With apologies to the author: articles like the one from which the above quote is taken are awful. All these “WIMMIN! Don’t let people tell you what to do! But don’t be like this awful cowbag of a girl who thinks she’s WELL TOO HEP FOR SCHOOL” pieces are just as pernicious and patronisingly didactic as those that explicitly prescribe a certain kind of behaviour. And that bit from Gone Girl isn’t a “great little rant,” no. It sounds like a couple of paragraphs from the Daily Mail railing against that foul scourge, the modern woman who doesn’t have to wear a crinoline or ask permission.
[Where I write woman/female, assume I mean anyone who identifies as such, not just the cis-female.]
Without wanting to discredit the great deal of interesting, well reasoned feminist rhetoric and articles around, when did womankind become so obsessed with dissecting itself, its various factions and their respective “motives”? There’s so much suspicion and aggression surrounding the way other women behave, the “types” of women they are, and articles like this one that just read as threatened - as if it’s a competition to establish THE SINGULAR PERFECT WOMAN, for lore, she cannot take more than one form. Did you not read that bit in the bible? Jeez.
If the aim is equality, just think about whether menfolk keep themselves up at night thinking about this nonsense. “What kind of man am I? Am I one of those cool guys? Oh GOD.” And to give THE DARK SIDE further credit, I’d imagine that they have the capacity to appreciate more than one kind of female personality; it’s not quite the binary split of cool/non-cool that’s posited here.
Here’s a thought: if it’s true, maybe women are “socialised into certain identities whilst being given the illusion of choice” by articles like these, the constant blow-backing of poisonous, deeply unhelpful received “wisdom” (hem hem) about the limitations which certain types of women/columnists seek to constantly impose from beneath a veil of “being a femmist”. The arrogant presumption that women act in certain ways just to appeal to men is as damaging as recommendations that they should. Give your fellow womenfolk the benefit of the doubt.
It’s frustrating to see such back-biting, wounded pieces like this in national publications when there are so many genuinely interesting and thorny issues around feminism and (trans-)women’s rights occurring in the world at the moment. I simply don’t understand what purpose this kind of article serves. Why would anyone lose sleep worrying about what kind of woman they are? In a shop down the road from where I used to work, there was a horrible sign hanging in the window that read, “JUST BE”. Although I don’t need to hang it on my wall to remind me, I’m a firm advocate of focusing one’s efforts on being happy, being kind, being successful in the way that you choose for yourself (obviously not everyone has the liberty of seeking all three, if any of those; see earlier point regarding “interesting and thorny issues”), and letting that contribute to a wider picture of “being” and whatever impression you give off rather than trying to wrangle yourself into some weird trope-ish shape. Moments of insecurity strike, you accidentally go to a Steven Malkmus gig wearing a flowery dress and an independent record label tote bag and think, “oh god I must look like such an awful wet hand-wringer,” then realise that no-one apart from you cares and it couldn’t matter less, whatever the articles say. There are no gatekeepers to the secrets of being the ultimate or worst kind of woman - and anyone who pretends to know them should be first in their own firing line.