I've never felt so completely seen by a book title as How To Date Men When You Hate Men. I took Blythe Roberson's debut to a bachelorette party, which felt either completely perfect or wildly inappropriate, depending on how you look at it. On my flight, I was stuck in the middle seat between two 50-something men, and I felt completely radical with that book sitting in eyeshot of them. (I felt less empowered when the man to my left started clipping his nails mid-flight; I also have maybe never hated men more than that moment.)
Roberson talks a lot about "performative chillness," which is a brilliant yet self-explanatory concept—one so simple I wish I had thought of it first. She writes, "My version of performative chillness is to act very amenable and nonplussed in person and then when I am alone I furiously subtweet the situation." Relatable.
Why do we try to act laidback and relaxed and chill when we feel anything but? This brings to mind the cool girl rant in Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (who, like many now-prolific authors, was a onetime writer for Seventeen in the '90s).
“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."
In 2002, Seventeen published a quiz called, "Are you a cool girlfriend?" It was (somehow???) not satire, and it was not, to my knowledge, ghost-written by Flynn.
I took the quiz when I got this issue in the mail as a 15-year-old with no boyfriend. And I just took it again, now twice that age, still no boyfriend. My score was the exact same.
The cool girlfriend, which is not what my score says that I am, "appreciate[s] a lot of the same stuff guys do, from a good brawl on TV to a great miniskirt on Kirsten Dunst."
I got a 14, making me a smothering girlfriend. Although this label feels shameful, it really just means I'm going to call a guy out on his shit—which, as far as this quiz is concerned, includes shit like bailing on Friday night plans to play video games with the boys, checking out the head cheerleader over his shoulder while you're talking *to him*, and insisting on watching WWE instead of Dawson's Creek (even though Dawson's Creek is a new ep! And DVR doesn't yet exist!).
If being a cool girlfriend means watching WWE four nights in a row, no thanks! (One time I went on a date with a guy who worked for the WWE, and it was one of the worst dates of my life that required a lot of performative chillness.)
Anyway: Take the quiz. Tell me what you get. Tell me how you feel. Then get Roberson's book, because it'll make everything better...even if you're a smothering girlfriend like me.