I started planning a post on the subject of ‘cool’ or ‘real’ girls, and who has the (or at least a) valid definition. However, my boundaries and theses kept moving until in the end, I realised I was asking the wrong question. Instead, my question (and that of others) might better be: why does it matter?
I don’t mean that people shouldn’t be able to identify (or not identify) as something, or that the issue of women’s position in society isn’t worthy of study, or that anything else; but rather that before considering what the edges of a group are and what the group represents, one should ask if defining the group matters at that moment. To provide a deliberately extreme example, if I’m in my back garden weeding, does knowing whether or not cool girls wear bootie slippers change how efficiently I can weed? Keep the rain away a little longer? Or in any way change the task before me? Sometimes, defining a boundary and traits will matter, but not always.
In fact, the question provides a useful guide to any interaction. Considering protesting the presence of left-handed people in public bathrooms? Why does it matter? Don’t want to make a cake that supports a particular football team? Why does it matter?
Ironically, one of the definitions of a cool girl might reveal why people think these things matter even when they don’t: a cool girl is apparently one who doesn’t care what other people think of her. Or, to reframe, people’s sense of worth can sometimes depend on whether one is high or low in a pecking order. Thus, people who don’t feel validated by their own achievements might seek to either define themselves as part of a higher-status group as “proof” they are worthy or alternatively define themselves as not part of a lower-status group. For example, white males are told – by Western Society – that they are the alphas, so a white male who is poor can feel low on the pecking order; but at least they aren’t black/gay/&c. so aren’t at the bottom.
No doubt there are people who have other reasons to hate or fear one of the groups into which humanity is sometimes divided, but a chunk of prejudices come from no better place than if the group wasn’t defined in a certain way, we’d be ordinary.