I recently revisited one of the most engrossing books I’ve read in the last few years, Gone Girl. While it’s ultimately a suspense thriller, there was some interesting commentary about relationships and gender roles, including one great passage about the expectations placed upon women to be super easy going and down for everything.
“Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)”
Along with being “crazy”, being “uptight” is one of the ultimate turn-offs. It’s like the worst thing in the world if a woman knows her boundaries, knows her tastes, and doesn’t want to compromise. I feel like, as long as someone isn’t totally abrasive and nasty about it, being uptight is not a total buzzkill.
Being uptight can be a form of self-preservation. When you’re in a vulnerable position – such as being naked with someone else — it’s totally normal to feel anxiety and nervousness. If the lines of communication aren’t mutually open, which is often the case, sometimes the only thing you can do is protect yourself from unwanted actions. And that’s totally okay. Sex is about both (or more…) people’s satisfaction, and especially in casual situations, no one is entitled to their partner fulfilling their every desire. It’s delusionally entitled and remedial to dismiss someone as uptight if their sexual preferences aren’t compatible with yours. There isn’t some set-in-stone litmus test for what is kinky or adventurous enough. Like, just because someone isn’t into anal or deep throating or being choked or whatever doesn’t mean that they’re categorically a bad lay. Fucking like a porn star is not the only way to have good sex.
Not to mention, “uptight” is a pretty gendered insult that is usually hurled at women who don’t acquiesce to others’ (usually men’s) demands. Women are often socialized to be flexible, passive, and basically total pushovers. We’re expected to put everyone before ourselves because that’s the feminine and nurturing thing to do. It’s totally self-destructive and degrading to not take care of yourself and advocate for yourself. Men can say no and it’s taken at face-value while women say no and that’s considered the beginning of a negotiation. So when a woman actually stands up for herself in a way that’s contradictory to someone else, she’s “uptight” or a “bitch” or whatever, and it’s not fair at all. It’s better to be written off as uptight than it is to compromise your integrity to be liked.
While there is never an excuse to express yourself in a way that’s excessively rude or condescending or judgmental, there’s never a problem with asserting yourself and laying down ground rules for what you are and are not into. It’s totally cool if you’re not into the whole Cosmo “let me tie a scrunchie around your penis and then eat a donut off it while you spank me and pull my hair” thing. Being a sexual woman doesn’t have to equal living out every single whim someone expresses to you. It’s always okay to make your comfort a priority, even if it means coming across uptight.