On being a “good girl”
October 11, 2011
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One of my co-workers is a young woman who happens to be Christian, and doesn’t personally wish to have sex before marriage. Today my boss called her a “good girl” for these very reasons, in front of the whole team. And it made me feel pretty shit.
See, if that is the criteria for being a “good girl” then I’m not one. I know that the sentiments my boss expressed are not new, and I know that this sentiment has no actual baring on my worthiness or inherent ‘goodness’, but it still made me feel really shit. I think it’s because I’m sick of knowing that my person and my morals and my history would make me less than valued or appreciated by a large section of society, and calling someone with very different morals than me a “good girl” just really hammered it home.
I am the first to admit that in my personal life I live in a sex positive, feminist bubble of beautiful non-judgemental people, and that this sometimes skews my perception of just how common discriminatory sentiments are. However, this “good girl” sentiment has pierced that bubble a few times, and for some reason hits me harder than I would usually expect.
I once had an ex boyfriend (who self identifies as a feminist) tell me that if I hadn’t started the relationship on purely sexual terms then perhaps we would have graduated to something more serious. I once had a male member of a progressive political party call me a slut. And when I tell people the number of people I have slept with, they often recoil in shock. Not at the high number, but apparently at the “relatively low number” considering my “sexual confidence and knowledge”. I don’t think any of these things are particularly sex positive, and I feel that they all line up with the “good girl” sentiment which I don’t appear to fit. The latter example for me is the key, because the idea that by some (utterly fucked) standards I might be closer to being a “good girl” than people initially perceive, makes people dubious and unable to process me by their nifty little categories.
The thing that really gets me is wondering what I would actually have to do to be considered a good girl. Would I have to advocate for social justice? Would I have to volunteer my time for charities? Would I have to help sick and injured animals? Would I have to be positive and upbeat in the face of adversity? Would I have to be willing to give my time to people without expecting anything in return?
Because actually I do all of those things. And yet I’m still not a “good girl”. Evidently, all I would have to do to be considered “good” as a female-identifying human being is to keep my fucking legs shut. And I’m really sorry but I just can’t do that. So I suppose I will just have to make peace with being a terrible person.