1. “Oh, you must love [insert female artist here].”
Want to know something really hilarious and weird? Not every 25-year-old woman you meet on the subway is going to be a die-hard Lena Dunham fan. Or Mindy Kaling fan. Or Tina Fey fan. Just because someone writes about how much they love pizza and hate having to interact with boys does not mean we all signed some flaming contract with the devil to love them unconditionally. Some young women love watching Miranda July movies, some don’t. We may be a target demographic, but we’re not all crying ourselves to sleep every night until they inevitably reboot the Sex and the City franchise. Assuming all young women automatically like the same thing only reveals what you actually think — that we don’t operate as individuals.
2. “Aren’t you afraid to live alone?”
There is no need to concern troll over a young woman deciding to get her own apartment. Unless she is moving into a particularly salty neighborhood (in which case, anyone would have cause to worry), it’s mostly just mildly insulting to imply that a girl breaking out and getting a studio all by herself is some drastic, dangerous move. I know the expectation is that the second it comes time to change our first lightbulb, we’re going to break down in heaving sobs and offer sexual favors to the nearest man over six feet tall who can help replace it, but that’s generally not our first course of action. (Or maybe it is, and I just don’t have cute, tall neighbors.)
3. “Are you so worried about turning [insert age in one’s 20s here]?”
It could just be my limited perspective, but I’m fairly certain that the brunt of the faux-helpful “Aren’t you soooooo afraid of getting old”-type questions tend to fall on women. With a man, 25 isn’t seen as terribly old — with a woman, it’s halfway through the only viable years she has to find someone to settle down with, apparently. What the hell is one supposed to respond to that, anyway? “Yes, I’m terrified of turning 24. You can only imagine what a histrionic spiral downwards the rest of my life is going to be, given how much of an old maid I feel like when I’m only in my 20s. Do us all a favor and just kill me now, please.”
4. “Why are you working all the time?”
“I’m working all the time because I have dreams and aspirations and like what I do, and I deserve just as much freedom to do so as the 26-year-old male investment banker who is not even remotely required to obfuscate his insane career goals to please the rest of society. Alternatively, I have a shitty job and am forced to work tons of hours against my will. Either way, it’s none of your business.”
5. “You’re not fat, you’re pretty!”
There is no need to put those two things in mutually exclusive categories for anyone’s benefit. The only thing that is actually being said here is that if you actually were heavy, you would be, by default, unattractive. Aside from the fact that there are plenty of people who are both heavier and gorgeous, the idea that the most effective way to cheer a young woman up is by reminding her that she is physically appealing to society is probably something we could stand to phase out over time.
6. “When are you going to get married already?”
Essentially anyone who ever says this, especially to a 23-year-old woman, should be piled into some kind of giant, space-bound Tupperware and shot off into another planet’s orbit. This is not some horrifying Japanese game show where we have to get married before some buzzer goes off and we’re thrown into a bathtub full of live squid. Are you expecting that she’s just going to be like, “You’re so right. I have to get on that. Be right back, I’m gonna go wait outside the prison and take the next guy who gets let out on bail.” We all get to take as much time as we need, and we don’t need to be getting married to prove to anyone else that we’re worthy.
7. “Don’t you want to have kids before you hit 30?”
No, I think I’m going to wait until I’m a nicely shriveled-up 84-year-old, then I’m going balls to the wall with IVF and seeing what I can come up with.
8. “You shouldn’t talk about sex so much.”
I think the idea here is that, even if you’re having sex (of which you should not be having too much, because God forbid you break your vagina and lose the warranty or something) you shouldn’t be sharing. Female sex — especially young female sex — is supposed to exist, and never be mentioned in polite conversation. If you enjoy being open about things like masturbation, porn, experiences, or health advice, you’re basically going to get thrown into the societal lake with weights attached to you like a mid-17th century witch, and never be spoken to again. There is a line, and once you’ve crossed it by saying the word “penis” too many times, there is no going back.
9. “Aren’t you afraid of being alone?”
Well, to be honest, I’m more afraid of living in a world in which an obscene amount of my personal value and achievement is based on whether I’m being regularly spooned at night, but I seem to be doing alright with that.
10. “You’re not going to meet your husband going to bars like that.”
You know, as strange as it sounds, sometimes women — even young women, who are in prime “getting hitched” territory — don’t go to bars uniquely to be swept off their feet by their vodka-drunk Prince Charming. Sometimes they go to socialize with friends, sometimes they go to watch a football game, sometimes they go to hang out with the bartender, and sometimes they go just to get a little drunk and party. (Right, like you don’t. You’re too classy, you go to the bar to stay sober and judge people.) In any case, even if she is going to the bar to potentially meet someone, who are you to tell her that she should feel badly for doing so? She might not find a husband there, but she runs a very high risk of having a good time, and — gasp! — women are allowed to be okay with just that.