If you think that things are good for women because you like the look of Bridesmaids, bought the new Beyonce song/lie about girls running things and follow that one brown comedienne on Twitter, then I have to ask you if you’re fucking retarded and didn’t notice how, compared to boys, almost every single thing about being a girl is worse.
I understand but am still obsessed with how much girls fucking despise each other. Like everyone else who grew up post-sexual revolution (Dear 1995 babies: that was before AIDS, and after what we call “second wave feminism”), it was always fine and normal for boys and girls to be friends with each other. This stops when your guy friends start marrying assholes who don’t trust you – more on that later – but as for girls being friends with girls, well, it was just never the same. It was/is haaaard for girls to be friends with girls. Yeah, this is all going to be really sexist, by the way, but I’m thirty, a militant feminist, politically queer, an ex-slut, straight-but-sort-of-bi and I’ve read every book, ever, so I’m allowed.
Like, if you know any pairs of best girlfriends who aren’t using some mutual admiration and a few in-jokes to cover a whole load of jealousy and resentment and let-downs and unspoken everything, you need to lay down in front of them right now and ask for their mercy upon you because rest the fuck assured they are GODS.
Anyway. There are two essential truths about girl-on-girl friendship: 1) underneath the harsh hate-tokes, girls really, really, really love each other and understand that we’re part of an all-powerful pussy tribe bound by wisdom and empathy and being on the same period cycle and 2) we still want to kill and eat each other (not in a sexy way). Here’s why:
GIRLS WANT TO (BE THE ONLY GIRL WHO GETS TO) FUCK
Trust: women are unbelievably into fucking, not in the context-free-sexual-encounter-anytime-anywhere sense but in the wants-to-get-way-wide-for-the-right-cock sense. So, while guys compete for the attentions and sexings of women in an explicit way, women compete in this sneaky-deaky bullshitty way, neg-ing their girls out of going for a potential lay, and most of all just being jerks about other women all the time to anyone who will listen.
Obviously, women evaluate women as sexual competitors and the reason we squeal so loud when we see each other is because we’re muffling the sound of Babe-Value Calculations that are happening in the one part of our math-brains that we use (sexist!). OK, this is happening less and less as we get cooler with each other’s sexual agency, but this is a Historical Document. Unless you are super-fucking-smooth-icy-cool, your friendship will sink or swim depending on your respective values. We build packs around our proxies, which is why a megababe is rarely friends with a normal.
This is also why you can’t (usually) stay friends with guys OR their girlfriends when they get into a serious relationship/married/babies. Even though it’s been 30 years since we all agreed that “platonic” exists, your man-pal’s gf/wife is convinced that you want to bung him (as if!). Have you ever been at a party with your male friends’ girlfriends? It’s a panopticon, and the non-boyfriended girls are in the middle.
GIRLS WANT EACH OTHER’S BODIES, FACES, CLOTHES, LIVES
It’s less true that girls are jealous of other girls than they are fucking repulsed by themselves. The tall, thin girls want big tits; the milky-creamy thick ones want to go bra-less; the volleyball captains try so hard in their stilettos that it’s kind of hilarious. The only women I know who seem genuinely cool with their bodies are lesbians or extreme nerds. I remain mystified by those depressive-pixie silent-emo girls, the little ones with too-long bangs. What do they want? What do they do when they’re alone? Throw up their cigarettes?
Anyway, until sometime later on – definitely not before 25 – everyone wants what everyone else has, and it’s gross. The only universal, certain thing is that all girls want to be skinny, but everyone says “Ew, skinny is gross” while they’re masturbating to fashion magazines. Actually, white girls also rub it out to Rihanna, I know that much.
You’re not allowed to like your body (that would be “conceited”) but if your friends are cool feminist types you’re not allowed to try to change it, and if your friends are more, uh, standard-issue types, you’re not allowed to not try to change it. So even though your body is absolutely implicated in girl-girl friendships in a way that it isn’t in guy-girl friendships (until you end up sleeping together, HA HA ON YOU, SHITTY GIRLFRIENDS), there is a simultaneous culture of dishonesty, resentment, faking it and (the worst part) mandated reassurances of “you’re beautiful” and “you’re gorgeous” and “I’d kill for your legs.” COOL. Picture me air-barfing into my palm and tossing it at this whole idea.
GIRLS CAN’T JUST HANG OUT
Here’s what you do with guys: aggressively consume, comment on and catalogue movies and music and shows and books. Here’s what you do with girls: talk and shop. I’m not kidding. I know it's cliched, but those are the rules. You’re supposed to be bonding and sharing (and I want to do those things! I do want to talk about your day!) but there’s no reason to really try to make them laugh or be impressed by how much you know about hardcore bands (EVERYTHING). Girls who like to like stuff usually do this with guys instead of together which is called “gendered social conditioning” and also “sad.”
GIRLS ARE WORSE AT COMMUNICATING THAN MY SUBURBAN WASP PARENTS
Here’s how I talk to the Turtleneck Nation that is my parents: I do not. My arch-puritan family is what John Cheever would have been if you took out the bisexuality and moved him to Canada and split him into five people. Likewise, girls do not communicate well even though we are constantly circulating each other with our mouths open. I know it sounds like we’re all “AND THEN HE SAID AND THEN SHE SAID AND THIS CUNT FROM MY CLASS WAS LIKE AND THEN SHE” but that is actually just our girl-patois, a total cover for the fact that we are scared shitless to say anything real.
If you say to a woman “I don’t feel like hanging out with you, I’d rather watch Netflix by myself in bed” there will be a friendship-apocalypse guaranteed, because you are a BITCH. And yet, I can tell my guy friends to fuck themselves and mean it and they’ll still meet me for brunch the next day (I love how homo all the straight guys are now: BRUNCH!). Girls exist in an elaborate network of lies that are all bound up with passive-aggressive assurances that you love each other soooo much.
So, for all the stuff you have in common, it’s extraordinarily difficult to have a friendship with a girl that’s on emotional par with your shambolic, fighty, fun, sexy-flirty friendships with men. If you’re smart, it’s especially like this, because you and your girls will be extra caught up in your individual, neurotic psychotrances about jobs and shoes and apartments. I know some very "out there" metal and punk girls who can really scrap with their friends and therefore have a lot of actual, real relationships, but for prissy white idiots like me, Real Talk is almost impossible, and I can make myself cry just by thinking about the very few women with whom I can be my worst self. I am doing it right noooow!
GIRLS LOVE OTHER GIRLS SO MUCH THEY HATE THEM
Here’s an example of the purest girl love I can think of: my friend Alexis, who is simultaneously the sweetest/cookie-bakingest/nicest girl and the one with the most fucked-up tattoos, was eating brunch (BRUNCH!) at a Creole place and kept talking about the “ahhhhhm-biant jaaaaahms,” which means “ambient jams” in a Julia Child voice. What!? Who is this woman? I have these other girls, too (Anna, Star, Maggie, like six Amys) who are also living embodiments of my friendship wet-dreams. But what the fuck am I going to do with that? I can’t fuck them, I can’t be them and I know from experience that girl love will turn into ash quicker and meaner than any boyfriend’s. It’s too much. This is why the female half of the internet has morphed into an avenue for girl-on-girl approval. Like Like Like Like @ @ @ @!!!! It is a circle jerk until somebody says something you don’t like and then it’s all passive-aggressive “Uh, sure…” and you have to start again.
GIRLS JUDGE EACH OTHER, HARD.
Here is the thing: Even though Beyonce is wrong about girls running the world, and would be a hypocrite if she had anything to do with her songs/videos/style/life, women really do have a lot of choices. But they also have a lot of institutional low self-esteem, and therefore an inability to manage those choices, which an old medicine man (Douglas Coupland) called “option paralysis.” The whole thing of getting married and having babies and buying houses and whatever is starting to feel like the most hysterical joke ever played on half (all?) of the population. I can’t even get into it. The point is, as a first-world woman with a university degree I can do whatever I want (until the next time I get raped and have to take Plan B and sleep for two days, OOPS!) and so can all my friends. This is also true for guys, but shut up, because guys do not spend time actively judging each other’s choices. Like, all of their choices. No matter how you do your life, some girl you know is going to hate you for it. We hate each other. #meaningful.
GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN
No, really. All of this shit – the judging, the jealousy, even the mall as social activity – is just a way to have fun and flex some power in a world we decidedly do not run. I’m sorry, but the best of our best dude friends don’t know how it is between girls. They can’t know, but guys: don't worry about it. You don’t want to. It’s excruciating, plus, our periods totally do cycle together and that is too weird a thing to want in on.
Follow Kate on Twitter @katecarraway