#MeToo and the Cool Girl

Gone Girl is a novel by Gillian Flynn, a mommy-lit book that became a mega bestseller and was turned into a Hollywood movie. The main character, Amy, is extremely unappealing by any measure but she conquered the hearts of an extraordinary number of female readers with her famous “cool girl” monologue. In the monologue, Amy describes the women who, in order to snag a boyfriend and turn him into a husband, pretend to be what they aren’t. They pretend to be dudebro types trapped in female bodies. Apparently, there are many men who find that appealing.

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 world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.

Flynn, Gillian. Gone Girl: A Novel (p. 222). Crown/Archetype. Kindle Edition.

The most important thing about the Cool Girl, says Amy, is that she never thinks about anything beyond the first step. Have fun today, think about the consequences. . . never!

Thinking about the #MeToo cancellation I posted about yesterday – and so many other #MeToo stories – this is what lies at their root. A 50-year-old scientist somehow managed to convince himself that a 29-year-old woman was having sex with him because. . . she wanted one more sex partner. To ask why she couldn’t have found a hot 25-year-old for that purpose apparently never crossed his mind.

I don’t believe that the scientist should have been cancelled. What happened to him was wrong. However, if he’s looking for an opportunity for personal growth, then I hope he has started to figure out that he got punished for believing in the Cool Girl myth. The woman who punished him for it is a bad person. But he is a bloody idiot. He refused to see reality, which is that a sad, desperate woman was pretending to be who she wasn’t in order to land a famous, successful husband. And any scientist should know that ignoring reality comes at a huge cost.

In Gone Girl, Amy punishes her husband Nick terribly for assuming that her Cool Girl act was real. She does even worse things to other men. She is a murdering psychopath. There was, however, always a moment (or, actually, a very long period of time) when each of the men she destroys could have said, “wait, this is weird. What’s really happening here?” They chose not to do it and ended up paying for their delusion. Just like the scientist paid for the delusion of believing the pleasing but utterly ludicrous story that it is possible for a 29-year-old woman to want to have no-strings-attached sex with a 50-year-old man. The dead giveaway in these stories is that the 50-year-old man is never a janitor or an unemployed guy from a trailer. But pride comes before a fall, and the scientist found it pleasing to assume that it was his hot 50-year-old body and his gigantic middle-aged libido that was doing the trick.

Everything is a tradeoff. Want tons of casual sex with women 20 years younger? Prepare to be #MeTooed at any moment. Don’t want to be #MeTooed? Retire the Cool Girl myth and accept the reality that the dudebro fantasy woman does not exist.

40 thoughts on “#MeToo and the Cool Girl

  1. ” A 50-year-old scientist somehow managed to convince himself”

    The world would work so much better if people managed to remember and follow two simple rules….

    Don’t shit where you eat.
    If you’re a man with anything at all to lose…. don’t stick it in crazy.

    He ignored both…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s similar to that case with the Mattress Girl at Princeton. It was so clear that she wanted a relationship. So clear. And what’s the point of getting into anything when the expectations were so different?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. “Mattress Girl”

        I don’t know how I can fault the guy in that particular situation… The problem was her very deranged refusal to face the reality that he didn’t want a relationship with her. It wasn’t merely different expectations (that happens all the time to both men and women who manage to figure it out and and go on with life hopefully a little wiser for the experience).

        There’s generally no way for a man of his age to tell that level of dangerous crazy ahead of time…

        Liked by 1 person

        1. To put it bluntly, there’s absolutely no way a middle -class white girl offers anal sex if she doesn’t expect marriage. Of course, the guy wasn’t American, so he probably didn’t know.

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  2. I almost fell in with the article author’s very sympathetic portrayal of the guy. I mean, I like dorky academic types. I married one. There’s a huge difference between that guy and the one I married, though: monogamy.

    You can play the field your whole life, or you can have a nice drama-free relationship. You can be dumb or unlucky and end up with neither, but you can’t have both.

    Yeah, he didn’t deserve that. His coworkers deserved it even less. But he’s still an ass.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Also, if he simply wanted sex, I’m sure there are many divorced 50-year-olds who have fulfilled their reproductive goals and are looking for unencumbered sex. But stealing good, reproductions years out of 29yo’s life and expecting no consequences. . . That’s simply dumb.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Yep. I have heard from the thirtysomething men in my life out there in the dating market that if you are male, single, not ready to jump into a serious relationship, and don’t want kids (and you’re honest about this), and you’re talking to women between the ages of 29-39, you’d have better luck winning the lottery. Women that age are in a big dang hurry to settle down and have babies, and most of the ones who say they aren’t are lying, because as soon as they find out about the vasectomy, they’re gone.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. But also… I can still see how BOTH the accusations AND Weiss’ account could be true. I’ve been in workplace situations like that. I’ve never been hit on in the workplace. I’ve worked with plenty of men who might credibly be accused of sexual harassment, and gotten along just fine with them in an impersonal coworker way…. because they didn’t harass me.

          Looking at the lovely group photo in the lab, one thing jumps out: his accuser is a blonde white woman. Most of those lab kids? Nice young asian ladies. I’d bet money they’re not his type and so of course they had a great working relationship.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. David Sabatini is accused of more than sleeping with one 29 year-old woman. I don’t know if the other allegations are true–I haven’t seen a careful vetting of the facts–but the “All he’s accused of…” tone of the Bari Weiss piece bothers me. It’s a massive blind spot.

    Also, even in the best version of events, this alleged genius bedded a pathological liar. Those sorts of liars always throw up red flags, and in the version of events most favorable to him he missed that. A lawyer can and should argue that he broke no rules, but the rest of us need to make the case to the other guys out there that this is not a genius move.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. “academia’s got no shortage of socially retarded men”

        Women are usually not much better. To be fair, lots of academic fields are so demanding and time consuming that those pursuing them don’t have that much time to learn much of anything else…

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        1. I don’t mean it as an insult. I’m socially retarded myself (ask me about my constant cringey failures to make connections among the other playground/homeschool moms), and so is my husband. But at our social/economic level, nobody’s hooking up for the money, prestige, or career advancement, so not being socially astute is a minor handicap.

          Once you start making real money, or you’re in a position to advance other people’s careers… that’s when the trouble finds you. It’s kind of like the way that no matter what idiot thing you do, if you only make $20k/year, nobody’s going to sue you. But if you make $200k/year, or $200million/year odds are pretty good that someone will sue you for something you didn’t even do. It’s all about your level of exposure.

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          1. The line about constant cringey failures to connect with other moms struck a deep chord. I suddenly feel very understood. I see people do it all the time. But when I try, it’s pathetic.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. Yeah, I keep trying because eventually it’d be nice if, say, my kids could go to other kids’ birthday parties– they’ve never attended one outside the family. So far no luck. It’s like my own personal… what do you call it? I’m sure there’s a great Orthodox word for it. Ascesis. Mortification of the ego– humiliating yourself over and over for some ineffable spiritual benefit, like the monk assigned to greet every visitor to the monastery by prostrating himself and declaring what an awful sinner he is… for years on end. Perhaps if I continue running facefirst into that concrete wall until all my children have reached adulthood, I will have reached the apex of maternal humility and I’ll be able to manifest fire from my fingertips like Abba Joseph, or at least cure colic with a touch or something. Only time will tell 😉

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Even my husband, Mr Unsociable Curmudgeon Sourpuss has a playdate contact in the neighborhood. Even he’s better at it than me!!! It’s so unfair!

                I wish you and I were neighbors. We could solve each other’s problem. 🙂

                Liked by 1 person

      2. There’s a baseline level of social skills needed to operate in the highest level of funding and prestige and speaking invites and whatnot. Doesn’t mean he can’t have blind spots, but those blind spots are more from arrogance than being some borderline autistic type who is way better with machines than people. The later has my genuine sympathy. The former, not so much.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. “There’s a baseline level of social skills needed to operate in the highest level of funding and prestige and speaking invites and whatnot.”

          Yes, this. These MOFOs are quite socially gifted and smooth operators, the opposite of socially awkward. Their gigantic egos are their downfall.

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        2. I’ll take your word for it. Everything I read about the whole situation makes it more of an alien landscape to me. We are neither pretty nor wealthy, and I suspect we have avoided a whole host of unnecessary problems thereby 🙂 God is good to us.

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    1. I am seconding this. This is not the first article I read about Sabatini being a philanderer and an overall scumbag, yet we’re all supposed to fall all over ourselves because he’s some sort of alleged genius. At least one article I remember was from the time when he was still married, and it also involved some young scientist woman whom he pursued; I think she ended up leaving science (read: pushed out of science by pressure from him, his bosses, and his friends). Honestly, I am not shedding tears over him. He strikes me as a pretty common specimen among the “great men of science” who are invariably shitty human beings, overworking their trainees, fucking or making lewd advances at (always younger) female students and postdocs (don’t believe for a second that there isn’t a trail of young women who have left science because he’s been after them and/or threatened them), and generally basking in their own grandiosity. I’m glad someone got the better of his narcissistic ass.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s an interesting phenomenon, also, how around a scholar with a name and a smug personality there’s always a swarm of students and young scholars of the opposite sex. Why is it always the opposite sex? I’d love to mentor and help young female students and scholars. But it never happens. My swarm is 100% male and overwhelmingly gay, so it’s not misplaced sexual attraction. I go out of my way to find opportunities for female students and young scholars but it doesn’t work out. I mean, they are happy for the opportunities, and that’s great but they never become my circle.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. In my classes, it’s only 10-15% women, and I do try to recruit both undergrad women and men for research opportunities. I do have a lot of female students as well as male students in my research group, about 50/50. I don’t know if anyone’s gay in my research group; it just doesn’t come up (I know if someone is married and has kids, but otherwise have no idea whom they’re dating or attracted to, and honestly I don’t want to know). I have avoided hiring some boys into my research group because they gave me creepy vibes, b/c I and my female group members don’t need that in our lives.

          In my classes, occasionally there will be a male student who seems a little more awestruck / hanging onto my every word than the average brownnoser; I try not to dwell on it and remind myself that these kids are my son’s age and that I likely remind them of their moms, or that they’re a very dedicated brownnoser who thinks I’ll be flattered by the attention so they’ll get a better grade. In any case, I certainly don’t assume any of these kids want a sexual relationship with me, FFS. But these predatory “great men of science” really think really their pasty saggy 50-yo ass is what makes a 20-yo woman hot and bothered. The sheer size of these men’s egos boggles the mind. I have to admit I always feel Schadenfreude at their downfall.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. To be fair, some of those guys have a wild lifestyle with their award money and consulting side gig money, and there is a certain kind of woman who likes that mix of prestige, money, and fun. But he’d have to be an idiot to bed them. If she really is interested, at best she’s an awestruck groupie, and when the awe wears off there will be a mess that he’s partly to blame for. At worst she’s got her own issues, and maybe the idiot dude deserves that.

            I understand why some might argue that bedding groupies shouldn’t automatically lead to legal trouble. I’ll let lawyers and HR sort out the wider implications of rulemaking around that. But I won’t lift one finger to defend a guy who insists that he was just sleeping with groupies. At best he’s an idiot, at worst he’s lying and she was pressured rather than starstruck.

            Liked by 2 people

    2. Exactly. There’s no relationship between two adults where one is an angel and another is the devil. Both contribute to the dysfunction. Sabatini isn’t taking responsibility for his contribution to the dysfunctional relationship, and that’s disturbing.

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  4. Somebody has cursed us all. Just when I was enjoying the return to normalcy “Israel to scrap mask mandate on international flights from May 23,” we got this (the photo in his article looks frightening):

    // Israel reports first suspected case of monkeypox in man who returned from Europe
    Ichilov hospital says man hospitalized with virus symptoms; said to be in good condition and is being isolated and monitored; outbreak has now spread to at least 11 countries

    World Health Organization regional director for Europe Hans Kluge said that “as we enter the summer season… with mass gatherings, festivals and parties, I am concerned that transmission could accelerate.”

    The virus, which causes distinctive pustules but is rarely fatal, has previously been seen in Central and West Africa.

    But over recent weeks cases have been detected in European countries including Portugal and Sweden as well as the United States, Canada and Australia, Kluge said, calling the spread “atypical.”

    “All but one of the recent cases have no relevant travel history to areas where monkeypox is endemic,” he added.

    The World Health Organization has said it is investigating the fact that many cases reported were people identifying as gay, bisexual or men who have sex with men.

    It can be transmitted through contact with skin lesions and droplets of a contaminated person, as well as shared items such as bedding and towels.

    Monkeypox usually clears up after two to four weeks, according to the WHO.

    https://www.timesofisrael.com/israel-reports-first-suspected-case-of-monkeypox-in-man-who-returned-from-europe/

    Like

      1. // I’m having a hysterical fit of nervous laughter. Intrusive a new “free” “lifesaving” vaccine in 3…2…1…

        I’ll be seen as a weird one on this blog, but I am actually nervous about getting it too.

        Not only I would love to spare my old mother getting it, but it also looks painful and “clears up after two to four weeks.” Who will work instead of me for 2-4 weeks? How many sick days will be left after this?

        Have you seen page 10 in this file? Eerie, isn’t it?

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        1. Excuse me, but does your mother know you are referring to her as old? Mine would chop my legs off and feed them to the monkeys if I did that.

          I’m trying to dispel the tension by making a joke.

          And hey, knowing me, what takes 2-4 weeks in other people will take 4 months for me because I’ll get the ultra rare especially noxious strain. Story of my life.

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      1. // They’re already planning to shut down public events for a disease spread by gay sex tourism?

        People thought AIDS was ‘a gay disease’ too…

        It seems like a usual disease in Central and West Africa. Why not become usual everywhere in our global age?

        It’s still weird. Travel had been shut down for months and even years because of covid. Why right now?

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        1. People still think AIDS is a gay disease. With only one exception, everybody I’ve known who was HIV+ (including my cousin) is gay and male– that’s not some kind of giant freak coincidence. The exception was the mom of a school friend, who was addicted to heroin and died of AIDS-related TB. Really sweet kids in that family, and what happened to their mom was heartbreaking and tragic, but not surprising, not random, and not dangerous to the general public.

          There’s been a LOT of propaganda out there to try to convince everybody that AIDS is everybody’s problem, because that keeps the research funded. But I’m not personally worried about catching it, and never have been, because I’m not a gay man and I don’t use drugs, and I have 100% control over those variables. There are some other extremely rare scenarios where I might be exposed, but I’m far more likely to die in an auto accident and that doesn’t keep me from driving.

          So far, it looks like the two things the current monkeypox cases have in common are A) Gay men, and B) International travel. Read between the lines there and the subtext is clear: sex tourism. That makes most normal people squeamish and there are medical privacy laws in most places so of course they’re not going to say that out loud on the news, but I’d bet money the index case is in some boy-brothel in Gambia (or other gay tourist destination in west africa, where monkeypox turns up every so often), and while that’s horrible and should be shut down… it’s probably not a huge risk to the rest of us. Unless you or your mother are in the habit of visiting gay bath-houses, there’s not much to worry about. If you are, I’d recommend extreme caution. That seems really dicey right now and I hope all the gay guys among my family and friends are smart enough to take extra precautions.

          Time may prove me wrong. It seems worth keeping tabs on it just in case. Perhaps it will turn out to be more easily transmissible than that. Who knows? I’m absolutely concerned that it just happens to have turned up on the world scene right as COVID was losing its grip on the public imagination, and oh, what a coincidence, the same people who gamed out the coof ahead of time also spent last year’s vacation playing a tabletop RPG monkeypox!(tm) an exciting pandemic simulation game (do they use 20-sided dice and little figurines for that?). I think those people need better hobbies. Probably there are one or more drug companies already poised to profit hugely off the media-induced panic. We’ll see, I guess.

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      2. // They’re already planning to shut down public events for a disease spread by gay sex tourism?
        That seems pretty extreme.

        The last sentence shows you haven’t seen page 10 of this file.

        People, you’re missing the entire story here.

        Remember this exercise was conducted in November 2021:

        Click to access NTI_Paper_BIO-TTX_Final.pdf

        Liked by 1 person

        1. My friend, this is only surprising if you haven’t followed every permutation of the “two weeks to flatten the curve” fairytale. This exercise was extremely profitable the first time around, so why not repeat it again and again?

          The COVID scenario was also planned a year in advance.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. Re Monkeypox, a Russian-speaking blogger linked to a frightening report from NOVEMBER 2021 .

    The report is titled “Strengthening Global Systems to Prevent and Respond to High-Consequence Biological Threats: Results from the 2021 Tabletop Exercise Conducted in Partnership with the Munich Security Conference”

    What is so frightening about it?

    Look at the graph (Figure 1. Scenario Design Summary) on the tenth page of the file and you’ll see.

    Makes one get where all those conspiracy theorists are coming from, doesn’t it?

    Click to access NTI_Paper_BIO-TTX_Final.pdf

    Like

  6. I don’t have a flattering view of Sabatini’s blind spot in a professional situation, or his arrogance about being desirable, being a woman in science myself.
    Nonetheless this still doesn’t absolve Klouse of the fact that she voluntarily chose to pursue a relationship with him — they are consenting adults and when things went south (as they inevitably can in such situations) she retroactively labeled a bad breakup as sexual misconduct. A 29 year old assistant professor talking about a senior professor (with no direct control on her job or employment conditions) “sexually grooming” her — I just don’t buy it!

    Also, Klouse also did not report a relationship with a work colleague when MIT-HR changed its policy — so MIT/Whitehead holding Sabatini responsible for such infractions, while the other person continues to run her lab unscathed, is an infuriating double standard at the very least.

    Similar cases have happened at other elite institutes— see, for instance, Vengalattore (Cornell) vs Aycock.
    I don’t find such cases much different from lynching of black men based on false allegations of white girls — ONLY the degree of brutality of punishment needs to be normalized as per current social mores!

    Like

    1. “she retroactively labeled a bad breakup as sexual misconduct”

      Exactly. People rewrite their personal histories all the time (yes, I’ve read some Goffman) but since when is everybody else expected to just play along?

      “A 29 year old assistant professor talking about a senior professor (with no direct control on her job or employment conditions) “sexually grooming””

      If you’re a 29 year old professional who is susceptible to “sexual grooming” then something has gone catastrophically wrong in your life and you should probably work on that rather than trying to become Lady Sexual Justice….

      These are both terrible people and I’m glad I don’t know either. But the asymmetric nature of punishment here is… very suss.

      And… it’s possible to be a great scientist and an awful human being…. given his area of research and academic track record I’d rather he was working (with oversight) than being unemployable…

      I guess cancer’s not that big a deal….

      Liked by 1 person

  7. According to the official lawsuit he was on her thesis committee all the way through grad school, was the director of postdoc program and her direct postdoctoral mentor during their relationship, and is accused of an actual quid pro quo.

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  8. I think it makes both of them worse, a quid pro quo for recommendations for faculty positions and NIH grants is gross on both of their accounts and and sin against meritocracy,science, and publicly funded research. They should both be fired. It also directly contradicts statements in the Bari Weiss article, not that I should believe anything journalists say at this point.

    Like

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