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“Irregardless, ex-boyfriends are just off limits to friends. I mean that’s just like the rules of feminism.” – Gretchen Wieners, Mean Girls
I’ve never written in to an advice columnist. I’ve never consulted “Abby” or “Sugar” or submitted a moral quandary to The New York Times’ resident ethicist, Chuck Klosterman. In moments of crisis, after all, I’m more likely to rely on my best friends than even the most sagacious of strangers. Will an advice columnist take your desperate phone call at 2:30 AM? Will some professional guru help you craft the perfectly witty reply to a certain someone’s latest text? No. He will not.
Still, there’s no other regular editorial contribution that I anticipate more than E. Jean Carroll’s monthly advice column for Elle. In case you missed it: Carroll has been doling out her spectacularly honest brand of wisdom to the fashion magazine’s most tormented subscribers since 1993.
At this point, I think it’s safe to say I’ve been taking cues from her for over a decade. Mostly, she’s unwittingly advised me on romance, relationships, and general teenage revelry. By way of her lovingly acid tongue, she has also helped me cope with minor heartbreak and major loss. This month, she’s used her very polished platform to publish what I’ve come to accept as a personal system of belief. In Elle’s Upton-fronted September issue, “Ask E. Jean” tackled what she termed “the BLC—Basic Lady Code.”
The result? An ethos so succinct, so straightforward, and so brilliant that it may very well qualify as its own religion. One thing is certain. There would be a lot less bloodshed in the world if we all obeyed it.
Here’s the gist of it (in her own words):
Never hate a woman you’ve never met, never date a friend’s ex, never reveal another female’s secret, never leave an inebriated friend alone at a bar, never invite a friend’s enemy to a party, never dine alone with a friend’s boyfriend (unless it’s his last meal and he’s being shot at dawn).
And here’s her elaboration, or what E. Jean calls “The Advanced Woman Code”:
- Never stay silent when a friend is falling for an asshole.
- Never favorite a best friend’s bon mot. Always retweet it.
- Never trust a girlfriend who dates a married man.
- Never refuse to write a recommendation for the offspring of a friend (no matter how big an idiot the kid is).
- Never steal your friend’s thunder at a dinner party—when she’s on, give her room! Pound the table! Bang your glass with a spoon! Laugh the loudest at her story!
- Never give your friend’s business four stars on Yelp. Always give five.
- Never agree when a friend says she’s flabby, baggy, saggy, lumpy, floppy, veiny, squishy, scrawny, etc., etc. Tell her to shut up. Tell her life is too short. Tell her to eat, drink, and be merry. And finally…
- Never treat other women disrespectfully: It gives men ideas.
Since reading this some weeks ago, I’ve sent it to most of my address book and adopted these bullet points as my official creed. But their spelling out here has me thinking about what I’d add (or—better yet—what you would) to Carroll’s enumerated list. What “lines” would you never cross where your fellow female is concerned? Which have you crossed and regretted? I have good, faithful friends who have violated more than one of E. Jean’s edicts. I still trust them. Would you? Where your own confidantes are concerned, do you forgive the occasional stray from The Code and continue to trust?
Finally, in the immortal worlds of Gretchen Wieners, do “the rules of feminism” dictate that we abide by “Girl Code” or is adhering to some gender-qualified set of ethics yet another step backward for the independent, modern woman? (For the record, I don’t think so.)
But you know the drill. Let’s talk about it.