There’s a concept in Moran’s book How To Be A Woman (a flawed, but worthwhile book, we’ve already decided) which I really like.
She said that the easiest way to tell if something you’re worried about is some patriarchal bullshit is to ask “Are the menfolk worried about this?”
I’ve been trying to put this to use lately.
Example 1: I worried for a hot second that I might be sharing too much with my boss. That perhaps he would think I was flirting with him. Are the menfolk worried about this? Well considering he came back with a funny sex story that topped mine it would seem that he isn’t. Consensus: He’s not worried about coming off too flirty so I won’t be either. To hold me to a different standard would be some patriarchal bullshit.
Example 2: There are some harmless hairs on my face that no one ever notices. Do the menfolk worry about this ever? In my experience they don’t even mind the hairs that everyone does notice. Consensus: Fuck it, wax sucks.
Example 3: I like weird educational music and YouTube channels. Are the menfolk worried about coming off too smart in front of the people they like? Nope!
Am I concerned that my pimples are showing? No! Because neither are you so why should I?
This is not the same as being The Cool Girl.
Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain.
– Go Girl by Gillian Flynn [x]
The Cool Girl is about me being the girl you want me to be.
Not giving a shit about your patriarchal bull is about me being the woman that I want me to be without letting myself be held back by anyone else’s standards.