I am sick of the “Bad Boy” trope. I am sick of the guy liner and the ripped jeans, the black shirts and the devilish smiles. I am sick of the sexual innuendoes and the gross comments, sick of the recklessness and the misogyny. I am sick of the good, kind, decent male characters constantly being pushed out of the picture to make way for the scowling, broody, sexist bad boys. And I am sick of the romanticization of the “Bad Boy” character, sick of the claims that bad boys just need to be loved, that they will change for the “right” woman, that all they need is the “love of a good woman”. Enough. We need to starting seeing bad boys for what they are - BAD boys.
I have dated bad boys before and believe me, there is nothing romantic or glamorous about dating a bad boy. They are nothing like their media portrayals. They are not secretly sensitive or sweet “once you get to know them” or “loving to a few” or broken souls who “need to be loved”. They are sexist and controlling and dangerous and unpredictable and (most importantly) they will not and can not be changed by the love of a good woman - and it’s not our job as women to change them. That’s not on us, and the idea that it should be is gross and damaging.
And I don’t say this without evidence. As I said, I have dated bad boys. Once upon a time, I was very attracted to bad boys. But these kind of guys are BAD NEWS. They are unhealthy and dangerous; at best, bad boys will demean and ignore you, at worst, they will abuse and control you. Unfortunately, the constant romanticization of the “Bad Boy” character in the media (from Damon Salvatore in TVD to Killian Jones in OUAT) completely glosses over these facts. The media is determined to make the bad boy trope the winning one, determined to eradicate the idea that a GOOD GUY is actually the better option.
And the worst part? WE BUY INTO IT. For some unfathomable reason we strong, amazing females EAT THIS SHIT UP WITH A SPOON. It is evident everywhere - from the adoration for the Spuffy relationship in BtVS, to the OUAT fandom’s obsession with the CS ship and their vilifying of Neal and SwanFire, to the TVD fandom’s infatuation with the Delena and Klaroline relationships (despite the dangerous and abusive elements in both ships).
There are far too many unhealthy and/or problematic relationships being portrayed on TV, far too many romanticized bad boys. We need to stop encouraging these portrayals and start showing girls the reality of dating a bad boy. People may say that I’m overreacting but the bottom line is that we learn from the media. We absorb the lessons and the messages presented in our shows and these messages help to shape our views on relationships and romance, and given that so many shows are glorifying the “bad boy” in some way or another, I think we all have reason to be concerned.
I have to ask one very important question here - what is wrong with the GOOD GUY? Why do we turn away from the decent, selfless, kind men, who treat their partners right and are danger-free? Because they’re so often viewed as “boring”? Believe me, I would take “boring” (but safe, loving and kind) over a bad boy any day. “Boring” is better than abusive, misogynistic, controlling, manipulative and stalkery, no matter how “sexy” and “entertaining” the bad boy is.
This trend of the bad boy winning, of the bad boy being so damn popular, is both alarming and disturbing. Instead of encouraging the female audience to embrace the good guy, to realise that the good guy is the better (safer and more stable) choice, we are hoisting bad boys up on pedestals and allowing/encouraging young girls to glorify them. In romanticizing the bad boy, in condoning problematic and unhealthy relationships, we are sending a god-awful message to those who watch these shows. We are allowing the audience (and the creators) to ignore and excuse all problematic aspects of the “bad boy” and any relationships he may have. And this needs to stop.