Today I played racquetball with a friend. We had a great time. She is a lot of fun, plus she’s cute as a button. Once it would have bothered me a little, how pretty she is. Now I enjoy it as part of who she is.
Our friendship feels as easy and fun as the ones I had when I was 11. Before puberty. Before all of a sudden boys loomed large in our lives.
This is something I’ve hated, the way women allow men to destroy the ease and joy of our friendships.
I remember in high school, all of a sudden our conversations started to revolve around boys. I remember college, and having women friends cancel on me because a man asked them out. The men seemed to expect this and that bothered me too.
And then I moved to South Carolina.
One of my acquaintances gave her friend bad advice on clothes. Another women steered her friend wrong about a guy who might like her. I saw variations of this repeated over and over. Women sabotaging other women. Why? So that they could better compete for men.
Being a student of history, in the South, some of this is an aftermath of the Civil War. So many eligible young men died that the competition for a husband became fierce. Southern women had to compete for men and the culture was molded by that history.
Yet when I think of this — competing for a man — it makes me want to give a rebel yell.
First of all, is a man an object that we must fight over, like dogs over a bone? What does that say about us, and how we view men?
I don’t want men to objectify me. So then, is it fair for me to objectify them?
Thanks to feminism, I no longer have to view a man as a resource. I no longer need to be married. I can be with a man because I love him and enjoy his company, not because I need his money.
If I need money, I can earn it. If I need love… it comes in so many shapes and sizes. While the love of a partner is wonderful, so is the love of friends, of family, of pets… why do we denigrate these other types of love? There are so many ways to love and be loved outside of the pair bond.
If I want sex — there are alternatives, even for those of us who don’t want to have sex with a partner outside a committed relationship.
We don’t need to put men up on a pedestal and destroy our relationships with our women friends. We can act honorably in our friendships.
When I stopped seeing men as a limited resource that I needed and started seeing them as human beings that I could choose to interact with — then my life changed.
I no longer stress when my guy has a woman friend. She’s not my competition. I don’t care if she’s objectively more attractive than I am. I assume that my fella is with me for a reason and I trust him.
If someone cheats on me — then I don’t want them anyway. I’d rather find out the relationship was not meant to be and break up then waste my time trying to hold on to something because “I need a man”.
My women friends are not inferior alternatives to a man. They are unique individuals I love and appreciate for themselves. I choose to spend time with them because I want to and I enjoy them, not because I don’t have a date.
I don’t compete with women, aside from on the racquetball court or when playing board games. When I give my friends advice, it comes from the heart, with their best interests in mind.
It comes from a place of love, not insecurity.
This has made all the difference in my life. I have deep, meaningful relationships with people and I’ve recaptured some of the joy I had when I was 10, when friendships were free and easy.
The thing is, men can screw up female friendships. But it’s our choice to let them.
This post was previously published on Medium and is republished here with permission from the author.
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