Be a Grrl Genius: How to be Confident in Bed, Choosing a Boyfriend and Weighing in on "Breakup Sex"

Do you know what it means to be a Grrl Genius? In her hilarious how-to book, comic Cathryn Michon says that it's all about having a serious amount of self-confidence -- even when love comes to town. Not convinced? Check out this excerpt from The Grrl Genius Guide to Life now:

Sex has ruined me. I can almost pinpoint the very day that it ruined me. I'm not exactly sure why, but my mother recently sent me a bunch of old papers, including a copy of my sixth-grade diary. According to this diary, I was involved in some very interesting projects: I was composing a full-length opera about the unfairness of my parents. I was also in the midst of teaching my two cats the power of human speech, a project that I felt quite sure would win me the Nobel Prize.

Then, one day, my diary of opera lyrics and detailed scientific notes was interrupted by a fateful entry that took up an entire page but was only one sentence long.

"Eric Lindstrom is so cute."

That was the day sex ruined me. As estrogen began pumping through my veins, my eggs ripened, and my brain atrophied. I never finished the opera, my cats died without speaking a word of English, and I devoted years of my life to worshiping men, writing terrible poetry about them, dreaming of them, crying over them.

Sex does not ruin boys the way it can ruin Grrls. When boys become obsessed by sex, they try to achieve, to attract Grrls. Grrls know that boys don't care how smart or strong or successful you are, they care that you think they are strong and smart and successful. So Grrls start to act stupid, as many surveys have shown. Boys' balls drop and Grrl grades drop, almost overnight. Grrls also immediately become insecure about their looks.

I'd like to say that, as a result of vigorously working my Grrl Genius program, today my Grrl Genius sexuality, which I celebrate and cherish, no longer rules my life or makes me act like an enormous idiot.

On the next page: Post-breakup sex do's and don'ts

That, however, would be a big fat lie.

I am always confusing sex with love, and I'm not even sure I know what love is, further confusing the matter. Turning back to my childhood diaries, I find that my definitions of love have always been sketchy at best. In third grade I was asked to write on the topic of love. It was for Valentine's Day, a day many people associate with love, but one I somehow always associate with the massacre. The assignment was "Tell us what you think love is."

Love Is
My cat always sleeps with me. She is very kind to me. For some examples, she does what I say and pushes her nose agenst [sic] my moth [sic].

My definition of love being someone who will sleep with me and push their nose agenst my moth has held fast in all the love relationships that were to follow. Doing what I say, sadly, never has been a trend amongst my loved ones.

Recently, I concluded that my husband and I had reached an impasse in therapy. I decided to tell my husband that I would be filing for divorce. It was one of the worst days of my life. It was as if I had decided to attend a Puppy Murdering Festival, and I was the head puppy murderer. One of my duties as head puppy murderer was to tell my husband I wanted a divorce, and so I did. We both cried, and it was awful, but I felt it was the right decision.

Then, a few days later, we were having sex. A lot.

The good thing about it was that it was great sex. I mean, it's been many, many years since sex has felt so wrong, so bad. That is, of course, an enormous turn-on. Just ask the thousands of dentists and attorneys and car salesmen who are, even at this moment, strapped in leather harnesses in suburban dungeons all over America, being told that they are very, very naughty boys, and that they will be punished, oh yes, they will be punished.

The bad thing about this postbreakup sex is that it is so wrong, so bad, and I have a sneaking feeling that I will be punished, oh yes, I will be punished.

So now our divorce is on hold. We are talking about trying to work things out. He's not a bad person, I'm not a bad person, maybe we can solve all our problems, it's certainly worth a try.

Where I go to take yoga, there are a lot of free New Agey magazines by the door. The kind of magazines that have ads for places where you can get your chakras cleansed or your aura rotated, or where to find a reputable pet psychic, if, in fact, there is such a thing. Though I go to psychics all the time, I'm wary of pet psychics because there's no accountability. Your dog can never say:

"That is so not true! I don't eat the cat poops because I feel abandoned when my people go to work, I eat them because they are delectable, covered as they are in a light, crunchy coating of cat litter. They're like doggy Almond Roca, and I cannot get enough of them!"

On the next page: 6 questions to ask about potential boyfriends

Anyway there is a new magazine in the pile at the yoga center called Divorce Magazine. Apparently Festering Emotional Wound Monthly was too long and Failure Digest just wasn't sexy enough. Anyway, Divorce Magazine, which seems to be mostly filled with ads for lawyers and waterproof mascara, says that this postbreakup sex is not that uncommon, and they seem to think it's not that great an idea. It also says that it's not a reason to stay together and may be masking the real, underlying issues that cannot be resolved.


I don't know what to think. All I know is that my husband is still, to me, the most heartachingly attractive man at any party. Over the years together, you memorize the other person's body in a way that is almost impossible to let go of. I have detailed information stored in my brain about things like all the little brown-sugar-colored freckles on his shoulder, and all the patterns they can make while I'm waiting for him to wake up on a Sunday morning. The one that looks like a cat, the one that looks like a duck. How do you forget about the pattern of the freckles? Do you stay together for the freckles?

I'm obsessed about all this sex we're having, and deep, hard questions keep thrusting into my mind.

  • Should a Grrl Genius stay married for the sex?
  • Should a Grrl Genius get divorced except for the sex?
  • Is any of this really about sex at all?

For the answers to these dilemmas I turn back to my childhood diaries, skipping forward to high school. Unfortunately I find good advice. From my mother, of all people.

Important Questions Mom Says to Ask about Potential Boyfriends:

1. Does this person care how you feel, what you do or accomplish?
2. Would he make a neat possession? Do you think of him that way?
3. Does he run down your vision of yourself?
4. Can he accept you as you are? Can you accept him as he is?
5. Does he already know where he wants to go and would you tend to get in the way?
6. Does he care for you the way you care for him or is it a one-sided martyrdom?

Those are tough, good questions, and, of course, there is nothing there about sex or freckles. My mother hasn't said a thing about my separation, except to say that she would support me no matter what happens. Although, come to think of it, she did send the frigging diaries. She sent me written records of everything I wanted to become as a grown-up. I get to decide if I have become that person or not.

My mother is the original Grrl Genius. She won't talk about sex, but apparently she knows a little something about it.

How very annoying.

Excerpted from The Grrl Genius Guide to Life: A 12-Step Program on How to Become a Grrl Genius According to Me! © 2001 by Cathryn Michon. Reprinted with permission from Cliff Street Books, an imprint of Harper Collins Publishers.

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