The day 50-year-old white suburban women started throwing around the phrase “you go girl” was the day that the phrase ran out of cultural gas. (Actually, I’m pretty sure it lost pop culture potency when this company used it to name its odor-zapping toilet conditioner.)
And while the phrase itself has been rendered impotent from ridiculous overuse, there’s a dark side to you-go-girl mentality that could be seriously sabotaging your love life.
What began as a show of female solidarity and empowerment has been hijacked, and is now often a means of applauding dumb decisions. Like these: “I’m going to rock this really ridiculous short skirt to work because I’m a woman and I can do what I want!” Or, “My boss will get the report when I’m good and ready to give it!” Bad, bad idea.
While I can say truthfully that I have never unironically uttered the phrase, I did spend years cultivating a tough, no-nonsense, you-go-girl outer shell that did a fairly good job of shielding me from idiots, but also made me act like a jerk. Why? Because YGG is an excuse. It allows you to avoid accepting accountability or consequences for your actions toward a member of the male species. It falsely encourages behavior that would not be acceptable if the shoe were on the other foot. It’s an attitude adopted less because of what it will do for your life and the people you care about, and more for how much applause it wins from your friends.
Anytime you decide someone else’s feelings are not as important as your own–or worse, pretend that men don’t have feelings or that they simply owe you one based on some past slight or rejection–qualifies as a YGG moment. And it often happens when a group of ladies decide they know better than you. It goes like this: One woman raises a complaint or issue about a dude, and the others pile on. It sounds like this,
“You don’t need that shit.”
“You can do better.”
“Don’t have sex with him for a week and see how he likes it.”
“Don’t call him again.”
You end up a pawn in revenge fantasies by women who would like you to even some imaginary score in their favor. And while seeking sober counsel from a trusted friend will rarely steer you wrong, beware the toxic power of a gaggle of angry girls.
While I don’t suffer fools myself, and I’m not suggesting that anyone else should, living by the YGG bible means that you risk missing out on some deep connections and fulfilling experiences. And you miss out because you’re quick to dismiss, assume, and even cut off a budding connection at the knees because of something your girls wouldn’t agree with. The truth is that while its heart may be in the right place, YGG has come to reinforce these core tenets:
• All men suck.
• All men cheat.
• You don’t need them or want them.
• They’re always going to try to pull one over on you.
• They’re out to use you.
• They’re all guilty until proven innocent.
• Act accordingly.
It’s the worst attitude ever if you’re looking for love, because it sets up a dynamic in which every woman is right, and every dude is wrong. If you successfully rebuff dudes because they’re “all liars and cheats” and if you wear the mask of acting tough and not needing anyone–well, you win, I guess. No guy is ever gonna “take advantage” of you! Of course, what you’ll give up is arguably more substantial, namely a connection—or several connections—with people you can like, and maybe love, learn from, and enjoy.
Look. I’m no angel. I’ve fallen prey to this way of thinking many times. I switched churches on Sundays for a few months in high school so I could stare at the back of Scott Barber’s head once a week. I asked him to my junior prom, and he said yes. Yes! Except I freaked out at the dance and ran off with my friends—none of whom cared one lick about my behavior (okay, except one, and I should have listened). I thought it made me look like hot shit, that I didn’t need anyone, not even the man I brought in. I left him sitting at the table, tossing spitballs into the centerpiece. My inner YGG seemed to think I didn’t owe him anything, even hospitality. It’s not like, I don’t know, he was my GUEST to the fucking prom. #yougohorribledate
Here’s another one I’m not proud of: I met Brendan down the Jersey shore one summer and he came up to Boston to visit me at school in the fall. My you-go-girl friend, who in truth didn’t want me dating anyone because it made me less available to her, told me she didn’t approve. “He’s a bore,” she said. “You can do better than some dude you met in Jersey.” I stopped returning his calls, despite his pleading messages to explain what had happened. #yougofrigidbitch
Try this: The next time you feel your YGG response kicking into gear, stop. Identify what it is that has you worked to a lather. Likely, it’s because you feel rejected in some way—he didn’t text you back, or he did and didn’t say what you wanted him to, or he was late, or canceled altogether. Or maybe he really did flat out reject you, as in, doesn’t want to see you again. (Find out why this isn’t the worst thing in the world.)
Before you assume a talk-to-the-hand approach, recognize that he, like you, is flawed, prey to moods and stress—and that you don’t actually know what is going on with him. So don’t go assuming you do. At the very least, you can bring it up calmly and talk about it the next time you’re together. It’s not being a pushover. It’s called being an adult, rather than a huffy 15-year-old.
Do the following statements sound like you? If you answer yes to most, it’s time to • If a man doesn’t text me back right away, I’m over it. I don’t need to wait around for that shit.
• I won’t date anyone unless he asks me a week in advance.
• I don’t need a man. I don’t need anyone.
• I can flirt with whomever I want. I don’t see a ring on this finger. But if he even so much as looks at another girl, it’s over.
• Sure, I take a little long to get ready. But he’s not allowed to keep me waiting. Ever.
• My friends say I should … (Beware of anything that starts this way.)
A quick test to figure out if you’re relying on YGG tactics to excuse bad behavior:
Ask yourself if your actions, or defense of those actions, would earn a round of high-fives.
If so, do the opposite thing. Polar. Opposite.