight or heterosexual person, is looked at as “right” or the “only option”. If a girl is a lesbian, they are automatically looked at as “bad” or “slutty”. The reason they are looked at this way is because guys think of them this way. When guys see two girls making out, they are automatically attracted to this. Check out these links to the definition of “slut” on urban dictionary:


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Do these definitions surprise you? The first one is exactly what I assumed would be on urban dict: “a woman with the morals of a man”. Who defines the morals of a woman versus the morals of a man? Why isn’t a woman allowed to have the same morals of a man? This definition is the perfect example of how women are not allowed to have the same sexual feelings as men do.

Personally, I am a huge fan of this article so there would not be many limitations that I would point out. One in particular is that I would love to hear about is what a homosexual male thinks of a “good” versus “bad” girl. In his eyes, are lesbians looked at as “sluts”? We already know the relationship between a homosexual female and a heterosexual male and how the male thinks of the woman, but what about the relationship between a homosexual male and a heterosexual female? Does the female look at the homosexual male as “bad” or “good” and in what way? This article could be looked at in many different contexts, and it brings up many questions that I personally have thought about a fair amount.

The idea of homosexual women being looked at as “bad” brings up the idea of the “male gaze”. The male gaze is when ideas are looked at in the viewpoint of a heterosexual male. For example, the camera looking over the curves of a women’s body in a film. This idea is the whole reason that lesbians are looked at as “bad” while heterosexual females are looked at as “good”. The reason they are looked at as “bad” is solely because heterosexual males are attracted to girl on girl sexuality. Because boys think it is hot, then it makes girls look like sluts. Going back to the urban dictionary definition of a slut, “a woman with the morals of a man”, if women want to have sexual feelings, they are thought of as sluts in the same way that if a girl wants to have sexual feelings with another girl, they are also looked at as sluts. The disconnects between the “male gaze” and homosexual women being looked at as sluts is that the male gaze is mainly looked at in films in the sense that the camera will film the curves of a women’s body.  It is the same idea, that the male’s ideas and views rule over women’s, but just in a different circumstance.



When writing this assignment, all I could think about was the song “Follow Your Arrow” by Kayce Musgraves. Looking at the first section of this reading, a quote stands out to me: “To be popular, with girls and with boys, girls are told to wear less and less to be more and more sexy, but girls who dress in skimpy clothes look like prostitutes” (Tolman 153). The tightrope between both extreme ends of the spectrum is extremely slim, and that is exactly what this song expresses. The first verse of the song states, “If you save yourself for marriage you’re a bore, if you don’t save yourself for marriage you’re a horrible person. If you won’t have a drink then you’re a prude, but they’ll call you a drunk as soon as you down the first one.” These lyrics could not relate to this more because it is describing exactly how girls feel on a daily basis. If we wear skirts that are too short then people call us sluts, but if we wear skirts that are too long then we just look horrible and are immediately labeled “uncool”. The whole point of the song comes at the chorus: “Make lots of noise, kiss lots of boys, or kiss lots of girls if that’s something you’re into, when the straight and narrow gets a little too straight roll up a joint, or don’t, just follow your arrow wherever it points.” The whole point of the song is that no matter what you choose to do in your life, people will criticize you for it. No matter how girls choose to dress, some people out there will always criticize you for it and no matter whichever sexual preference you choose, people will make fun of you for it. At the end of the day, just follow your heart and some people out there will be inspired by you or agree with your preferences. As long as you are yourself in everything you do, you will find your place and your true friends will come to find you.

After discussing this article and “Follow Your Arrow” by Kayce Musgraves, some thought provoking questions come to mind. First, why are girls always the ones who get the reputation, and what even made the double standard come into effect? Why are lesbians looked at as the “bad girls” while heterosexuality is thought of as the only “good” option? Throughout the explanation, I brought up many thought provoking questions, all of which are good topics of discussion from this thought provoking article.

2 thoughts on “Good Girls Go Bad?

  1. Wow, this was super well written, and I agree completely! There is an obvious double standard and the pressure for girls to behave as “good girls” even if that means limiting themselves and being more reserved. When we are little, aren’t we told we can grow to be anything that we want to be? Why then, are women forced to appear proper and reserved at all times and that even the slightest ruffle of a woman asserting her independence can cause a waterfall of reaction. That song is one of my favorites and I actually thought of it while reading the article as well! I think we should follow our hearts even if it means defying stereotypes of we “should” act like. I also liked how you pointed out the differences in good verse bad in terms of all the different identities like lesbian verse straight. I never really thought of that but it is so interesting and unfair that these stereotypes can define how we are expected to act.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I agreed with this article and I thought that the song reference was very relative to the topic. The crazy thing to note is when were these standards that society holds even put into place? I feel like the arrow being pulled and going in whatever direction you please is obviously the best thing for anyone to do. To follow their heart. I just wish that this could be done more easily. The urban references were also very on point. A woman with the morals of a man is one phrase that is commonly used. Why can it not be a man with the morals of a woman? Why are women the ones referred to as the “bad ones”? Women, far more often seem to be characterized and classified as good or bad opposed to men. The world may never know why this is the way it is, or maybe if it will ever be turned around.


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