Recently I was catching up with one of my childhood friends and we were talking about friends we had in school and who among them are still in touch. There were some in my mind but I realised, none of them were men. As of now I only have one male friend but many more female friends. I don’t think the abnormally low number is due to my social awkwardness or lack of my social skills; rather it’s the lack of emotional connection I have with my male friends. Back then, I always found it difficult to open up to them emotionally as that was rarely reciprocated or appreciated. The only time one of them approached me was when they needed ‘relationship advice’. Clearly, they needed another woman to understand the woman they were dating.
Also read: A Room of Women Who Love Each Other: Portraits of My Feminist Friendships
From my experience, women do understand each other better than men understand us. Women can sense vulnerability; we share the happy moments as much as we are willing to share each other’s sorrow. We share similar experiences in our lives. They allow you to have a healthy relationship without the feeling of being drained too much emotionally.
Cinema taught me how cool boys were, and how less drama they had in their lives. Their ‘brohood’ seemed so much cooler than sisterhood.
Looking back at my childhood days, I realized that I was never taught the importance of self-love, self-appreciation and the value of female friendships. What I remember is me being very competitive with other girls in my school, to be better than them – better looking than them, taller than them, have longer hair than them. I was always competing, never satisfied with my own qualities. It was an unhealthy rivalry where I resented my own self and developed more and more insecurities. Every movie I saw, and every song I listened to was about how a man fell in love with a beautiful women. Apart from that, it taught me how cool boys were, and how less drama they had in their lives. Their ‘brohood’ seemed so much cooler than sisterhood.
I never realized that the stereotypes I attached to the women in my life were a consequence of internalised misogyny. They were just myths which weakened any potential for women solidarity. The notion that women are bitchy, catty, backstabbing, jealous, hysterical, dramatic, liars has been so cultivated within us that it was hard for me to reject it even after I started calling myself a feminist.
The need of perfection is imposed on women so much that we forget imperfect women are allowed to exist. Imperfection in women gives people a leeway to exploit them further. It took me patience and some time to make my resentful mother understand that women are not women’s enemies. It took me time to realize that women do not need to have enemies. We do not need to find that one girl who should be unanimously hated and bitched about among our circle.
Female friendships have allowed me have a safe space for my personal and emotional growth.
With puberty hits the desire for romantic relationships. Like any other teenager, getting involved in a romantic relationship was in my priority list. Knowing nothing about love, self-love or sexual orientations, I endeavoured to find the ‘perfect boy’. Surviving through emotionally abusive relationships with toxic masculine boyfriends, I realized what I was losing out on – all the good times I could have had with my friends while I was crying about the relationship (which I never wanted in the first place) troubles I had. I could have danced more with them while I was busy fighting with him. I could have been more present for her when she needed me while I was listening to his rants. Because she was always there for me.
Female friendships have allowed me have a safe space for my personal and emotional growth. I feel much more understood when I am surrounded by women. When I was talked through my break-ups, self-love was central to the conversations. My friends made it their absolute goal to make me love myself more, motivate me to break through that shy and cold exterior and explore my best qualities more.
Women’s solidarity is a force to be reckoned with. This became crystal clear to me when the #MeToo movement hit us with its full force. It was a time of introspection and reflection on the kind of friends we made and the kind of conversations we had with them. I became a witness to the tremendous love and support a woman can provide another in times of need. It was exhilarating to see the solidarity among women which was unprecedented for me. But at the same time I felt strange to watch the ‘brohood’ crumbling.
Also read: Dear Men, #MeToo Is Not A War Against You
It is incredible to look back at how much I have learnt about myself by being friends with other women. It’s us women who can heal other women wronged by male violence, sexism and patriarchy. We have it in us to provide each other with love and support which we yearn from the perfect man. Let’s stop waiting for him and cherish each other.
Featured Image Source: Under the Blue Door