-“Doctor…At the end of the day, only my girlfriends are standing by me.”
Kim X. is a married mother of three grownup children that still chats and meets regularly with her two former classmates from a Catholic primary school.Neither sanctioned by the church nor recognized by the state, their female bonding has withstood the tough test of times and keeps growing stronger.
By traditional standards women are supposed to find their kindred souls and marry them, but one of the hushed truths about emotional frustration is that women’s non-sexual foundational relationships are equally important. Moreover as modern women are marrying later in life and divorcing more often than their ancestors, female bonding is playing a pivotal role.
Marilyn Yalom chronicles the evolution of female friendship from the dark days when women were excluded form the social discourse and relegated to a “gossiping jousting match” in a corner of the kitchen by oppressive males. The cloistered nuns were one of the first examples of intellectual friendship. In the 17th century women in France and England befriended their neighbors, exchanged letters and had parties for cultural refinement.
Female bonding became the ignition of powerful social movements like the Suffragettes that fought for an end to women’s subservient roles in society. Eleanor Roosevelt sought to create a role for herself as a “first lady”, separate form the impressive achievements of one of our greatest presidents.
The allure of female bonding did not diminish with their social liberation. On the contrary. As their social roles became more prominent and they acted independently from their mates, they needed a “caring ear” more than ever.Event the most emotionally and sexually satisfying relationship with a mate cannot supplant the centrality of female bonding in our stressed-out society.
Rebecca Traister says “for many women friends are our primary partners through life; they are the ones who move us into our new homes, out of bad relationships, through births and illnesses. Even for women who do marry, this is true at the beginning of our adult lives, and at the end—after divorce or the death of a spouse.” Men should take heed of this fact of life.
Long, long time ago (before I became a monk of Medicine) one rainy day my “significant other” was engaged with the favorite feminine jousting; she was scolding me for my mistakes, blocking my view of the football game on TV, precisely when it was most interesting. And then they blame women for not having a clue about sports …
Suddenly the phone rang. It was Lucía, a close girlfriend. She blanched completely out.
-“Damn,” she said after hanging up. “Carlos is having an affair…”
-“Oh, go and keep her company,” I said, with a token of compassion. “Don’t worry about me… I’ll try to busy myself with something—“
That phone call resonated in my mind like the clarion call of the 7th Cavalry’s reinforcements that General Custer never heard when he was besieged at Little Big Horn.
What do you think? Please tell us.
Don’t leave me alone.