Last July, one of my friends linked to this article from The Rumpus about the power of female friendship. After reading it, I sent it to those in my circle who might not have seen it otherwise. Then I sat quietly at my desk with a few tears sneaking out while I stared at a point somewhere behind my monitor. My mind kept circling back to Emily Rapp’s description of her realization “how much people diminish and poo-poo the real power and strength of female friendship, especially between women, which is either supposed to descend into some kind of male lesbian love scene porn fantasy or be dismissed as meaningless or be re-written as a story of competition. Here’s the truth: friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, “bonus” relationships to the truly important ones.”
Even now, this excerpt stops me cold. Growing up, my mom’s best friend was like a second mother to me. She taught me how to knit when I was four while her sons were watching “Babes In Toyland” (it’s creepy). For the first few years after we moved to Alabama, her house still felt more like home than ours. It was only after reading that article that I truly began to appreciate the scope and scale of the love in their relationship and that which was present in my own life.
A few years ago, I sat with a friend and knitted as she stared into the rosemary bushes in front of her porch. We didn’t talk because we didn’t need to. As another friend says, “That’s what friends do. They sit.”
They sit through heart breaks, painful anniversaries, new beginnings, medical diagnoses, grief and anger. They have a beer waiting and introduce you to Cake Wrecks and Hyperbole And A Half on weeks when you invite yourself over because you’re about to explode. They laugh and cry with you and call you when they need support. They’re family.
Being a woman (or a compassionate human being of any gender) in this society is not easy, but it can be beautiful. Today, women take advantage of opportunities their mothers and grandmothers fought for, even though they have to fight to keep the position once they’re there.
We still have a long way to go as a culture. I am amazed that reporters will still seriously ask a female politician about her clothing or a mother about her daughter’s fashion sensabilities. It frightens me sometimes that men have so much control over the political process — with the number of issues that specifically affect women, it just doesn’t seem right. I can say, though, that I look forward to seeing and contributing to moving the conversation forward.