“I’m not really friends with girls.”
At a certain age, me and many of my girlfriends used to say this. Of course we were the biggest liars, since we were friends. Or at least I would have been crushed if they didn’t consider me their friend, too.
Woman-hating can be both reflexive and substantive for women. If you were the kind of girl I was, who wanted to leave home and read big books and achieve great things (in the embarrassing abstract, the way ambitious young people and sadly too many older people do) — well, it didn’t seem like conquering the mall and doing the feminine things would get me to greatness. Of course by 18 I had spent years working in malls for Limited Too, The Gap, and Abercrombie & Fitch. The main point is that in rejecting femininity and especially the camaraderie of other young women, I was a hypocrite, a self-loathing hypocrite.
Because I am feminine. I have always been feminine in my own way. I’ve just been taught to hate the feminine, to look at it condescendingly, and simultaneously use it as a yardstick for telling myself I’m not pretty enough or considerate enough or frankly, enough.
The way me and many of my more brainy girlfriends used to go to great lengths to declare we weren’t really friends with girls, because maybe it felt more substantive to be friends with the boys (which is bullshit, because masculinity can be just as shallow as femininity, and at times much more so) has parallels at different points in the lifecycle. We are taught to judge women who put effort into their appearance to halt the visible signs of aging just as we are taught to judge women who “let themselves go.” Plastic Surgery Gone Wrong is a thing, but so is Kirstie Alley in the tabloids. We are told to change the way we talk to be taken seriously. It goes on.
I am troubled by efforts to reject womanhood and in particular, women, as a way for women to set ourselves apart from the second-class expectations sexism drapes on our pretty little collarbones.
I don’t want to imagine how much my life would suck without the friendship of women. It is not the feminine that is flawed, but the rejection of it.