Updated: Nov 23, 2021
Being a good girl is exhausting. Oh my god, it is sooo exhausting! But here's the thing, and this might be a bit disappointing right at the beginning: trying not to be one is just as burn-me-out-and-never-let-me-recover-again exhausting.
How do I know? Because I am a recovering good girl. Yes, it's a thing.
Recovering from trying so hard to be everything to everyone that I ended up nothing to myself. Recovering from conditioning that told me I was only worthy if I behaved or looked in a certain way. Yes, you guessed - the good way. Also, recovering from the shame and the guilt that years (what years - decades!) of trying packed upon my shoulders.
You see, the good girl training I personally went through was very thorough. I can still recall specific lessons from various "trusted" resources from early age on. Sometimes these were subtle teachings - like learning what the female body should look like from undressing my first Barbie, or my grandma's golden advice that I carried for many-many years coming, embedded in my whole mind & body: "Good girls never touch their vaginas".
Other times they were delivered like a slap in the face - my father telling me not to eat more otherwise I will be fat, boys in elementary school calling me a whore for not liking one of them back, or later on more mature boys bullying and physically threatening me through high school for revealing to my friend that one of them had cheated on her.
Being an A+ student (and a Generator) I've always strived for gathering information to master my craft. So, I made notes and tried - but like really tried - to abide by the rules I learned by the age of twenty. I'm also a generous person, so here I am, sharing "THE" rules of being a good girl, collected and organised by categories (I'm also a Virgo) that all start with an S. Initially, it was just a fun way of creating the list, until I realised that when I say "The 7 S rules", it sounds like I'm saying "The 7 ass rules", which only shows how much of a bullshit these conditionings are.
A good girl should be as skinny as possible (ideally with a small aka tight vagina). She should also shrink herself in other forms - like not speaking up, playing small, never celebrating herself or god forbid brag about her achievements, and not dreaming of or desiring more than what she has (or can get). Side note: what she can get is also very specific and limited, and she should always be grateful for it and never wonder "what if", because then she is not a good girl anymore.
A good girl should always be dissatisfied with herself, her body, and her achievements. If she is single, she should get a boyfriend (naturally, she is heterosexual). If she has a boyfriend, she should get engaged. If she is engaged, she should get married as soon as possible to pin down the man.
She should also have a job, which she should leave when she becomes a mother. If she doesn't have a child, she should get pregnant immediately after the wedding ceremony, and when she has her first child, she should start thinking about the next one (and then the next one, and the next one, and so on). Obviously, she should leave her job, because she is now a mom, she has a lot to do at home, but equally whatever she does with the kids does not qualify as work, therefore she should not feel tired or need support. The golden rule here is that she is never enough.
Be very sexy, but never have your own desire. Whenever you are sexual, it should be for a man, and only in the bedroom (or adverts, billboards, magazines - as you can see, some of the rules only apply when they are convenient and beneficial to the very people who created them). You should be very selective by the tools you use - like you can hold a drill and pretend to lick it, because it's good for the business, but never own or use a vibrator, because the only thing going into your vagina should be a real penis.
Additionally, she should never say no, when based on her behaviour, and outfit she obviously wants sex. This particular rule also applies in less obvious scenarios as well, again another golden guideline to navigate ourselves by on this is that it's never the man to be blamed.
If you cannot reach orgasm from penetration only, something is ultimately wrong with you, and you only, because every other women (who are not broken like you), can immediately come from penetrative sex screaming the ceiling off and all that jazz. The best advice on this topic is to pretend, if you need to.
Remember, your body is to please others, to be sexualized but also shamed when convenient. I mean, periods? Don't even get me started on how much of a burden and disgusting they are.
Oh, almost forgot: remember, only a penis in a vagina counts as sex. And you should be the one thinking about birth control - take the pill, no matter what, because the condom doesn't feel good to him.
A good girl is never selfish. Even better, if she doesn't have a sense of self at all. Just to be on the safe side. She should lose herself in service to others and sacrifice her own life, wellbeing, mental and physical health, but also her time and energy. She should do this with a constant smile on her face, never being angry, resentful or dissatisfied (also, tired and overwhelmed are equally invalid feelings - for more information see the next category of rules).
There's no such thing as self-care (which is the most selfish sin of them all anyway), because it suggests a "self" to be present in the first place, when we already know that a good girl does not have needs, desires and any kind of healthy sense of self or self image.
Ah, this is a good one! The golden measure of a good girl is how much she can suffer alone and in silence. Suffering is really a blessing, because it makes her noble and other women will envy her for it. The highest and most respectful level of goodness she should aim for in this context is the martyr status with the glorious badge of honour she can only get once she finally burns out.
Don't even think about complaining or feeling exhausted - if this occur then you are not doing this whole good girl quest right and there are always other women who have it worse than you, therefore your feelings and experiences are invalid anyway.
No matter how good a girl is, she and other good girls can never be trusted. They are all mean to each other, they try to steal each other's partners, they gossip and badmouth each other and always judge each other's life.
A good girl is never complete on her own. There's no success without a husband, kids and high heels. Also, if she fails on any of the above listed, she is not a good girl and should try harder to be one.
These are just some of the rules and shoulds I used as my guide. By my mid twenties I got so drained from following these confusing and soul sucking conditionings (implied and maintained by both men and women in my life and culture), that gradually I fell into depression. I had panic attacks, anxiety and an overwhelming amount of anger within that started to narrate the story of my life. So I did what I thought I needed to do: I became a "bad girl" - rebellious, manipulative, raging, initiating conflict, asking questions and refusing support in the name of independence. There was so much hatred, unmet anger and needs in the shadows, that eventually I became ill and sour for years.
It was a wild and dark ride, full of fear and projection. I had lost myself in both - being good and being bad, and I had no idea what else was left to be or what else I had the strength for to carry on being.
You see, we, human, create labels. We create social rules and boxes to fit in, and when we cannot, we force ourselves and everyone else in our misery to fit in even harder. And in this desperate moulding, we lose limbs and chop off imaginary toes like Cinderella's sisters, just so that we can get our bloody happy ending we were promised. The one we always thought we should...
Should carries a heavy meaning. It's full of prejudice, unrealistic expectations inherited from generations prior to us, imprinted upon us by the regrets and could haves of our ancestors. Should is also a scary one. It enquires you to pretend and to give up your own truth. Why? Because you should... No questions asked.
When we mistake labels and boxes as reality instead of treating them what they are, constructs we gave meaning to, when we truly think the world is black or white, right or wrong, good or bad, we take away the full potential of little girls and little boys (in case you wonder, there is a rulebook for good boys as well, which is just as suffocating than the one I summed up above). We teach them that they only have two choices in life and that there's nothing else available for them on the spectrum in between - at least nothing worthy, valuable or shame-free. We build these boxes and treat them as nature and then wonder when we're gasping for air inside because we cannot breath.
It took me years of self searching to get here. I've never been this close to freedom before. The biggest discovery I've made the past six years is that I don't need to be good or bad. Today, the only thing I want to be is myself. Fully, entirely, embracing all of me - I'm 38 and I'm just starting to enjoy this new ride. I have unsubscribed from narratives that creates the false ground of anybody being good or bad. I'm still unlearning lot of shit, so that I can learn new things, so that I can learn myself. I've been practising self care a lot, learned about healthy and loving boundaries and how to set them, and started to heal generational trauma and sister wounds. I'm flipping the script for myself and for the women I work with. Just the other day I was franticly dancing and singing online in front of 45 other women from all over the world, then bragging about our achievements and sharing secrets of our periods and womb wisdom.
There's a compassionate curiosity within getting stronger and stronger and a loving permission from me to myself to embrace my fullness (whatever that means or however it looks like). Sometimes it's messy and dark, other times it is fun and full of pleasure. Either way, it is welcomed. The never changing element on this journey is change itself and how it invites me to heal, grow and be.
It was hard to be a good girl and even harder to try not be one. Either way I was forcing myself into a frame that wasn't my truth. Today I create my own story, my own narrative within which I flow freely. I trust that I will hold myself in a safe container, that I will keep the promises I've made to myself and that whoever I am is worthy.
I know and feel in my whole body that my mission is to share this experience with other recovering good girls (and bad ones, too), so that we can make this world a more nurturing place.
The sisterhood is becoming more and more empowering - one woman at a time...
PS: what would you add to the good girl rulebook? What shoulds have you been abiding by?