Growing up one of the main things I remember trying to do is to ‘not be like other girls’. I’m not sure where it started, but at some point I (alongside many other girls) saw feminine traits as bad. So being girly went from normal to being weak, shallow and ultimately annoying. The idea of wearing pink became a sign of stupidity and in contrast being more of a tomboy was seen as a positive.
So there I was, trying to be the cool girl – the one who played video games, watched anime, liked sports and was not like other girls. I strived to be ‘one of the boys/lads’ and in doing so signed on to years of internalised misogyny and general idiotic behaviours.
Gone Girl is a film that is not only one of my favourites, but exposes the idea of the cool girl/manic pixie dream girl in the best way:
“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 ex, 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. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”
I think it’s safe to say that as girl in her mid twenties I no longer try to be the ‘cool girl’ and honestly life is better. Living life trying to appease men is probably one of the worst ways to do it, because you isolate yourself from other women out there. Also degrading other women or anyone to appeal to someone is a bad move in any situation.
It’s ok to say ‘I have mainly male friends’ but to proudly shout it and follow it with ‘because girls are too emotional’, is where the internal sexism comes in. No gender is inherently more or less emotional, I know loads of men who are more in depth with their emotions then I will ever be, and I’m aware I’m more emotional than some of the men in my life. Does this mean that we should label a whole group of people as emotional and annoying – no!