Thoughts from an imposter Cool Girl

There is a certain type of girl who claims that she’s only friends with guys because “girls cause too much drama”. This is very similar and oftentimes the same as the “I’m not like other girls” girl. In many cases, these girls are insecure, and feel they can only attain their self worth through acting as the “Cool Girl”. I disagree with girls who do this, because they end up putting down our entire gender for their own self gain.

Because I am generally clueless and unobservant, I come across as being very laid-back and generally agreeable. I know that I can be very easy to talk to. I have heard before that I am a Cool Girl. However in the context of this post, when I think of the Cool Girl, I generally think of girls who self-identify as this. I would consider myself therefore as an imposter. As an “imposter Cool Girl”, I felt like self-identifying Cool Girls would constantly try to out-Cool-Girl me back in the day. It was weird. On a more serious note, I truly do believe that the notion of the Cool Girl can be damaging and can set unrealistic expectation for girls. These standards that are set cater to the male interest, and this can be a slippery slope.

In Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl, there’s a brilliant monologue about the “Cool Girl” that left me with my jaw on the floor after reading it. It is long, but the entire thing needs to be quoted 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, 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. (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.”)

The last solid friend group I had in high school happened to be mainly guys, with a smaller group of girls. My best friend at the time were separate from these girls, but I thought we all got along fine. I started dating someone in the friend group. Unfortunately, he happened to be extremely manipulative. A selfish, compulsive liar. He caught me in a time in my life where I was struggling a lot with my depression, and what later was diagnosed as BPD. My self esteem was nonexistent. I never felt very pretty or interesting. I felt worthless. My only external validation was that I was a Cool Girl. I was told that I “wasn’t like other girls” as if this was a compliment. As if it was terrible to be like other girls. These compliments never made me change the way I thought about myself. My self hatred ran too deeply. However, I figured if I could make other people think that I was “Cool”, that might be close enough.

Unfortunately, I believe this reliance on the “Cool Girl compliment” mixed with my atrocious self esteem made me even more vulnerable to abuse. It’s a very clever tactic for some guys, to turn girls against each other. He always talked about his ex, and I felt like that was a bar that I needed to reach. So I was easily coerced into doing things I didn’t want to do. I was easily guilt-tripped into doing things I didn’t want to do.

In the Cool Girls monologue, what hit me the hardest was this: “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.” Hi, I’m the Cool Girl. Cool Girls are docile and mild mannered. Cool Girls don’t let anything hurt them. Cool Girls aren’t like those other psycho, jealous bitches, right?

I used to be very worried that something was wrong with me because I never seemed to have a lot of female friends. I would condemn myself for being so difficult or so unlikable. Thankfully, I did not let my experiences sour my view of women and I now have many girlfriends that I can talk to whenever I need to. Many of the girls who judged and excluded me in the past actually apologized, and I am now friends with some of them. I believe that it is extremely important for women to stick together.

I think that this (very patriarchal) Cool Girl concept affects lots of women. Some women believe that being the Cool Girl empowers them. I think that these women fail to see the negative consequences of perpetuating the idea of a Cool Girl. I think that many women are afraid of setting boundaries, speaking out, or having meaningful conversations in their relationships because there’s this Cool Girl status that is supposed to be coveted. They let guys walk all over them and pretend to be okay with things that actually really bother them. The entire concept of a Cool Girl drives women apart and sets us back decades. All I can do is to urge females to support females. Have compassion for other women and girls because in a lot of ways, we are all in the same boat.

And finally: know that you don’t have to be the Cool Girl. It’s okay to be bothered by things. You should be able to have an adult discussion with your significant other. If they call you a psycho bitch then there is something wrong with them, not you.