Sunday, January 6, 2013

Day 6: Sisterhood

Have you ever tried Loacker Quadratini?  I have.  Just now.  I ate a whole box of them.  A sure sign of impending doom (for everyone else) and impending bloodiness (for me).


To completely change the subject: I was talking to my friend Lesleigh last night about the joys of being friends with women.  She grew up with mostly female friends and the women in her immediate family outnumber the men.  I, on the other hand, was raised by wolves.  After my parents divorced, and as the first female in three generations of my father's family, I was surrounded by a rabid pack...of boys.  Not to mention grown men who paled at the sight of tampons and became befuddled by any show of emotion.  They did the best they could, but really, I think it was challenging for everyone involved.  And that is how I ended up with mostly guy friends for many years.  I had the occasional close girlfriend, but the majority of the group were always boys.  It wasn't until my late 20s that I developed close bonds with numerous girls.  I believe this had something to do with the fact that all my guy friends started getting married and weren't allowed to have female friends anymore.  I count myself lucky that one of my best friends (I have two, but we are all three each other's besties), Glenn, is married to a woman who isn't threatened by other women.  And has, in fact, become my good friend, as well.


Despite our very different upbringings, Lesleigh and I have this in common: We both enjoy working with mostly women (and we happen to be quite fortunate in that we work with a diverse group of awesome, strong, intelligent women right now).  We both have many female friends and enjoy that sisterhood.  And neither of us can understand women who compete with other women viciously.  It's one thing to get along better with guys - to each her own.  But to dislike all women?  What the hell?  Do these women hate themselves?  


I believe they are missing out.  Much as I love Glenn, who has pretty much reached sibling status by now, there are things I can talk to his wife or my other best friend about that I simply wouldn't subject him to.  Over the years, my female friends and I have conquered many topics that a lot of women simply don't talk about with anyone (and sometimes we're even sober).  Miscarriages and breastfeeding are the first two that come to mind.  Miscarriages happen a lot to women of all ages, and yet I've had conversations with friends who didn't feel that they could talk to anyone else about their experience because they would be judged.  Judged as too emotional about a pregnancy that didn't even make it to the end of the first trimester.  Or judged as barren, regardless of having several miscarriages or just one.  Worse, women who find out they can't have children and are treated like they don't count as women anymore.  We are not just babymaking machines.  I, myself, don't know that I'll even have kids.  And if I don't, I will feel no more or less a woman.


As far as breastfeeding, a few years ago one of my friends was having a hard time with it and the hospital she was at was not as helpful as, I believe, they should have been.  I asked a bunch of women I knew if they'd have difficulty or heard of any solutions and found, in the process, that again, a lot of women (especially first-time mothers, but for some women it's every time) have trouble with breastfeeding.  Mostost of the time hot showers, a good heating pad and perseverance are all it takes to overcome it (the question is, why did the Lactation Consultant tell my friend any of these things?!).  Oh, and, it should go without saying: support.  Support should be given by everyone for the new mom.  This person just carried another human being around inside her for several months!  This does not become less amazing to me, no matter how many times women have their innards shifted around to make room for a new person.  And then the choice (if there even is one) is between pushing it out through a hole that isn't actually big enough or being sliced open.  In return for this, some women are either treated like they're incompetent or told that they are bad mothers because they're having a hard time breastfeeding, or because they've finally given up because it just wasn't working.  Why would any woman treat another so horribly?  And why, god, why would any man think it was okay, for even one moment, to criticize someone who has just done something that it is impossible for his body to do at all?  A little respect, please.
 

The point of all this ranting is that we do need each other.  Just as much as we need to be around other people, in general, who we have things in common with.  When I decided to quit my job as an Emergency Dispatcher, I called a friend who had just quit the same job at the same agency.  I still tell people, when they ask about that experience, that I feel forever indebted to the friend who helped me out of that situation.  She helped me keep my sanity, leave that position on good terms and transfer to another job so I wouldn't end up unemployed.  I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't want to devalue the friendships I have with men, but we are different.  And that's great I want to have people in my life who don't have all the exact same experiences that I've had.  How else would I get perspective?!

But I imagine my life would become difficult very quickly if I stopped relying on the women in my life for support, conversation, advice in hard situations.  And you cannot put a price on being the first person a girlfriend thinks of when she needs advice, someone to lean on, someone to get drunk with after a bad day or just someone to get it, without saying a word.  So this super-ranty post is dedicated to all you girls.  All the women in my life who have shaped me and helped me grow.  I am so thankful that all of you are in my sisterhood.


12 comments:

  1. This is such a lovely post, Jess- for whatever reason it became kind of "hip" for young ladies to only have guy friends, or to dislike having female friends because they're "too emotional" or "surrounded by drama" and whatever other rubbish, and this needed to be said. There is nothing wrong with women or having women friends, and of course nothing good can come from slinging women into one category and not even allowing yourself to connect.

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  2. I love this post. And boy do I have a lot to say about breastfeeding! My experience with women friends has been a bit opposite of yours. I had a ton of girlfriends while growing up and well into my twenties. Then it kind of sort of... dissipated. I think it had to do with me moving across the country and having to start over. It just hasn't been the same. You make me want to get out there and find me some more lady friends!

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    1. The creation of the LostGirls blog was largely about reconnecting with the women in my life. It gave us a place to meet, in a way. I still get emails from the women I involved in its inception (I asked for volunteers to form a LostGirls Ideas Committee and got a ton of responses) and even if Mary and Meg aren't posting regularly, they are still my editing/advice/constructive criticism/crazy ideas team.

      But as far as making new friends in my adult life, having also moved across the country, even as a single woman with nothing but time for the first few months I moved here, it wasn't until I started my current job that I made a ton of female friends. It is part of the reason I chose to apply in the first place. Making friends outside of that? Crazy hard. Mostly because it requires effort...and I'm a bit lazy on the social side.

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  3. I love this post, Jess! I love you and our friendship! Miss your face

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    1. I miss your lovely, Lushie face, too!

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  4. Hey, that's me! How lovely to be partial inspiration for one of your blog posts! I love the point about surrounding yourself with a diverse group of peers to get a diverse perspective... though I do count myself lucky that I get to hang out with some amazing women (you included) 40+ hours a week. :]

    As a ranty aside (ohhhh women, always ranting about something) -- any reasons any singular person gives about writing off an entire group of people are complete bullshit in my book. When I think about the reasons some females have for not liking other females (the characteristics Sara mentioned being among them), I can't help but roll my eyes. I want to ask, do you really have NO ONE in your life, male or female (black or white, young or old...etc), that does not fit into that category? Sure, there are certain attributes that can be typically labeled female or male, but I know so many men AND women that fall outside of those parameters that it seems unfair to keep everyone in those neat and tidy labeled boxes... plus, a lot less fun. Let people be people, and then we can all get together and play Scrabble sometime. It'll be a hoot, I promise.

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    1. Does this mean we're playing Scrabble on Friday? Which is not to undercut the complete awesomeness of your comment, I'm just sayin. And if anyone wonders why I love my job so much, here is a prime example of the people I get to hang out with everyday at work. So. Effing. Awesome. Also, they smell good.

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  5. Yes! I started reconnecting with female friends around the time I had my first child. Not sure if that is coincidence, but we need each other!

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  6. Whew! I'm glad some of the conversations we've had (including the girls) didn't make this blog! HA! Love you and miss you! Come home now - your mother has spoken!!!

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  7. yay for not labeling!! i fucking love women. ...and men. so glad i can count you as one of my amazing women friends jess!

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  8. Beautiful! I need to squeeze your face in person one of these days! xoxo

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