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How to weaponise gender stereotypes without perpetrating misogyny

As a good feminist, you know that gender stereotypes are the worst. At some point we’ve all been pigeonholed into reductive and even harmful ideas about femininity, which are often designed to belittle women and rob them of their sexual or intellectual agency. ‘Just to warn you, girls tend to get obsessed with me’, says the weird bloke from your Econ lecture who you got with once in a sticky, carpeted club. You can’t remember much of the night, but somewhere between your sixth tequila shot and waking up next to the shitter, you must have done something that said, “Guy who eats sliced ham with his fists, you’re The One for me”. And guess what, that thing was having a vagina.

But ladies, here’s the good news! Read on for tips on how you, too, can use gender stereotypes to manipulate and undermine the opposite sex, but while sidestepping the softcore misogyny which they typically perpetrate. Don’t let boys put you in a box – put yourself in a box before they get the chance to, because, as we know, feminism is all about redeploying sexist clichés to use as weapons against men.

Downplay your intelligence and achievements

Was it Kant or Jordan Peterson who called women ‘the dumber sex’? For centuries the fact that women on average have smaller brains than men was used as ‘evidence’ for intellectual inferiority. And today, we’re somehow still grappling with the hangover from this historic misconception. Not only are women less likely to be hired for jobs seen as ‘intellectual’, but they’re also 327% more at risk of being called a ‘stupid slut’ by men who smoke American Spirit rollies and sleep on a mattress in their parents’ basement.

But fret not! By pandering to the ‘stupid woman’ stereotype, you can lull him into a false sense of superiority. This will both disarm him and make him like you more, because men love women who don’t threaten the fragile male ego. Under no circumstances suggest you’ve ever been responsible for your own success. Instead, take feminine modesty one step further by completely discrediting your achievements. Phrases like ‘anyone could have done it’, ‘I don’t know why they chose me’, and ‘it really wasn’t a big deal’ will usually do the trick. And when he mansplains your own job to you, praise him profusely — how clever of him to see that your career makes you just another cog in the soulless machine of late capitalism. What a silly woman you are.

Exaggerate how much of a hot mess you are

Men love a hot mess, because, well, it’s hot. Nothing strikes the balance between lovable and fuckable like being a self-destructive trainwreck, unless of course it in any way affects your physical appearance. As we learned from Britney circa 2007, the spectacle of the hot mess is only attractive insofar as it conforms to the ideals of the male gaze, so letting your unhealed trauma diminish your physical desirability is a big no-no.

By exaggerating how ill-equipped you are to deal with your problems, you can activate the male saviour complex. This will make him want you more, because he’ll learn to associate you with the God-like validation he gets from saving you from yourself. You’re the damsel in distress, and he’s the Nice Guy who’ll rescue you from your dark and broken past. You might have to put up with the odd pop psychology diagnosis, but who doesn’t like being defined by half-baked and over-simplistic ideas about feminine instability. Do you like older men? Or sexual experimentation? Face it babe, you definitely have daddy issues. And your professional ambition? Well, that’s just a way to distract yourself from your desperate loneliness and historic maltreatment by other men. But don’t worry, this one will fix all of your problems, and together you’ll ride off into the cheerless sunset of lowkey-abusive mind games and codependency.

Be a psycho, but not too much of a psycho

The association between emotional volatility and female sexuality goes back a long way. From antiquity onwards, women who displayed ‘symptoms’ like anxiety, fits of rage, and ‘immodest’ sexual appetite were often diagnosed with hysteria, an alleged medical condition which is now understood to be complete bullshit. But the idea that so-called ‘crazy’ women are better in bed is still a common one, and can be an effective way to make yourself irresistible to the opposite sex. As Donald Trump said while talking about a then-teenage Lindsay Lohan, ‘How come the deeply troubled women’ are ‘always the best in bed?’.

Start by emphasising your everyday quirks, but then ramp them up until they become full-blown neuroses. This will make you seem what Bro Bible calls ‘an absolute nut’, whose emotional instability obviously means you aren’t ‘sexually restricted by things like morality, sanity, and a sense of right and wrong’. ‘I don’t care what turns you on’, says Bro Bible, ‘that bag of mixed nuts she calls a brain will agree to it’. So girls, if you can sometimes be a bit chaotic and unpredictable, step it up a notch by screaming intermittently or breaking things for no reason. Or if you like cleaning, try scrubbing your skin with a brillopad until you squeak like a nice clean stovetop. All of these things will subliminally let him know that you’re a mindblowing shag, and will be sure to set you apart from all the other ‘normal’ girls.

But be careful, because the balance between sexy-psycho and just-plain-psycho is a delicate one. So make sure you never, ever text him first, as this is a sure-fire way to label yourself as the latter. Instead, completely ignore him, but clear your entire diary just incase he decides that he wants to see you at the last minute. And when he texts you — because he absolutely will text you — say you’ve been busy doing sexy leisure activities like flexibility training and lingerie shopping.

Remember ladies, the hallmark of a healthy relationship is psychological one-upmanship , so it’s up to you to make sure you’re on the right side of it.

By Izzie Suckling

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