The problem with the cool girl
If you’ve seen Gone Girl, Amy’s only sane moment in the entire film is when she completely destroys the “cool girl” trope. Guys consider this is a compliment but it really isn’t. She’s not like other girls, she’s a cool girl. I hear this sh*t all the time. What they don’t realize is that the “cool girl” is actually something guys have fantasized for years. Men like the “idea” of the cool girl, but not who the “cool girl” actually is as an individual.
Guys want a girl who’s fun loving, easy going, calm, cool, and collected. That is, until we open up our mouths. We’re supposed to be raunchy and tough, just like one of the guys all without actually speaking our mind. To be honest I actually do love eating burgers, going to baseball games, and cursing like a sailor; it’s who I’ve always been. But I also have no problem being vocal or direct when it comes to things I’m passionate about. And that is the major problem with being the “cool girl”. Men think calling a woman “cool” is a compliment, and I used to view it as such. But as soon as we “cool girls” show signs of being our own person, it becomes a problem.
Movies like Transformers and There’s Something About Mary are the good examples of how men view this stereotype. In Transformers, everyone was shocked that Megan Fox’s character was a car expert just because she was so ~hot~ it was somehow unfathomable that someone that looked like her could possibly know ANYTHING about cars, therefore making her “not like the other girls”. Even Cameron Diaz’s character in There’s Something About Mary had men falling over her and competing for her love because she was so different. The “something” about Mary was that she just liked to chow down on burgers, drink beers, play golf, and watch sports. Which is actually kind of normal. This stereotype is even shown in television shows like That 70’s Show and How I Met Your Mother. What Donna Pinciotti and Robin Scherbatsky have in common is that they’re always down for a good time and are both sexually liberated women. But at the same time, they don’t feel comfortable opening up about their feelings in order to avoid seeming weak or like the typical girly girl.
Many women see this stereotype played out on screen, and try to emulate it because they think this will win men over. Just like Amy said in the movie (and above clip), the cool girl eventually becomes an act. Jennifer Lawrence for example, loved to play along with this character in order to seem relatable to male and female friends. On every red carpet J-Law would talk about eating pizza, chugging beers, and being one of the guys. It eventually felt like we were watching a performance each time she was being interviewed, because we never got to know who the real Jennifer was. Obviously there’s more to her than eating junk food and being clumsy, so her schtick got old pretty quickly.
Men think putting women in this category is empowering, but honestly it’s the opposite. As soon as the cool girl speaks her mind, she’s made out to be the aggressive girl. Jane Fonda was considered a cool girl in her heyday. But once she started to become more committed to her activism, she was criticized for being too intense. In movies and television, the cool girl is often used to show a stark comparison to the uptight girl, or even the girly girl. Tough girl Donna from That 70’s show, who loved sports and weed is the exact opposite of girly girl Jackie who loved money, shopping, and make up.
This is something I experience all the time. I often feel trapped by this “cool girl” stereotype. Yes, I do love going to the local dive bar to order a burger, fries, and a sangria (in fact I plan on ordering a burger tonight as my Friday night cheat meal!). I even love going to watch the Laker game, or see the Yankees play when they’re in town. I’ve never been a girly girl it’s just not me, I am however much more than the “cool girl”. What often gets misconstrued is that the cool girl is supposed to be everything but vocal. We’re supposed to exhibit this passive attitude towards men. We’re not supposed to care what they do, and they assume we’ll just brush any glaring issues off and keep it moving. Don’t worry, she won’t care if I stay out all night… she’s cool!
I’m often afraid to speak up, because I don’t want to always be seen as the “intense girl”. But what these guys don’t realize is that the “intense” girl and the “cool girl” are often the same person. Because it’s in my nature, I often do end up voicing my opinions, but it’s done with sense of dread looming in the back of my mind because I know I’ll go from “cool girl” to “aggressive girl” in the blink of an eye.
Guys love to hear that a girl has similar interests, but what they don’t like is when that same girl shows any signs of ambition or individualism, because then we are seen as a threat. The “cool girl” is both an idea and an ideal. There’s nothing wrong with hanging with the guys, heck I do it all the time! But once you start to lean into it too much and lose your true identity, it becomes an issue. I’ve been somewhat of a “tomboy” my whole life, but I’ve also remained my individuality. The “cool girl” stereotype isn’t necessarily a negative thing, the definition is just greatly flawed. If men really want to date the “cool girl”, they need to accept her for who she really is and not for who they want her to be.