Tuesday, January 22, 2013

On Being a "Good Girl"

I will admit that there may be a different, or official term for what I'm talking about, but I have yet to encounter is and in my own circles refer to it as "Good/Nice Girlism" I'm opting for Good for this as I do not want to get it confused with Nice Guyism which is a totally different thing.  So what AM I talking about?

I will preface this bit with the fact that I am speaking to, and from, my own experiences and observations and yes, I am going to be using generalizations. Right, that out of the way, let's get into this.

Many, if not most, girls are brought up with expectations that is tied very much to them being a girl. A Good Girl smiles and is pleasant and doesn't cause trouble. A good girl will smile and eat shit rather than ruin the afternoon when someone has said or done something particularly offensive, because it is her place to be the one who smooths things over. A Good Girl wouldn't just bluntly tell a man she isn't interested (TW: Rape, rape culture) because that would be rude. A Good Girl knows how to cook and clean and laugh at others' jokes and always be sweet and helpful! Good Girlisim is deeply ingrained into encouraging gender norms, is the short and long of it.

I could refer to some specific examples, like the new "1 million likes for X" meme to, so far, include a man basically coercing a woman into sex and another man trying publicly shame his wife into having kids which point out the shame and fear that us taught to women, not men, of holding an unpopular opinion, because that isn't what Good Girls do. 

I was in college, and several of my male classmates made no effort to play nice with others. I thought nothing of it. One of my female classmates didn't. Many acted like she was SUCH a bitch zomg! I hardly knew her, but the few half conversations I had had with her she wasn't exactly... approachable. I assumed she was, in fact, a bitch, as to just reserved. Why else would the others? Then I got to talk to her a little bit more. This wasn't just a case of her being a mean person- which was something I could accept from woman. They could be mean but still "Good Girls" she was actually very nice, but she had her boundaries and she didn't give a flying fuck if you were offended when she maintained them. Creepy guy who was overly touchy with the girls but everyone brushed off simply as "John just being John"? She told him off, openly called him creepy, threatened to sucker punch him in the junk, and made herself an unappealing target. I was fascinated and would eventually befriend her. She was fun, outgoing, smart, creative, a hard worker and a fiercely loyal person. She just didn't feel the need to play nice when given every reason not to. That, apparently, made her a bitch, which was a title that, as a Good Girl, I feared.

I look back now and realize that it was a stupid double standard that had been ingrained in me from a young age. I still grapple with the things that I was raised to do, such as keeping quiet when someone has offended me, apologizing when I was the one who had wrong done to them because bad blood couldn't be allowed to sit, looking to own up to my own fault in any given conflict because that made it easier to fix a situation regardless of if there was one or not. I have generally had more male friends than female friends, and I have seen the women in my life do these things, but rarely have I seen the men.

My friends, I am calling bullshit. Just because I have a vagina does not mean it is my duty to make nice and make sure everything is going well and there are no hurt feelings, and I should pretend I don't have any. If you piss me off, I am with a deliberate and practiced even and calm voice tell you that shit was not cool. I won't start screaming and flailing about and clutching my pearls at you, but I am not going to just bite my tongue and pretend it never happened so you don't have to face the awkwardness that might come with being confronted by the fact you were a jackass. If you apologize and mean it, I will happily accept it and move on, if you give me a non-apology about being super stressed and you didn't INTEND it that way... Well, I'll still move on, but I'm not going to pretend that we're okay. I am going to start distancing myself from you. That might not make me a Good Girl, but it doesn't stop me from being a good person.

One of the most powerful gifts I have given myself is permission to be a bad girl, so long as I'm still a good person. It's liberating, if not totally terrifying on occasion.


  1. I still grapple with the things that I was raised to do, such as [...] apologizing when I was the one who had wrong done to them because bad blood couldn't be allowed to sit

    Huh. In my experience, patriarchy only teaches apologising just to shut people up in the context of husbands apologising to wives. I learned it outside that context from Internet flamewars (as the thing they should have done).

    1. (as the thing they *should* have done)

      Perhaps I should note that not all arguments are the kind that can lead nowhere good and the best thing to do is cut your losses and run/convince-them-to-return-to-peaceful-topics by any means necessary. Just some.

  2. Permission to be a bad girl but still be a good person. Wow. How do simple and logical and NORMAL facts like that escape us?

    Again, thank you!

  3. Me again. (Are my comment disapearing again? Well, as long as you get them and know I'm reading, that's all that matters!)

    I have this wonderful article here I KNOW you will love (I wish I could take credit, but I absolutely can't)


    1. You're actually the second person to link me to that article! I suppose my tastes are apparent on some things. I DO love that article. Also I see the comments you post in my inbox, so I know to rescue them from the spam filter when they pop up. I have no idea what blogger is so convinced you're a robot.

    2. That article has been floating around Facebook, and while you can ignore a lot of the spam crap on there, somtimes a jewel like this pops up and makes your day! I loved it too!

      It's weird that Blogger hates me like that, I log in with my user name (with which I have 2 blogs of my own!?!) and still... Oh well, like I said, the important thing is that you know I'm reading :)