Thursday, October 23, 2014

Playing it Cool: The "Cool Girl" Complex

Ever have a moment where you read something or see something and it just instantly resonates with you on a close and personal level? Well, I've recently had that kind of a moment with the movie/book Gone Girl. I loved it so much that I watched in theaters twice and am now reading the book. Even a couple weeks later, I just can't stop thinking about the crux of the novel, the "cool girl" tirade.

Here is an excerpt of her rant to give you some background (Note: this has been edited for clarity and vulgarity, but the full text can be found here!)
"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... 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."
First of all I want to clarify that this speech isn't to imply that some women can't enjoy football and beer and also be stunningly beautiful at the same time. Rather it showcases how women feel the need to edit who they are to conform to a man's ideals and desires. But the key takeaway I got was the fact that a Cool Girl never gets angry. Setting down boundaries or asking for respect from your partner almost instantaneously makes you a bitch.

I'll admit it (and I'm sure I'm not alone on this one) that I have tried my very best to be a Cool Girl. You're going to be an hour late and I'm already at the restaurant? No problem, I'll just hang out! You would rather go to the bar and get drunk with your friends than meet my parents? Have a ball! I don't give a shit what you do! Those are real things that I've done that are really bothersome to look back on.

Why on earth did I lie and say that I was fine with something when really I was pretty angry about it? Why was I scared to object and ask that a man respect me and the plans he made with me? It's because I wanted to be the Cool Girl. I wanted them to love me and think that I was the greatest girl in the world because I was fun and never got mad about anything. Because if I said no, you can't go out with your friends because you made a promise to me I'm instantly the bad guy. Funny how a woman simply asking to be treated with respect makes her the nag that nobody wants to date.

Movies have been giving us unrealistic expectations of relationships for our whole life, so why does it matter anymore this time? I think the answer lies in the fact that this is a more believable, subtle lie perpetrated by our popular culture. It's generally understood that the busty super model isn't generally a real life attainable woman. But the Cool Girl, she's played in the understated, I'm just so average and cool I can't be made up. I was created to be the real woman for the masses. 

So we try and we try to make ourselves more Cool and fun and quirky and laid back to win over the hearts of men that are breaking ours by treating us like a doormat. We let men and society put us into categories (once again!) of either super fun or neurotic and bitchy, when it's really more like we're the doormat or the self-respecting woman.  

In the end, I guess our only defense is to be ourselves, unashamed of the fact that we don't know everything about football or that we expect our significant others to keep plans. While we can't fight Hollywood, we can fight our own willingness to become yet another stereotype of the ideal woman. 

I may not be an ideal woman or a Cool Girl, but I am myself for all of my flaws and triumphs and I encourage you to attempt to embrace that a little more, because what makes you awesome is your uniqueness not your eagerness to please. 

Stay Classy,
Hayley XO

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