It’s Not Sexual Tension, She Just Doesn’t Like Him

Can the trope that when a woman doesn’t like a guy she actually fancies him just please die?

We’ve all seen it. It’s been done in almost every show, and in almost every film. A woman will start off hating a guy but it turns out it’s all been built up sexual tension and really she can’t get enough of him. Please. It’s lazy writing that has got to go. It’s also inherently dismissive of women.

Sometimes women just don’t like men. I know that this is shocking, but men, try to get hold of those fragile egos. Not everyone has to like you. The concept that women can’t really, sincerely dislike a guy but has to secretly want him just serves the male ego, and does a tremendous disservice to women.

“Sometimes women just don’t like men”

It also has a harmful impact on our culture. It helps create a world where men can ignore a woman’s rejections and say he knows what she really wants. It’s how sometimes women will encounter a guy who will only go away if you say you’re gay (and even then, there’s often a horrific attempt at ‘correcting’ or a series of lewd jokes). It also makes so many fandoms headache inducing. So many characters just should be allowed to dislike each other. You know when Sawyer blows Kate’s chance to get off the island onĀ Lost? Let her be disgusted in his selfish, game-playing controlling ways. Don’t make it a subtext for lust. If lust is based on two people being shitty to each other then they absolutely should not be together, even in a casual relationship.

It’s fun to see different elements of characters explored, and it’s enjoyable when they really hate each other. But keep the hate, or at least explore it. The idea that women deep down just can’t think a guy is a douche is ignorant. Keep the fights, make alliances, maybe even make friendships but stop rewarding toxic behaviour where a guy can be portrayed as being utterly disgusting and then still get the girl. It suggests that women actually like appalling behaviour and it encourages it to viewers. Representation does matter, particularly when we’re surrounded by stories and the media as soon as we are born.

It’s tiring to keep hearing about whether characters who hate each other will hook up, and it’s even worse when producers go with it simply for the views. If a character is constantly unhappy at a guy’s presence, insults him and makes it clear she doesn’t want him in her space, that isn’t code for “I love you”. It means she doesn’t like him. Respect boundaries, and respect women and write empowering narratives, not this drivel that secretly she just wants to be swept off her feet.

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