Urban Dictionary defines “cool girl” as “a girl who is not a girlfriend. Shares interests, hangs with, and (optionally) sleeps with a man she is interested in. Inevitably she becomes a ‘cool girl’ and becomes ineligible for girlfriend status” or “a mythological being based on the concept that there are women out there that are not bloodsucking, money-grubbing whores.” (Ummm, I’m not sure what women you’re dating that at bloodsuckers, but clearly you’re in the wrong fetish. Also, sex should always be optional.)
Caroline Bingley is the original Cool Girl, but she’s the Cool Girl no one wants to be. (Believe me, I know from personal experience that you don’t want to be in love/pursue your brother’s best friend. It doesn’t end well.) The term “accomplished woman” seems a little dated for today’s times, but it can easily translate into our definition of the Cool Girl.
“No one can be really esteemed accomplished who does not greatly surpass what is usually met with. A woman must have a thorough knowledge of music, singing, drawing, dancing, and the modern languages, to deserve the word; and besides all this, she must possess a certain something in her air and manner of walking, the tone of her voice, her address and expressions, or the word will be but half deserved.”
This 19th century Cool Girl definition is less applicable in a 21st century light, and personally, I don’t like Urban Dictionary’s definitions. I think they’re not thorough enough, and honestly, I can’t get past the phrase “bloodsucking, money-grubbing whores”–going out on a limb and assuming that this phrase was written by a particularly bitter guy. Also, my understanding of the Cool Girl is that she is exactly what guys want to date, not that she becomes “ineligible for girlfriend status.”
I will turn to the most accurate definition I’ve ever found of this phenomenon: Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I’m 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 likes 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.
Let’s compare Gone Girl’s definition with Caroline Bingley’s definition of an accomplished woman–a definition that I will assume she extends to include herself, though she doesn’t state this connection explicitly. Caroline Bingley may or may not be an accomplished woman by her own definition, but it remains that she is the Cool Girl no one wants to be. Just think of the up-keep!
Elizabeth Bennet is not afraid to call out Darcy and Caroline as they harpoon the general public of women who do not meet their standard of an accomplished woman.
“I am no longer surprised at your knowing only six accomplished women. I rather wonder now at your knowing any…I never saw such a capacity, and taste, and application, and elegance, as you describe united.”
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many woman are willing to pretend to be this girl…I’d want to grab that 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.
This leads me to the conclusion that the Cool Girl is simply a mask, contoured, Maybelline’d, and sculpted, to lure men. Temptation to be the Cool Girl is seductive. But who wants to put up with a guy’s shit just because it’s easier than being alone, or it’s too much work to look for something better, someone who allows you to be yourself, without your mascara mask.
I’m not the Cool Girl.
I never will be. In high school, I always wanted to be one, though. You know, the girl who always dresses perfect, wears heels to class like all the girls on Pretty Little Liars.
But I listen to Legally Blonde the Musical while I workout. I can no longer watch Law & Order because I get too paranoid. I love the Twilight series. I genuinely enjoyed watching Bratz the Movie with Chelsea Kane and PLL’s Janel Parrish.
And I hold out hope that I’m going to magically come across Rupert Grint someday and live happily ever after in his estate in Hertfordshire. (I once read that he ended up at a fan’s house because he was just too nice to say “no.” That could have been me–she says half-kidding, half-deliriously hopeful.)
But I can honestly say that it’s a whole lot easier being yourself than maintain an image of a fake you. I think being Caroline Bingely would be exhausting. She seems like the kind of girl who is always on, and why wouldn’t she be when she’s trying to catch a husband? Elizabeth Bennet never tried to be something she was not. She always seems to say the first thing that pops into her head–even if it was not necessarily the best thing to say/do.
I admire her for sticking to her guns in a time when women needed to lock down a man as quickly as possible. As Charlotte Lucas phrased it, “In nine cases out of ten, a woman had better show more affection than she feels.”
In 1813, Charlotte was entirely right–as demonstrated by Bingley’s easily persuaded mind when Darcy convinced him of Jane’s indifference.
It just makes so much sense. In a time when marriage was really a woman’s only means for survival in the world, I understand Charlotte’s logic. It becomes even more influential when you consider the Bennet family’s estate was entailed to their cousin–a cousin who Elizabeth refused to marry upon principle.
I’d like to think I’d have the courage of Elizabeth under similar circumstances, but I’m not sure I would.
I know for certain that I am not the Cool Girl, not one of those girls who has a lot of guy friends, not particularly interested in sports or video gaming. I’m not interested in creating a different version of myself just to find a man.
But sometimes being a fake version is easier than being yourself, than opening yourself up for someone to really get to know. But vulnerability isn’t necessarily a weakness. There’s always the risk that someone won’t like you once they get to know you. But there’s a Darcy out there for every Elizabeth. Of this, I am certain. And I will find him. (And by “him,” I mean both Rupert Grint and Darcy.)