#4: Female Friendships

Why do you think female friendships have become so important now? Is it because we’re all fucked or because of social media?

Answer:
Historically, women have found solace in community. Often with my female friendships too, I have realised that reaching out when we need help has been the norm. When it comes to celebrating each other’s successes or walking each other through our failures, we have sought each other out.

I realised only very recently that this is not a gendered reaction.That means it is not restricted to women alone.

It comes from the idea of seeking a community with people who are just as oppressed. And God knows, women are. Women across the board and spectrum know what it’s like to walk into a room full of men and feel relieved at seeing another woman, because it gives us a sense of community and safety.

Disclaimer: Of course, my oppression is much less pronounced than someone from a marginalised caste, class, religion, POC, or someone from the LGBT+ community, for example.

In the last three years, especially, women have found this community on the internet. Whether it comes to memes encouraging friendship, bonding over the hatred of a white male narrative, our periods, or even when it comes to learning outside of our own bubbles of privilege, or talking about consent — women have found a way to connect across borders effortlessly.

The internet has made it easier for us to speak up with very little fear of consequence. In fact, in most parts of the world, women have used the advantage of anonymity on the internet to speak up against regimes and structural violence. While mainstream media stuck to male-dominated narratives, the internet offered women a chance to tell their own stories, thus helping build a network of more women across the world who could relate.

The internet has fostered a sense of sisterhood that mainstream media crushed by pitting us against each other. As the internet made sharing ideas more convenient, a lot of unlearning internalised misogyny led to women finding corners within themselves and with other women to heal from generations of oppression.

Women across the world have now just realised that building this community is only going to help set themselves free. Why be a lone wolf when you can be a pack sitting across the table from each other holding hands and saying, “I know everything sucks. Let’s bring this shit down together”?

To answer your question, the concept of friendship is not new. What is new is the celebration of it. What is new is understanding the depth of each of these friendships as a way of finding comfort when fighting against systems that were built to break us; and instead building systems that were meant to lift us up. Together.


S and her Two Lady Friends

Time: Sometime around 2004
Age: 11

As I climbed up the stairs to watch my cousins play video games for the 219837329th time, I waved hello to my aunt. Small talk was engaged in, and as I kept looking impatiently towards my cousin’s testosterone cave, she surprised me with a new top. Not as exciting as the prospect of beating my brothers up, I took it from her and hesitantly tried it on. When I stepped out to show it to her, she eyed me from top to bottom, pleased with herself and proclaimed, “Wow! Your chest has grown, hasn’t it?”w5KH4Nyb6gxwY

As if right on cue, my cousin emerged from his cave and stared at us, with his eyebrows raised. I folded my arms around my chest and let my own mortification kill me. What did she mean by my chest having grown? Boobs were for my mom. Or moms in general. Or Baywatch. RIGHT? RIGHT?!

Little did I know there was more to come. More growth, more mortification and let’s not forget the sleazy stares.

Office-no

I looked into the mirror and held myself. What are these additions to my (already heavy) body? And why do they refuse to fit into shirts like well-behaved ladies?

Bra shopping was another ordeal altogether. No one knows your size and everyone has an opinion about what is more comfortable. We all know better, don’t we? A comfortable bra is a lie. The tight bodice is a device to hold back two unruly children that, according to the Mothers’ Association, will cause more trouble than they really should. Cushiony, non-wired bras had a mind of their own. Wired ones poked you in the sides like bullies. Padded bras put everything on display that I was so desperately trying to hide.

————————————————————————————————————-

By 18, I dodged lingerie sections, stores and eager shopping assistants successfully and found a few allies in my friends who were just as afraid of this torture device. College changed some of that. I was now around people who were slowly shedding the pretenses of teenage and slowly fitting in their awkward bodies well enough. A comparison of their old Facebook albums and current ones would tell the story better than I could explain right now. My friends in college and the old friends from my childhood slowly realised why breasts were called assets.

A few compliments from friends, appreciative looks from the right parties and a change in perspective gave me lady friends. These ladies are crazy and do have a mind of their own. But, they need love and acceptance like the rest of us do. The least I could do was support them (or so advertising leads me to think I am doing for them). I soon found bras attractive and seeing myself in them and prancing around the room like an inadequate, awkward duck was good enough incentive to start loving my body. Bollywood could be thanked for (even if, ironically) making buxom bodies more attractive.

tina-fey-pregnant-30-rock-gif-penelope-athena-1

I don’t think I hurt myself when I pop the top button on a shirt or even cringe in disgust when I see myself in the mirror now. It took time. But, I am glad I found friends in these twins. If nothing, they do enough to make sure I feel loved.

MTI4NDg1Mzg4Njk1MTQ3Nzk0