I’ve known the unspoken girl code from the time I started understanding the purpose of a hairclip. No, it is not written in the constitution, or in the rule book officially issued by the government. It is a set of rules that every girl knows yet has never read. No one talks about it, because each girl understands the value of the rules as well as the consequences of breaking them. The penalty is not death, but the exile from Girlville that follows seems much more painful than death at the time.
The unspoken girl code has been under debate for many years. Many dismiss it as a childish set of rules, and argue that its basis lies in letting a few so called ‘superior’ girls rule over the rest. I agree. There are quite a few rules that show me sense of why I got so many dirty looks when I was in school. But alas, the rules only stayed till school. However, a few rules that I have actually seen in the world of lipsticks, colour, and grown-up gossip do make sense. They are:
1. Thou shall not choose thy boyfriend over thy friends.
2. Thou shall watch out for each other.
3. Thou shall not spread secrets about thy friends.
4. Thou shall not date thy friend’s ex, neither thy friend’s brother without said friend’s permission.
5. Thou shall give honest advice to thy friend.
6. Thou shall support thy friends.
7. Thou shall not backstab or talk behind thy friend’s back.
8. Thou shalt leave no woman behind.
At first, I laughed a lot at the ridiculous-ness of these rules, but as I started to ponder over them, they made me think that perhaps there was something there to all this gibberish.
The first rule clearly is the first for a reason. The guy code states the same too; except for guys, unlike girls, the guy code is actually very sacred. This rule is ignored by many women. They rotate their whole lives around their boyfriends — their dressing, their studies, their schedule, and when a boyfriend leaves them, they lean on their friend’s shoulder, one they had previously abandoned. It is necessary for girls to at least spend some time with their friends rather than constantly jabber away on their cell phones with their boyfriends. If you don’t give your friends the time and attention they deserve, chances are you will end up either distancing them or losing them altogether.
The second rule is short and sweet. If someone insults your friend, it is your duty to stand up for her. You are not a true friend if you let your friend stand there alone and be insulted by someone, while you stand in the other corner, as far away from the scene as possible. In a fight, a girl needs to know that she has someone to back her up when she is emotionally exhausted. Also, if your friend is being restricted from something or somewhere, you don’t leave her alone, you stay by her and either think of a way (Read: Legal) or just stay out of it, and do something else. Nothing hurts more than being left alone on a Saturday afternoon while your friends go and have fun, and you stay at home like a schmuck.
Now comes a fact present in both the girl and guy codes. Or better yet, let’s call it the human code. You can’t just go around talking about your friends’ secrets behind their backs. In fact, you’re really pathetic if you can’t hide your friends’ secrets from others.
Ah yes, the date clause. It is an unspoken rule and should be respected. It’s too vital to ignore. Read carefully: you are betraying your friend if you go out with her ex. Especially if you already know why they broke up, but you still feel like you can ‘change his ways’. If your friend cried because of him, he’s off-limits and not because he’s an ex but because you might just save yourself too. An insult to injury could be if you know that guy has already asked a couple of your friends out before you. There are quite a few people with grudges in their hearts, and although your friend gives you her ‘blessing’, she is still killing you with a butcher knife in her head. Dating your friend’s brother! It can be really cool to know that your friend has your back in this. She’ll say she’ll beat him up if he hurts you, and sometimes she actually does, but don’t forget, they are related by blood, which means that if you break up with him, then you are breaking up with your friend too, especially if that friend is close. It’s painful to see your brother in such a sorry state because of a girl, and you might wish that you could issue a kill-on-sight order for that person. Now not only did you ruin your relationship with the guy, you also lost a friend. Nevertheless, those who are your true friends, will not leave you, but will remind you not to make the same mistake again. Along with this, you get a reputation that you like going out with all your friends’ brothers and that is really not cool.
“Am I too thin? Am I too dark? Am I too fat?” Only a true friend will tell you the whole truth and nothing but the truth. No, you are not thin so you need to stop wearing maternity style clothes to hide your curves. No, you are not dark, your face is the colour of Beechwood, and please stop using fair and lovely, your house stinks because of it. No, you are not bloody fat, you are 21-years-old and weigh 45 kilograms, and you’re embarrassing me by even asking me that. Now excuse me while I haul my 55kg butt to the kitchen for a snack! Always be truthful.
When a friend is going through a rough patch, you are expected to run over to her house with a tub of her favourite ice cream, a dozen boxes of tissue paper for her tears (and yours if you are the weepy kind) and a water-proof shirt so she can cry as much as she wants to on your shoulder without you having to worry about the sorry state of your silk shirt after five minutes. You should always be there to support your friends, no matter what. Nothing makes you feel more suicidal than getting a text saying, “Man up, life is cruel, deal with it.” You need a friend who will understand your tearful babbling and not act like she’d rather be having a root canal than be listening to you.
The backstabbing and gossip clause. It is a very difficult rule to stand by. Sometimes a friend tells you such juicy stuff that you feel like you’re going to burst, but those of stronger willpower will eventually understand that no amount of gossip-revealing sessions is worth the wrath of a now-betrayed friend. Backstabbing is a major no-no. You spend your entire life with your friend, and then end up leaving her for a boy who had been her crush for the past six months. That doesn’t prove you’re daring… it just shows that you are fickle and pathetic.
The last rule is a sum-up of all the rules. Never leave your girls. Never leave their side, never cause them tears (except for happy ones), and never let them question their friendship with you.
There is a reason these rules are unspoken. Every place may have a different girl code. But these rules cannot be dismissed as baseless. The girl code is not about control. It is about respect. Respect for yourself, and for your friend. So, go ahead, and take a leaf out of the girl code, you might just become a decent person after all.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 29th, 2011.