"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."
- Anais Nin
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
Good Girls, Bad Girls, and the F-Word
If you’ve read my novel Fifty Ways to Leave Your Husband, you know that (1) there’s a fair amount of sex in it (it’s not for nothing that my mother refers to it as “Karen’s sex book”), and (2) the sidekick steals the show. Tamara is the BFF we all want: fun, vivacious, loyal, nuttier than squirrel shit, and with a MOUTH. She drops F-bombs like Margaret Cho on speed.
Tamara brings to mind one of my favorite freedoms:
Freedom of the sort of expression that would have earned you a bar of soap in the mouth as a kid.
Confession time: I love to say, “Fuck.” I think, properly used, it’s one of the very best words in the English language. And I use it - properly, of course - quite a bit.
To be clear, I’m not tossing the F-word around during work hours or in the presence of small children. I don’t break it out at cocktail parties or Christmas dinner. Everything has its place. I get it.
I also get that I’m maybe not quite the sort of girl you’d expect to be so fond of the F-word. Take a look at my promo pics. I look like a Good Girl, don’t I?
But here and now, I’d like to divest myself of the Good Girl label. I’d like to do what my protagonist Eve does and ditch the Good Girl suit of armor - and all the heavy fucking baggage that comes with it.
I’d like you to do the same.
Because here’s the thing…
Being a Good Girl has no real value. In fact, I think the label does a whole lot of harm. Because if there are Good Girls, there are Bad Girls, too. And heaven knows, we’ve got a whole slew of words for that kind of girl.
A couple of days ago I was reading a great article by Melissa Gira Grant entitled, There Is No Such Thing as a Slut. “Sluts take up more space in our imagination than in anyone’s bed,” she writes. More fully to the point, she illustrates the ways sluttiness is a myth - a “form of sexual privilege” - and perhaps worst of all, the way we women use the term/concept to leverage our power against one another, all the while foolishly undermining our own goals.
Someone like me, for example - white, middle class, able to determine on the basis of a lifetime of social schooling how to dress and when to bite one’s tongue - might come across as a Good Girl, while someone from a lower-class background or an unestablished ethnic minority might lack the social grooming to dress and speak so as to avoid unwanted labels. Yet there may be absolutely no correlation between our public presentation and our sexual promiscuity.
In fact, statistics indicate otherwise. Statistically, Good Girls know they can get away with more - and therefore, they do.
(I’ve got you all thinking naughty thoughts about me now, haven’t I? Oh, go on…)
In the fictional world of my novel, Eve appears to be the Good Girl, while Tamara seems the foul-mouthed hussy. But when one examines the situation more fully - (spoiler alert!) - Eve is out on the beach fucking a stranger while Tamara is home with her husband and kids - we get a better picture of how irrelevant labels truly are.
In my recent body-issues post, The Size of It, I suggested that we women could literally change the world for our daughters and granddaughters if we just were more careful about how we speak about our self-image.
I think the same is true here.
My favorite blogs, books, films and Netflix fare celebrate and explore female experience with humor, an unflinching eye, and often a foul, foul tongue. These writers and artists are not your stereotypical Good Girls.
They’re much better than that.
That said, join me in bidding farewell to those polarizing, useless myths: the Slut and the Good Girl. I’ll leave you with a few fun links from ladies who kick ass, talk and write sex, and yes, drop the occasional F-bomb.