IT’S OK NOT TO HAVE YOUR OWN GIRL BAND!

“Girls FOR Girls” instead of “Girls AGAINST Girls”: a culture that is dominating social media recently, and one I am here for… front row ticket, in my seat an hour early, here for it. Too often, I’ve witnessed girls being pitted against one another, girls taking down another girl who threatens their position or crosses their territorial border, girls being slut-shamed, degraded, their names defiled in the bathroom cubicles… and I’ve been that girl too. Haven’t we all? In a man’s world, girls often have to fight for their position and their voice (I can already predict the reader’s who will scrunch their nose up at that, but it’s true), and sadly, it invokes rivalry in women. The takedown of another woman can feel like a necessary measure to better one’s chances in the natural selection process of the social hierarchy. So, I am happy to admit that it makes me feel proud inside when I see girls commenting on one another’s selfies: those small, perhaps superficial actions that mark a big step forward for female empowerment and support for one another. The takedown of another female as a survival tactic has been replaced with a “stronger together” mantra. And I love it!

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I love my girl friends, some I’ve had for many years and will remain friends with forevermore. But how much of my time do I spend with my “gals”? Probably about 20%, in a sociable week. My girl friends are all separate entities. A constant ding of a thriving group chat isn’t the soundtrack of our days apart. We don’t tell each other absolutely everything as soon as it happens and we don’t see each other everyday. In other words, we don’t form the “girl gang” that I’ve read is so essential.

I admire those groups of girls who have stayed friends for years- fighting every urge that puberty brings to fall out indefinitely over a substandard boy or missing an invite to a 3rd year party. That truly is something to celebrate, because us females are feisty creatures and friendships can get hard when the claws come out. So am I a complete contradiction to the “GIRL POWER” movement because I don’t really feel that I do have a “girl band”? It’s a question that’s happened accross my erratic brain on more than one occasion, and it isn’t one i’ve lodged in there at my own accord. I’ve read how girls with guy friends tend to find it difficult to “relate” to other girls, how we can only find validity in the approval of men (yes, it’s a real article). I recently scrolled past an article on Facebook titled “why every girl needs a girl squad” (quipped with a picture of Taylor Swift and her plethora of girlfriends, obviously) and for a futile moment, it made me wonder. Am I less of a feminist because I spend 90% of my time with boys? Am I a contradiction to the entire concept of girl power?

To put it bluntly, absolutely not. If there is one thing I’ve learned in my humble 21 years, it’s that girls are bloody great, but your boys can also be your ultimate girl band too and gender truly is redundant in friendship. I’ve seen the stereotyping of those girls who hang around with boys, usually followed up with some comment regarding “thirst” and a picture of sausages. If you’ve seen the memes, you know. It’s a stereotype that seriously needs eradicated. Boys can make excellent friends too, and yes, girls and boys can be just friends. Sure, their can be differences in a female-female friendship and a female-male friendship. For one, “lad” culture certainly does exist, and I’m not about to enjoy spending my saturday night playing Fifa and drinking tins. Similarly, I don’t think my male besties are about to lend me a tampon and complain about cramps with me whilst we inhale Ben and Jerry’s. But that doesn’t mean that your male friendships can’t be as rewarding and genuine as those with girls, and you’re no less of an avid female supporter if your closest friends just so happen to be male. I live with my male best friend and spend most of my time with my boyfriend, him and his. These boys have sang Beyonce and Whitney Houston with me at 3am; helped me form comeback-proof responses to my boyfriend when we’ve had a tiff; tanned the parts of my back I can’t reach (and proceeded to freak out about whether they’ve made me a streaky orange mess); watched movies with me when I’m homesick and as with any real, authentic, lifelong friendship, probably pissed me off a few times too.

I guess the point I’m trying to make here isn’t that male friends are better than female friends, nor that girl groups are overhyped or unnecessary. It’s just that gender is void in friendship. If the boys in your life prove to be your most loyal companions, your most avid supporters and laugh with you until your mouth does that sore thing when you smile, then it doesn’t mean you’re one big contradiction to feminism, finding validation only in the acceptance and company of males. It just means you’ve got a bloody great friend group that you won’t be booking a “girls” holiday anytime soon with. And that is totally OK. Here’s to friends, in ANY form!

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