the doll games
shelley and pamela jackson




P: We are turning now to the morality structure. What was good, and what was bad.

S: It’s good to be smart.

P: It’s good to be boylike, if you’re a girl.

S: It’s bad to have pointed toes as if you can only wear high heels.

P: It’s bad to wear permanent blue eye shadow.

S: It’s bad to have enormous breasts that are fused together in one hard edifice.

P: It’s bad to be a fop.

S: It’s bad to be vain.

P: It’s bad to be egotistical.

S: It’s good to be good at things, but modest about it. In the doll games, those two things always go together. Nobody who says they’re good at something is actually good at it. And it’s not good to be competitive, either for a romantic partner, like the way Dawn was, back-biting and back-stabbing, but also in terms of modesty, since putting yourself forward is bad.

P: Right, well we had this model of equality that had to hold among our main characters, partly because otherwise— because we both had to be stars, because we were collaborating, not competing. We had to be equal. So in the games the competition could only be with outsiders who lost.

S: I wonder if there would have been more competition if we didn’t have the need to have two central main characters all the time. Even if they weren’t competing for the exact same position, like Mara and Melanie, we always had two heroes, right?

P: Yeah, it wasn’t until Mara and Melanie that we regularly had to have two equal positions for girls available. Before that there would be a central romance.

P: There would be Aina and a boy, Jesse or Laurie, and they were both equal, and if there was another girl she would be the lesser sidekick, like Phyllis.

S: Right, but still maybe what was underlying the ethos of equality was our need to keep ourselves equal.

P: I think that even when we had Aina and Laurie that ethos held, because the interesting thing about Laurie and Aina was that they were more like siblings than like Aina partnered with big Josh. They were the same age, and they were both the same amount of boy-like and girl-like, since they were basically the same doll.

S: Right. And they were modeled on the relationship of Jo and Laurie in Little Women, too. We have to return to that. Which we always saw as the ideal, even though in Little Women it was posed as a juvenile model of sexuality and relationship, where they were too much alike to be romantic partners, and in the end of Little Women they both get parceled off to people who are less interesting

P: Which I hated!

S: Which we both hated. And which we repudiated in our doll games over and over again by proving that the two people who were most like each other would also end up together. Which meant they had to be equal.

P: Right. But so it was a different challenge when we had Mara and Melanie as our main characters and we were stuck with two heroines that had to be equally interesting and beautiful and talented and fortunate in love.

S: And that was why we ended up with all those really stupid competitions, too, those school scenarios where there were just slews of good grades and we had to produce all this good writing so that they could all get A’s. Mara and Melanie had to be good, and presumably the people they ended up with, their love partners had to be good too, though we don’t have any record of that.

P: Do we not have any writings by Jesse?

S: No, only by our main characters and Harvey and Dawn.

P: Hmm, that’s weird.

S: So that’s basically a big bore. It’s sort of sad when you look into the deep insecurities that are the origin of narrative. Basically it’s all designed to prove that the world works in a way that will further you and your interests.