Sunday, March 4, 2012

{MY REACTION TO} DATE A GIRL WHO READS

GIRLS

DATE A GIRL WHO READS
Original article by Rosemarie Urquico
(In response to Charles Warnke’s You Should Date an Illiterate Girl)
 
Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve. 
Okay, first things first—I don’t intend to offend anyone who loves the above piece by writing this response. The article’s been popping up more and more frequently on my dashboard and I just can’t help but notice how many people still ignore that Urquico is somewhat poking a hornet’s nest with a stick of her cloyingly sweet, irresistible interpretation of the female bookworm. I think it’s about time I un-zip my mouth about it now, eh? And here’s what I got to say:
  1. There’s no wrong way to be a girl.
  2. Date whoever the heck you want.
I’m a girl who reads. I can’t live without books—I read like I need to breathe! Anyone who’s following me must be aware of that by now. All the same, I value being a woman too; I value being outside any stereotypical cages some people forces us to be in. I value not being underrated because I don’t do this thing that makes others seem cooler or more “special.” While I can really relate to a lot of the descriptions Urquico provided (hello, second paragraph!), I believe she seemed to have painted girls-who-read in an idealized portrait that has, for the most part, misogynistic shades. Am I the only one who noticed it?

I’ve already given my not-so-subtle jab at Urquico’s piece the first time I posted it here: I attached the illustration above, featuring reader girls who are obviously also spending their money on beautiful clothes. See paragraph one (italicized line). There’s nothing wrong with you at all if you like clothes and books. Heck, there’s nothing wrong with you if you like clothes alone or something else instead of anything related to literature! Just because you don’t like books doesn’t mean you’re inferior to those who do. It doesn’t mean you’re not smart, deep, or interesting. It doesn’t mean no one deserves to love or date you. It just means that you have different interests! You are still you; you are still a woman, and there’s no wrong way to be one.

This is not the only article that seems to value a certain “type” of girl by depreciating the others. I remember I stumbling pieces like this, all with the formulaic title “Girls who (insert hobby here).” If you Venn-diagram them all, what you’d see in the center are their subverted competitive natures, their haughty ways of hoisting their own featured girl up on the rung higher than the others so they can be tagged as “better.” Look at it at the right angle, and it would look like a pointless battle between women with superiority complex, writing off other girls who are not as interesting as they are (in consonance with their essays).

Urquico’s is a dichotomy of an article—while it pushes bookworm girls up the pedestal (in a rather unhealthy way), there are also some passages that can be harrowingly patronizing. Not just that, it as well contains suggestions for the message’s recipient that are outright destructive when it comes to a relationship. According to the essay, if a bookworm girl says she understood James Joyce’s Ulysses, she’s just saying that to sound intelligent (because apparently she really can’t understand it and she just needs to show off to you!). According to this, it’s completely acceptable to lie to her (because apparently she will understand why you need to do it, she knows how to figure out the mechanics of your psyche—oh, she learned it from books!). According to this, it’s okay to fail her (because apparently, like her favorite novel, there’s going to be a climax, a resolution, and a sequel that will weave happy-ever-after endings for your life stories!). SMH.

The last sentence says, “Better yet, date a girl who writes.” Oh, would the close-minded Our-Kind-of-Girls-is-More-Desirable stratification never cease? I’m sick of this special-snowflake mentality that seems to run rampantly here on Tumblr. :(

In its own way, the article seems to give permission to whoever its recipient is to do what he wants with the girl, because he deserves to. In effect, the girl becomes a guinea pig swaddled with the almost fantastical vision of an ideal partner. I consider literature as my favorite escapist plane, but I don’t let it become an excuse for other people to treat me like a saint-like, psychological punching bag that begs for their approval. If the bookworm girl you date gets mad if you lie to her or fail her, it doesn’t mean she’s a shallow reader or a poser—it means she’s  a human being. We all are!

The last paragraphs kill me every time I reread them. “Date a girl who reads because you deserve it. You deserve a girl who can give you the most colorful life imaginable…if you want the world and the worlds beyond it, date a girl who reads.”

Tsk. You know what kind of girl can give you “the most colorful life imaginable, the world and the worlds beyond it?” The girl you love. No matter how ordinary she is, no matter how little she knows about literature or photography or baking or sports, no matter how many combinations of Girl Types she may be—if you love her, she’s going to be more than enough. Trust me on this.

Date a girl not because some viral article tells you to. Date her because you want her, because you like her. Date her because you love her.

I’m saying all of this because:

1. I’m a girl who reads.
2. I’m a girl who writes.
3. I’m a girl.

The third one, I believe, is the most important.

10 comments:

  1. Thank you for writing this! It's so nice to read it from a different point of view... And I do agree with you. When I first read this I loved it - except for that part that apparently, it is okay to lie and to fail. And about Ulysses, which I have never read, but would never say I understood unless I do.
    I don't know. I do love this piece, because it, somehow, values reading as more than a hobby, but as a lifestyle. Or something. But you bring out some good points and I will probably never be able to read it the same way again.

    (And I would rather be a reader, or a writer, than a girl. That's not something I've chosen.)

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    1. Thanks! :) I love this too in some ways--and I do believe that anyone who reads is awesome. However, my point here is, the author could have done it in a way that doesn't degrade any other type of girl. Valuing someone by devaluing others is not healthy.

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  2. I wholeheartedly agree with all that you said here. The worst kind of misogyny, I think, is the one committed by other women. It's just so saddenning.

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    1. Indeed. But I don't bash this article! I'm just pointing out the facts the majority of tumblr users that reblogged it seem to have missed. :)

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  3. All my love for this post. You are amazing. I admire how you were not blinded by the fact that this speaks so highly of girl who reads so much! Most bookworm girls will feel smug while reading this, I bet. You are amazing, I repeat!

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    1. Thanks. You're flattering me, haha! :p

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  4. Bravo for your write up! Yeah, there's no wrong way to be a girl, as it is with guys. Be who you want to be and date whoever you live to date.

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  5. Hi, this is a great article and, speaking as a girl who reads literature, loves make up and clothes and watches Star Trek I hate the pettiness of putting people into groups and pretending that one is better than another. Didn't we get over this when we were about 15?
    Anyway, I really want to know who created the above illustration. Thanks.

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  6. Whatever you bring to her, it will be the best way to court a girl by being sincere about your feelings.

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