Minus the City: Girl Code at Colgate

The term “girl code” definitely carries with it a connotation that seems elementary, maybe even immature. It may take you back to friendship bracelets, Limited TOO, Junie B. Jones and those magnetic necklaces that came in pairs and would together form a heart. You may think it’s silly to even bring up the term in a college setting. However, it’s quite interesting how ingrained “girl code” has become in creating and maintaining female friendships. The Colgate community is smaller than most, and hookup culture is incredibly prevalent. We are bound to have many mutual acquaintances and consequently have likely been confronted with a situation or a decision that is heavily influenced by a set of rules or boundaries that take no form, are unwritten and ultimately unspoken. This is girl code — it permeates our social lives and mediates our interactions with other women to help foster a greater sense of mutual respect and a closer-knit sisterhood. I have asked multiple Colgate women how they feel about girl code and how it specifically applies to their female friendships on campus, in hopes of illuminating the persistent weight these unsaid rules hold even among college students. 

“For my friend group, girl code is very existent. We never discuss it directly, but it’s an unspoken agreement that we are all aware of. With a random hookup, girl code wouldn’t apply and we would probably find it funny if we both got with the same guy. But if there’s feelings or consistency involved, then it’s an automatic ‘no’ for any friend to get with that guy. For my friends, we stick to girl code, but I’ve witnessed multiple friend groups who have been torn apart over girls hooking with their best friend’s ex. Colgate’s hook up culture makes girl code a lot less black and white, leading it to cause many issues for girls.” 

“Girl code is something I have been used to even since middle school. There are just inherent dos and don’ts in friendship between girls. Especially for going out at Colgate, it is essential that you have girls who have your back and know that you can trust them.” 

“Honestly, I think you definitely need to set boundaries with your friends when you’re in college because it’s such a melting pot where it kind of seems like everyone is fair game, but that’s not exactly the case.” 

“I think you should respect your friends’ wishes and how they feel about you getting with people they’ve gotten with because some people are like ‘I don’t care, do what you want,’ whereas others aren’t as comfortable with it.” 

“I think girl code is the respect we give each other as females in regards to our relationships. Because you respect your friend, you don’t go after the person she’s been crushing so hard on, and you don’t go after the boy who broke her heart. It more so falls onto respect and caring for their emotional well-being. It does get more complicated as you get older because people don’t really call ‘dibs’ on anyone like middle schoolers anymore. Also, it gets more complicated at a small school like Colgate where people are bound to cross paths more frequently.”

What is girl code to you?