Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl is nothing short of genius and the titular character is utterly fascinating. Amy Dunne has even been dubbed ‘the most disturbing female villain of all time' and while her actions are extreme (I'll try my best not to spoil the plot), many readers have found her to be oddly sympathetic: especially in her delivery of the masterpiece that is the ‘Cool Girl’ monologue.
Reason alone to read the book, the ‘Cool Girl’ monologue is a painfully accurate insight into the rigid strictures that society expect women to endure without question.
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 worlds biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintain a size 2, because Cool girls are above all hot.
The term encompasses everything men find attractive and suggests that whether we like it or not, every man wants a Cool Girl. And while there are different variations of the trope she is basically the girl who ‘likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain’.
It’s so obvious that the attraction to the Cool Girl is rooted in misogyny. We have witnessed time and time again, how men tend to reserve their admiration, respect and idolisation for other men. As a result, anything that is deemed 'too girly' is disregarded. If you don’t believe me take one look at the way society treats teenage girls: Their interests, be it music, movies or the way they take their coffee are quickly made fun of becuase they are 'just for girls'. For instance, artists that target their music towards the demographic (Taylor Swift, One Direction, etc.) are often trivialised because it has become the norm to mock the interests of teenage girls.
Therefore, with this disdain for the overtly feminine, men are ultimately attracted to women who share their interests, their beliefs and their opinions. Whether it be subconsciously or not, women often set out to meet these ideals; ignoring the fact that the elusive Cool Girls we see in movies and TV shows are written by 'socially awkward men who'd like to believe that this woman exists and that they might kiss them'. However, Flynn goes as far as to call the women who seek this appraisal, the Cool Girls themselves: pathetic.
Oh and the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be.
Calling these women pathetic is unfair and untrue. It is after all, learnt behaviour, taught by a society that continues to deny women autonomy in their own identity. A society that allows our bodies to go in and out of fashion; a society that says we must wear makeup, we must, shave, wax, pluck, thread and if we don’t, if we simply exist, we are somehow un-feminine? We are refused any shred of authenticity as our collective identity is shaped around the sexual predilections of men.
It is no surprise that so many women are conflicted by Amy – while she is certifiably unhinged, her frustrations are universal.