“Girl Code” refers to the list of guidelines surrounding platonic female relationships in an everyday environment. This unspoken set of mores enables women to interact with each other and work through discrepancies.
“Bro Code,” though similarly intended, is a very different set of rules. In Tech’s testosterone-filled environment, many men have trouble understanding why women choose to behave the way that they do.
“I think men just have trouble understanding women in general,” said second-year BA major Meredith Christianson. “When you tell them to understand [girls] interacting with each other, they just can’t grasp the concept.”
“I don’t think that boys fully understand that women’s emotions are different than theirs,” remarked fourth-year BA major Maggie Ginn. “[Men] expect women to react or think of something the way that [men] do, whereas women have a completely different way of thinking and understanding and reacting.”
Exes: Ex-boyfriend protocol is one of the more confusing subjects of Girl Code. Is dating your friends’ ‘leftovers’ such a bad thing? At which point is it acceptable to turn your friend’s past fling into a new boo?
“It depends on the person—you have to be emotionally ready for someone else to be dating,” Christianson said. “If it’s your best friend’s ex, it’s kind of a bad move to date them because you never really get over that situation. Guys will come and go, but you will never regain that friendship.”
Ginn believes that the situation is very delicate, and that many external factors are involved.
“If one of your friends has broken up with a boy, he’s pretty much off-limits to all the other friends,” Ginn said. “You can say hey to him walking to class, but it wouldn’t be appropriate to hang out with him one-on-one.”
Restrooms: Washroom etiquette often includes multiple girls taking a group trip to the bathroom. This confuses some males, since they typically go alone.
For women, excessive communication including the recounting of recent developments, accompanied by the intermittent mirror-check, typically occur during this outing.
Leaving to use the restroom in groups is not typically a premeditated event.
“It’s just how it’s always been done,” Ginn explained. “It’s a fun time to talk. If you’re on a double date, you can fill each other in on how it’s going so the other girl isn’t left stranded with the boys.”
Partying: Partying is typical of a college environment, and “Girl Code” defines the way girls are expected to conduct themselves. When friends get sloppy, it is important to know how to handle the situation.
Christianson explains that it is important not to act like their mother, but “if they’re making fools of themselves, you’re supposed to step in politely.”
“Get [to the party] in time to meet everyone, and always arrive with at least a couple of friends,” Christianson said.
Money: Traditional gender roles have been known to dictate who pays for events and outings, but is there a point at which allowing a boy to pay for everything is passé?
“When he’s actually taking me out on a date, he’ll pay for it,” Christianson states, but “if it’s just going to grab dinner on a Wednesday night, we’ll pay separately.”
Ginn disagrees and believes that boys should always pay.
“I may be old-fashioned, but if it’s a dating relationship, the boy should always pay unless it’s predetermined that the girl is taking the boy out for something. If you’re just friends it’s different,” she said.
Clothes: Women tend to hold personal taste and fashion sense in high esteem, and find it important to establish their own style.
Sometimes at parties, others will have similar clothing, and it’s funny to remark “oh, look we’re wearing the same outfit,” Christianson said. She believes that there is only a problem if someone purposefully copies an outfit.
Often, girls share closets. Meredith and her friends have a strict rule, “you can borrow [clothes] if you don’t mess them up, but if you mess up [clothes] you replace them.”
Fighting: Females handle conflict differently than males do because biologically women and men are different.
Women release higher levels of oxytocin that changes the female stress response and makes them more likely to confront their problems head-on instead of letting them fester and taking them out through outbursts of excessive anger or physical violence—actions sometimes brought on in men by different hormones, namely testosterone.
The way that women deal with conflict between close friends is typically straightforward, and is addressed quickly following the altercation.
“I don’t like to yell about things,” Christianson said. “I prefer to confront the situation instead of yelling and being passive aggressive. I like to go one-on-one instead of behind people’s backs.”
When Ginn needs time to cool off, she says it is typical to discuss the situation with other friends.
“Girls really like to talk things out with everyone, and they release a lot of emotion by talking through situations with other people,” Ginn said.
Compliments: Many men have complained about women’s incapability of graciously accepting a compliment. Only four percent of women in the world today see themselves as truly beautiful, so it makes since that 96 percent of women can sometimes behave like their own worst critic.
“It’s a psychological thing,” Christianson said. “It’s an inner feeling you have, instead of wanting validation from others.”
Women are also very quick to complement other women. As a part of “Girl Code,” the exchange of compliments usually yields a conversation. This usually occurs because it gives women something to talk about.
“It depends on the situation and whom you’re complimenting. It’s usually because they’re cool people,” Christianson said.
Frenemies: A “frenemie” is someone who a girl would like to befriend, but is impossible to communicate with sans conflict. “Girl Code” dictates proper etiquette towards frenemies, including treating them with general respect and politeness.
Ginn admits that it’s best to avoid the drama.
“I’d rather get away from it,” she said.
Pictures: Women have been known to either love or hate having their picture taken—rarely are girls impartial to photo sessions.
“If [there are] no pictures, it didn’t happen,” Christianson said. But she admits that “there are times when you don’t need to be documenting stuff.”
[Editor’s Note: This article represents the perspective of two female Tech students. Want to contribute your own views on the concept of the “Girl Code?” Submit a letter to the editor.]