Raise your hands if you too have been told that female friendships don’t last long. Or that female friends can not live without fighting. If yes, then do you really believe it? Do you believe that women can’t be good friends? Or that women tend to compete and fight with each other?
I was very small when my mother indoctrinated me with the idea that girls cannot be good friends. She said that female friends bitch about each other and get jealous of each other’s achievements. She wasn’t entirely wrong as I have actually seen two women fighting for the same guy. Or ending friendships of exam results. While these examples are not enough to stereotype female friendships. it does seem like a common consensus that women are not good at sustaining friendships with each other.
In fact, I recently came across a tweet that jostled me because of its negativity towards female friendships. The tweet stated, “Two young women can’t live together for a month without fighting.”
Stereotyping female friendships face
Women are not able to maintain a good bond with each other because they were raised to believe that they have to be better than other women to be successful- and success here doesn’t mean a prosperous career, but an upper hand in domestic life. They are made to believe that if they don’t gain the love and attention of men around them, they will be lost in the crowd of women who are not valued in society. And so, women see other women around them as threats or rivals. But who is the culprit here? The patriarchy of course, that makes a woman’s existence indigent of male attention.
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Also it is not as if women aren’t trying to challenge this stereotyping of female friendships. Women are joining hands with each other in helping and empowering other. Women are actively ensuring that their friendships are not affected by men in their life, or that they do not see each others as rivals. Instead, women now see each other as a part of sisterhood, which is trying to challenge the narrow space that patriarchy gives women to flourish, causing them to see each other as threat. We now know who is responsible for lack of opportunities, agency and recognition that we have to endure.
So stop villainising every friendship between women. The problem is that society perceives every female friendship from the lens of gender. It judges friendship based on prejudices about the gender of women and because of this it becomes difficult for it to digest a good female friendship. Moreover, when it comes to male friendships, it is assumed that they are based on loyalty and trust. Male friendships are always appreciated for their open-mindedness and mutual support and understanding. But that doesn’t licence the fact that every male friendship is good and not toxic.
So society needs to stop perceiving friendships from a gendered lens. Besides, every normal friendship has some differences, issues and bickering but the one that goes beyond it is a true friendship which can belong to both genders.
Views expressed are the author’s own.