Girls and the Rules
May 25 2012
Not the fucking The Rules. Just, “the rules.” The rules of girls. Actually, there is a new version of The Rules book out (I read about it on HuffPost Women by accident, sorrysorrysorry) which is subtitled “The New Secrets for Dating,” when in reality the new secrets of dating are that a) by now “dating” barely exists and b) that’s it, there’s only one secret, c) maybe the other secret is that “dating” is a revolting word and concept anyway, like, way to make these corny little appointments to audition each other for sex, d) I actually really like dating; it’s obviously ultrafun to spend a few hours hanging out and going “Oh!” about every new discovery. Dating is the same as hanging out with small children at the mall. So whatever, anyway, “the rules” as they pertain to girls are, I guess, nothing less than an instructional spray of lead slugs that come from all sides (like pals/boys/the retarded dominant culture), all the time. It doesn’t mean you have to follow the rules, but know that they remain. Just, like, tuck them in your shorts’ back pocket, and then forget about it.
Do you know what mansplaining is? Whenever I think of it I usually just drift away to Manswers, the show, which is different. Usually, the non-resource Urban Dictionary (which is sub-Yahoo Answers and not even fun anymore) is The Worst and So Embarrassing To Our General Demographic but in this matter, look: “To explain in a patronizing manner, assuming total ignorance on the part of those listening. The mansplainer is often shocked and hurt when their mansplanation is not taken as absolute fact, criticized, or even rejected altogether.” That’s a super appropriate and reasonable definition, Urban Dictionary, so I firmly shake the cummy, weak, pastry-pale hand of whatever basement-teenager wrote it.
When I posted all over my friend Jon’s Facebook wall about why saying that some tiny actress’ “slight frame” was somehow counter to her “candor and frustration” was wildly sexist and weird and would never be applicable to a man (with exceptions made for rarely used “Napoleon complex”-type shit) and then ended with “That’s all! Easy!” I was girlsplaining. I mean, I was right. I was really right, and it is important for girls (you) and guys (I see you) to always pull out those assumptive, annoying loose threads of sexism, and to do it in a way that socially shames whoever was being dickly. BUT, do it fast and come correct, or else you’re just Lisa Simpson-ing them back into their filthy, calcified brain-shells. That’s a girlsplain.
Do you remember that “Working Our Nerves” column in Sassy that was called “The Annoying New Boy Feminism” and it was about “Sensitive New Age boys who will not shut up” and “Boys who bellow ‘I’ll tell you what a feminist is today!’” and “Boys who sob ‘No, we’re more oppressed!’”? That came out when I was 13 and now I’m old enough to buy anything I want (and yet not old enough to feel bad about it, a.k.a. YAHTZEE). Do you remember that in that same issue they only give Superchunk’s Foolish three hearts? PFFFFFFFT, THEN/NOW/FOREVER.
My thing is I don’t call boys, because my sisters told me not to. “Don’t call boys” is my personal mandate. That’s kind of The Rules-y, accidentally. I just like order. It’s not that important what your personal mandate/s is or are, or that you have one/some, it’s just cool to impose a little rulesyness on your own self. “I only do texts on the weekend” is an example. “Twitter is beneath me,” like that. “Pants are ugly,” maybe.
The rules for boyfriends as they relate to the rest of your life are as follows: 1) The initial phase of denying all other worldly concerns while you get fucked constantly can last for three months, after which you have to return all friend-communications. 2) If your friend asks you to hang out, she is asking you to hang out, not you and your boyfriend to hang out. 3) You know what your friend has to say if you ask “Can I bring my boyfriend?” which makes it not a question at all, which puts you in violation of the second rule. 3) Presumably you want stuff to remain good with your boyfriend so how about spend a few hours apart every once in a while so you have something to say to him about a thing in the world other than whatever season of TV you are watching? 4) If you have to “check in” with your boyfriend before hanging out, the offer to hang out is rescinded. 5) Lesbians are so, so much worse, so don’t even really worry about it.
Two things on this: 1) There is no such thing. I mean, there is when you’ve had a gallon of white wine on an Endless Summer afternoon and you find yourself shaking in a quiet bathroom while your friends scream on the patio because this is what love is, the love you were promised. There is when you have sisters, especially when you have two of them who exist both as humans and taller exemplars of what adulthood should be like. But a girl’s girl-ness should have nothing to do with how you treat her or what you want from her or whether or not you like her, dig?
And 2) The Sisterhood is best/only used in the context of “She is not in The Sisterhood.” to describe and explain a girl who makes advances towards the Platonics of girl-on-girl friendship but doesn’t follow through. The kind of girl who is in there with the good emails and the remembering who you have a crush on and what you are tweeting about but then contradicts those advances by cozying up to a girl you are supposed to collectively hate. Like, come on.
Can’t decide how I feel about girls who tell their boyfriends what to do.
Pros: Some guys seem to really want to know what shoes are most situationally appropriate, it turns out. Sometimes alpha-beta dynamics just include some bossy bitch who will, a few hours after the movie she decided on and talked through and didn’t pay for, be tied up and gagging (like, in a way that she wants, I mean).
Cons: Listening to anyone be even borderline cruel to the person they are supposed to love but don’t seem to particularly like is a dog whistle for people who aren’t in hateful, compromised relationships. Like married people don’t even notice some girl telling her boyfriend to go wash his hands, but the rest of us are like “Did you the fuck hear what she just said? Is he her kid or something? Gross.”
Mean Girl rules about their crew’s individual-cum-collective behaviors, opinions and desires do not begin or end with on what school day you wear what color, it extends until you are 45 and helmet-blonde and prissily shod and maybe, possibly attractive, but who could know what lingers under the lizardy physical expressions of money? Probably these uniformities are also true of other social classes but mostly I stare at rich white women and wonder when they were turned.
The more I understand about guys and guy-lives, the more I am, like, oh. I don’t and won’t arrive at the idea that the male experience is an individually created and yet constantly replicating one of selfishness and irresponsibility, even though it seems like a lot of over-it women and way-growed-up man-men have (“Men are scum” – my dad, age 71). What I know is to appreciate what I get from men that I can’t get from women, which is a quality of the highest order: realness. Because you can real it up, get real-real, really, really real, with men in a way that it is so much harder to do with women. Like when I make a bad joke over DM, my girlfriends ignore it; men are like “You’re an unfunny piece of shit, I’m going to throw you in a river” and then I just glow for three hours because… ahhhh.
I didn’t invent this and every time I say something like it a furious hell-tornado of “You just don’t know, you’re sexist, your female friendships cannot be real” comes at me, but in Girl Rules you’re obviously not allowed—not allowed!—to detail your negative feelings about each other. The emotional poles are not magnetized that way; it’s almost always just for boys. (My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org if you want to send me an email that I’ll ignore about how stupid I am.)
Related: Girls don’t like it if other girls don’t have a boyfriend because it means they are an unresolved, unorganized sexual threat. I guess who I am talking about here is “normal girls” but I no longer like that designation, even though it is an impossibly real one and you can find them at every baby shower. Just go look. They’re right there.
A thing I never need to hear again is that I “have balls.” Let’s assess: 1) I don’t. As a female, I have ovaries that function in a relative manner to testicles. (I think? I actually have no idea, because I have always been bad at science, and found that micro-culture of vagina-oriented feminism, where “yoni” counts as a thing you can say, and knitted wallets might feasibly be vulvically inspired, and you’re supposed to take Bust seriously, to be all just a tremendous turn-off). 2) What you mean is that I tappa-tappa-tappa some things (that’s my best friend-slash-MacBook’s sexy robot voice, “tappa-tappa-tappa”) that maybe you wouldn’t, yeah? But that is my job. Like, I sorted out a way to make money by very simply writing down some things that I happen to think, and then Rubix Cubing them into various appropriate forms, and then selling them. I’m not quite sure that a common economic necessity and professional process is “balls.” 3) It’s not; it’s some other thing where I’m cozers with the idea of regularly flexing whatever mind-stuff I didn’t decimate with drugs, which was probably most of it. 4) This thing I read yesterday, from my friend’s tweet of someone else’s blog (find it with your Google fingies, I’m busy over here) is pretty much… it: “I’m hoping I run into fewer women who self-reject their ideas before I even get a chance to read them.” Because 5) if most of the rest of you mixed some natural turbinado in with the factory-refined bullshit you spin the rest of the day, nobody would say “You sure have balls” to me ever again and I’d be so happy I’d twist daisies into my ponytails every day, all day, ever after.
DON’T SAY ANYTHING
Because, not having an opinion or saying anything at all is the most poison-neon idea/girl-rule around, if you didn’t get that from the TL; DR up there.
Previously - Girls and Hair
Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway
This Week in Teens: How to Stalk Your Teenage Children Offline
How Do Hongkongers Feel About Their Chief Executive Saying the Poor Shouldn't Control Elections?
Is the Blackwater Verdict the Beginning of the End for Private Military Contractors?
VICE Meets: Jason Schwartzman and Alex Ross Perry Discuss Their New Film, 'Listen Up Philip'
New Documents Reveal Britain's Secret Plan to Invade a Tiny Caribbean Island
Shorties: A Quick Chat with Russell Brand
Ebola Comes to New York; Everything Is Fine
What Makes a Good Porn Script?
Hot Dogs and Henna Tattoos at Europe's 'Most Prestigious' Horse Race
I Spent a Day with a Guy Selling Illegal Cigarettes on the Streets of New York