This post from The F-word’s blog, started me thinking about the benefits of female friendships. I have a vastly marvelous selection of female friends and acquaintances, with a few that most definitely share a definition with sisterhood.
One friend I have known since I was 6 years old. She knows every single detail of my life and, despite a vast distance separating us, she is a part of my everyday life. This woman is my kin. She is a part of me. In a way that no spouse, or child could ever really be. I have also been gifted with a new close friend who I would share any detail with, and who I am happy to support and love through any issue or concern. These women fit me like a glove, they are amazingly perfect compliments to my heart and soul, and our friendships are a perfect balance of give and take.
There are other women who I know in passing, but admire and love. Others who I know well, but with distance and time, now sit in a different and more distant part of my soul. There are family members who I count among my friends, but with whom certain tales, stories and emotions are more censored or hidden.
Most wondrously, I also have other female friendships, which on paper would seemingly never work. Some are at different ends of religious or political spectrums; others are women who I have never met, existing to me as twitter handles or facebook connections, but who I love and honour.
My friendships are wonderfully varied. So many women, so many lives, so many different perspectives. So many opportunities to give, share and receive.
Female friendship is essential. Absolutely essential. Here is a list of reasons why friendship with other women should be paramount in a woman’s life:
- According to a meta-study, friendships keep women healthy. Like, REALLY healthy.
- They are fellow warriors in feminism
- Friends provide a place of memory. They are co-owners of where you have been, the places you have seen and where you have come from.
- When they fall apart, female friendships can strengthen your ability to deal with internal and external conflict. They can help you find new ways to resolve, reconnect and move beyond differences.
- Friends help you protect and hone your identity. They give you a space away from life-absorbing aspects of work or children; reminding you who you are.
- Friends are wonderful people for sharing ideas, bouncing them around before you take them out into the world. True friends offer a sense of trust where you can deposit and bandy about ideas that are precious to you.
- Friendships with women that you work with can make what you do seem so much more spectacular. I have worked with some stellar women who I get to still call friends a decade after we stopped pulling into a parking lot together.
- A true friend supports you and holds you up when life has fractured you.
- Circles of friends can work wonders as ’the village’ that helps you raise your kids.
- Deep pools of knowledge come from our friends. One of the things that I love about my friends is the miles of information that never would have come into my life if not for the friends I have made along the way that have interests that differ dramatically from my own.
- Friends will watch Dirty Dancing with you.
- Friends can make your voice louder when you are fighting to be heard. Whether on Twitter, local community politics, or in more intimate arguments, friends can raise their voices in support of you and your concerns.
- If you are a mother, friendships can take on a new dimension. Knowledge and anecdotes become something traded and hungered for as you seek out friendships in other birthing or mothering women.
- True friendships push you to look more deeply at yourself. Friends will speak not only to your wonderful accomplishments, but also to the darker places and spaces of your being.
- Friends, no matter how far from you physically, can be the soft landing when you fall. My best woman friend lives an ocean away from me, but it is to her that I turn when my heart is breaking.
- Women-friendships can be safe and advocating harbours in bad relationships with partners or other friends.
- Female friends can share body, gender and sexuality dialogue when families or partners don’t seem like the right place to turn.
- Friends are where you can laugh no matter what else is happening. This seems trite, but is essential.
- Friendships can be places of non-judgement.
- When we are marginalized, our friends can remind us of a community that supports and shapes us.
- Creative awesomeness can come from female friendships. Ideas, beauty and concepts spring eternal from some of my friendship circles.
- Friends are people that can open a whole new world or unexpected path.
Media often casts female friendships in a rather negative light; women-friends always looking for a chance to gossip, a chance to back-stab. Although shades of this may exist in all of our lives, most definitely this isn’t the reality of female friendships. My list is certainly lacking in covering the variety of ways that friendships with other women are essential to our beings: so share your own stories, ideas and opinions. How has a female friendship shaped or changed your life? What does friendships with women give to your life that you see as essential?
This post is dedicated to all the women in my life who have shared friendship space with me. To all of you who are near and close and even more to all of you who have floated away and now exist as memories. Thank you for loving me and supporting me, thank you for sharing your life with me.