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Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Women who have friends apparently hate men

This is what I've learned from the letters to Salon today about the article on female friendships earlier this week. To recap, the story was by a woman whose best friend was moving away to get married, and while she was happy for her and had encouraged her in this new marriage, she was still grieving because her best friend was moving away. Because she insisted that female friendships deserve respect despite the fact that men exist, she hates men, we find out from this letter writer.

It's both odd and sad: the degree to which women seem compelled to constantly, constantly insist on the disposability of the men in their lives. I found this article essentially redundant. Women's cable networks, chick lit and a whole "grrrl" industry (from female-oriented magazines to Web sites) have already done a formidable job of hammering into men's heads their basic worthlessness to women, so why this article? It says nothing new, nor does it offer any solutions to the massive rift that's developed between the sexes in the new millennium.

I'm guessing that his solution is that women despise each other and disdain to even look at each other, unless of course they get into hair-pulling cat fights that end up in nude embraces for a male audience. All other forms of relating between women can be assumed to be plotting sessions against men.

I wonder if it would come as a surprise to the author of this piece that male friendships have also diminished the importance of wives? (Well, that and mistresses and getting a new, younger wife every six years or so.) Why don't men need cable networks and a whole genre of literature to crow about such achievements?

Apparently, he's never seen "The Man Show". Or actually for that matter picked up a lad mag, seen a TV commercial, or heard the expression "the old ball-and-chain", all places where you get to hear about how men resent their wives for taking them away from their friends. Which of course, has nothing to do with this article where the woman encouraged her friend to marry.

Another letter complaining that female friends are great and all but being merely women they don't measure up:

Rebecca Traister writes of single women, "During our formative 20s and into our 30s, women provide us with the emotional and intellectual sustenance and shared curiosity about life that we're not getting from our parents anymore, or from husbands or from our temporary or nonexistent sexual partners." From comments like this, you would have to wonder where male friends fit into the picture. My male friends provide me with plenty of emotional and intellectual sustenance, and I wouldn't trade any of them for women.

Bully for you. I wasn't aware that having a good girlfriend meant that you were contemptous of the idea of having good male friends. And I wasn't aware that having good male friends meant you have to look down your nose at your girlfriends. I myself have a lot of male and female friends, but now that I know this, I guess I'll be calling all my girlfriends and telling them I wouldn't trade my male friends for them anyday. Of course, they'll probably wonder what crawled up my ass and died, but that's the price you pay. In all seriousness, one of the reasons people find same-sex friendships easier is because they struggle with having sexual tension in platonic friendships.

Next we learn that not only are men better friends to women, they are better friends to men as well because even though they will fuck your girlfriend, they won't talk about it:

Rebecca Traister proves again that women talk too much and are silly.

I'm about to turn 45 and I've known my best friend for over 30 years now. In that time, he moved upstate, I moved 2,000 miles away, I slept with someone he was trying to date, he slept with a someone I had dated. He grew to be 6-foot-4 so he started whacking me like a baby seal when we played basketball. He got married and had kids. For a year he moved to Europe.

We never thought our friendship was over when any of these things happened. We trusted our friendship. We didn't feel depressed if we couldn't chatter like chipmunks.

This letter-writer doesn't explain why he thinks that real friendships must be about stealing lovers and beating each other up, but I guess since women get pleasure out of hanging out and speaking with their friends that is the sort of thing that must be avoided at all costs. I'll be sure to let my boyfriend know that going out for drinks or hanging out talking with his male friends on the porch is a sure sign that he's a silly woman.

I have no idea what this next letter means except this woman's marriage probably isn't long for this world:

Girlfriends as placeholders? Definitely. Girlfriends as dry run for marriage? Nope, can't agree with that. Nothing can prepare you for the soul-searing, psychic ripping of your average marriage. When they say marriage is hard work, they mean the part where commitment to something bigger than your own pleasure forces you to turn yourself inside out to get over natural self-centeredness. It ain't pretty, but that's growing up.

Some of my single girlfriends and I have experienced some variation on this woman's letter, which is to say we've been berated for being selfish and happy and not proper grown-up wives and mothers. I don't know why anyone would think that we are going to be compelled to marry by telling us we aren't "real" women until some man is making us miserable, but there you go.

Since this story was about a friendship between two women, the focus got perilously away from men and therefore means that the writers must hate men. And Oprah, too.

That's really the key here: It's friendship, not female friendship, that exists. Special bonds exist in male-male and female-female relationships, and it's the same common perspective that makes those connections so valuable. The author is sad to be losing her friend to a man. We men, believe it or not, go through the same thing when a worthy woman comes along and romances our friend.

Save such stories for Oprah, who I am convinced doesn't believe men have souls, except for when they can be brought up on her stage to be feminized and ridiculed by her lobby of empowered women.

If he's feeling feminized, he can probably just take a page out of that other letter-writer's book and instead of just feeling bad when his friend has a girlfriend or a wife, sleep with her and he'll get his friend back! It works every time. I swear.


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