Debunking the myth of the Cool Girl

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Rhetoric separating women based on their interests contributes to a prevalent divide between men and women that needs to be challenged.

Ever since Gillian Flynn’s novel Gone Girl described the criteria for being a Cool Girl, I haven’t stopped thinking about it.

The Cool Girl, according to Flynn, loves football, dirty jokes, and cheap beer. She never argues or gets upset.

Don’t get me wrong: There’s always a time and place for football and beer. But the ideal of a girl who never gets upset feeds into a bigger problem: the toxic abyss surrounding gender norms.

The Cool Girl ideal tempts women into claiming they’re “not like other girls,” by which they mean, “I’m just one of the boys.” It tricks them into internalizing misogyny.

Society inundates us with the idea that feelings are “girly” with such forceful negativity that some women feel the need to reject their own feelings to gain approval from men.

Men are taught to reject anything emotional and focus on what’s considered masculine—so much so that they shield those things from women who aren’t “Cool” enough by virtue of their gender.

The temptation to say “I’m not like other girls” reinforces the notion something is wrong with enjoying stereotypically feminine pastimes and expressing emotions.

Endorsing the Cool Girl subjects women to gender roles asking them to appear emotionless to please men taught from a young age emotions aren’t masculine.

This phenomenon simultaneously promotes the idea that one type of girl is better than another, and not being like other girls is a bonus. That hinders progress towards equality.

But if you’re “not like other girls,” what does it mean to be one of the boys?

Writing for the sports section of The Journal automatically gives me a leg up when I meet any man for the first time. As soon as I say “sports,” it becomes a challenge. Do I know what I’m talking about, or am I trying to sound cool to earn a male’s attention?

If I prove I know enough, I earn enough Cool Girl points to be accepted into the masculine sphere. These Cool Girl points give me privilege in my relationships with men. I only earn their respect through my knowledge about supposedly masculine topics—like last night’s hockey game.

When men feel threatened, it’s been proven they tend to retaliate by overcompensating—and the reaction of “Oh, you’re a Blue Jays fan? List their entire roster backwards and alphabetically” comes from the threat of a woman encroaching on their side of a socially enforced divide.

This is a problem that needs to be addressed by all genders.

Distancing yourself from one group to gain the approval of another creates a domino effect of categorizing people based on what masculinity does and doesn’t accept.

We need to stop separating women and men based on human experiences—like feelings—shared by everyone.

Maggie is The Journal’s Assistant Sports Editor. She’s a fourth-year English major.

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