Distrust among women is at epidemic proportions, especially among women of color. I am always amazed at the number of women I encounter who declare proudly, that they don’t hang with other FEMALES, preferring the company of males whom they are quick to assert are less prone to gossip, back-stabbing, and emotionalism. Side Note: Y’all know dudes gossip! Stop frontin! For many women, it’s a badge of honor to be “one of the guys.”
Ironically, I have never heard a man declare that he doesn’t “kick it with other dudes, because men are generally not to be trusted.” In fact, such a notion sounds absurd on its face, doesn’t it?
I’m not trying to be clever or dismissive. I get it. Many of us have been hurt by other women. Deeply. I certainly have. I have had girlfriends to smile in my face and then talk behind my back, sometimes while I was still in earshot. Because I’m more of a nerdy, home-body, I continue to be the friend easily left on the back burner when more glamorous, exciting people come along. I have had knockdown drag out arguments with homegirls, nursed terrible break-ups of what I thought would be life long friendships, and cried more than a few tears over unreciprocated acts of platonic love.
As one friend told me in the midst of hurting me deeply, “I’m not used to expending this kind of energy on girls. I only expend this kind of energy on men.” She was insinuating that my love for her, my commitment to our friendship, must have signaled that I was lesbian. The statement was insulting, not because it questioned my sexuality, but because it reduced my love to the sexual and suggested that women who love one another deeply must be sleeping together, as if sex is ever a guarantee that the love is good. Lesbian sisters will tell you that it ain’t easy for them either. But it is precisely our homophobia, our fear that loving other women actively exposes the falsity of the strict boundaries of straight and gay identity that keeps many of us from loving one another with our full selves.
Perhaps what is more troubling is that many straight women believe deep down that in matters of happiness women are as expendable as men are indispensable. Hence my friend’s conclusion that only men are worthy of her relational energy. But a life without sister-friends is a miserable and unhappy life.
Why is it that when women hurt us, the entire lot of us ceases to be trustworthy? And yet, men daily commit humiliating, heart-wrenching, soul-gutting acts of insensitivity, inconsideration and violence toward us. And we get up again and again and commit to loving them. Something is wrong with this picture.
Our thinking must change.
Let’s revisit and revise the messages that we got from our personal experiences, men, and even the women in our families that told us not to trust other women. Adulthood demands that we deal with our daddy issues and issues with men in general; Grown womanhood demands that we unpack the bullshit that we have with other women, that we name it, process it, and begin to heal.
Every time we use the word “female” in a derogatory manner, we strip women of their humanity. Cats can be female. Dogs can be female. Women are people. And no woman, be she cis or transgendered, should be reduced to her biology or discredited because of it. And as female dogs go, surely we don’t need anyone else to refer to us as bitches. For those of you who think your use of the term is innocuous, consciously check to see if you are ever saying anything positive about women when you refer to them as “females.” (E.g. “I don’t associate with females.” Substituting women in this statement doesn’t really make sense; although substituting the term “bitches” makes the most sense of all. So what are you really saying when you call women “females”?)
And can we also just be honest? If you can’t trust “females” as a group, can we trust you? The notion that every woman including you is not implicated in her own sweeping denouncements of other women is just as faulty as the woman who tells herself that her favorite rap star, “ain’t talking about me,” when he refers to all women indiscriminately as bitches and hoes. Trust is like respect. To get it, you gotta give it.
In the last few years, I have been blessed with many women friends, after many lonely years of wondering if I would ever have close girlfriends. These women have loved me fiercely, even in moments when I didn’t love myself. They have talked me through countless heartbreaks and romantic disappointments. They encourage me and challenge me to grow. I am a better me because of the women I (have) know(n,) love(d), and share(d) this walk with; without them, it would have been a spiritually truncated journey.
A friend’s blog post reminded me recently, “I’m not only my sister’s keeper; I am my sister.” That one is worth taking to the bank.