Girl next door  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
girl next door
For other uses, see Girl Next Door.

The cultural and sexual stereotype of the girl next door is invoked in American contexts to indicate wholesome, unassuming, femininity; as opposed to the culture's other female stereotypes such as the tomboy, the valley girl, the femme fatale, or the slut. The male equivalent is the "boy next door". An example of each is found in Thornton Wilder's Our Town, in the characters of Emily Webb and George Gibbs; or in Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer series, in the characters of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher.

In the idealised American context, falling in love with the "girl next door" is an archetypal romantic fiction. Unlike the femme fatale, the girl next door does not have hidden plans of her own, because her character and personality are open and straightforward, and because her social, economic, and sexual intentions do not need to be concealed. Unlike the princesse lointaine, she seldom is richer or of a higher social status than the boy protagonist. The girl next door likely is a girl whom the protagonist has known most of his life, but in the past could not appreciate the depth of his feelings for her because of his youth.

The girl next door is always physically in close range, yet simultaneously detached from the male protagonist (she need not literally live next door). She is the sweet-tempered girl he sees daily, a really great 'pal' friend, hence the "perfect" girl to take home to his parents. Often, she is a sexual virgin, and, because of that, her "innocent" manner is the façade of many American erotic fantasies portraying her "girl next door" image as the pretense behind which is the true, very sexually aggressive woman. The friction of these contradictions in the archetype is the key story theme in the film The Girl Next Door (2004).


Further reading

  • Deborah Jermyn, "Death of the Girl Next Door": Celebrity, Femininity, and Tragedy in the Murder of Jill Dando, Feminist Media Studies, Vol. 1 No. 3 (Nov. 2001)
  • Michael Levine, Feeling For Buffy — The Girl Next Door in Michael Levine and Steven Schneider, Buffy and Philosophy, Open Court Press 2003
  • Frank Rich, Journal: The Girl Next Door, New York Times, Feb. 20, 1994
  • Michael Walker, SHE SPITS ON THE GIRL NEXT DOOR, Los Angeles Times, Feb. 6, 1994
  • Elizabeth Wurtzel, Women: Read my lips: Are you a girl next door or a second wife?, The Guardian, Dec. 22, 1998

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Girl next door" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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