When I was in high school, one of my best friends was a very intelligent girl named Lynn. She and I were both good students, usually earning good grades and scoring near the top of our class in standardized testing. Though I dressed up for school and had long hair, the jock-type boys made fun of me whenever I blipped across their radar for being verbally praised by a teacher (otherwise, being at best an average-looking girl, they never paid me any mind), and they called Lynn and me “lesbians”. I was mortified and grossed out by that (this was before being gay was Super Cool) and totally baffled as to why being a smart girl equaled being a lesbian in their eyes.
Lynn got married within six months of graduating high school (and she’s still married to the same man today), but I went away to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, where I made fast friends with a girl named Hollie who also grew up in a small town in Michigan. We had an especially bonding moment one evening when I told her how humiliating it had been in high school to have boys call me a lesbian, and she told me she had experienced the exact same thing! Hollie was petite and cute as a button, with waist length hair, but she had been a straight A student in a small town and was called a slut and a lesbian even though she never dated anyone. Maybe this was a rural school thing and it was different in the big cities.
When Lynn and I were juniors in high school, we got jobs at a fast food restaurant together. The boys who worked there went to different high schools than we did, and Lynn and I saw this as a fresh opportunity to make some other kind of impression besides “smart lesbian”, an automatic disqualification for any romantic possibilities. So we decided to act dizzy – that’s what it was called back then when a girl acted sort of silly and dumb and helpless around boys. I don’t think the word dizzy is used that way now, but I’m not sure. However, I can tell you that the boys loved it when we acted dizzy. They delighted in correcting our “stupidity” and telling us what to do and laughing at our airheadedness. Lynn was quite pretty and scored herself a boyfriend via this method almost immediately and then dropped the act. It makes me smile now at the memory of how fun it was as a teenager to act dizzy and have boys treat us with playful condescension.
I suspect that the boys didn’t actually want dumb girlfriends, but I don’t know for sure. I think girls and boys do a lot of playacting at that age, trying out various behaviors to see how the opposite sex reacts. But is this still the case today, or do boys like girls who act smart and competitive now? I know this is the sort of story that drives feminists into a rage but I have to say that other than the embarrassment of being called a lesbian back then, it didn’t make me angry (and still doesn’t) that, all other things being equal, the boys preferred dizzy over brainy (at least initially), but it does make me curious.
I do not advise modern girls to act dizzy around young men. But then again, modern girls sometimes make a rather big deal about beating boys – whether it is with academics or in other arenas – and I am not sure how modern young men really feel about girls who act like that. I do think it is feminist influence that causes girls to measure themselves against boys and make such a big deal of it when they beat them. I suppose the best bet is to be a good student while being quiet and modest about it.