Do you still play by #TheGoodGirlRules?
Did it give you everything you ever wanted? Are you completely and utterly loved and adored and if so is it for being The Good Girl or for being who you truly are……?
I’m pretty well experienced in playing the Good Girl. If there was a “Miss Universe Good Girl People Pleaser”, I’d have won it a thousand times! Which is probably why at 32yrs, I finally broke. Oh I cracked big time! After years, fine, decades of playing by #TheGoodGirlRules, I finally lost who I truly was, I was running on empty with nothing to give anyone, I fell out of love with my husband (who is actually a lovely guy) and I fell out of love with myself. My life did not resemble anything I had hoped for and the cracks were beginning to split right open.
So I decided to FUCK The Good Girl Rules. Yep I said it. #FuckTheGoodGirlRules
So what are #TheGoodGirlRules?
They’re all those messages we grew up with from our parents, peers and society on how, as women, we can learn to be a valued member of society….
Why is this an issue? Don’t we want to be good?
A week ago I put out a call for a group of 14,000 women to share the “good girl” rules they were brought up with. I was sick and tired of being told I needed to follow a set of rules to be successful, fit and happy and wanted to know if others were tired of it too.
The response was overwhelming, passionate and shocking. Some of the stories were humorous but the majority of stories unearthed that there are still massive sexist stereotypes and social expectations of women worldwide. Patronising, diminishing, weakening, dis-empowering, shaming….. What started off as a post for my own outburst/tantrum turned into a massive group therapy session for over 100 women divulging their own personal experiences about having suffered by #TheGoodGirlRules. And what’s worse is that we are still living by these ‘Good Girl Rules’.
You see these #GoodGirlRules keep us in “our” place, they stop us from expressing our own deep desires, they curb us from being free to speak up and speak out, they shame us into being meek and diminish our true beautiful inner strength. They keep us small and scared.
All fired up and based on all the responses and research, I dissected it all into 9 basic #TheGoodGirlRules. Follow them if you must but I’d advise you wait til you read part 2 of this blog….. #FuckTheGoodGirlRules (on cue – smile sweetly).
THE GOOD GIRL RULES;
1. The Good Girl is obsessed about the “right thing”.
After all being right is being good. The Good Girl does the right thing by her parents and her teachers. She avoids answering questions in school (what if she’s wrong?). She grows up worried about ‘what if’ she does the wrong thing! The Good Girl never takes risks; she always plays it safe. She takes the safe job. Marries the safe option. She lets others make the big decisions for her. It’s nice to have dreams but let’s just keep those silly little dreams to ourselves shall we? Good girl.
2. The Good Girl is perfect all the time.
The Good Girl dresses as well as she can, looks the part and acts the part. She can’t break the rules, she can’t make a mistake, she can’t get it wrong, she can’t disappoint…. She must do what she’s told. Keep flawless, that will please the others. Don’t crack the facade…. She lets everyone think she’s happy. Don’t let others see the truth. Oh with this rule she can marry the good looking wealthy boy, who doesn’t care about her needs too. Take another happy selfie for Instagram. Keep up the outside appearances and you might want to just cut back on the cake…. There, that’s a Good girl.
3. The Good Girl never makes others feel inferior.
This means the Good Girl can never shine too bright in fear that her success or happiness might make someone else feel bad about their own circumstances. She dumbs herself down, she talks herself down, she refuses compliments, she tries not to stand too tall in her own shoes and therefore shrinks herself just enough to not be a threat to others. This also encourages her to believe she’s not really enough (one should keep herself caged). Remembers one can’t shine too brightly and heaven forbid embarrass the boys. This also mean that The Good Girl must suppress her natural talents. You see if she is of service to others, they will find her valuable BUT if she actually uses her natural talents or her brains (what do girls need maths for anyway) and outshines someone, she will be a threat. Stop shining and start serving. Don’t cast shadows on others by shining so brightly. Turn the light off. Shrink back. Step back. Out the way. Thank you, you’re such a good girl.
4. The Good Girl must constantly seek external validation.
The Good Girl constantly watches herself through the eyes of others, analysing what they must be thinking of her, quietly adjusting her behaviour continuously so as to keep the status quo. Yes, it’s exhausting constantly worrying about the opinions of others but if she stops seeking this external validation how would she know who she is pleasing, who will validate her, who will love her? How will she know if she belongs? If she’s accepted?? Keep watching, keep smiling…. there’s a Good Girl.
5. The Good Girl does not rock the boat – Part 1.
Don’t speak unless spoken to. Little girls should be seen and not heard. Don’t offer your opinion, it might upset someone. Don’t speak your mind because someone might disagree. Nod politely. If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all. Strong + Independence = Threat. The Good Girl threatens nobody (see rule #3). The Good Girl should be concerned only with what is “right” (see rule #1). If she doesn’t upset anyone she’ll be accepted. She’ll be easy to get along with. A pleasant girl. A nice simple girl. A Good Girl.
6. The Good Girl does not rock the boat. Part 2.
The Good Girl doesn’t get Emotional. Look pretty, act cute, smile sweetly now. Yes, even if you’re sad. No, please don’t show your emotions or be emotional! Good heavens! No one else wants to be brought down by your own burdens! Emotional means you have needs after all and The Good Girl doesn’t acknowledge her needs unless she is alone where her needs won’t intrude upon other people’s lives. Emotional = hard work. So chin up! Keep smiling! What a pretty looking girl. What a Good Girl.
7. The Good Girl loves to please others. (“Loves” or “Lives” to please others? So hard to tell these days…)
Parents. Children. Husbands. Lovers. Employers. Friends. Hell even strangers. The Good Girl lets others go first, ensures she made her parents happy and proud (she’ll sacrifice her own dreams to please anyone!), ensures her husband is well fed, his shirts are ironed (even though he has arms), house is tidy (he also lives here), children are bathed and their little lives are completely organised, errands are run, presents are bought (for everyone including the in-laws), bosses are happy (the guilt of taking sick days when the children are ill or even worse if she is ill), friends are never let down (even if she’s not well enough to attend their parties)….. The Good Girl pleases everyone regardless of how stressed, exhausted, hungry, sick and miserable she may feel. Only then can she truly confuse ‘self love’ with ‘selfish’. The Good Girl starts forgetting who she is. What a very Good Girl!
8. The Good Girl keeps house.
While the boys get metal work and welding The Good Girl takes up Home Economics (or How to Keep a Husband 101) learning how to cook and clean and sew a pillow case. Good Girl! This also helps with keeping up appearances, pleasing the in laws, being worthy of a good husband regardless if he’s worthy of you (This isn’t about The Good Girls’ needs anyway remember!). And in the mean time she might even have a full time job (well it’s only fair as he works too!).
9. The Good Girl doesn’t have sex.
The Good Girl must keep her legs crossed, eyes down and be meek and mild. Good Girls do not flirt. Good Girls do not giggle at boys. Good Girls cover up. Good Girls must never even kiss boys and must never express themselves sexually unless in a serious committed relationship. Even then it must all be kept behind closed doors. Good Girls must act virginal and innocent. No man wants to marry a bad girl! It may seem like double standards as boys can sleep with as many girls as possible, but boys will be boys! Your body doesn’t really belong to you anyway, it’s a present for a man, after all HE doesn’t want a “tainted’ women or second hand goods! Legs crossed! Good Girl.
In fact while writing these rules it became clear that no wonder women are so overwhelmed by what they ‘should’ do, or who they ‘should’ be.
No wonder women are over burdened by juggling so many balls in trying to be it all and have it all.
No wonder so many women struggle to separate their own needs and desires with the needs and desires of those that they love.
No wonder so many women don’t speak up and don’t step up to leadership roles.
No wonder we struggle to find own place in the world or struggle to even begin to entertain the thought that maybe, just maybe….. there’s something more for us in this world.
To be perfectly honest writing even these 9 #GoodGirlRules made me feel nauseous. I’ve been caged by these rules, I’ve been enslaved to desperately wanting to be the Good Girl purely to make others happy and I’ve seen it in others too. While they may seem slightly dramatic there is truth in every single one of them.
The world is definitely changing, but unless we’re aware of what the ‘rules’ are that we’ve been conditioned to live by as women, how do we know what rules to break? Now don’t get me wrong! I love to sew and I like to cook good food for my family. I love serving my clients and I love supporting my family and friends – but these are now CHOICES I freely make and not things I feel are expected of me in order to feel valued or of worth to others.
Today I validate myself. I exist to be the best possible version of myself. It’s my responsibility to make me happy and to live a life that is true to MY passions and MY purpose. And there is nothing more powerful than drawing the line in the sand, digging our heels in, staring the world in the face and saying #FuckTheGoodGirlRules.
It’s time to break free.
To be continued….
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