I heard this on an American sitcom few weeks back: “I think that women can be friends with each other, but I think it can be tricky sometimes when you try and force women to hang out with each other. You could never put together a heist of women. Like Ocean’s 11 with women wouldn’t work, ’cause two would keep breaking off to talk shit about the other nine.”
I felt disgusted.
Why it is that boy groups, gangs and wingmen symbolically represent unity, togetherness, fun, wildness, and good times? But on the other hand, narratives about groups of women and female friendships show infighting, jealousy, bitching and upstaging each other?
It is very clear that this paradigm is given due weight because it serves the popular male supremacist culture.
Men with different agendas can form a united group, even though they are at completely different. They know that if they stick together, then majority in itself is power. Their friendships are built around common interests, activities, work and careers.
Women friendships lead to them becoming a support system for each other. They share their lives, innermost truths, fears, apprehension and desires. Feelings are candidly shared, which in turn help in dealing with stress and life experiences.
Even though these are established facts, then why is it that male friendships are lauded, and women friendships are judged and marked as temporary and volatile?
There are a few reasons we need to delve into here.
Women can’t form a united group, or so society says.
Women have historically been conditioned to believe that they are on their own, and the only way to get on top of things is to be territorial and have a sense of ownership. This translates into “owning” a man, a child, a house, and having a job, material possessions, beauty and different forms of social and emotional prowess. In this game, one needs to eliminate the other contenders. That is the other women.
This story, which goes round and round in circles, alienates women from each other. We women get played by conditioning, experiences, values and history. This leads to false projections from us to the world. These narratives have to change now.
I have changed, myself. Trust me: My gang of girls can pull off a heist like you can never imagine! I mean, what were the writers of that sitcom thinking when they wrote those lines???
Here are five things we can do differently:
1. We are going to let each other be. There will be differences in physicality, world view, life choices — and ideas? Yes, the exact opposite. Still, we will accept each other as it is.
2. Women make mistakes, have flaws, fall down and go wrong. We are not going to tear each other apart when we fall down; rather, we are going to be supportive. In any given circumstances, one woman will not shred the other women ruthlessly into pieces. This stops now. From now it’s going to be like, she messed up, but so be it!
3. Our sense of security does not, will not be based upon ownership. Not the man, the child, the house, the job, material possessions, beauty, or different forms of social and emotional prowess. Our humanity is all that’s going to matter.
4. We will not pit ourselves against each other constantly and secretly. The world needs all kinds of us, and there is space for all of us.
5. We will cover up for each other. Yes, when things become messy and when we see others pull another down, rather than participating in it, we are going to tell the world to back off.
Just doing these small but relevant things everyday will change the thousand year old fallacy about women friendships. How we react, respond and act towards each other will burst the false notions about us and our friendships.
Images: Heathers, Mean Girls
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