When something sneaks into your awareness, you start seeing it everywhere. That’s happening to me with the good girl tag in pop songs. And every time I hear it, I hate it a little more.
It seems so innocent. It’s supposed to be a compliment, even. How could good be bad? Because it stratifies women into the Madonna-whore divide. The moment a woman slips from her pedestal, she ceases to be worthy of respect and becomes a filthy whore.
This is actually part of a broader problem in people’s black-and-white view. There are good people, and there are bad people. If you see yourself as good (as virtually everyone does) then the things you do are not bad, no matter how far beyond the bounds of standard behavior. This relates to the concept of bounded ethicality, when “good” people twist the definitions of ethics to justify their own wrongdoing. The really insidious thing about this mindset is how it blinds people from their own behavior–if I am a good person, then nothing I do is actually bad. Nothing.
The other side of this–circling all the way back to where I started–is the idea that if a person does something wrong, I can label them as bad. Now I can freely vilify them. They are bad, they don’t deserve respect. I can treat them however I want. It is, in fact, a just thing for good me to punish bad them.
No one believes they’re bad or evil. I’ve seen this in action over and over. Good students cheating. Good people taking advantage of friends. On a higher level, nations attacking preemptively out of a perceived need for self-preservation. It happens all the time, and it is us. There is no them. We are the ones who control morality by twisting our crimes into need. We are the ones who believe the ends justify the means.
Don’t call me a good girl. Right behind that is the implication that if I falter, even a little, you’re going to cast me in the role of bad. I’m not that simple or one-dimensional. And neither are you, no matter how much you desperately want to believe you are one of the good guys.