I was late to the party with the Gillian Flynn novel ‘Gone Girl’. I picked it up in a train station shop about six months ago to keep myself occupied on a long journey. It worked, I demolished the book in three hours. I loved the characters, the plot, the pacing – everything about it hooked me in.
I’m not going to carry on talking about the book because most people on the planet read it when it came out and there are approximately one billion articles and stories about what is wrong and right with the book. However, there is a passage that has stayed with me until now. I even remember marking it in the book so I could go back and enjoy the amazing paragraph of writing that it contained. I call it the ‘Cool Girl Paragraph‘. It is where Amazing Amy describes a certain breed of woman. And it is kinda revelatory. Introducing…The Cool Girl.
The 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. – Gilian Flynn, Gone Girl
The ‘Cool Girl’, like her quirkier sister, the ‘Manic Pixie Dream Girl’ was invented by a man. Somewhere a guy was writing a screenplay and out came ‘The Cool Girl’ – the ultimate fantasy. She was like Mila Kunis in ‘Friends with Benefits’, or Mila Kunis in ‘Ted’….or just generally any Mila Kunis film ever made. You know…she hangs out and watches sports and says ‘Fuck’ a lot. Doesn’t want anything from you except sex and high fives.
Even reality TV is immune to this type of girl. I don’t know about anyone else but ‘Made in Chelsea’, the (scripted) reality show about young rich people in London is my guilty pleasure. On a Monday night when the rest of you are all watching Game of Thrones, I am watching a extremely well dressed group of people drink amazingly delicious looking drinks and having imaginary dramas all contained in the borough of Chelsea. I love it.
If you’ve been following it you’ll know who Binky is. Binky is a Cool Girl. She hangs with the boys and doesn’t care about gossip and never complains – generally just the coolest girl ever. However, Binky got a boyfriend, a tall hipster London boy (or boi!) called Alex. They started going out and Binky made a point of saying she didn’t care if they were official boyfriend and girlfriend until he said it. She was desperately blasé about their entire relationship, but so obviously did care about it that it became hard to watch her try and be cool about rumours that her beloved was cheating. She tried to brush them off and be cool about it. She really did. Not until her meddling friends brought her concrete proof that the little shithead had actually cheated did she break down. It was so hard to watch, mainly because it finally showed Binky having actual feelings. She couldn’t hide them behind a facade of indifference. She was properly hurt. Sometimes even Cool Girls have breaking points. This guy gets extra shithead points for trying to say that he blacked out and didn’t remember having sex with someone else – super classy.
But the thing is, the concept of the Cool Girl was created by a man, but women are the ones watching these films and seeing these actresses and adjusting our behaviours to suit this prototype of woman because why? Because there is some part of us that still watches romantic comedies and thinks they are in any way realistic? That if we act like the women in those films that we’ll get our guy too? That if we can be like Jennifer Lawrence that we’d be happy?
Buzzfeed recently published an article about the ultimate Cool Girl, Jennifer Lawrence and the history of the Cool Girl. It’s an amazing read. (http://www.buzzfeed.com/annehelenpetersen/jennifer-lawrence-and-the-history-of-cool-girls)
But that article got me thinking. Has this constructed version of the way women should be seeped into our generation so seamlessly that we don’t even notice it anymore? Recently a friend of mine broke up with his girlfriend of 7 months. I remember asking why, I had met this girl when they had started going out and she had seemed perfect for him. She liked craft beer and steak and his friends all liked her. So I was shocked when he said he had dumped her.
I asked him why he had ended it and he said: “Oh she turned into such a nag”. From then I heard that she had gotten angry at him for breaking plans they had to go drinking with his friends on a couple of occasions. “I couldn’t deal with that drama, she just wasn’t fun anymore” he had replied to me.
I hear that word a lot in relation to women, ‘drama’. Oh she was full of drama, she is so dramatic, drama follows her….. So basically, anytime a woman complains about something or gets angry, she is causing drama? And guess who doesn’t bring drama? – The Cool Girl.
It’s like women aren’t even being the women they want to be, they are being the women they think men want them to be. And that is just really sad. Are we trying to subconsciously fill this very specific version of what women should be like and not what we really are like, you know, a human being with varying emotions!!
I mean, I get it, the Cool Girls are….cool. They give off this effortless vibe, nothing will faze them. But man, it must take a lot of work not to tell someone to go fuck themselves when they blow you off for dinner for the third time so they can go hang with the boys, right?