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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Fan Fiction -- "The Summer Before"

Baby Houseman had the following characteristics:

* Intellectual, cultured, and ambitious for higher education.

* Sexually modest in her clothing and conduct.

* Feminist, enrolled in an all-women college.

* Considerate and generous toward troubled outsiders.

* Respectful of parents who are married, successful and wealthy.

Such characteristics are not shared by some young women who watched Dirty Dancing. Such women envy and resent someone like Baby and do not identify with her much as the movie's protagonist.

Rather, they identify with and admire Penny Johnson, who is intellectually ordinary but beautiful, talented, interesting and sexually active. They expect and hope that Penny -- not Baby -- will become Johnny Castle's permanent romantic partner. Penny's pregnancy, abortion and infection are the most gripping concerns.


The website Fan Fiction is a forum where amateur writers can publish their own stories based on various movies and other genres. The website has 184 fan-fiction stories about the movie Dirty Dancing. Some of the fan-fiction stories focus on the relationship between Penny and Johnny.

Here I will summarize one such story, titled The Summer Before, written in 2009 by a woman whose pen name is MaggieMay31. This is her only story on the Fan Fiction website.

The author portrays relationships among women as hostile, competitive and brutal. Women admire men as stable and reliable providers of refuge from female vices.


The story is written from the point of view of Penny Johnson, who is living in Johnny Castle's home in the summer of 1962 (a year before the Dirty Dancing story).  Penny has lived with Johnny since she was 16 years old. Penny's current age is not specified, but she must be older than high-school age, because she looks down on high-school students.

Although Penny has lived with Johnny for several years, their relationship is platonic. They never have even kissed.

Both are unemployed, but they are planning to teach dance together. They still have not earned any money. Penny describes their situation:
Johnny and I have been looking for a job together forever. If we don't make some money stat, we'll be on the street.

Now I live in his house. My mom kicked me out when I was sixteen. I've lived with him ever since.
Penny perceives that she and Johnny are not considered to be "respectable". For that reason, "nobody wants to be taught by us".
I was waiting in the kitchen for him [Johnny] to finish showering. We were just finished dancing, and he took a shower after me.

We were going to visit some guy friends. We're real close with most of them. They were better than most girls. They [the guys] didn't have those fads or stupid-ass tricks to get stuff (money or guys) out of you.
Johnny comes into the kitchen with a towel around his waist. Johnny goes into his bedroom, and Penny goes into her separate bedroom. After a while, Johnny comes out of his bedroom, dressed in black jeans, white t-shirt and leather jacket. (Penny's clothes will be described later in the story.)

Johnny and Penny leave the house together.
There was supposed to be a party at our friends' house by the high school. A bunch of our friends would be there, but some immature, young high-school kids would be there too. In their minds, they don't have to be invited.
When they arrive, people are dancing outside.
When we got there, we started dancing. .... Some of the socs (they're the rich kids) were there. Man, I hate them. They always ruin all the parties. There was a group of them staring at us, making faces. I figured, let's twist those faces even uglier than they were. I couldn't figure out why they were making faces.

Then I realized: Johnny and I have been keeping it clean for the most part, but we were doing The Love Man dance that for us is always the same. .... I figured I'd change it up a bit. I shimmied with my shoulders down Johnny's body, almost touching with my hands dragging down his sides.

He caught my drift and stood me up. Then, with one of my legs in between his one one leg on the outside, he used a move from the mambo and lifted my outside leg up.

I figured they couldn't make any worse faces, so I just started swaying back and forth with him.
Penny and Johnny walk into the house.
We walked into the house to see Rich, our friend (it was his house). The whole way, I felt and saw every girl in the room glance at Johnny.

"Hey, guys. What's up?" said Rich, smiling one of his genuinely perfect smiles.

Johnny said something back, but the party was so loud Rick didn't hear him.

A girl walked by and started dancing in front of Johnny. He started dancing with her. Honestly, he didn't look bad, but she looked like a slut.

"Hey! He's mine!"

The girl ignored me, so I pulled Johnny closer to me. She looked me up and down, examining every part of my body -- from my curly, blonde hair, down my red, polk-a-dotted tank-top, past my denim shorts, all the way down to my red heels.

Then, as soon as she got back up to my face, she gave me a smirk. I wanted to kill her. He's mine!

She got to it first, though. She swung at my head, and I fell over. I felt my head hit the ground. Then I heard a bunch of feet scuffling over to where I was laying. Everything was black.

The only thing I felt was him lifting my body easily off of the cool floor. ... I could tell he was trying not to bounce me too much. Despite his efforts, I felt like I was on a roller-coaster, with my head bouncing off the sides.

Once we got home, he st up on the couch and left to get an ice pack.
As Johnny is walking into the kitchen to get some ice, Penny yells at him, "get me some cover-up" -- meaning some clothing.
"Penny, are you really worried about looking good with a black eye?"
Johnny teases her for wanting to put on more clothing in this situation, when they are alone in the house. Penny responds:
"Fine, whatever you say. It was for your sake anyway."

"Oh, yeah?", he said, sitting own on the couch and putting the ice on my eye.

He leaned over to put it there and smiled. He leaned in, and my heart skipped a beat. His lips against mine felt soooo amazing. It was our first kiss, and he was such a wonderful kisser. I lifted my head up to his, and he  ...
I will not reveal the story's ending. You will have to read it yourself.


By setting this fan-fiction story a year before the Dirty Dancing story, the author does not have to deal with Baby Houseman. However, this fan-fiction story expresses, through Penny, resentments that the author herself felt toward Baby while watching the movie:

* Baby never has to worry about being kicked out by her parents.

* The Houseman parents would not consider Penny "respectable" enough to hire as a dance teacher.

* Baby is a high-school student who crashes the bunkhouse dance.

* Baby is one of the rich kids who always ruin the parties.

* Baby stared and made faces while Penny danced with Johnny.

* After Penny and Johnny dance, Baby looked at Johnny.

* Baby started dancing with Johnny.

* Baby ignored the fact that Penny felt that "He's mine!"

* Baby looked Penny up and down, examining every part of her body -- and then smirked.

* Baby was a girl who used stupid-ass tricks to get Johnny from Penny.

In other words, MaggieMay31 watched Dirty Dancing and seethed that Baby and her parents disrespected Penny. The fan-fiction story that takes place in 1962 foreshadows the Dirty Dancing story that takes place in 1963. The fan-fiction story's punch in Penny's face eventually causes Johnny to kiss Penny for the first time. The movie story's post-abortion infection of Penny should likewise cause Johnny to fall in love with Penny -- but that logical result is interrupted by Baby's sexual seduction of Johnny.


MaggieMay31 put the following words into Penny's narration:
We were going to visit some guy friends. We're real close with most of them. They were better than most girls. They [the guys] didn't have those fads or stupid-ass tricks to get stuff (money or guys) out of you
MaggieMay31 is not the only woman who expresses that opinion about women and men. Melissa Daggett has written a book titled Mean Girls, Desperate Women: The Modern Epic of Unhappiness, which includes the following passages (pages 17-18):
Some general differences (there are always exceptions) can be observed between the way men fight with other men and the way women fight with other women ....

For the most part, men are very up-font and honest about their games. They "duke it out" so to speak, whether the fight is in sports games, business ventures or some other endeavor. Men consider it normal behavior to do what it takes to win. Most of them are very competitive by nature, but unlike most women, competing is not personal for men. .... They usually respect each other more and consider each other equals when they get to that point.

Women possess more the mentality that if someone else is better, they must be personally assaulted or insulted. It becomes personal. If a women is jealous of another woman, she will personally assault her character. Unlike men, she will not keep the competition limited to the field or game. She will also get this woman black-listed amongst peers, friends and communities. She will try to make her life miserable. She will gossip about her targeted enemy to other females and sometimes other males. We should just call gossip what it is: social murder.
Daggett's opinion here is a diatribe that is not based compellingly on sociological research. I quote her only to show that some women do assert such a negative opinion about how women treat each other.


MaggieMay31 did not write a sequel to her fan-fiction story The Summer Before. I think she failed to continue because she did not know how to deal with Penny's break-up with Johnny. The Summer Before portrayed Johnny as the dominant, decision-making member in relation to passive Penny. Therefore in the sequel, Johnny must have dumped Penny (Penny would not dump Johnny) as a romantic partner although he continued to dance with her as a business partner.

A sequel would have to portray Penny as a pathetic, rejected victim who then gave herself sexually to an arrogant rich kid -- Robbie Gould. That was a sequel that could not be written by MaggieMay31.


Some young women in the movie audience admired Penny much more than Baby, but Penny was a loser even before the Dirty Dancing story began. Although Penny spent much time dancing with Johnny, her relationship with him remained platonic. Penny had been seduced, impregnated and dumped by Robbie.

When Johnny became ready to fall in love, Penny was bed-ridden with an infection from an unsanitary abortion. Therefore Johnny fell in love instead with a big-nose, plain-face, ratty-hair, nerdy-brain, spoiled-rich-girl, teacher's-pet, clumsy-dancing, teenage virgin -- not with Penny.

The best romantic match was Penny and Johnny, but Penny could not make that match happen.

For some people, Dirty Dancing is a tragedy. The tragic heroine is Penny Johnson. The villain is Baby Houseman, a rich girl who used stupid-ass tricks to get Johnny from Penny, who had the real right to say, "He's mine!"

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