The execution of the rule of law in Girl World is generally understood to be litigation (as in, “That bitch took something that’s mine”) or prosecution (as in, “I can’t believe that bitch broke Girl Code”). In reality, however, girls rarely ever use any of the mechanisms of adversarial legalism that might seem readily available to them. Instead, Girl World is mostly run on a system of out-of-court settlement. While a small minority of women fight in public over disputes about whose man is whose or who has committed the absolute felony of sluttiness, the vast majority of claims are settled through quiet, mutual-friend-driven mediation.
I know this, because I was recently inducted into this horrible system. The friend of a friend was apparently “seeing” this guy, and by that she meant that she was calling him regularly and having conversations about deep, life-related things. She was convinced he was The One until I took him to a semi-formal. There was kissing involved. And then this girl quickly became totally removed. Unlike the supposed “usual” system where the plaintiff issues an order down from on high to activate her entire female army against the perpetrator, what followed was largely silence. Our mutual friend who had conveyed all of this information to me put an emphasis on maintaining confidentiality in the matter.
I don’t know what I became to that girl on that day that she found out about the kissing and whatnot, but I do know that what has subsequently followed is polite smiles in passing at the salad bar between two people who never smiled at each other before. She has a reason to know about me and vice versa and it is not a good one. So because this system of silence is a little too passive aggressive for me, and because I also have a martyr complex, I dedicate this FAQ to all the crestfallen ladies that have quietly renounced their claims on the malefolk, on behalf of us Other Women, boyfriend-stealers, hookup-usurpers, and general cockblocks out there. After all, these are largely questions that you should be asking me at the salad bar as we both steal glances at each other between turns with the cucumber tongs, no pun intended.
1. What the fuck were you thinking when you were fucking my boyfriend/likeliest male prospect?
I was thinking about a society where women were judged on the content of our character, and judged each other accordingly, a system in which we were not divided by dumb property claims over men but united by female solidarity. Just kidding. I was thinking about all the stupid ways I find to distract myself from global warming, my own mortality, and loneliness. And then, fittingly I started thinking about the late 90s and early 00’s, when I was convinced that if I were on a desert island, I really wouldn’t need more than a couple volumes of “Now That’s What I Call Music!” and a walkman to be happy. And then of course, my attention was rapidly brought to the fact that there is no chance in hell that this guy, your guy, was going to find the g-spot.
2. Did it ever occur to you that some people begin relationships with emotions and, like, talking, and not hooking up, you debased slut?
That is a great point. I would cite Woody Allen’s classic “the heart wants what the heart wants” line if it weren’t referring to his impromptu love affair with his adoptive daughter. But realistically, it’s true. Sometimes a person doesn’t have the emotional depth to fall in love with other people. Sometimes he or she just falls in love with the other person’s vagina. And sometimes the owner of that vagina is just as content to let her ladyparts be loved as the emotionally vacuous lover is content to love them. And who are you to tell two emotionally vacant people they cannot feel passion in their own bizarre, drone-like and animalistic ways? The heart wants what the heart wants.
3. Just so you know, he’s a huge slut and I really do wish you the best because I hear you’re not like that. Are you like that?
Ah! Indeed. There are so many great 90s lyrics to answer this question, but to paraphrase: I’m a bitch, a mother, I’m a child, I’m a lover. But above all, I’m actually a read-only Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. I wish I could do more than plug in various attributes of a situation and produce an algorithmic respond. But factors like temperature, partner attractiveness, and womanly hysteria all determine my actions. So that information is sure to help me consider possibly swinging one variable of many in my decision-making process, but you’d be surprised how little attributes of my potential partners occur to me in the hook-up calculation. I wish this was not the case, but I’ve long relegated my autonomy to the algorithm. At Dartmouth, after all, we trust The Computer as a kind of Sorting Hat to make decisions on behalf of women about women, and who am I to break with tradition? Unlike those other kinds of decisions, however, this one doesn’t affect you at all.
4. Are you crazy?
I have considered this, yes. For example, why do I keep putting dried craisins over my granola when I know I don’t like it? Why do I constantly take the fliers that homeless people are handing out on the street? Why, in the very back of my mind, am I still a little bit concerned about vaccinating my children? I question my own sanity at least a little bit nearly every day, butespecially when it relates to the boy you were interested in. When he’s around, I like to lurk behind columns and pillars and belt the lyrics to “On My Own.” If this is wrong, I don’t want to be right. But seriously, you know who’s crazy? Your mom.
Ultimately, I hope this answers some of your questions. I sincerely wish it didn’t have to be this way. I wish you could publicly acknowledge me without having a Mischa Barton face spasm of uncomfortable nervousness and that I could reciprocate without having a Mischa Barton face spasm of uncomfortable smugness. We could have a real people conversation, or that next time at the salad bar, you could tell me to avoid the craisins.