Autistic Women and the Scourge of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl
Say it with me, guys: manic pixie dream girls aren’t real.
It is time, once again, to talk about the manic pixie dream girl (MPDG) — the Hollywood trope of a blue-haired young woman with zero regard for social mores, a free spirit who sets her inner life aside as she gleefully encourages a sullen main character to stop sulking, chase his dreams, and face life head-on. Coined and popularized in the early 2000s alongside greatest hits such as Scott Pilgrim’s Ramona Flowers or Elizabethtown’s Claire Colburn, this stock character is almost magical in her ability to provide important life lessons for the male lead while requiring no support, backstory, or character development of her own. Sometimes she’s bubbly, or edgy, or both, but unchangingly she wants nothing more than to be some guy’s source of motivation, whimsy, and love, until her role is no longer needed. And then, poof! She disappears, allowing him to do his thing without distractions.
The MPDG is a male power fantasy through and through, and there’s nothing wrong with that! So long as you can tell the difference between fantasy and reality, which many fail to do.
I am an autistic woman. More often than not, men with “main character” syndrome find their real-life MPDGs in the form of autistic women. When men want to flirt with me, they usually start by calling me “weird, but in a good way.” (There are ways to make “weird” sound like a compliment, but this is not one of them.)
Sure, a lot of the time autistic women are quirky; we think differently than allistics, and therefore live differently than the average brooding, depressed, neurotypical guy might be used to. In high school, I was the person who said what other people thought and now in my 30s, I continue to say things I’m not “supposed” to say regularly — at work, among family and friends, and with strangers. Is this a good thing that benefits my social standing? Quite the opposite, usually. But from the outside looking in, a certain person might find my honesty refreshing. Not only that, we tend to match our weird actions with weirder aesthetics. I may not have blue hair (currently), but I’ve been told I “dress like an anime character” more than I’m willing to admit, and I like to pile my…