A friend I’ll call “Suite Madame Blue” sent me this question:
“The mystique of ‘bad boys.’ Specifically, why do some women go crazy over them? I mean, I realize, objectively speaking, that it’s an attraction to a dominant male who can provide resources and protection for a mate and children. But come on! Being rude to the waiter does not a good provider make. He isn’t assertive, he’s insubordinate! He isn’t mysterious, he’s shifty! He’s not conflicted, he’s lazy! How is this attractive? When did Byronic hero move from ‘anti-hero’ to straight up ‘hero?’ Don’t idolize or encourage this sort of behavior! Gah! Sorry, had to get that out. But I do kind of need an explanation on why this sort of thing sends some women swooning when it should be setting off warning bells. And not just in a post-feminist ‘he doesn’t respect me as an equal’ sort of way. Just the fundamental ‘he isn’t nice to you; he makes you sad more often than he makes you happy’ sort of way. Why, sug, why?”
Tough question. A few factors spring to mind:
1) That rebel mystique: a goody-two-shoes can live vicariously through her rebellious partner, and maybe even toughen up herself. Who hasn’t wanted to rebel now and then? Why not live the dream?
2) Popularity: everyone knows who the local bad boys are. People like to be known, as demonstrated when the Crystals’ sang, “When he holds my hand I’m so proud/ ’cause he’s not just one of the crowd.”
Or to quote the Three Amigos, “He’s not just famous, he’s IN-famous!” Hook up with a bad boy and enjoy instant notoriety.
3) The chance to reform someone: A few women (and men!) dream about finding a no-good, bad-to-the-bone dude and changing him completely.
Think Pillow Talk, the tale of a lying womanizer who gets reformed/domesticated by the love of a good woman. Good movie, bad idea. Humans are not fixer-uppers.
4) The chance to feel exceptional: Some women (and men!) want a bad boy who mistreats everyone BUT them. Imagine how special you’d feel, right up until the bad boy turned on you!
5) Sheer animal magnetism: Maybe you were never drawn to bad boys until you met one so hypnotic, so sexy, so irresistible that you couldn’t turn away.
Truthfully, Suite Madame Blue is barking up the wrong blogger. Most bad boys do nothing for me. They’re too much like sulky toddlers, misbehaving and expecting to get away with it.
This goes back go my childhood: Even as a child, I consciously disliked bad boys of any stripe. My favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle was Donatello. I resented Ernie for being a jerk to Bert, and Tommy Smothers for heckling Dick. Am I the only one who preferred Luke to Han? Yes? Well, there you go.
So readers, tell us: what’s so good about bad boys?