Thursday, June 10, 2010

more to this life

I've been thinking a lot lately about the strength and possibilities of the female friendships I'm lucky to have. As someone who has rejected some aspects of traditional femininity and embraced some others, I worry about a kind of essentialist view of female-ness, and I'm keeping that firmly in mind as I write this; I am not always referring to ciswomen in the following entry, either. I'm thinking about all of my friendships with other people who identify as female.

The Archetypal Female Friendship we're presented with in modern culture - I'm thinking 'Sex and the City,' that sort of thing - might have a core of sincere love and support (I'm not sure sometimes, honestly), but it is most definitely presented to us as a friendship that in most respects only goes so deep and is divided easily by competition and materialism (and the competition is usually over a romantic partner). Internalized misogyny, as I've mentioned elsewhere on this blog, is a real thing and it eats a lot of these friendships alive.

I'm lucky enough to know so many women who I've maintained long, healthy friendships with; they challenge me, as the best relationships do, to be a better person daily. There's no untouchable subject with most of the women I know, no boundary that can't be explored, no hurdle we can't figure out a way to cross. There is a sense of trust and mutual respect. Without these relationships I'm not sure where I'd be.

This is not to say that these qualities are absent from my relationships with the male-identified folks in my life either. I've gotten extraordinarily picky about my personal relationships - though I can see the best things in most people, it's the rare one I let in close. I think of love as a thing that is huge and mutable - it can be poured into various molds, assigned various activities, but in its true essence it is something beyond those roles and activities, something much wilder and more fluid. My love for my friends is just as powerful as any other love, and just as sustaining. I'm focusing on female relationships here because, again, gender identification affects our lives and how we're socialized to relate to one another in a prism of ways.

So - this is for you. You know who you are. This is for women building communities, finding strength in one another, finding strength in ourselves, refusing to let areas of traditional competition come between us. Thank you.