#Opinion

Trading Pads To Empathy: Female Friendships Empower Women Like Nothing Else

female friendships empower women, Married Feminist
From trading pads to secrets, from sharing body issues to relationship problems, from following to the ladies’ room to making new friends in the room- female friendship has tied every woman together. The shared experience of life has made every woman empathetic towards each other. Just eye contact is enough for women to become friends. Am I bluffing? Hell no.

In an interview, 80 for Bardy actors said that female friendships are better than male friendships. Jane Fonda said that female friends are important to our health. Addressing male friends, Jane Fonda said, “You guys sit side by side and watch sports, cars or women. But women sit facing each other, eye to eye, and say “I am in trouble. I need you. Can you help me?”

Jane Fonda’s perspective on female friendship resonates with most of us. Most of us have asked our female friends or just random women to help us while we are on periods or facing some difficulty in life. I recently watched Sonakshi Sinha and Huma Qureshi’s Double XL which vouched for the friendship that women share. Quereshi’s character is seen in the ladies’ room crying while Sonakshi Sinha’s character too is lamenting her failure. When they see each other, they automatically develop empathy as they were going through the same issue of fat shaming. They share tissues and then ambitions, empowering each other.

How do female friendships empower women?

The main reason why women bond well with each other is the common experience that they face. Period shaming, sexual harassment, abusive relationship, body shaming or discrimination at work – these are issues that every woman has faced at least once in her life. Recently I was speaking to an air hostess who was narrating her experience of being harassed on board. She told me, “You are a woman too. You must have faced harassment at least once in your life.” That kind of melted me and blurred the lines between an interviewee and a journalist for us. I automatically felt as if she was narrating my life story in her words. This made the conversation even more intimate and empathetic.

Moreover, female friendship helps women empower themselves. I recently visited a restaurant which had female employees only. The owner of the restaurant, who was also a female, built the restaurant to empower women who don’t step out otherwise because of safety issues. When I interacted with the women working there, they could completely relate to the happiness that gleamed on their faces. “We feel safe here. We don’t have to worry about a male employee harassing us. Even if there are male employees, the dominating number of female employees makes us feel safe and empowered.”

I too work at a women’s organisation and I vouch for the safety that women feel when surrounded by female co-workers. There is no fear of sexual harassment at work which I face otherwise while working with male co-workers. I am not generalising that male co-workers are difficult to work with. But let’s face it, we as women have at least once felt trust issues or unsafe around men.

At times, patriarchy pitches women against each other. It makes women feel as if they are in a rat race of gaining validation from patriarchs. This is the reason why many women feel intimidated when they come across other women in their lives. They feel that they have to compete with that woman in order to gain respect, a job, love or safety.

But dear women, women are not your enemies but patriarchy is. It is not women who make your life miserable but the patriarchal mindset that many women internalise. So rather than bullying or competing with each other, realise the potential that sisterhood has. Come together, build a community and fight against patriarchy.

Views expressed are the author’s own.


Suggested Reading: Patriarchy On Plane: Women Cannot Escape Harassment Even In The Air

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