“Women fear epithets because they are warnings, threats, proof that a woman has made a wrong step in her relationship to the world around her, proof that a man or men have noticed her and are angry.”—Right Wing Woman, Andrea Dworkin
Not all epithets are created equal. Some epithets are more interesting in their nature than others. For instance, ‘party girl’, in my opinion, is one that does not necessarily sound angry but it has the quality to fit the role of a blanket which hides the monster underneath its fuzzy friendliness. I’ll give this one to men. It is a careful ploy that sounds like a nice compliment and cannot really offend someone during the initial stages of courtship. However, courtship in this context is not for the purposes of traditional romance but I want to dignify talking stages for our sakes. Need I add that when I call it a compliment, I am not oblivious of its back-handed sneaky slap-to-the-face connotation either? It is almost always strange when this epithet arrives like an airplane landing in the wrong destination. For the most part, I became inure to it but it is about time that we theorize it. Some events which sensitized me to the knowledge of my own dehumanization have stuck with me because they happened with sources from which I least expected them.
We’re standing next to a swing set past midnight, having a normal conversation about life and the pathetic question arrives gently like the breeze of fading winter around us, “So do you like to smoke weed?” I laugh it off. “You are a party girl,” follows a remark. What a stupid thing to say to someone you’re meeting for the first time, I think. I notice the sheepish guilt on the face as a response to my raised brow. I brush it off instead of pushing against it. I am not a cool girl but I can see how the lack of retort makes me look like one. My thought process was that it was not my problem to fix and I was not going to unpack it. I was really not in the mood to give a theory lesson. Maybe this is how men talk, I told myself instead for some thousandth time in life.
I have been hurt by a man and I want the matchmaker to tell me why on Earth did he assume I was Neitzsche’s Uberman and ready to emotionally contend with a man who had been coldly shut-off to human connection because of a failed teenage romance. He says, with an unwavering tone that sounds like he has mastered my quirks, “You’re a strong girl. I never thought you would end up feeling so strongly.” There it goes, thought me. You see a strong girl, you throw her to the lion because, apparently, she wouldn’t mind being chewed on. Who would have thought, right? But men do think like that, evidently.
Titles are not a new phenomenon. There was a time when women were witches, now they are gold diggers, cool girls, manic pixie dream girls, whores, aunties, grandmas and other variations depending on the situation. What all of these titles and epithets share in common is the intention behind them: shame a woman for the kind of choices she is making while exploiting her for the same resources which entail that title. On the topic of epithets, Andrea Dworkin writes in detail in her book Right Wing Woman, “Calling a woman a name temporarily brands her; it molds her social inferiority.” Once branded, twice exploited. Men like handing out titles for free and unprovoked. In my life, I have been handed some myself too. But there was never any which curdled the blood in my veins much as that of being called a ‘party girl’ which is synonymous with its sister-titles i.e. cool girl, strong woman and bold.
I mean, first of all, I have never been to a party and this factual inaccuracy particularly agitates my temporal lobe. In my Instagram DMs, on Twitter, in real life — the labels have been dropped like mail and I ignored them as one does the useless brochures yet they produced a discomfort I could not put my finger on. Second of all, I would not mind going to a party or even the title but I have concluded that the comments from men do not have anything to do with going to one. They are not as innocent and sugary as they sound. It is just another form of letting you know which boundaries they think they can cross with you. Or they imply an assumption that party girls must not have boundaries to begin with. Moreover, I never really thought that these comments had anything to do with me and mostly accredited these remarks to the immature intellectual growth in people until now. Let’s be honest, if you are an adult man and still asking questions like this unironically, you are most probably an incel prying on women for reasons I do not wish to enumerate but we all know them regardless. You don’t want to sound crude or disrespectful right off the beat so you find a subdued way to do it instead.
To Be Continued…