My idea for this post came a few weeks ago while watching Garth Brooks being interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel. It was a really entertaining interview, and Garth and Jimmy had a great rapport. Garth seems like a great guy–he took a 13-year hiatus to raise his children and be with his family–and from watching his performance on Jimmy Kimmel Live, he but Garth also said something that didn’t quite sit well with me. He described his wife as “every guy’s dream.” In short, his wife is gorgeous, and hot, and beautiful, and sexy, and feminine, yet when she goes on tour with him, she’s also down to chill with the guys, watch sports, drink beer, eat wings and burgers and hot dogs, and trash talk during sports matches. The problem isn’t the fact that he said this–the problem is how this comment seems so harmless and innocuous, yet this statement almost completely encompasses a really misogynistic stereotype: the cool girl.
I’m not going to go into much detail about what the cool girl stereotype is. It’s pretty commonly known. Basically, a cool girl is someone who can get down with the guys, shoot guns, watch sports, and still look pretty and amazing and gorgeous, and never, ever get upset. She’s a girl who likes all things “manly” (and I use that term for lack of a better word) and yet still manages to look feminine and beautiful and sexy.
Why are girls like that considered cool? They’re cool because they’re not like all those other girls who like crocheting and frills and flowers and baking and Celine Dion and Sex and the City. These girls like “manly” things. You know, the cool things. Not those lame girly things.
I’m not going to hate on anyone who considers themselves a cool girl (in the most literal sense of the word–that is, a girl who is actually not pretending to like sports just to “impress” a guy). If a girl genuinely likes beer and sports and burgers, and even if she also looks stunning, that’s perfectly fine. Maybe she’ll find a guy who shares her interests in beer and sports and burgers. (Good luck with that.) I couldn’t care less about the fact that there are actual girls out there who do happen to share similar interests with a lot of men. But what really ticks me off is the reason why a “cool girl” is almost every guy’s fantasy.
Does anyone else take issue with this?
Let me put it this way. If a guy was really into crocheting and frills and flowers and baking and Celine Dion and Sex and the City, would he be considered a “cool guy”? (Personally, I love flowers and baking and Celine Dion’s songs are not that bad, although I can’t really crochet so I have no comment on that, but either way, said guy would be pretty fucking cool in my book.) But to answer that question, I don’t know if most girls would consider that kind of guy “cool.” Women generally don’t expect a guy to be interested in activities that women are typically interested in–and guys who are interested in those things don’t necessarily have a leg up. They’re not necessarily a girl’s “dream guy,” because girls don’t necessarily look for a guy who shares those types of interests–rather, a man’s character takes precedence over interests and favorite activities. (And what woman just expects to find a guy who genuinely “like, really loves Scandal”?) On the other hand, a lot of guys do expect that a woman “at least try to learn a little bit about sports” or at least try to show some interest in the things that guys do like. (Not that a girl’s character isn’t important either–neither guys nor girls will stand for someone completely awful, but a girl who is hot and loves sports or games or shots is still pretty hot to a guy.) If a girl isn’t genuinely interested in sports, a guy would want her to maybe watch the game with him and just try to be interested in it. And if a girl genuinely likes all those manly things (or does a really great job pretending she likes all of those things), well that’s awesome. And most guys love that, because it means they can watch all the sports they want or play all the WoW they want, and their girlfriends won’t give them a hard time about it because those girls won’t feel like sports or WoW takes precedence over them. That’s the magic formula, see? If you don’t want a girl to hassle you about how much time you spend watching sports or playing WoW (or whatever game you play) instead of spending time with them, well why not kill two birds with one stone and find a girl who likes all those same things?
Here’s why. Because a girl who is interested in you could not care less how you spend your free time (unless it involves something awful, like drowning puppies, in which case, WHO ARE YOU?). Girls don’t care if a guy likes sports, or WoW, or crocheting, or baking–as long as a guy still makes them feel valued. For women, it’s a bonus if a guy tries to help out in the kitchen, or goes with you to a crochet class, or a dance class. It’s a bonus if a guy is the one that does the cooking, or the cleaning. But for guys, being interested, or at least making an effort to be interested, in the same things that he is interested in, is almost a requirement for women. And this is where the double standard is. I know that there are great men out there who would also try to show interest in activities that their girlfriends like (that aren’t exactly fun for the guys)–but this sort of thing isn’t something that should be hard to find in a decent person. Both men and women should try to take an active interest in things that their significant others are passionate about. That’s part of this weird thing called “getting to know each other.” And yet, this often doesn’t seem to be the case. Guys continually support and search for the cool girl stereotype, and girls so readily and eagerly try to be that girl, rather than just being themselves. (Girls, newsflash: you are all perfect just the way you are. You don’t need to pretend to be anyone else.) And the vicious cycle continues, but in order for it to stop, it requires understanding on both the part of men and women. It isn’t the job of a woman to learn to love football simply in order to spend time with a guy. It also isn’t a guy’s job to learn about whatever a girl is interested in just to spend time with her. Rather, both a man a woman making an effort to participate in each other’s interests, in order to get to know each other better, is a way that both of them can show appreciation for each other.