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Home » Books & writing

Girl, You Need New Friends

Submitted by on May 10, 2016 – 9:17 pm 5 Comments

pexels-photoI’ve been reading a couple of books in which a woman experiences or witnesses something shocking and she tells someone or several people. And no one believes her, not even her closest family members and friends.

They suggest reasons for why she might be mistaken about what she saw/experienced:

  • she’s overworked and exhausted
  • drinks too much
  • has an overactive imagination
  • recently experienced some kind of trauma and now blows everything out of proportion.

My favorite (imagine that typed in sarcastic font): she’s taking antidepressants. Because everyone knows those make you delusional, right?

It makes me wonder how realistic this is because it doesn’t reflect my life. If I tell people I’d been subjected to something bad, they would absolutely believe me. Mr. PCN and my mother would lead the charge to rectify the situation.

Not everyone has that kind of support system, I know, but the women in these books are average folks like me—people with jobs and families who are in healthy relationships and don’t have histories of making up stuff. For them to not have anyone believe them is strange to me.

And then I had a thought. Is it because they’re women? If the protagonists were men, would they be deemed more credible and less easily dismissed by others? Or would it be even harder to buy a story in which no one believes a man?

What do you think?


  • Lauren says:

    Interesting questions you pose. Trying to think of a book where a man wasn’t believed and, well, you know I can’t remember anything past five minutes ago, so not even sure why I bothered. I would guess that it’s used more with women, but I also think it’s a (somewhat) lazy plot device. If her support system believes her, then she’s not out fighting danger on her own. I would prefer her not telling anyone if she’s not going to get any help, but then you get the “WHY DON’T YOU TELL SOMEONE!?!?” reaction. So to some extent I think authors can’t win. But there has to be a point where reality meets fiction. Or maybe not. I do agree that this bugs me to no end. I’m not sure if it bugs me more when the disbelievers are friends or authorities.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      I can’t remember a story in which no one would believe a man. I’m guessing they’re out there but I can’t think of any. Or people would be skeptical but not go so far as to condescendingly tell him that maybe he’s just drunk or on medication or a drama king.

      For a woman to go forth alone and investigate something, she should have a very good reason not to tell someone. I did a movie once in which my character couldn’t tell the cops she’d witnessed a murder because she was an illegal in Berlin. She also couldn’t speak any German. So she went on the run. That made sense.

  • Eirego says:

    I had to give this some thought before responding.

    I found a college exchange program student I sort of knew ain the hallway of my dorm late one night. He was absent mindedly staring out the window at the first snowfall he’d ever seen. He also only had one shoe on and thin windbreaker. I had a brief conversation with him while I was unlocking my door. When I turned back to ask him if he’d like to talk, he wasn’t there. Three days later, I overheard my friend in campus security say the guy had gone missing. I told him about the incident and thought I was just being dramatic, that I must have been drinking or high that night. (Don’t judge, it was college). The more I
    insisted I wasn’t, the less he believed me.

    Anyway….. I think it’s the type of situation that isn’t necessarily gender specific, but it provides mystery to a story. And a good mystery always grabs me.

    However, I do agree that too often, it’s a female that writers choose to be frustrated about not being believed.

    • Pop Culture Nerd says:

      WHOA. That is a real-life mystery. I don’t understand why your friend wouldn’t believe you. Why would you make it up, especially the detail about the missing student having only one shoe? Whatever happened, I hope that student is safe.

  • LindaF says:

    Don’t know whether these were books, but:

    Hitchcock’s North by Northwest

    The Manchurian Candidate

    Both were men that were not believed about a crime.

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