Why did I always hate the nice girl in movies?

'How could I grow up learning to hate nice women? Why wasn’t I taught to admire and embrace my gender?'

It’s 2006. In my favorite pair of army-green gaucho pants and my Aly & AJ T-shirt, I watch High School Musical for the hundredth time. How my mother put up with hearing that soundtrack over and over again is still beyond me. 

As Gabriella’s solo song, “When There Was Me and You” started, I was flashing a goofy face at the screen, or yelling back at the TV, “shut up Gabriella!” 

I never liked the nice girl in movies because she always got what I wanted. 

Gabriella got the dreamy guy, the scholarship, the lead in the play. She had everything, just for being nice. I hated her character because I was jealous of her life — in a movie. 

My harbored resentment toward women in film didn’t stop at High School Musical. Whoever was playing the nice girl who the main guy falls for was also cast as my greatest enemy. I couldn’t stand Bailey on Suite Life on Deck or Rosalina on The Naked Brothers Band for this very reason. 

The list goes on and on. 

From a young age, underlying sexism in popular culture told me to side with the guy, and I blindly followed instructions. I was tricked into falling for the handsome, dreamy, yet rude and inconsiderate boy, and I blamed his love interest for everything. 

Maybe Rosalina shouldn’t have kissed another guy if she didn’t want Nat to be depressed. If Gabriella’s so upset that Troy betrayed her, maybe she shouldn’t have pushed him so far out of his comfort zone. 

No matter how bad the guy acted and how innocent the girl was, it was always the same perspective. Not once did I question my obvious prejudice against women in films as a child. And not once did anyone try to teach me otherwise. 

I never stopped to think about why I didn’t like Gabriella or why I was so violently jealous of someone who was not real. 

Growing up and out of Disney movies, I naturally let this part of myself go. I no longer cared about who ended up with Nat Wolff on a TV show that no longer aired, but I couldn’t stop thinking about when I did. Where hatred once was in my heart, I now felt guilt. 

How could I grow up learning to hate nice women? Why wasn’t I taught to admire and embrace my gender? 

So often in film — especially in adolescent movies — women are the butt of the joke or the root of the problem. They’re portrayed to bring drama with them everywhere they go, and that’s just not fair 

For me, it was only after I grew up that I realized this. But I shouldn’t have had to realize that at all. 

Women should support women, and I wish I learned that from the start. I wish there was no point in my life, no matter how young I was, where I was blaming my fellow females for the actions of others. 

I wish I followed the nice girl’s lead and be nice rather than hoping the worst for her. 

I wish I knew what I know now, and I can only hope the next generation doesn’t have to realize the obvious. 

Reach the reporter at swindom@asu.edu and follow @SaraWindom on Twitter. 

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