Why does female friendship seem scarce?
Too many women believe the stereotype that female friendships are less common and less successful than male friendships. This stereotype comes from a few different places. But regardless of the reasons this stereotype has come about, it’s important to understand that it is, by nature, misogynistic. A woman’s most powerful ally is her inner circle, and having a group to huddle with can be a fantastic combatant to sexism. I personally believe that every woman should put heavy significance on her friendships with other women. In my life, female friendships have been an invaluable source of love and support, as well as an opportunity to support others.
Female friendship and the workplace
Having a close inner circle isn’t just something that can help your mental wellbeing and self-image. Close female camaraderie in the workplace can actually help you further your career. Close workplace friendships can provide emotional and social support in male-dominated industries. Women need to stop believing that we need to push other women out of the way to make space.
We have got to start adopting abundance mentalities when it comes to the workplace. When we live in the mentality that there is not enough space for us, we will go out of the way to sabotage our peers. But we don’t need to fight for the seats allocated for us. We need to pull up more chairs.
Generational sexism leads to female isolation
If you grew up with a mother who frequently vocalized her insecurities about her body or consistently expressed ideas that are congruent with internalized sexism, there is a solid chance you’ve had trouble making friendships with other women. There are a few reasons for this. Insecure mothers raise insecure daughters. Watching your main female role model constantly scrutinize her own body can be massively detrimental to your self-esteem. Insecure women tear other women down.
When we have been raised to tear ourselves down, it causes lots of problems. It can make it difficult to create positive friendships with other women, for example. Insecurities bred by generational sexism are the enemy of female friendship. Insecure people tend to tear others down. We should always try to consider if our criticisms of other women stem from places of harsh insecurity. There is often a chance for powerful and supportive relationships with many of the women we meet.
These kinds of positive mindsets are massively beneficial. This is not just for furthering the feminist cause but also for our own mental wellbeing and productivity. When we feel good about ourselves, we can feel good about other women too. Receiving and giving emotional support in groups with similar experiences can be an invaluable resource.
Other negative attitudes on female friendship
Unfortunately, there is one other harmful stereotype about female friendship, and friendship generally. This is the stereotype that one day, close camaraderie will come to an end because of one’s family life. The idea that all friendships must end in the name of marriage or family planning is unnecessary. People behave as if these relationships, female relationships especially, must necessarily fall apart for lack of nurturing after a person settles down. This stereotype is ridiculous and harmful regardless of gender.
A Call to Action
So, what can you do to help yourself prioritize female friendship? Like many issues that stem from internalized sexism, even just being mindful of your actions and attitudes can be a life-changing step. Make sure to keep self-awareness about how you criticize other women and yourself, even if the criticism is unspoken. Avoid anyone who says they only get along with men or women who will tear you down. I also highly recommend Brooke Baldwin’s book “Huddle,” which entirely focuses on female friendships and girl power.
Keep positive attitudes in mind, and try to have unconditional positive regard for other women in the workplace. You can also further invest yourself in female relationships by reaching out, planning trips and outings, and supporting other women that you aren’t super close to (yet).