Women as friends

“Feminists know that we women should put each other first. And that is what, in many ways, we do. Our best and closest friends are women. We believe that unless women can count on the help of their female friends, then there is indeed absolutely no prospect for women’s liberation” (Oakley, 1984, p.122)

Hear, hear sister. Female friendships are the lifeblood of women’s liberation as far as I’m concerned. Yet most women I know plan their lives around men. They plan their careers around the idea that one day they will marry or find a partner and have kids; they prioritise dates with boyfriends over everything else; they sit around waiting for men to call; they move to other cities or countries to follow their man’s career; or they stay put because their man won’t follow them.

It’s easy to understand I guess. Women who don’t plan their lives around men remain single, even when they don’t want to. Because rare is the man who loves a woman who won’t follow him and adjust her life to suit his. And once a woman marries or partners off she disappears into the world of ‘domestic bliss’, which everyone, even the women engaged in such bliss knows is anything but bliss. Family and partner become top priority and the strong relationships once enjoyed with female friends too often fall by the wayside.

I really really wish this wasn’t the case. I remember becoming aware of this when my friends and I started dating boys. I have always seen my friendships with women as more important than my relationships with men, even back then. But my friends would often disappear when they found a new boyfriend and only re-emerge when they broke up, rushing back to their female friends for consolation. This confused me and saddened me. At the time that was all it was. Now that I’m older I see it for what it is. It’s women’s inability to be fully independent and autonomous human beings. It’s women’s liberation unfinished. It still saddens me, but now it saddens me not just because my feelings are hurt as a friend, but because of what it means for women as a group.

I want women to re (?) establish bonds with women. Bonds that don’t die when a man comes along. I want women to be feel free to not plan their lives around men, to stop needing and seeking the affection of men and instead appreciate the magnificent depth and love to be found in friendships with other women.

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2 responses to “Women as friends

  1. I’m sure what you say is true, but it was not my experience growing up in an African culture. It seems that in many ways America is behind other parts of the world, at least in terms of people being able to express solidarity.

  2. Welcome musteryou and thanks for your comment. I’m certainly writing from a western perspective (but I’m Australian, not American). I think perhaps my post is not entirely applicable to societies characterised by high levels of sex segregation, like the Middle East and South Asia (and parts of Africa?).

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