Monday, April 20, 2009

Stupidity: the new little black dress?

So I’m sitting in the library, talking Muse and Mormonism with my friend Chris, when in walks a sorority debutant princess and her friend the frat boy. They seem to be headed my direction, and I know immediately what they want: laptops. (The guy has been in before and wants nothing to do with books, research or the like, and the girl is giggling so manically that I’m pretty sure reading is not yet a skill she’s mastered.) So I begrudgingly withdraw from my conversation and smile politely-if-not-warmly at them. And the girl, idly twisting her meticulously straightened hair through her recently manicured fingers, opens her eyes scary-wide and says to Frat Boy Friend (even though I’m sitting RIGHT THERE),

“Omigaw, wait…I dunno what to do.”

“What?” he says, confused. I’m confused too. All she needs to do is ask me for a laptop…there’s not a secret handshake or anything.

“I dunno what to do; I’ve never done this before. Do I just, like….ask for one?”

(Sweet mother of God.)

Frat Boy Friend laughs, and says “yeah, you just ask.” And Sorority Sister giggles, and asks me sweetly if she can um, have a laptop maybe? Please?

So I give her a laptop (and one of my token “oh child I pity you” looks), and send her on her way. And as she turns her doe-like expression back to Frat Boy Friend, I hear her say, “So wait, can you help me? Cuz I dunno how to get on D2L."

Let me explain something to those of you not in the know. D2L is OU’s website for All Things School: grades, assignments, syllabi, announcements, course requirements…if you want to have the slightest prayer of passing a class, you have to use D2L. So when I hear Sorority Sister say she doesn’t know how to get on it, I’m understandably taken aback.

Then Frat Boy Friend, who is smiling at her like one might a slightly retarded puppy, says, “but you’re a senior. How can you not know how to get on D2L?”

She giggles and giggles (and giggles), and I ogle them both in sheer wonderment of how she could possibly be a SENIOR without ever having used D2L. How is it feasible? How can this be? And then, as she bats her pretty eyelashes and makes her way across the library with Frat Boy Friend, it hits me:

She’s faking it.

No one is that stupid, and no one could pass 3.5 years at OU without using D2L. It just can’t be done. A few minutes later she waltzed up to me (alone this time) and asked with confidence and far less sweetness to use the Marketer’s Guide to Media. And as I handed her the book she looked at me intensely, not a glimmer of the Dumb Donna left in her eyes, and said “will the ID I gave you for the laptop suffice for this too?” !!! She was faking it! This was a smart girl, playing the part of Stupid Sorority Sister.

But why?

When I was 19 I brought home my latest Epic Fail in dating: an ex-crackhead with a taste for speeding tickets and marijuana (though I didn’t know that at the time). Despite his questionable past and his even more questionable upbringing (his father used to fight pit bulls…oh PS, that’s a FELONY), my biggest concern about introducing him to my family was this:

He was not the sharpest crayon in the box.

At one point during the evening he managed to interject “I got a 20 on the ACT” into our dinner conversation. My highly achieved parents and my 34-ACT-sister kindly showed no reaction, but I was simply mortified. I remember blurting out “I thought you got a 22!” (yes…because that’ll make it better), and my ex-crackhead boyfriend just laughed and said maybe, but that he didn’t remember.

Didn’t remember…and didn’t care.

That’s when I knew I had to break up with him. Not when he got his 17th speeding ticket (but it was the police’s fault, you know…the bastards) or when he made me pay EVERY TIME we went out or when he smelled suspiciously of pot and refused to let me see in a certain closet of his house…when he said carelessly that he got a 20 on the ACT, I knew we were through.

And here, finally, is my point: stupidity is not an attractive quality to me. In fact, it’s a deal-breaker. So why then was this girl so carefully portraying a dumb blond persona, seemingly to attract a mate?

In this world of Equality Now and women’s rights and female presidential candidates, I always assumed girls no longer felt the need to be vacuous of brain function. I was raised believing I had the ability (and the responsibility) to do whatever I wanted in life, and it never crossed my mind that others might think intelligence was less than virtuous when paired with tatas and vajayjays. But now, after a year in Sorority Debutant Princess Land, I’m starting to wonder if we’ve come a long way, baby, after all.

Every single day I encounter beautiful girls with vacant expressions. I kid you not, Stepford Wives could’ve been filmed on campus corner. These chicks have perfect hair, perfect clothes, perfect teeth, and men on their arms; the only thing missing is the ability to add 2 and 2. And as I near my master’s degree and witness the increasingly small pool of People Like Me, I can’t help but wonder if the two aren’t intrinsically related. And if this is true…if getting smarter means distancing ourselves from companionship and romance and happily ever after…is it all really worth it?

Female intelligence: friend or foe?

For better or worse I think it’s too late for me to reconsider life as a Valley Girl. I’ve been in school too long and know too many big words to ever pass as a harmless Southern Belle, and with my proficiency for sarcastic wit few would believe I’m a damsel who needs a Big Strong Man to show me how to check out a laptop. That’s not to say I’m brilliant; the past two weeks I lived woefully without television simply because my cable box was turned off. That a genius does not make. But I can’t play stupid. I can’t toss my hair and smack my gum to make a man want to take care of me…and I don’t think I should have to.

Maybe it’s because I’m in the Bible belt. Maybe Oklahoma is still so ass-backwards that we need our men to be men and our women to be non-threatening, and maybe I’ll just have to deal with it until I can move away from the Land of the Lobotomies. But until then I have to stand for what I believe in, and I believe in girls who can cross the street in their Dior pumps alone.

So to my fellow females I make this plea: never hide your Smart Lamp under a bushel. Never feel embarrassed for having a brain, and never believe intelligence to be a masculine trait. I promise you it’s not (as evidenced by my aforementioned former boyfriend). If a man is threatened by your intellect, then he’s not a man worth having. You can do better (and probably smarter) than that, so just give him your copy of the Wall Street Journal and move along.

And to you men out there: I challenge you to value women who can read and write and do ‘rithmetic (or at least 2 out of 3, as we writers don’t do math). I challenge you to seek smarts and not to be intimidated by girls who know their sh*t. I challenge you to be MEN and to suck it up and stop being scurred by women of substance. I challenge you, kind sirs, to grow a pair.

Girls are smart. Boys are smart. It’s all relative, and it’s all irrelevant. What matters is what we value in each other, so we need to up and realize that intelligence is redeeming for all.

But alas I’m in the Sooner State, where a smart woman is still just as terrifying as a gay minister or black president. So until I escape (or until Oklahoma yanks itself out of the Dark Ages), I suppose I’ll go it alone.

For they say no man is an island…but the good Lord knows I ain’t no man.

Much love.


  1. Another homerun, Frankie! I love your ability to weave personal narrative and commentary. J'adore!

  2. I'm afraid just leaving the state may not help you overcome this particular phenomenon. My brilliant wife read me a report on a research experiment she studied in one of her graduate courses (he says, stabbing at ethos. Did I mention she makes more than me, too?) where they uncovered an innate desire in boys to "one up" others in conversation while girls tended to attempt equilibrium. So it may be that most men are doomed to be scared off by women they perceive as smarter than themselves. So much the worse for them, but I'll happily report the rewards of overcoming this prejudice.

    By the way, you should have come to Chuck Klosterman last week. He killed. Plus, he gave advice to aspiring writers, and his fiancee's a Ph.D. from Cornell or something like that.

  3. It's all Nicklebacks fault. Completely and exclusively to be blamed on Nickleback.

  4. I LOVED THIS! SO TRUE . . . and more importantly so INCREDIBLY well written! Frankie I am so proud to be part of the Triple F'N Alliance with you. I think the three of us can and should take over the world, oh and do it in our Dior pumps, but can I wear the pink pair ;)

  5. OMG, like, can i rent a laptop? how do i do this? i'm not sure how. omigawd. umm, so, it won't let me log in...? umm, so, like, it's still a red dot. uummmm it's still red. still red. ..stiiiill r--oh. it's green. ahee.