Girls and Danger
Mar 2 2012
Danger is the subtext of girl-lives. All of them, all the time. Did you know that people usually hold girl babies and boy babies differently? Not, like, with a sharpened spear in the other hand while they’re burping a little boy blue, but you know. They do. They are the same kinds of babies—babies are just babies!—but even before your bad baby eyesight can process anything a yard away from your gooey, glowy babyface, the people who are supposed to care for you are assuming that you’re In Trouble. And then for the rest of your life, or until you become less good-looking, the sexism-arrows that come your way will be dipped in this sense and fear of danger. It’s an entire and immobile narrative that we’re subject to and definitely what informs the most guttural, dummy-sounding anti-girl stuff. Even the kind of danger-warnings that come at you like love from your ace bishes who want to protect you are part of this. The best example is the eternal double-standard of Girls Having Sex and Guys Having Sex: What happens in a worst-case scenario to a girl (the moral and physical destruction of unplanned pregnancy, HIV, unmanageable feelings-runoff, welfare, commune-y political lesbianism, and/or a rejection of men) and to a guy (maybe warts?) is so threatening to everybody that we’re all just like “Shhhhhhh, shhh, just sit. Here’s a lolly, just sit.”
Girls have been cosseted by those danger-fears since forever, and while a lot of it turns out to be murder/rape/stalker-legit, another thing about danger is that there is nothing sexier or more wantable. We love danger. Danger puts a girl who wants it closer to the boy-world and what that must be like. It’s freedom, and it correlates to good drama, and the more positive dramatics of trauma. Danger is sex (sex is danger), and more than anything it makes introductions to everything vivid and scary and vicious about a girl-self—you, sugarplum—that other peeps are always trying to bury alive under dust and heavy dirt for the rest of the time. It’s very truth or consequences.
Rapey realness aside, girls spend a lot of time faking a proximity to violence, which can be evidenced in the spiky jewelry, the leather jackets, the re-appropriated gang wear (where do you think your cursive tattoos came from, dummy?). I don’t care though because we’re owed it. Consider what emerges from an abstract of culty and beloved girl culture. All of it is danger-based: drug operas (Go Ask Alice, Gia, Christiane F.) or knife play (Foxfire) or bitches (The Craft, Clueless, Jawbreaker, Mean Girls) or in some way referential of hardness but still pretty (M.I.A., Nicki Minaj, every busted-up post-teen revival of a formerly corny girl product, like Lindsay or Britney). Consuming and repping danger like this (safely) is comforting and right-feeling when there’s not much else to do with all those legitimately earned tidal rage-waves. Even the plushest-carpet of girls is allowed studs on something.
Related: The “reformed bad-girl” is a common, compelling narrative for girls to situate themselves in. Nobody wants to be the hungover, high-maintenance piece-of-shit unless there’s a working, sexy backstory to gloss it up a little. I totally do it. Knowing that I was bad in high school (because I was fucking brutally depressed and living with two old people in the suburbs! I mean!) has been recast as this body of who-gives-a-shitting, like, “Yeeah I did every drug except one, ‘tevs’” as if I was just kicking around on a motorcycle with some neon-bikini-top babes and crushing beer cans in a novel way when in fact I was miserable and confused and slept with Tedhead, my teddy bear, every night. Danger is danger but it’s rarely pursued for its own sake.
Originally I was going to write a whole long annoying thing about how it is the most :((((( and obvious fact that OF COURSE Rihanna is into Chris Brown, probably getting with him (getting with him in the dick, I mean), definitely working with him on not-good songs. I mean, gross and pffffttoooo and whatever, but this is the kind of behavioral pattern that goes mostly unacknowledged outside of the serious field of domestic-violence-social-work-academia-etc. It’s behavior for which we deserve our coterie of girl-la-las to be mean to us about, which is that girls like to date and fuck bad, cruel, terrifying, dangerous boys. Les liaisons dangereeeeuses! Also, sorry, but being all sour about Chris Brown appearing on the corniest award show ever invented by the corniest people on the planet (I live in West Hollywood right now, so I know) is truly retarded if you also happen to have a single volume by Hemingway, Salinger, or my fave super-jerk Hunter S. Thompson in your room. Like, I’ve only ever been hit in explicitly sexual or hilarious contexts, and I don’t approve of Chris Brown or any other Definite Monster, and it’s not like we don’t know that most murder stuff is done by men to their wives and girlfriends, but let’s at least try to understand the surrounding context of why a rich, famous baberoo would give him the time of day. (It’s Dick O’Clock.)
Fear is important, like, even while pursuing the fun and crucial dangers of the post-adolescence, pre-needing-sleep era. You should be afraid to do some things, even if you’re going to do them anyway. I still go swimming by myself in the middle of the black and silent night full-well knowing that it’s stupid. Also I’m so afraid of horror movies that even a minute of Martyrs has made me haunted. That’s unrelated but yiiiiikes!
I don’t have, like, time to consider the ways in which girls perpetuate danger of a just-as-potent kind. But if you want a primer, tuck your back in and push your titties up. Just in your chair. Feel how your hair falls back, and your mouth drops open? That’s danger. Not really giving much of a shit-percentage about your own powers is double-danger. Congratulations.
But, yeah. I find it truly amazing that, as a person who is so acutely aware of her surroundings at all moments that I have never lost my keys or wallet and have never understood how that happens to other people. (Do your brains just fall asleep?) I find myself alone with strange men every day. Taxi drivers, delivery guys, movers, fix-it dudes, most of whom seem pretty nice? And I’m all making jokes about traffic and weather, all sunshine and smiles. But for every 100 men you interact with, a not-small portion of them (I don’t know the number so I’m going to swish by it, here) will be rapists and violence-doers, obviously. Sames with your cute little list of Facebook friends: some of those guys are bad. IS YOUR REALITY ALTERED NOW? I know.
THE HEGEMONY OF FEMINISM
It is absolutely imperative that you are and consider yourself a feminist (you too, people with dinks) but beware of the many feminisms that demand allegiance to their pre-determined set of values and deny some appealing facet of girlness, like using “cunt” when you feel it’s appropriate and OK and having sex with the filthiest used teabags of humanity if they get you off properly and suggesting that you shouldn’t want to go shopping for expensive refuse.
My friend Matt made these up. Or at least, my friend Matt introduced these to our community of turds in the mid-2000s; First you take a shot, then your friend slaps you, then it feels really good. It’s not really that dangerous I guess but this is a really fun thing to play and is a way to know a little bit of danger without any actual consequences at all.
Diet soda, Shellac manicures, tanning, cell phones, parabens, Fun Dip, Marlboro Lights, poorly constructed novelty shoes, bleach, that lubricant that warms up when you rub it around a little bit, vomitty stomach acid, glitter, baby oil, synthetic hormones. Generally, girls are in Toxicity Class 1.
The girls who I know talk about the other kinds of girls who we don’t know as girls who are “safe.” (Here, as everywhere, judgment = jealous.) These safe girls never left their town and are never going to do a lot of stuff and are never going to even want to have any of that stuff interrupt their well-maintained life narratives. BUT it’s important to know that finding a soft, fuzzy pocket of surfacey safety is not a solution to danger or emotional-hurt-pain or threats of any kind. There is no such thing as balance or sureness or finality, and this is why it turns out that everyone is a fuck-up but in one of only two directions. Choosing the easy, safe, no-big-deal route is a good way to waste your youth and hotness, because I’m not fucking around when I say everything you do is the wrong thing to do, so do all the fun things.
OK so that said my friend and I both watched that trannies-eating-food video for a Ke$sha remix and it was disgusting and sexy and hilarious and she was like “That’s my favorite way of being.” Mine is, I’ll do anything for eight hours as long as I can sleep in a comfortable bed at the end of it. That is my favorite way of being. Because I’m a child, and what children like and need is adventure, and a subsequent return to safety. That’s how they learn stuff, and how they party. I think that’s called “boundaries” for adults but I don’t really believe those exist, either. It’s just what makes me feel good and normal, to venture into something that is a little weird or a lot scary and then come back down from it when I get sleepy. There’s no sweet return to safety without danger, and there’s definitely no elevation to something above fear. God told me that.
Previously - Girls and Girl on Girl
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