Female Friendships

I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently, trying to decide whether to write about it or not, and last night I read an article which has made me realise I need to. So I want to talk to you about female friendships, my experience, and expectations.

I read this article on “fangirling” and it really irritated me, if you saw my tweets last night you might have guessed this!

These days, it’s almost impossible to scroll down a Twitter feed without coming across hordes of women swooning all over each other’s ‘awesomeness’.

Oh yes, how dare we forget that we are meant to be in constant competition with each other, women aren’t meant to build each other up, we are meant to tear each other down. Our whole existence hinges on comparing ourselves to others and fitting into the stereotype of “catty”, “bitchy”, “two faced”. If we all start supporting each other and not looking for other women’s flaws then whole swathes of gossip magazines might lose sales.

But what I take issue with is the way that this support is manifesting itself. Lately it feels like the only way to let another woman know you admire or respect her is to tweet just how much you, like, OMG seriously wanna be her right now. When did support mutate into pure brown-nosing?

Remember, only certain forms of support and affection are legitimate, everything else is just brown nosing.

Before Twitter, regular people would usually only offer such praise if they really meant it – mainly because finding someone’s email address or writing them a letter took a lot more effort. If you did ever receive an admiring, you’d know the sender really meant it because they sent it just for you – not their thousands of followers.

You read that right, praise can only be really meant if you have to go to extra special effort to give it. Quite frankly, unless you’ve walked over hot coals whilst self flagellating I’m just not going to accept that it’s genuinely heartfelt.

But a #fangirl tweet? It just doesn’t have the same level of sincerity, and [..] it rarely leads to solid, meaningful relationships.

No friendships have ever developed after praising other women over Twitter, sorry all my plus size women, turns out we aren’t friends after all. We must have imagined it.

If you want to foster a relationship with someone new, try ditching the hashtags in favour of something more real. Whether it’s a more nuanced opinion of their work, a disagreement, or even a toned down message of praise, it’s far more likely to lead to an interesting conversation than some emoji jazz hands.

What do you mean you can do both? Don’t be such a silly little airheaded girl, of course you can’t. Being emotional and enthusiastic and engaging in frivolous things like hashtags and fangirling means you are totally incapable of nuanced opinions and interesting conversations.

This article is bullshit.

Women are multifaceted and complex, we are allowed to be serious and silly, intellectual and frivolous. We are not simple stereotypes or walking clichés. This policing of our behaviour needs to stop, we need to stop putting women into boxes and then setting them against each other. There is room for all of us to coexist, and even support each other. The article also reeks of “online friendships aren’t real”.

Here’s the thing, I’ve always struggled with friendships, always felt like an outsider looking in. While I know I come across ok face to face, I’ve always kept myself at a distance because I’ve convinced myself I’m unwanted and people are just being nice to me because they are too polite not to. Online I know people aren’t so restricted my social niceties, if they don’t want to talk to me they can shut the window down, or ignore me, or even block me! So if someone talks to me online I am more able to believe they actually want to.

It has freed me to build some incredible friendships, some of my longest and strongest friendships are with people I’ve met online.

The last few years I’ve felt increasingly isolated, older friends from school and work drifted away, I found myself mostly stuck at home thanks to disability and motherhood. I tried parent and child groups, and found it terrifying to talk to women who already knew each other, unable to think of common interests beyond the ability to produce children.

But online I found women who shared my views, my loves, my interests. At first it was daunting, same as face to face I could see these close knit communities and I was outside looking in. So I watched and admired these incredible women from a distance. Gradually I started to talk to them, mostly I sent them fangirl messages, telling them how inspirational they were to me. If this article writer was correct then it would all stop there. But it hasn’t, now I count these incredible women as my friends and adore them.

My only regret? I wish I could see them all face to face more often, I wish I could call them up and go out for a quick lunch, or pop around to see them. But our friendships are no less real for the distance.

5 thoughts on “Female Friendships

  1. Oh MoG! This is a beautifully written piece. Yay for online and fangirling which helped us find each other my lovely!
    To be honest I do try to stay away from gushing for the sake of it for the simple reason that I always believe in saying things that I really and truly mean and that are a little more personal so they ring true.. Not just saying things for the sake of it. Because then I think what I do say and when I say it will be all the more meaningful when it comes from the heart.
    But I do also believe in saying these things whenever I think them. So it means I am constantly giving perfect strangers compliments in real life nevermind online. Haha. I love a stealthy unexpected compliment from a stranger. They’re the best! As are you!

    1. I agree, I only say it when I think it, not just for the sake of it. I just think it a lot!

      Meeting you and the other bloggers has been life changing for me, there is huge power in online friendship, especially in a community with “fangirling” because the support is so in your face and overwhelming. It’s an amazing empowering feeling.

  2. This is such a great post! I really dislike it when people belittle online friendships. Many of us find our romantic partners online these days, so why not friends? As for the “fangirling”, I love it when people say something nice to me on social media. It can really make my day. And I never compliment other people online unless I actually mean it. Why would I? Just because communication is mediated and “easy”, it does not make it any less real. I’m just a silly little girl though, so what do I know – I’m only doing a PhD on online interaction. 😉

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