Acting dumb is a silent plague, a self-imposed reverse eugenics, and the worst thing that girls do to themselves and accept from each other. It’s totally crackers. I’m not really sure right now if it’s worse to be purposefully stupid, from willful ignorance and the lazies, or to be preternaturally smart but act dumb. So why do girls act dumb? Because.
MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU
Generally, people are stupid, and generally, stupid people are threatened by smart people. That’s good. However, the US has finally Machiavellied its dominant culture of dummies into thinking that they’re in charge, with their mega-churches and Michele Bachmanns, and turning “elite” into a pejorative and The Great Gatsby into a 3D movie. All of which means that smart people are reviled instead of feared. Too bad, so sad! Anyway, this means that once upon a time people tried to seem smarter than they were (see: The Preppie Handbook; the Ivy League fetish; books) and now people from every social and economic strata are obsessed with you respecting them and their fantasy verb tenses and, basically, Idiocracy came true, especially among women who are ready to swipe at anybody who wants to marginalize them even more. The dumber you are, the realer you are. So, it’s still technically American exceptionalism, but, like, the opposite.
MORE PEOPLE LIKE YOU BETTER
Want to be considered friendly, easy to get along with, unthreatening, cute, happy? Pretend like you don’t know aaaany shits at all. Not enough to suggest that your IQ is an actual problem, but enough to not make anybody think you’re complicated, have opinions, might disagree, or cause problems. Just smile. Your eyes should say “Vacancy” and your smile should say “Wait, what?” and your posture should say “Zooey Deschanel.”
It’s true that girls mount these performances of I-don’t-know-what-do-you-think for the perceived benefit of men (and yezzzzzzzz, obviously we know by now that most dudes worth dating and all dudes worth hanging out with won’t fall for it, but it happens, you guys, it happens). However, this is also a thing that smart girls will do for their mother, or father, or boss, or their friends’ other friends, ESPECIALLY, because eeeevery girl will find themselves beside some hooknasty at the nails place/drinks/weddings and is expected to relate to her on several of the subjects mandated by protocols of the Geneva Conventions (including the glycemic index of wine; boyfriends--these girls are never single--the banal details of whatever they did that day; whatever either of you is wearing that is glittery/expensive enough to go “Pretty!” about).
Acting dumb in these short-term situations is simply required. Mostly what you’re doing is trying not to alienate yourself from someone who is more comfortable with the dumbest and therefore easiest version of yourself. It’s actually kind of nice, kind of “Women’s Wisdom”y, to act dumb (and be bored as shit) to make somebody else feel good. Guys don’t do this for each other: when you put two dudes together at a bar, the dumber one will hustle to keep up with the smarter, more informed one (unless Low Nerd Esteem interrupts this process but that is outside our scope of study). The dumber one will be reaching so far back into the recesses of middle-school discography-memories that he’ll start to sweat, and the smarter one is just fucking laughing by the end. When you put two girls together, and the smarter one makes the dumber one work for it, they both leave the bar feeling like pieces of shit. So we don’t. We act dumb.
Also, regarding hooknastys and their hambone boyfriends: Why do they kiss in that way that is pervertedly open-mouthed but involves only the tongue-tip? Just the tips going “tappa tappa tappa.” What is that?
IT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH OUR ACTUAL INTELLIGENCE
That’s clear, right? Fuck Freud (look it up).
IT’S MORE FUN
When somebody asks me what I think about something that I don’t want to talk about I go “Uh, I dunno.” Actually? I do know, but I’m not motivated enough to talk about it/care what you have to say/care if you care what I have to say, especially now that a much higher percentage of my friends feels like they have an opinion about things they don’t know about, because they read some tweets and went bonkers about being in on it (this is also “acting dumb”). Sometimes (aka today) I will be in the midst of saying “Did you listen to that Wugazi…” and then just turn around and walk away. I don’t care. After X years of internetting (too dumb to remember) I really don’t need to demonstrate what I know, because now we all know, and it got boring, and we have one pre-ordained conversation about music/movies/books/fashion/art/outer space/tevs every time. Dumb is superior to expressions of utterly average non-dumb, in these cases. PLUS my head was and is already 95% rammed with thinks all the time. Sometimes, being serious and studious and thoughtful is specifically fun, all on its own (school’s cool!) but most often it is isolating and painful and causes psychosis. Just kidding/not really. So when I have the opportunity to just repeat a joke from Bob’s Burgers, or say nothing at all, I will usually choose that instead. Dumb? Yes. Also, self-preservation. And? Girls aren’t encouraged to be smart in a real and functional way, outside of wearing sexy Jack Kerouac glasses and being the stoic, sizzly lab tech in an FBI show, and in a counter-intuitive, Sasha Grey, you-look-dumber-than-you-are way. So I feel like sometimes acting dumb is a fuck you to all of that. (Maybe?)
WE ARE ACTUALLY DUMB
Remember how generally, most people are pretty stupid? Girls are half of people. Some of us are really stupid.
Acting dumb also covers for being dumb. I have a learning disability called “dyscalculia” (or “Math Vampirism,” according to my friend who went to Yale for computer science; fuck that guy) and because I am kind of dumb, I make sure that I act extra dumb, to cover up how very truly dumb I really am. Sobbing over how to insert my iPhone’s SIM card is less retarded when I’ve been working hard on a cutesy infrastructure of “Oopsy, I can’t add!” Get it?
Plus there’s this whole thing about women doing the majority of the unpaid, non-stop work taking care of children and families and alcoholic drummer boyfriends, so maybe we’re not dumb at all but just sleepy and broke and not interested in proving our wit and wisdom over beer and falafels when there is shit to do? Le sigh.
“ACTING SMART” IS RETARDED
If “acting dumb” is gross, “acting smart” is grosser. GUH, WHY IS IT NECESSARY FOR EVERYONE’S DESTINY TO BE “DOUCHE”?
YOU MADE US DO IT
Guys act dumb, like act-act. They do things to other people that are angry and ugly and tangible and dumb. The way that girls act dumb is to play pretend, to try on other selves that will necessarily be simpler and flirtier and more overtly feminine. What is lame is that the dude stuff is so, so much worse for everybody; the girl stuff is powerfully insidious, but it’s just… acting. It’s not fucking cool that our identity exploration is mostly about being different kinds of objet d’sex, and it’s not fucking cool that to feel like an objet d’sex we giggle and sigh and stop saying what we think or pretend we think less than we do, and it’s not fucking cool that it’s something we hate about each other. But, yeah. Bottom line.
IT’S BETTER THAN ACTING CRAZY
For some girls (including this moi), almost every single thing (a sample from today: old guy on the bus; being tired and hungover; Transformers) is attended by a whole theme park of feelings. This can bend “crazy,” which is fine and normal, and it can bend “dumb.” Sometimes dumb is easier to manage.
WE LIKE ATTENTION
Yeah, I said it.
Follow Kate on Twitter @KateCarraway