Image Courtesy: Cristina Gottardi
This post was first published here.
- Let’s stop calling them “female friendships” and excluding trans women and girls. There’s no need to succumb to essentialist ideas of “female bonding”.
- Friendships between girls/women have long been stereotyped in popular culture either too negatively or too positively- better and deeper or complicated and competitive. But all friendships, including those between girls and women should be free from the pressure of conforming to these stereotypes.
- The 'mean girl' trope is served up everywhere- girls/women who plot to bring other girls/women down or friendships that circle around vying for men’s attention. Internalizing these behaviours entrenches the gender binary, centres cis-men, and is demeaning for women.
- Seeing girls and women as more gossipy, talkative, secretive, and argumentative is neither flattering nor cute. It’s also just inaccurate. There was even a study done in the UK that showed 33% of men gossiped on their mobile phones vs just 26% of women*. (Social Issues Research Centre (SIRC), UK.)
- “Girl gang” sounds empowering but “ganging up” is often based on exclusion of “other girls”. Women who aren’t as rich, as conventionally “good looking”, not “hip” enough. Ganging up can also be ableist, casteist, racist, or encourage bullying. “I'm not like those women” is often internalized misogyny.
- Mocking women for being more confrontational, praising them for being less confrontational- both opposing assumptions are nonsensical. Girls and women are not prone to more “cat-fights” (titillation) nor are they more “peace loving” (framing women as docile).
- Holding friendships to impossible ideals steers us away from making meaningful connections.
- Girls and women build friendships based on trust, love, empathy, and mutual respect. Sisterhoods built on feminist solidarity can be incredibly empowering too.
- Corrupt ideas of patriarchal power and authority have always barred us from forming mutually nurturing friendships, creating rivalry between girls and women. We are not interested in bringing each other down but in bringing down patriarchy!
- Patriarchy is constantly creating new ideals for girls/women to live up to and then pushing us to shame each other for not fitting the moulds perfectly or for rejecting them altogether. Ejecting these toxic ideals can make our friendships flourish!