Brisco County: Explaining stereotypes

I recently watched an episode of The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. in which a guest character qualified for the stereotype of Headstrong Woman. Brisco (Bruce Campbell) and his male partner were paid by three women to help them track the gang who stole their belongings on their move out west. When the two men decided it was time to stop for the night, the dominant woman of the group refused to listen to reason. They went on while the men camped.

As the women traveled, they discussed the possibility that they should have trusted Brisco, that maybe he wasn’t just slacking because they’d already paid him. Then Brisco came after them to take one last run at convincing them he really had their best interests at heart, and after the requisite scene where they almost shoot him for sneaking up on him, the headstrong woman says:

“Sorry, I’m just not used to men who look after anyone but themselves.”

And there you have it. Maybe there are women out there daft enough to risk their lives to prove a point (as most writers portray this sort of character), but most of us (yes, I’m one of them) refuse well-intentioned help from men only because we’ve been on the receiving end of ill-intentioned “help” one too many times.

In the end, the whole group earned each others’ trust and functioned as a team.


  1. sbg says

    I can’t tell you the number of times I used to catch myself getting pissy if a guy insists on opening the car door for me or rushes toward me if I’m carrying something that looks moderately heavy. My instant reaction tends to be “I can do it myself!” Like I’m afraid the reason they’re offering assistance of any kind is contingent on them getting something out of it.

    Now that I’ve figured that out, that doesn’t happen so much anymore.

    Oh, and I used to love Brisco. Liked how his on again/off again romance with Daisy (I think it was Daisy) was totally a pairing of equals. She could kick serious tail.

  2. sbg says

    Okay, serious tense problem with that post. I can’t seem to edit it, though. Sorry. I changed my mind about how I was writing it part way through and then forgot to actually edit stuff.

  3. scarlett says

    I can certainly relate to giving guys what-for when they offered me help becaue I thought they had ulterior motives. I try to be a better judge of the situation, after years of offending guys doing it, but it’s really hard – especially after a boyfriend who’d attitude was ‘I paid your way now you have sex with me’ :(

  4. Jennifer Kesler says

    I’m the same way with guys. I wasn’t always that way – it’s something I learned as a teen and young woman.

    It took me a little while to warm up to Dixie, but I think that’s mainly because she was trying too hard to do this Mae West thing with her voice. Once they let Kelly Rutherford just play the part her way, I found my opinion shifting.

    She’s another one that fits a stereotype, but they let you know enough of what’s behind her choices and behavior for you to get beyond the surface. It’s amazing how little it takes, really.

  5. Jennifer Kesler says

    Unfortunately, there are a lot like that out there.

    And where I get impatient is with guys who DON’T do that, but get impatient with me for checking out their motives before I get myself into trouble, you know? I mean, I don’t expect them to trust me mindlessly the instant they meet me, so WTF? I used to think those guys were nice but misguided – now I think in their own little way, they’re as useless as the guys who think they can transform a nicety into a favor owed without telling you in advance what you agreed to.

  6. scarlett says

    oh, I’m talking about colleagues who offer to walk me to me car at night, that kinda stuff. I have to admit, I’m far too suspicious of their motives :(

  7. sbg says

    Oh, snap! It was Dixie.

    That show was full of stereotypes – honestly, I think they’re tough to avoid. But you’re right, they can be worked around quite successfully.

  8. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think their basis in myth and legend dictated that they’d use recognizable character archetypes – which become stereotypes when they aren’t explained, but can be simple characterization when they are explained.

  9. says

    I mainly get pissy because, in my experience, those same guys absolutely refuse help from you when the situation is reversd. Making it quite obvious that being nice isn’t really their intent – being “a nice guy” is.

  10. Jennifer Kesler says

    I think there’s also a bit of conditioning here that affects all of us:

    Accepting help puts you in the submissive position in an interaction.

    It’s a ridiculous message, but one I think we all get, even if we don’t internalize it. So in accepting help, we’re afraid the other person will think we’re submitting to who-knows-what. And of course, most men would rather die than appear to submit. 😉

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