The “good girl” myth


11

Let me start off with a quick story. I wrote this on a particularly hard night, and it is kinda sappy, so forgive me.


For the last time, he waited outside your house. He got tired of knocking. When he finally left, your doorknob was still untouched and all the locks remained bolted. Good girl.

He called you five times, you could’ve picked up, but you didn’t. Good girl.

A few months pass. The night is young and you feel lost, again, in this neon-lit street downtown. You remember the last time you felt lost. He helped you find whatever it is that felt missing. He was always like that, wasn’t he? Tonight, you know he’s a few clicks away, and you know he’ll pick up if you call. You know he’ll say the same things, maybe help you comb through the city to find yourself, like the old times, the good times.

But you kept your phone in your pocket, right? Good girl.

You bump into each other, a year later. He looks smarter. He said you didn’t change. You seem more radiant now. He said he had time for coffee, do you still drink coffee, maybe you could…talk?

You said you were in a hurry, thanks anyway. If your watch could talk it would scream “liar”. You dragged your heart all the way home, promised to never look back; and you didn’t, you didn’t. Good girl.  


Most of the story is true. Fiction fills the gaps I cannot disclose. But I hope you get the gist. That night, I played by all the rules expected of a girl – who promised “never again” after a heart break – and made it. I heard the world applauding my strength, if it was indeed strength. But never have I been more confused by the “good girl” label. What does that even mean?

I did all the right things that night, and the what-ifs dissolved a few days later, but the whole thing surely gave birth to a lot of questions. Gladly, “if you call out for insight and cry aloud for understanding, and if you look for it as for silver and search for it as for hidden treasure, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God.” (Proverbs 2:3-5)

Today, I can conclude that I am not called to be a “good girl”, whatever that means. Hear me out:

We all know a good girl when we see one. And she is commendable, to us. We aspire to be her. But she is hard to profile because each of us have a different set of standards. Our role models look different, don’t they?

A good girl should be quiet. A good girl shouldn’t be afraid to speak her mind. A good girl should dress modestly. A good girl can dress whatever way she wants. A good girl should work on being a good housewife someday. A good girl will work hard to shape her career. A good girl should quietly agree. A good girl will ask questions. A good girl desires to be a mother. A good girl desires marriage. A good girl desires none of that. A good girl—

Behind the tag “good girl” is the bottomless pursuit of pleasing every one. Ah, she’s a good girl. You should be like her. We nod in approval.

In my case, most of the “good girls” look nothing like me and boy has it ever messed up the way I look at myself.

Imagine how confusing it can be for a woman to go through a universal life experience (heartbreak, regret, victory, motherhood, etc) and hear so many voices on how to go about it, how to react, what to say. Everything seems to have a “perfect” response to it, doesn’t it?

Imagine trying to force yourself into a seven billion different molds just to please everybody. Just to hear all of them call you, “good girl”.

Imagine how endlessly confusing it is to strive to be something you are not created to be.

You are not created to be a good girl.

—-

In my bible study group, we’ve been studying Women of the Bible, and I have been thoroughly fascinated. None of them are black and white characters. None of them are spotless. But their names are inked in the Word of God, some of them are even part of the lineage of Jesus.

When you think about it – today – perhaps none of them would fit the good girl mold. Well, definitely not Eve, after that whole fruit fiasco at the garden. Esther is not a candidate for it, either – a jewish girl joining a king’s harem? Questionable. Nor did Rahab. Nor did Ruth. Nor did the woman at the well, the woman with the alabaster jar, Mary (who sat by Jesus’ feet when there were dishes to be done! The horror!), the list goes on.

Praise God they did not live their lives to just be “good girls”.

A particular woman stands out in my mind – Esther. Her actions raise a lot of moral questions. Her book in the Bible definitely was not an easy read. But her strength and courage prevented a genocide. Read with me:

Esther 4:12-16

When Esther’s words were reported to Mordecai,  he sent back this answer: “Do not think that because you are in the king’s house you alone of all the Jews will escape. For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”

 Then Esther sent this reply to Mordecai: “Go, gather together all the Jews who are in Susa, and fast for me. Do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my attendants will fast as you do. When this is done, I will go to the king, even though it is against the law. And if I perish, I perish.”

I am grateful she spoke up, she stood her ground, and fully participated in the role God wrote for her. It was a role, perhaps, a thousand years too early for a woman. What if she listened to her culture? Or her fears? Or their law?

I am not called to be a “good girl” – whatever that means. None of us are, because none of us can be. Besides, Jesus Himself said, “Why do you call me good? … No one is good—except God alone.” (Mark 10:18)

Well, then, this all sounds like a vain pursuit to me.

I will not draw strength from what society expects of my gender. I will not listen to all of the conflicting voices. “Krizia, you should be like this.” “No, try this.” “No, this.”

I am grateful that the world becomes quiet when, just like Mary, I sit at Jesus’ feet.

Women – God is not calling us to be kind-hearted, sober-minded, humble, grateful, passionate, just for us to fit the good-girl mold. He is calling us to these things so that we can go back to the original mold He formed us in – Himself.

Sin has brought us far. Sin has placed a million models in front of our eyes. A crack runs deep through our identity. But because Jesus Himself removed the scales, tore the veil, bridged the gap – we are able to differentiate wheat from chaff. Truth from lies. We can see clearly now.

In these confusing times, let us turn to the Ancient of Days. We can allow the world to dictate us, or we can turn to our Maker and ask Him what we’re supposed to be. I am pleased to inform you that He loves answering His children. 

Let me end with this, “Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:30)

If we strive to be anything at all, let us strive to be His.

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