Saturday, February 25, 2012

Retract Your Claws!

While I was up a night ago, sick and killing time, I browsed several blogs. I found something that really stirred my fire. My angry fire. I got so angry. Mostly because my feelings were deeply hurt. I've stewed on it a bit to make sure my reaction isn't all fire and no thought. Now I feel less angry or hurt. Everything has settled to the point that I mostly feel bothered. But very bothered.
This blog is a pretty good blog. Sometimes, the writer of the blog is funny. Most of the time, she's a good writer (she is published, and that is cool). I appreciate that on a blog. And I actually like most of what I have read on her blog! She makes me laugh, and sometimes she makes me think in new ways. But one of the posts she did really stung me. She said,

If you meet a girl who does NOT like hanging out with other girls, be careful. She is possibly crazy. Here's exhibit A: if you ever watch a reality show where you hear a girl (usually a pretty one) say, "All my friends are guys. Girls hate me," then you just met the crazy contestant. I guarantee it. Women who have problems getting along with other women have those problems for a very specific reason: they are defined by male attention and are too emotionally damaged to find validation in healthy friendships with other women.

I thought "But that's me." At least, it was me until I got married. I grew up with four incredible sisters. We were close, tight. We're even more so now. I knew I could always be myself with my sisters, weird or moody or quiet or hyper, and they would love me and even enjoy me whatever the occasion.
Here is the way I approached other girls: I was nice. I really was. Once in a while, I got kind of PMS-y, but never in an abnormal way (and that is true, I promise). I was willing to be friends with other girls. But you know what? It was...I hesitate to put it this way, but the more I think on it, the more I realize it's was nearly always the kind of situation where the nice girl is the outcast. Girls were very hesitant to welcome me. After all, I was usually the New Kid. Every two years, actually. And girls tend to be very territorial, possibly more than boys do. They had to size me up, figure me out, determine whether I was a threat. And believe me, it's not with pride that I say they usually found me too hard to deal with.
You know how I reacted? I was a little sad, secretly. I wanted more girl friends. I wanted to be popular and cool with them, but not enough that I'd do just anything for their friendship. So I kept being nice. I even kept trying to be a good friend. I tried not to bug anyone (I knew what it was like to have a desperate person attach herself to you; being nice has its disadvantages), but I would have welcomed the friendship of more girls.

Guess what happened. Boys are much easier to befriend. That's what I found out, anyway. It worked for me. They didn't mind my company, and I found it a lot easier to have fun with boys.

I was not defined by male attention. Did I like boys? Yeah! Oh yes, I did! Was I emotionally damaged? Oh, seriously. If I was, where do you think it came from? The boys who were so willing to hang out with me, or the girls who were incredibly standoffish and catty? I think most kids go through some amount of emotional damage, but I was still a happy kid. I was nice to people. And I had considerable confidence in myself, despite my lack of girl friends. I knew they didn't define who I was (nor did the guys I hung out with).
Now, from a comment on the offending post:

I heard recently that studies have show [sic] that girls who are in serious boy-girl relationships in their teen years have a harder time forming relationships with other women as adults. I think they said that the relationship part of your brain is forming then, so whichever kind of relationship you have more of, that's the kind your brain develops best.
I am not articulating this well AT ALL, but I think you get what I'm saying. And I am so glad I had more girlfriends than boyfriends at that time.

She does have a point, and it makes sense. But the study is about serious relationships. Weren't we talking about girls who have boy FRIENDS? I actually agree with the study, but it doesn't mean that girls shouldn't have guy friends. And if the study is true, then my friendships with guys would be a big, fat, healthy groundwork for the incredible relationship I enjoy with my husband. Thanks, guy friends!
I'm glad that there were a few comments disagreeing with the narrow-minded argument of the post. A few women pointed out that the main problem they found with girls is drama. Guess what? I hate drama. Forced drama, the type a lot of grade school and high school girls tend to relish. I've never been into it. It has always felt so soap-opera-shallow. Such a waste of time. And really, just dumb.

Maybe I felt so hurt because I read that post in the wee hours, feeling tired and sick and just finishing off a period. I was kind of volatile. But I just had a hard time with the idea that someone would draw a blanket conclusion about "girls like that." It made it seem like she would have been one of the girls to shun my efforts of friendship, back in the day. That isn't really what bothers me, though. I think I just get tired of cattiness from all sides. I can usually back away and ignore it, leave the drama in the other room. But when it's pointed at me? With such a stupid reasoning?

I like to imagine that this blogger, Melanie, from Write Stuff, is quite a normal woman. Maybe someone I'd get along with in "real life" (it's quite possible). I don't feel angry at her, at least not anymore. Just upset that some women think that way. I guess I had thought I left all that drama behind when I left high school and college because I now have more choice in what social atmospheres I spend my time in (I'm sure I never really thought so--that would be terribly naive--but I did escape the bulk of it, in many ways).

I like girls. I really do. Sometimes, for whatever reasons (which anyone's entitled to), they don't like me. And that's okay. But those girls who don't like me shouldn't be mad if I don't want to hang out with them. That does make sense, right?

Does this cattiness (from either side) light anyone else's fire?


  1. I feel like I was in the same situation, except as a young man with mostly female friends. I never once felt like, 'gee, I should try to get closer to my guy friends.' Even 'platonic' friendships with the opposite sex are that much better with a natural undercurrent of gender chemistry. Who is honestly worried enough to do a study about grown up women being able to make friends with other women? As a busy, working/studying married adult wouldn't it be weird if I were concerned with my ability to form and maintain friendships...of the same gender? I think the only time to be worried about a young person's friends' gender growing up is if they have absolutely NO friends whatsoever.

  2. Whoa...I just read her full post and it does sure come across as even more judgmental than you made it sound. She must have just forgotten that there is a whole wide swath of (perfectly normal, healthy) girls who would much rather spend their time looking for and being with Mr. Right than worrying too much about if they are going to go shopping with the girls on Friday night. I see why she got you worked up with that post! If I can just say, with no offense to her, I think it is all too easy for authors to see the world as a cast of cliche character types when in reality, most girls fall into the 'would rather spend time with the boys' category. PS - reality TV shows are not reality. So maybe the girl who pretentiously announces on the show, 'all the boys will get along with ME' is the crazy one. Or at least the one most likely to rub other women the wrong way!

  3. I've never heard of that blog before, so all I know is the one paragraph you included, but I think the whole problem is just what you said about her blanket conclusion of "girls like that". Nobody is one thing. Everyone is not the same. And while it is pretty fun to categorize people that way, it is never accurate. So, yeah. What you said!

  4. I think you express yourself very well here, and I think you've managed to, while still expressing the emotions you felt over that post, write a post that is mostly logical conclusion, devoid of emotional reasoning. I agree with you! That's quite a generalization, and pretty presumptuous.


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