It is a truth universally acknowledged

Ms. Fairfax: so all of that to say, should i go to this fucking dinner or what?

Me: well here is the thing about that

I think there’s three choices

you could storm on in there guns a-blazin and pointedly ask why they don’t give two tugs of a dead dog’s dick about their friend’s birthday, which, no

Ms. F: hahahahahaha

So here are some thinky thoughts I have been having about friendships between women.

For a long time I was one of Those Women who not only thought she got along better with the dudes, but was willing to cop to it, in public, to other women. I thought the ladies were difficult and silly and easily offended and often cruel, and no one had ever told me that allegedly baby poultry came before penile appendages. I, on the other hand, was Cool, because I was Tough, and I also Liked Boy Things and Said The Eff Word (A Lot), which apparently to my mind precluded having ladyfriends because…ladies don’t…do or like that stuff, I guess, even though here was I, a known lady, doing and liking that stuff.

For a long time I kicked it strictly Morissette-style.

Of course, my delicious superiority to the fairer sex put me in a position, in my own mind, of equality with men. The problem was, they didn’t see themselves as the equals of me. All my posturing was just jockeying for position among the rest of the pack, and they were Secretariat, careening out there in front by thirty-odd lengths so that the TV screen wasn’t big enough to show them and me at the same time. So I can look at issues of self-promotion as they relate to women’s friendships from two sides, I think. And the first side is the one who doesn’t give two tugs about her friend’s birthday, unless it suits her for some reason.

It’s easy to sacrifice other women. And not just in the million “little”  ways we do it every day (when’s the last time you heard someone say something truly awful about some slut, and said nothing?), but in the “substantive” ways that hurt real women we really know. Who here has been part of The Threeway Call? They didn’t just make that shit up for Mean Girls, you know. Anyone here been nice to another lady in private and in public couldn’t even bother to wait for the bus before throwing her down? Have you ever made it clear to your women friends where they rank in your personal hierarchy of Friendships?  Worst, worst ever, did you ever sacrifice a girl who was nice to you, because her very kindness gave you power over her, and you needed that power to get ahead?

Me: you could not go, and probably thereby sort of officially forfeit Fingers McGee, not that there seems to be much left in the way of forfeiting, which seems to be the option with the most going for it from my end but at the same time is not the one I myself would end up taking, because I talk a WAY better game re: cutting one’s losses than I actually play

Ms. F: hahahahaha

yeah, that is my trouble too, and you see what kind of crap game i talk, so…

It isn’t that (most) women who sabotage their friendships with other women do so because they are hateful or bad people, I think. I think a lot of it comes from the way they’re taught how to engage with other little female people, when they are quite small. When I was younger, and I was getting the shit bullied out of me, I can’t say I wouldn’t have rathered that someone just fucking punch me and get it over with, so it wouldn’t have to go on, day after day after DAY after YEAR of worrying about precisely how and where I sat at which table in the caf so that only now, when I am nearing my fourth decade of life, can I take a seat at the end of the bar and not feel like every eye is upon me because lo, I bear the Mark of Rejection and Cooties and prolly a Demonsheep or something. But that doesn’t happen, because girls aren’t taught to release aggression that way. So you learn: you learn that only the girls who are nasty are the arbiters of approval, and in your quest to gain approbation you stoop to new and lower lows. And even though eventually you grow up and your methods change and hopefully you wake up to your feminism and realize the harm in that shit, you never stop. You never stop wanting the approval of the nasty girls, or at least the grudging respect, and some part of you never, ever will, until you die (naysayers: please. is there ANY other reason why ladies actually go to high school reunions?).

Me: or you could go, and it would be easy in a way, but at the same time terribly hard, and it would hurt a lot, but at the end of the day you could tell yourself that you tried, because you did

So ultimately what happens to a lot of women in their relationships with each other over time amounts to a degradation of two selves: yours, and everyone else’s. Everyone else’s because the easiest way to approach a friendship with another woman, in a lot of ways, is as that competition for social resources. And yours because not only do you race each other to the bottom the way Sady describes–“oh, I’m so fat!” “no, you’re so not! I’M so fat!” “YAY WE’RE BESTIES”–but you also eventually come to accept that you occupy a certain place in the hierarchy which you are loathe to challenge after all these years.  It’s your lot in life to be the one at the end of the bar, or the one with the ugly nose, or the one people pass notes about.  Eventually that becomes a role that’s all too easy to fill.  And nothing in this disabuses you of your notion that of COURSE you get along better with men than women.  You feel kind of bad around women.  They take advantage of you and hurt your feelings. They are difficult, and kind of cruel.

Things have come full circle, if indeed they ever left.

Me: none of these are good options.

No they are not.

Me: (and I’m ignoring “have a chat with them about The State Of Things,” because there’s only so many times you can be like HONEY DO THE DISHES before you’re like, bitch ain’t NEVER gonna realize that dishwasher is back there)

Ms. F: HAHAHA

yes, i think that option is just off the table.

i guess, really, i want to avoid the “oh we’re not doing something on friday? why not? what happened?” talk

Me: you mean between you and one of them, or between them?

Ms. F: between all of them and me

like, “so what are we doing friday?”

“uhh nothing”

“what? why? what? why?” etc

and then i’ll be like “uhhh you bitches stress me out and i want to hide under the couch instead”

cuz i don’t think that’ll fly as an explanatio

Me: yeah, I’m thinkin no

because even if you can avoid Bitchily Defensive, I think Ostentatiously Apologetic is almost as bad a reaction

Ms. F: toooootally

Of course, once things get entrenched in this pattern, it’s hard to step out of it. But, like Sady, I find that what has helped me get out of the rut really is learning how to become fully realized as a feminist.  I 100% endorse the definition of feminism as “the radical notion that women are people,” because it was when I grasped that I didn’t generally experience my friends with guys as being a power struggle (from my perspective, at any rate) that I realized I wasn’t viewing my female friends as people so much as chess pieces. So much maneuvering and negotiating and planning and drama! Wouldn’t we all be better off if everyone were as Cool and Tough as I was, and put aside all that silly ladybusiness?

Oh, a bitch was ridic back in the day. (And still is, often. Did you catch the unironic use of “bitchily”?)

Me: you know what the good thing about women friends is

Ms. F: no.

Me: aw!

Ms. F: hahahahaha

just kidding, women like you are wonderful

Me: aw. 🙂

it is that even if later you are angry that you went, you can still talk about it

and it’s not all WELL BUT I OFFERED YOU SOLUTIONS

Ms. F: WHY DON’T YOU JUST DO WHAT I SAY

life would be so much BETTER if you just DID WHAT I SAY

Me: AND AS LONG AS WE ARE DREAMING I WOULD LIKE A PONY

Ms. F: hahaha

Although in a lot of ways it’s been a difficult journey for me, I’m so happy that I’m in a place in my life where I can have a conversation like this with another woman. I still don’t have a lot of women friends, but then, I find I function better when I don’t have a terrible lot of close friends, period. And slowly but surely my conception of inter-lady friendships is coming around to a healthier place; as I told Ms. Fairfax in a different conversation, these friendships are “a support system, not a marriage. You shouldn’t have to work at it.” Oversimplification? Yes. Convenient shorthand for the kind of relationship in which you can call at all hours, crying, and she’ll offer you her ear and a blanket, no questions asked; or in which you can spend hours drinking wine and talking about nothing in particular and yet everything; or in which you can, yes, complain about your decision the next day and not have it turn into Resentfest 2010 because she didn’t take your advice? Also yes.

Ms. F. ahhh i love you you’re great

Me: you are likewise great Ms. Fairfax

Ms. F: aw!

thank you for tolerating my nuttiness

I said nut, twice

I heart you, Ms. Fairfax–at least as much as I heart everything that’s led me to become the kind of person that has a “Ms. Fairfax.”

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