So you’ve realized you have a bad case of Cool Girl and you know it’s a problem. Good for you; admitting you have a problem is the first step, right? Now to figure out how to go about doing the work of dismantling the patriarchy in your mind (so you can go on to work to dismantle it in the world outside).
Step 1: Stop reading men. Also stop reading white feminists.
The first part should be fairly obvious — set aside your Game of Thrones, your Dresden Files, your Jonathan Franzen and your Dave Eggers. Don’t worry, you can come back to it later when your detox is done (but you probably won’t want to). But you also really need to set aside ‘Lean In’ and all its ilk — it reflects such a narrow band of feminism and femininity that it’s just another iteration of Cool Girl with a feminist label.
People like Meghan Murphy and Sheryl Sandburg want you to be cool enough to say you’re a feminist without doing any of the pesky work of dismantling white supremacy or interrogating cissexism or asking men to change their behavior. How Cool Girl is that?! Just say no to white feminism.
You were a burgeoning feminist. I mean, you’d always believed in equality of the sexes and were nominally a feminist, but you used to think that it wasn’t such a big deal any more. You were a Strong Woman and men couldn’t tell you what to do and things were mostly equal already, right?
But one too many abuses at the hands of men, one too many instances of realizing that you were keeping silent, one too many times telling yourself “well, it’s just that one guy”, when it all kept happening over and over and you started to realize: you still need feminism. So you started reading and learning and understanding about privilege and marginalization and intersectionality. And you came to the conclusion that the way to avoid those abuses, at least in a romantic relationship, was to date a Good Feminist ™.
Good Feminist ™
You were a little doubtful that they existed but you knew you couldn’t date anyone who wouldn’t treat you as an equal. You told yourself you’d rather be alone than do that again. So you waited and you watched and you dated a few guys but none of them were him.
Then you met him and it seemed like a dream come true. You’d talk media and analyze how men and women were treated differently, and you talked together about how things could and should be better and he was sympathetic. You talked about work and hobbies and how hard it was to be in video games or comic books or any other nerd interest and deal with harassment and being doubted. He told you, proudly, about how all of his exes had learned to raise their standards after dating him, how he’d taught all these women to look for the Good Feminist ™.