One of the things that I have ruminated on over the years, is the nature of friendships between women. If we believed much of the media, we might think that all women distrust each other; and they are constantly on guard against the possibly of being sabotaged by some one putting on a sweet smile while they plot mayhem. The truth is, I have noticed the opposite for most of the women in my life. My two grandmothers were such good friend that it was my paternal grandmother who was holding the hand of the maternal grandmother when she died. My mother’s mother was called Ammam by her grandchildren. Ammam’s last words were, “There’s my Wessie (my paternal grandmother’s nickname) with her million dollar smile.” This sure doesn’t sound like people who were secretly fighting over first place in their families affections, to me. So where does this misconception come from?
I think that there may be several things behind it. One is that there are women who do not have female friends. They seem to be people who were taught the myth of distrust between women early on. One thing I have come to know is that such women are usually defensive and not trustworthy themselves. They are the ones who react with jealousy when someone female speaks to their husband or boyfriend no matter how innocent the encounter. They are the ones who make a game of trying to disrupt otherwise stable relationships. There seems to be an attitude of get them before they get me.
Another characteristic that I see in friendless women is a strong double standard. Women belong in only one realm subservient to men and therefore always needing to protect what little power they think they have.
Maybe the most disturbing thing I have witnessed with these women is that sex is a weapon of that power. This is not to say there aren’t little wars that go on in any marriage. My own has them, but they have nothing to do with other women. There is the thermostat war. He raises the temperature in the summer and I lower it. We don’t discuss it we just each adjust it as we go by. It probably changes a dozen times a day between the two of us. There was the war we had for several years between his NRA stickers and my World Wildlife Federation ones. The stickers were the same size. When I got the first one, I put it on the bumper of my car. Not too long after that, I saw that he had covered it with a NRA sticker. Since both organizations sent regular mail and always included stickers, we continued to replace the other’s latest application. By the time we sold that car, there was a stack of stickers almost an inch high protruding from the back bumper. I won that one as I put a WWF Panda Bear over his NRA Eagle just as we left to trade the car in. In all that time, we never discussed what we were doing. Women who are afraid that they have little or no power in a relationship would never initiate such a silent war or know the delight of seeing how it plays out.
One thing I am grateful for in my life is strong women with tight friendships. My grandmothers, my Aunt Helen who was surrounded by loving friends as she struggled with early widowhood and with encouragement from friends, finished two degrees in order to support her family. I think of my Aunt Lucy who with encouragement from other strong women, dared to become one of the first United Methodist, fully seminary educated and ordained women ministers in that denomination. I think of all of the women friends I have been blessed with who, oddly enough, would all get along with each other if we were to meet at the same time. We all have different talents and interests but we also have found a common ground and that is priceless. We laugh together, cry together and even fight sometimes. You can’t have strong women without strong opinions. I have tried to raise strong daughters, and I have always told them to make close friends with other women. They will be there for you and will love you even when you are having trouble loving yourself.