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The cultural and sexual stereotype of the girl next door is invoked in Americanmarker 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, girly girl, or the slut. The male equivalent is the "boy next door". Both gender examples of the "Next Door" archetype are quintessentially addressed with 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 within the characters of Tom Sawyer and Becky Thatcher.

In the idealised American context, falling in love with the "girl next door" is a classic exemplar of 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).


See also


  1. In love with the girl next door, Iris Gaines (Glenn Close), Roy leaves the farm after promising to come back to her in order to pursue a tryout as a pitcher for the Chicago Cubs.
  2. Is her mother Will's college sweetheart, the dependable girl next-door Emily?

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

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