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Thursday, June 09, 2005

Girlfriends

I just read this entry about the preponderance of woman who say "All my best friends are guys.". I know I certainly said that. It's only been in the last five years or so that I have consciously thought about the lack of close female friends in my life, and done some work to try and fix that. Hugo's post made me think of a couple of things.

First, I remember being a young girl and really wanting to be on the guy side of things--play on the boy side of "boys chase girls," for example, which was particularly awkward. Partly this was because I thought the things girls did togethter (like go to the bathroom) were silly, but mostly for a bigger reason. I always said that I liked boys because I was very outspoken and competitive and that worked better with boys--and it was only much later that I realized that hanging out with boys was actually a way to protect myself from any real rivalry, because boys would only lightly spar with the arguments and emotions of girls. I chose the easy way out in a way that let me tell myself I was doing the more ambitious thing. I think this pattern happens a lot for precocioius women.

Second, (hugo's post mentions this) there is no good infrastructure to support the friendships of liberal women. I grew up with a deep disregard for the idea of sororities--mostly, I still think, because they kind of suck--and only realized later that my sister-in-law, who remains very invested in her sorority even as an alumna, has a terrific vocabulary for articulating and defending her female friendships that I absolutely lack. Sororities put too much emphasis on shopping and marriage--but they help women structure their time around their commitments to supporting other women. Doing this during the college years, when its so easy to get sucked in to immature relationships, is so important. And there is no place I can think of that I might have found that.

In the past few years I have made some very important friendships with women--but it's been hard. And, now in my nearing-thirties, the importance of women friends seems even more important to me. Men are great, but they can't help me find a respectful gynecologist. They can't share my thoughts about pregnancy and professionalism. They aren't aging in the way I am, and they have different fears, different futures.

It may not be a "requirement" of feminism to have good girlfriends. But, following Hugo, I do think it is a profoundly feminist act to acknowledge that your gender effects your life, and that in general other women will have more knowledge to share with you about those effects than men will.

3 Comments:

  • I love the line, "different fears, different futures". That nails it, doesn't it?

    By Blogger Hugo, at 4:57 PM  

  • Friendships with womyn are difficult because womyn are difficult in general. A great book on the subject is Woman's Inhumanity to Woman by Phyllis Chessler.

    It's only been in the last few years that I've made deep friendships with women and I realize what a tight rope you must walk in order to maintain them.

    The media/TV/movies present female friendships in a way that is completely unrealistic. Unfortunetly for me, I thought their portrayal was accurate and I could not figure out why my friendships keep ending very very badly.

    By Blogger Niobium, at 8:25 PM  

  • Just wanted to say great job, nice blog!

    Amateurs

    By Blogger Chlora, at 12:31 AM  

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