Last weekend, a group of girlfriends and I hit the town. It was going to be a girls only night, and all was going exceptionally well until a group of guys joined our table. Suddenly one of the girls lost the ability to speak normally. She adopted the Paris Hilton child-like talk, suddenly got really tipsy (even though she had been sipping diet coke all night) and thought everything the guys did was hilarious, even just the way they read the drinks menu.
What the hell? I thought girls stopped acting crazy in front of guys after high school. Apparently not.
But why did we do it then, and why do some of us still do it now?
Growing up around a family of school teachers, I heard every possible theory about the best way kids learn, the one that struck me the most was how teenage boys tend to learn better in co-educational environments, while girls do better in single sex schools. The logic being that, boys feel like they need to show off how smart they are to the girls, while the girls will play dumb around the boys. I went to a single sex school, so I don’t know what it was actually like in the classroom, but if the way my friends and I acted around boys on the weekends is any indication, I would say that, this is probably a reasonable statement.
When the guys were around, girls who were normally intelligent and actually had some common sense, would lose all sense of direction, walk out in front of traffic, freak out if they saw a spider, not be able to open jars, forget how to spell or multiply, suddenly forget the President’s name (even though at school the day before, they had given a talk about him and his policies). You get the idea.
When you think about it, it’s not a new phenomenon, women have always been portrayed as the ‘fairer sex’, both in the media and by society as a whole. Just think about the often child-like, over sexualized, characters Marilyn Monroe played, alongside the handsome hero, or, the way women are viewed in childhood fairy tales, often silly and walking into danger, only to be rescued when the man saves the day. Little Red Riding Hood anybody? And, how many times have you and your friends joked about crying to get out of a speeding ticket? If a guy tried that, he would end up on ‘Cops’ as a laughing stock, and the video would have gone viral on YouTube within the hour.
I think that in high school everyone wants to be popular and fit in, which, along with liking the right music, wearing the right clothes and having the right friends, means (rightly or wrongly), having boyfriends. With all the stereotypes of women that we learn when we are young, being of sexy girls, who need help from a man to get through the day safely, it is really no wonder that when teenage girls try to impress guys, they act like that stereotype, and not the smart, independent girl they may be.
I know that males also act like idiots when they are young and trying to impress girls, by playing up the ‘G.I Joe’ macho man stereotype, but it seems that when they get older, the pressure on them to embody the stereotype, minimizes more than it does for females. For instance, a certain friend of mine once tried to impress a girl, by attempting to jump off a roof into a pool, Evel Knieval styles, but instead broke his leg. This same friend, only last year, wouldn’t enter his house for hours, because he saw a mouse, and waited outside while his girlfriend caught it. Go figure.
The stereotypes that we see in the media of females, doesn’t really get much better when we get older and we know (supposedly) that we don’t have to act like little girls to get attention from males. Instead, the idea that is promoted is still of the sexy, silly woman. Kim Kardashian for instance, has even said that people perceive her to be just a ‘pretty face’, and so she plays into the public persona instead of actually acting the way she wants to. Further, take any number of recent romantic comedies. The female we often see is either the straight laced wife, who is portrayed as boring and stifling to their carefree husband, or they are the fashion forward woman who uses sex to her advantage, with little other character traits in between. So who would you rather be, boring and ‘old’ or hot and interesting?
Richard Easton, a matchmaker said on Shine today, that men men actually do want intelligent women, not the barbie doll pampered princess, who speaks like a Hilton and needs help spelling. But he also said, that not being very feminine is often a turn off. So basically what we need to be is successful and intelligent, but not too intelligent to get the guys to like us. Um, how about no?
Women need to just need to act like themselves, and not a crazy stereotype, or ‘toned down’ version of themselves. And then, if the guy doesn’t like you, well he doesn’t like you, but when a guy does like you, then he actually likes you, not a made up, less intelligent version of you. And as an added bonus, you will stop driving all your friends mad with your ridiculous chipmunk voice!