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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Minnikin

It's lonely being a good girl

81% of women say they feel lonely and disconnected even when surrounded by others, according to the latest data from my Good Girl Quiz respondents of which there are now more than 1,300.

How do you feel? Would you agree that you feel lonely and disconnected even when surrounded by others?

So, what’s it all about then? There are a few obvious things that spring to mind:

  1. Work and family structures mean women are still the primary care givers, but they’re often also employed, having two full-time jobs for example doesn’t tend to allow for much socialising and making meaningful connections!

  2. Social conditioning around femininity, caregiving, and emotional labour often sees women prioritising the needs of others over their own (of the Good Girl Quizzers 85% agree they do this) or to conform to certain social roles, which can impact our sense of fulfilment and connection.

  3. Comparison and competition that social media can often exacerbate is associated with increased feelings of loneliness and social isolation, with more and more time spent online it’s easy to see how we can start to feel as though we aren’t keeping up with others, we aren’t as happy, as beautiful or as successful as those in our timelines. Pitting us against other women and building resentments.

It's coercive control, of course

What links all these together? The coercive control techniques that are used to keep women ‘behaving.’

I know, I know, “you see coercive control everywhere, Michelle.” And you might be right, I can’t even watch Love Actually anymore.

Women are lonely because it suits the ‘programme’ for women to be lonely.

If you’re lonely, you don’t talk to others, you don’t have your experiences validated, you don’t find connection in shared experiences.

If you’re isolated from others, it’s much easier for you to believe your situation is the norm, that there’s nothing better out there, that you just need to be grateful for what you’ve got.

If your professional life or your home life requires you to work so much, to take on the emotional labour or the mental load, you’ll very likely be too exhausted to notice that you’ve lost your sense of self, fallen into a stereotypical gender role, or even stopped noticing your own needs.

Isolated women are compliant women

Isolation is the first rung in Biderman’s Tools of Coercion ladder. The first step to controlling a person is to build trust and then cut them off from everything that encourages free or critical thinking.

No single person is doing this to women, it’s the insidious nature of coercive control that it goes unnoticed and yet embedded (like a tapeworm!) in the messages women receive from society. From unrealistic beauty standards to contradictory expectations, women are constantly bombarded with messages that dictate how they should behave, think, and feel.

As the Barbie movie eloquently puts it, women are expected to be everything and nothing simultaneously, a daunting and impossible task.

“You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can't ask for money because that's crass. You have to be a boss, but you can't be mean. You have to lead, but you can't squash other people's ideas. You're supposed to love being a mother, but don't talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman but also always be looking out for other people.
You have to answer for men's bad behaviour, which is insane, but if you point that out, you're accused of complaining. You're supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you're supposed to be a part of the sisterhood.
But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful.
You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It's too hard! It's too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.”

Women must be everything, and nothing. We must play the very specific role assigned to us or risk being ostracised.

It's time to ruffle some feathers

But the truth is, when you stop being afraid to break away from the norm, and trust that to live the life you want, you might have to risk ruffling a few feathers, you find a whole community of women who’ve made that same leap.

Breaking away from societal norms and embracing our authentic self can lead to a newfound sense of connection and community. By challenging the status quo and rejecting the pressures of coercive control, we can reclaim our agency and forge meaningful connections with like-minded rebel women!

And so, it turns out, everything you were afraid of doing could bring you exactly what you’ve been looking for.

If you're feeling lonely this Valentine's Day or any day, I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone! There's a whole community of rebels out there, ready to welcome you.

Whether it's joining the Rebellion Gang, popping in on our social media channels, or exploring the pages of the Good Girl Deprogramming book, there are resources and communities available to help you on your journey toward empowerment and connection.

There’s free advice too, if you take the Good Girl Quiz, which is a great place to start!




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