I don’t think this is true all the time and my best friendships are with women but it’s been coming up in my life recently so I thought I’d write about it in the hopes that it might spark some thought and conversation in others.
Since my teens, I’ve heard the sentiment “I just get along with guys better”. I’ve even felt this way in the past. Why is this? The first thing that comes to mind is competition. Women are best controlled when we are competing against one another for scarce resources. What are we competing for? Sometimes, it’s men but I think more of the time, it’s a sense of security/validation/”I exist” in a patriarchal society. We achieve this false sense of security/validation through various means including sex with men, being “available” or potential sex partners, performing femininity, and defending men’s superiority and women’s second-class status. If the men that we relate to feel as though they are favored/needed by us and the women in our lives feel as though they’re in competition with us, of course, we’ll “get along better” with men.
We may not have the conscious sense of being in competition with other women, but when our society is set up such that males are the default humans and the dominant sex, we must compete with one another to be validated or have any sense of existing. And this is played out all around us. This is marketed to us by the sex/beauty industries and reinforced in the movies and shows we watch. VERY rarely do we see women in popular media represented as they are (without a stitch of makeup, in comfortable clothing), NOT relating to men (either physically interacting with them, talking about them, or on some sort of quest for a relationship with one). Even in movies where women and girls are not competing for the love of a man, oftentimes they’re on a quest for validation from their fathers or validation from patriarchal society at large. When was the last time you saw a movie where instead of wanting to be recognized as being “as good as men”, women took men out of the equation and just established relationships with one another and with themselves? (I’d really like to know because I’d love to watch that movie).
Linked with this sense of competition is internalized sexism, the sense that females are just “not as good”/subhuman, have nothing to offer. When I hear blanket critical statements made by women about other women, I hear the criticism we are up against every day; I hear the criticism we’ve been up against since birth; I hear the criticism we’ve been up against for centuries. Is she nice enough? Does she acquiesce enough? Is she caring enough (because that’s our job)? Is she pretty enough? Is she too pretty? Too “sexy”? Not sexy enough? Is she a good enough listener? Is she “friendly”? A good cook? “Approachable”? Relatable? Interesting? Even in feminist circles, is she the right type of feminist? A real feminist? What do we expect of the sex that has been trained since birth/for centuries to acquiesce, to bow down, to defend patriarchy and her male owners?
The answer is “NO”–she is not enough. In a society in which we’re subhuman, we are never GOOD ENOUGH unless we’re laying on the floor, allowing every man who walks by to wipe his feet on us/stick his dick in us/talk over us/etc. We are not good enough unless we’re letting others feed off us, take us apart, use us–and this holds true in those “better” relationships we have with men. Stop catering to male ego or just say “no” more often and see where that enduring affection and validation goes. Start pointing out the power dynamics and the way females are treated all over the world and watch yourself get called a “man-hating b****” or feminazi. By the way, “man-hater” is only used by men who know their man-ness is tied to the dehumanization of women. Asserting your humanity to someone who needs you to be subhuman will always be seen as a hateful attack.
That said, I think many of us have built amazing relationships with one another. My closest relationships are with women and I believe those relationships to be very special. I keep striving to build a sense of sisterhood in my life and I’m amazed at the sisterhood and unity achieved by women all over the world. I hope my rambling was good food for thought. Thanks for reading.