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Rupturing the “Cool Girl”


If you haven’t read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl or seen the movie on which it was based, there may be a soft spoiler ahead. One of the most enduring parts of the book (and the film) is the “Cool Girl” speech. You can read it here, or watch it here. The film version is truncated and a little different, but Rosamund Pike’s monotone delivery nails the underlying contempt beautifully. In fact, do both, I’ll wait.

No I won’t, I don’t have the fucking time.

You see, we have a better name for “Cool Girl,” a name that wraps up all the accusations in Flynn’s excerpt, that combines the pathetic accommodations that girls make to gain the attention of overly coddled boys, and, it’s gender-neutral to fit into the discourse of your newly purchased feminism: it’s called a chump. How much money have you spent on being a chump? How much time have you spent fluffing out your hair, reading up on sports ball, getting just the right cute boots to fill out your chump suit? Is your chump suit slimming enough? Does the chump suit make your butt look too big (not big enough)? Does the chump suit have just the right fasteners to make it easy off at night and easy on in the morning? Are those chump boots made for walking, girl?

Flynn’s piece connects because we either recognize ourselves in “Cool Girl,” recognize our attempts at being “Cool Girl,” or recognize our bitterness that “Cool Girl” persists. And she does persist, and she is monumentally successful. She is rewarded with attention and affection until the next iteration of “Cool Girl” comes along. The tamping down of her own needs, the adjustments to her own lifestyle, the minimizing of her own passions leaves her with naught. “Cool Girl” is replaced by another “Cool Girl,”  another actor for the role, maybe younger, maybe hotter, different (this one has tattoos!) version of your own “Cool Girl.”

“Cool Girl” is the dumbest smart girl you’ll know. Oh, you know one, and if you don’t know one, you are one.

It’s not your fault. We’re all trained for this. We’re all trained to be the type of woman that the frumpy guy on [insert any goddamned sitcom title here] would want to marry and be nagged by his entire life. We are programmed from an early age to pretend being a princess, as long as we also can contort into mother, maid, and whore when appropriate. No one will tell you when it’s appropriate, so, you know, better figure that one out on your own.

It’s time for “Cool Girl” to grow the fuck up.

“Cool Woman” would like to punch “Cool Girl” right in the face.

“Cool Woman” rejects this charade, this disco dance of deception and deference.

“Cool Woman” satisfies her own needs first, plays to her own strengths, never has to pander to a lesser person.

“Cool Woman” has no time for your shit.

“Cool Woman” saves the heat for her own passions, instead of pleasing others.

“Cool Woman” spends her adulthood practicing self-reflection and introspection; this makes her profound.

“Cool Woman” defines beauty for herself and makes no excuses.

“Cool Woman” does not cultivate a strong mind by staring at a bottle of liquid eyeliner, though she may or may not choose to use it.

“Cool Woman” does not have to answer for anything.

“Cool Woman” does not have an answer for everything.

“Cool Woman” accepts herself first, others second, and believes.

“Cool Woman” mainly sees the back of the average man, sometimes because they’re running scared.

We can all strive to be “Cool Woman” or our own version of her. We should. We should throw off the constraints of “Cool Girl” that keep us in competition for sexual attention, that fracture the bonds women make with each other, that put us in that make-up aisle thinking, surely this face primer will be the one I need.

“Cool Girl” is a contagion that spreads through all mass media.

“Cool Girl” is a toxic construct.

“Cool Girl” must be contained if we are to ever have a chance of being ourselves.

“Cool Girl” must be destroyed.

It’s the only way to be sure.


See also: Manic Pixie Dream Girl

Heather Flyte is a graduate student in English Literature at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania. She is currently writing her thesis on the transfer of imperialism in the translation of Japanese folk tales. She is a non-traditional student who has previously worked in journalism and web development and plans to pursue doctoral work in Composition and Rhetoric.
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