More of the Cute Clumsy Girl

In my last post, I compared the two kinds of lead female characters that has suspected dyspraxia: the damsel in distress and the cute clumsy girl. Although the damsel in distress may or may not have dyspraxia (in fact, many of these damsels are physically strong, i.e. Cinderella, who can maintain a household without breaking a thing), the cute clumsy girl has almost always dyspraxia, hence her term is clumsy.

What’s the fuss about the cute clumsy girl?

The cute clumsy girl is dyspraxic. Period.

The cute clumsy girl is one of the most common female characters in literature and yet one of the most criticized characters too. In fact, a lot of feminists criticize her a lot, for she symbolizes the ideal woman in patriarchal societies. Yes, female characters don’t have to be weaklings just to be used by mean men. Women must be self-reliant. On the other hand, the cute clumsy girl exhibits most, if not all symptoms of dyspraxia. Her clumsiness is a classic symptom. It includes her tripping on the floor/ground, bumping onto objects or people, working or performing poorly, having trouble at sports or dance, etc. Another dyspraxic symptoms present in the cute clumsy girl are naivete, childlikeness, poor awareness of space and time, and so forth. To make things worse, she is often made a laughing stock for the audience.

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(C) Fox.


Jess from New Girl is a classic example of cute clumsy girl. Notice on this picture, the rest of the gang posed formally while Jess is all ‘hurrah.’

For most of us, especially neurotypicals, we just take these for granted. Those everyday activities like grooming and cooking – are just innate to most of us. But for the cute clumsy girl, it’s like martial arts or sports that cannot be mastered at all. And this can be frustrating on her part. Every single day, she struggles to get things done right even if it causes her mental drain and physical exhaustion. Like what I’ve said previously, this is really tiring and can cause burnout in the long run.

The dyspraxic (clumsy girl)’s struggle goes like this: it’s like pushing a large stone against an iron wall. No kidding. Imagine you’re doing it and after 10 hours, it can’t be moved. It’s exhausting, right? One more try, and you’ll go nuts over it.

But unless you really have dyspraxia, you’ll never know how exactly she feels. That’s why the cute clumsy girl is made either a laughable stock or a helpless waif or worse is a stupid character, which is not necessarily true.

Unfortunately, our culture seems somewhat unfriendly to this character. She is almost always the protagonist of comedies like Jess from New Girl. They can never become ‘hot’ leading ladies in action or epic films, except if comedy of course. Just so unfair. Cute clumsy girls just can’t be laughing stocks. Maybe because we expect them to be fast-learners and matured when it comes to all stuff. And we women should be graceful as always, not awkward, for the latter is ‘girly’ amd ‘childish.’

On the other hand, some cultures find the cute clumsy girl attractive. In Japan and Korea, the cute clumsy girl is almost always the preferred leading lady (except for heavy drama). Notice the femmes in manga/animé, Jdorama, and Hallyu series. They’re almost all clumsy. In fact, the Japanese call the cute clumsy girl ‘dojikko’ (ドジっ娘 or ドジっ子 ), which means ‘blunder child.’ Dojikkos exist as leading ladies and they are usually the heroines in shojo manga (少女漫画) or ‘girl’s comics’ where they become successful in their own adventures (i.e. Usagi Tsukino/Sailor Moon, Minako Aino/Sailor Venus, Orihime Inoue from Bleach, etc.).

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(C) Toei Animation.


Minako’s awkwardness.

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(C) Studio Pierrot.


Orihime is a typical Dojikko.

A description of dojikko is explained below:

Generally, the girl is pretty and cute or so sweet and innocent that readers are expected to like her. She repeatedly fails in everyday house and school activities, like housework, sport competitions, even simply walking. She frequently falls, runs into things, or trips over the lowest obstacles. Even though she is annoyed at her misfortunes, a dojikko always shows her good side and regrets messing things up.[1][2] Examples of dojikkos’ behaviour include slipping on stairs, knocking over a drink, breaking a dish while serving customers, and other such slapstick.[1][2][3]

As for Koreans, the cute clumsy girl is appealing and approachable and that makes her ‘aegyo’ (애교) or cute.

Eh? But is that a subtle form of discriminating women?

No. Not really. In fact, the concept of a Cute Clumsy Girl has worldwide appeal, mainly because her clumsiness makes her more approachable.[5] Why?

As explained in the definition of the dojikko, she is innocent, sweet, has perseverance, and generally wants to improve herself. She’s also optimistic and never gives up easily. She’s bubbly and friendly and also kind. That’s the characteristic of a dyspraxic. But what she needs is support amd understanding, not ridicule and criticism.

Maybe the Japanese are somewhat right that cute clumsy girls, and more generally clumsy people have their own place and can live as well.

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To conclude, do not judge a girl by her clumsiness. Look at her character first before laughing at or criticizing her.

Sources:
1. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dojikko
2. Kazuma Shinjō (2006). ライトノベル「超」入門 [Light Novel “Chō” Nyūmon]. SoftBank Creative. p. 150. ISBN 4797333383
3. 『少女マンガから学ぶ恋愛学』 (“Learning about the Science of Love from Shōjo Manga”) (架神恭介、シンコーミュージック、ISBN 4401630904)p. 67
4. 『オタク用語の基礎知識』 (‘Basic Understanding of Otaku Terminology”) (オタク文化研究会、マガジンファイブ、ISBN 4434073966)p. 87
5. http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Dojikko

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