You are Not a Novelty, Nor Should You Aspire to Be One

What’s a novelty girl? A novelty girl is a girl who proclaims–loudly and often–that she enjoys doing cool stuff. Cool, DUDE stuff. It can be gaming, it can be hunting, it can be collecting comic books, it can be all manner of things, so long as those things are mostly thought of–rightly or wrongly (usually wrongly)– as “dudely” activities.

Why do novelty girls do this? Attention. It’s a way of saying, “Hey, I’m cool. I’m not like those other girls. Who are lame. And don’t do dudely stuff.” It’s a way of getting validation from men. It’s lame.

Why am I writing about this? Well, I watch MSNBC’s “The Cycle.” And my husband happened to notice that one of the hosts, spectacularly annoying ginger, Sippy Cupp, likes to mention that she hunts. But she only mentions this on days that end with “day,” so perhaps I’m being too hard on her.

I noticed  that this was supposed to be a big part of Sarah Palin’s appeal, too. The message seemed to be “Hey, I hunt! I do macho guy stuff. And I’m HOT!!! Also. Too.”

My beef with novelty girling came to a head for me when I was lurking at blog recently and one of the authors mentioned that she was not big into weddings (dreaming of, planning for and such) and that she liked Mystery Science Theater 3000 (“MST3K” for you ultra-hip people who are that into a show that went off the air over a decade ago) a whole lot. This, she reckoned, made her kinda different from most women. This assumption rankled.

Fuck, you like MST3K? Golly gee, you must be the only woman in creation who likes it. Except for, you know, me, a woman who is completely obsessed with it. Who has an MST3K bumper sticker on her car. Who has Rifftrax movies on her desktop. And guess what: WE ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES! At least, that’s certainly my assumption.

As for weddings, I never gave a shit about them. If I dreamed of anything wedding-related as an adolescent, it was a relationship it celebrated–the companionship and romance I thought would come along with an adult “twue wuv” relationship– that captured my imagination. So that’s area number two where the author is not an island. And, frankly, I’m more concerned about this wedding business assumption than I am the MST3K fandom assumption. I imagine there are lots of girls out there who have pretty neat things on their minds, besides weddings.

I guess I am just troubled by a few of the things novelty girling accomplishes:

  1. It assumes that women do not do “dudely” things. Rest assured that if there is a hobby/pastime that is still dudely, there are women out there who are getting into it. Bank on that.
  2. It assumes that the things that prototypcially “girly” are not neat. Bullshit. Lot’s of girly stuff is neat and fun. Not to mention healthy and creative. Say what you will about crafting and scrapbooking, but at least those are egalitarian art forms that allow everyone to get creative. I, for one, think that’s cool as shit.
  3. It is a technique meant to get attention and validation from men. Unless you are a child, you probably should be looking for attention and validation in more healthy ways. Like using your blog to demand people compliment your art.
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17 thoughts on “You are Not a Novelty, Nor Should You Aspire to Be One

  1. oho! finally…the annoyance i have always felt with these women is named! i grew up with three brothers and numerous male cousins…not to mention that my dad owned and operated several grocery stores…which had a lot of stock boys and such…so, yeah, i like to do guy things…but i also like to do girl things…guess what? it’s not that rare! as far as weddings? meh…hubbkf and i got married one sunday after church…we lucked out and it was daffodil sunday, so we didn’t even have to think about flowers…indeed, there are much more fun things to think about and plan than how you can be a princess for a day…

    the son has a girlfriend who hubbkf and i adore…she hunts and fishes (even cleans and fillets the fishies herself) which endears her to hubbkf (especially when the fish is a gift to him), she is fucking hilarious and smart (i fell in love with her immediately upon viewing mst3k with her (eegah!)…the next time i logged onto facebook, she had posted ‘sorry about my face!’ on my wall…i had to shake my head because i was going to do the exact same thing to her…anyway, she’s awesomely cool, as apparently am i…

  2. Ai yi yi, did you see that awful Cupp person (Hair color not known to nature, by the way.) responding to Bob Costas’s gun thing this p.m.? Will be posting it soon. OK, eventually.

  3. I never get the distinction between “Chick Things” and “D00d Things”. I like to fight and I like to cook. I like to teach little girls how to be tough (for the past three weeks, our Saturday classes have been 6-7 year old girls and 8-9 year old girls).

    As far as Sippy Cupp is concerned, she perfectly encapsulates the distinction between “good looking” and “attractive”. I find her good-looking but singularly unattractive. “Not a gator” put it best by describing her as “smexxxxy™”. Also, George Tierney of Greenville, South Carolina is an asshole.

  4. I think I’ve fallen out of love with MST3K. Maybe it’s learning that Michael J. Nelson isn’t just a conservative, hes’ the kind of conservative who thinks Hugh Hewitt has valuable things to say, maybe I’m all snarked out, maybe it’s the fact that it’s been so assimilated by the culture, but I tried watching some episodes on Netflix, watching it for the first time in years, and (Bruce McCulloch voice) I feel NOTHING!

  5. Pingback: THIS. THIS is what I mean. « Super Karate Monkey Death Car

  6. Nice! I followed the link you left at Pandagon to get here, btw.

    I definitely remember noticing as a little girl how there was this huge chunk of children’s literature where the main character is a girl who has a huge uncontrollable mass of curly red hair, is a tomboy, hates girl things, and is the only worthwhile female character in the entire book. And I noticed that she’s supposed to be great because she’s a tomboy, and also that all the other girlier girls were supposed to be horrible simpering nothing characters, even though they never seemed to actually do anything that I found all that objectionable.

    I guess this genre was written to make tomboy girls feel better about themselves, but what happened instead was that I went through a short phase when I was maybe 7 where I was really concerned that my hair was easy to control and pretty unremarkable, that I was friends with other girls and I liked my mom, and that the pursuits I noticed boys socially reserving for themselves seemed genuinely unappealing. I was really concerned that it meant I would grow up to not matter and that I was a waste of time.

    I grew out of it pretty quickly but the pressure to be either a princess or a “novelty girl” was kind of hard to shake.

    • I haven’t seen “Brave” yet. Please tell me it’s not like this.

      Garsh, this all brings up my experience of feeling preeningly proud when I was young and boys would say I ran fast “for a girl.”

      Your story really touches me and I have a feeling a lot of young women may be where you were: caught between wanting to be free–truly free–to pursue any dream or career or hobby without worrying whether it’s prototypically feminine/masculine/cool/uncool/revered/undervalued etc. I think we can do a lot to change this sort of thing by not assuming that many “girl” things are frivolous, stupid or unchallenging.

      • I don’t think Brave is like this… the main character fits that tomboy description to a t, but she has to learn from the wisdom of her very feminine, traditional mother in order to save the day. By the end of the movie, it is portrayed that they are two headstrong women with very different ways of seeing the world who love each other, not that Merrida is right and her mother is wrong.

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