1. First, I am not a “college girl.” I am a male college student who spends an inordinate amount of Facebook time clicking on links to articles advising women on how to navigate their college years.
If I’ve learned one thing from this dubious habit, it’s that no list presuming to speak to all members of a demographic as expansive as college-age women (including this one) will succeed in doing so.
2. If you find that you’re doing all the work and he still isn’t giving you the time of day, he isn’t worth your time. Neither are articles that assume you have a “he” in your life. Maybe you’re happily single. Maybe you’re a lesbian. Maybe you’re a happily single lesbian. Maybe you’re pursuing an education and don’t need the added baggage of being pandered to by some blog post that presents a problematic male partner as a prerequisite to your degree.
3. Many articles advising women are written by bitter college-age men with Pygmalion complexes who use normative statements to define their ideal woman while shaming women who do not meet their standards. Watch for finger-wagging about “loud” or “slutty” women who like to dress comfortably.
4. A lot of these articles have remarkably little to say about classes, majors, assignments, professors. Y’know, college stuff. (Remember to exfoliate.)
5. Some articles will urge you to go to church, because apparently every collegiate woman is either an active churchgoer or a lost sheep in need of wrangling.
6. Few articles about college men, or college students in general, will spend as many bullet points on etiquette or personal hygiene as articles specifically addressed to women.
7. This is by no means limited to lists about college women. The blogosphere abounds with articles on why every straight man needs a gay best friend, what every millennial should know, what every woman with Chinese characters tattooed on her shoulder should stop doing. In their desperation to relate to huge swaths of the population, articles such as these end up being reductive and confusing.
Are these really the tips all undergrad women are hungry for? I can’t answer that, and I believe each undergrad woman would answer it differently.
How she conducts herself in college, whether she joins a sorority or gets married as a freshman or washes her hair before class or majors in (gasp!) liberal arts, is her own prerogative. In the world of internet self-help, one-size-fits-all is a principle that makes everyone look bad.
Attempting to address all people, when the content of the article seems derived mostly from personal experience, is a cheap gimmick. It’s okay to write from personal experience. It’s okay to write something to which many readers cannot relate. I believe that bloggers should get more comfortable using “I” without attempting to lump everyone else in with them.
Charles McCrory is a junior English major from Florence.