In reading this excellent essay on the importance of lady friendships, I was surprised by some of the responses. While I think it’s perfectly valid for a woman to articulate why it is that she doesn’t have many women friends, some of the conclusions that were drawn in the comments struck me as downright depressing.
This one, by Alex, stuck out at me quite a bit:
I have been fortunate to meet some women… who are the “odd ones out” like me, and as it happens, they’ve all been in the jeans and sneakers, roughhousing, strongly opinioned [sic] category.
You know, maybe I’m just jaded at this point, but I really don’t like the implication that strongly opinionated women all abide by a certain dress code. No. Really. It comes up again, and again, and it’s fucking bullshit.
See what I just did there, huh? Huh? I expressed an opinion! A strong one! While showing off a pair of high-heeled boots in my banner! It can be done.
I can relate to just about anyone who says that they can run into problems with women who judge them as “not feminine enough” or whatever. I hardly ever leave the house without eyeliner, but guess what, I get it too! All the time! Other women have told me that I’m “cold” and “unfeminine” because I don’t go into a moral panic over abortion, because I’m not looking to get married, hell, some have felt the need to tell me that I don’t wear skirts often enough.
I can relate, but I do not extrapolate such incidents onto fellow women in general. People who harass me about stupid crap, I write off as assholes. I similarly write off people who will tell me that I am not tough enough, not rough enough, for their love, or friendship, or whatever. Look, some jackass told me I ought to take my boots and GTFO the other day. I am not going to rush out to make a person like that love me. I’d take a fine-ass pair of boots over some idiot any day of the week.
I’m not going to accuse someone of internalized misogyny just because they admit to having a tough time making friends with women, but I can’t deny that certain generalizations do piss me off, and rightfully so. None of my female friends fit into some neat little category. I would like to imagine that I don’t fit into a neat little category either. I cry a lot, for example. I can spend an inordinate amount of time talking about Orlando Bloom. I also like shiny fast cars and whiskey.
So why hasn’t my head exploded following a crisis of identity? Could it be because…stereotypes are mostly crap?
Friendship among women is important. Friendship is important in general, but women, I think, face extra pressure to compete with each other, being as we are on a lower rung socially, for the most part. It’s not coincidence that “chicks before dicks” evolved in response to “bros before hos.”
Let’s face it, we don’t generalize about men like we do about women. We don’t accuse men of “performing masculinity,” because it’s not as if we have this iron-clad definition of masculinity to begin with. What does it involve? Grunting a lot? Solving physics equations? Making that money? Being hairy? “Tackling drunk bitches”? Starting wars? Men are human beings, goddamit, you can’t pigeonhole them like that! That’s sexist! And wrong!
Women, on the other hand, are held to a pretty strict standard, and the crappy thing is, you can’t win. Anyone can come along and judge you as too feminine, or not feminine enough, and they do. All the time.
So hey, if you don’t want to be friends with me, don’t be friends with me. I’m not hard up for friends, luckily enough. Just don’t tell me it’s because I “perform femininity” or some crap like that. Tell me it’s because my sense of humour is ridiculous. Tell me it’s because I sketch you out. Tell me it’s because I have way too much to prove, or way too little, or because you think I am a jackass, or because you generally can’t abide by people who listen to Alla Pugacheva in the shower and pretentiously insert The Brothers Karamazov into virtually every argument they make (except for this one, though I bet I could, if I thought about it hard enough). That would be fair, no?