Superbad and 21 Jump Street actor Jonah Hill found himself hanging in Cancelvania this week after his ex-girlfriend, surfer Sarah Brady, shared abusive texts that he had sent her before they broke up. Hill accused Brady of disrespecting him by taking pictures of herself in a swimsuit, occasionally with other men who were also in swimsuits. The texts come off as insecure and manipulative, with Hill telling Brady that her doing her actual job was an infringement on his boundaries. The whole thing reads like an incel post on Reddit.
It’s also a perfect example of one of the stupidest types of mannish behavior: the pet hot girlfriend.
A pet hot girlfriend is when a guy starts dating an attractive, energetic, driven, intelligent, lively, and/or independent woman and then proceeds to try to eliminate everything in her life except for the hotness. It's like the most pathetic version of reducing a fraction. In Brady’s case, Hill insisted she stop modeling, posting pictures and videos of herself surfing in bathing suits, associating with men in her industry, and basically anything in her life that actually produced the woman he claimed to love.
I used to see this sort of thing in the goth scene a lot. Random normies would come into the club and fall in love with the black-clad spooky dancer they saw gyrating to “This Corrosion.” Sometimes these men were charming enough to get a woman to go home with them, but it never lasted long. Inevitably, the men wanted her to stop hanging out at the goth club, doing witchy shit, or posting selfies of themselves dressed to the nines. The men liked the idea of a goth girlfriend just fine, but when she insisted on being a person with her own agency, the fantasy crumbled.
There’s a sad misogyny at the heart of the pet hot girlfriend that a lot of men don’t even realize is there. They are passionately drawn to women who are interesting and dynamic because that’s what most of us want in a partner. People generally crave awesomeness in their companions.
However, this basic need is at odds with the patriarchal idea of women as docile and decorative. A lot of men barely see women as fully human. Intelligence, ambition, creativity, and an adventurous spirit are supposed to be the traits of males. When women exhibit those attributes, they are meant to only do so as an accessory to a man’s aims. You can call it traditionalism or complementarianism, but either way it’s stupid and dull.
Some men work around this obvious lunacy as framing a woman’s life and activities only as methods of mate attraction. Once the man has been enticed, the woman is expected to put all that aside for her real job as second banana to the man’s needs. Her goal was him all along.
This, also, is narcissistic and ridiculous, but it’s how men justify the idea of the pet hot girlfriend. Hill can call his attempts at controlling Brady “boundaries,” but “kennel” might be a better term. At its core, the argument seen in those texts is whether Brady should be allowed to continue being the person Hill claims to have fallen in love with now that he was her boyfriend. He clearly expected her whole life to alter because he was a part of it.
That’s not how humans actually work, nor should it be. “I Love You. You’re Perfect. Now Change” is a mediocre musical, not a healthy relationship philosophy. Those texts made it look like Hill thought of Brady as a Pokémon he got to have sex with, something to be captured and forced to grow to suit him. It’s a sadly prevalent point of view.
You want a hot girlfriend who does hot girlfriend things? Then let her stay that way. There’s nothing good about taking someone living their life to the fullest and trying to put them in a cage for your pleasure. Girlfriends should be friends first and foremost, not pets.