Super-close Female Friendships: Under the Microscope

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Oprah and Gayle sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G… Now really, how many articles have we read about Oprah and her BFF Gayle, with questions about their sexuality forever hovering in the background?
The implication is that Gayle and Oprah’s relationship is so out of the norm that there just has to be some hidden, sexual component. They must be ‘getting it in’. They can’t just be ‘best friends’, can they? The fact that it is so hard to believe that two women could be as close as ‘husband and wife’, makes me wonder why a close, female friendship is suddenly so ‘suspect’. It wasn’t always so. How many times have we made jokes about a close friend being “meh woman” or “meh man” (yes fellas do it too)? We all know that super-close friendships are ‘normal’. So what’s changed?
I am of the opinion that we, as a society, have marginalized the idea of close, female friendship. The strangest thing is that we women seem to be the ones leading the charge against our own gender. Men doh seem to care. In fact, the stereotypical male wants this ‘close’ friendship to continue right into the bedroom, if possible, where he could look on and lend a ‘hand’. Trust.
Seriously though, men don’t seem to need emotional support the same way that women do. We women like the analysis, and we don’t necessarily want a solution. We want validation. Some men fill that best friend role quite well, and are somehow able to understand the shorthand that women have with their closest friends, simply because we are the same gender. No translation is required.
The “Sex and The City” series did a lot to deepen the appreciation for close, female friendships, and those with our male friends – stereotypes of the male, gay friend aside. We saw women who genuinely loved each other and proved it in tangible ways.
For those of us in relationships, we can all attest that we need our close friends, just as much as we need our spouse or significant other. Yes the relationships are different, but they’re no less important. The Oprah and Gayle lesbian, conspiracy theory is obviously a media circus that’s great fodder for the tabloids and gossip blogs. For some people, however, there’s a natural distrust of these types of relationships.
Some women truly believe that they can’t trust each other. They believe that other women are focused on tiefin’ their man, or stabbing them in the back. You’ve heard it before. “I don’t have many girlfriends, if any at all, ‘cause dem heifers always jealous, after meh man or talking shit behind meh back”. Yes, some women are guilty of hurting their sistren, and, often, in these instances, the women involved attack each other, while the man gets off scot-free. It’s nothing new. However, it does damage the reputation of female friendships.
For those of us who just can’t seem to let the trust for another woman flow, I want to share with you why mine are so special and important to me. I am not taking about casual girlfriends – simple, fun friendships that have defined boundaries, where you ‘lime’, but don’t really connect or share your inner thoughts. I am talking about ‘best friends’. What’s a best friend you ask? Well, my best friends (note plural) know exactly how I would react in almost any life situation, and with only one look, we done talk. Nothing verbal necessary. They have saved my life, once literally, but mostly mentally, and it’s really only because of them that I haven’t ended up in St. Ann’s on a few occasions and vice versa.
My best friends have been with me since I was about 12 or younger, and they aren’t going anywhere. We have been through relocations, broken hearts, divorce, one-night-stands, childbirth, riches, death, drugs, success, infamy, and breakdowns. I don’t know what I would do without them, and I bless each day that we are a part of each other’s lives.
They know all of my weak spots. They can make me laugh, when offering advice and challenging me to acknowledge where I’ve gone wrong, and still not piss me off. My best friends don’t always know the ‘what’ of a situation, but they always know the ‘why’, and, sometimes, that’s the most important part. We nurture our relationship, keeping that understood code that says, “No matter where you are, what you doing, who you doing, what choices you make, or how long I ain’t hear from you, I trust you, I respect your opinion and I have your back”.
Is this type of friendship rare? Maybe, because these types of bonds are usually forged in the fires of youth, before self-awareness and cowardice sets in and we start to protect ourselves.  Sometimes, it’s only when we are young that we present our whole selves, without any masks. We are gifts to our friends, and vice versa. It’s just that we’re not overly concerned about the packaging or the presentation. I have also seen this relationship manifest out of pure affinity, with the two women having a soul connection that lasts forever. I know that not everyone has this type of friend, but when it does occur, it should be celebrated, and not examined for secret, lesbian motives.
I hope that, as women, we continue to seek friendship with each other, and nurture that giving aspect of our gender that soothes and mothers the soul. Without it, we end up wobbly and out of balance – with only the yang, and none of the yin.
Human nature is imperfect. Some friendships do the world of good, while others can be destructive. If you’re lucky enough to have positive, strong friendships, the trust, emotional intimacy and soul connections it brings can only help to strengthen you throughout your various life experiences. Love your friends without apology, because for those of us in the know, the saying that “behind every ‘good’ man is a ‘good’ woman” also extends to… behind a ‘good’ woman is a great group of female friends – lesbian or not.
Human nature is imperfect. Some friendships do the world of good, while others can be destructive. If you’re lucky enough to have positive, strong friendships, the trust, emotional intimacy and soul connections it brings can only help to strengthen you throughout your various life experiences. Love your friends without apology, and maybe we can remember to put aside suspicion and mistrust. More importantly, instead of hating on best friends like Oprah and Gayle, maybe the media should focus on just how great it is when females own their power and support each other. They say that “behind every ‘good’ man is a ‘good’ woman, let’s extend that to, behind a ‘good’ woman are her best friends – lesbian or not.

Oprah and Gayle sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…

Now really, how many articles have we read about Oprah and her BFF Gayle, with questions about their sexuality forever hovering in the background?

The implication is that Gayle and Oprah’s relationship is so out of the norm that there just has to be some hidden, sexual component. They must be ‘getting it in’. They can’t just be ‘best friends’, can they? The fact that it is so hard to believe that two women could be as close as ‘husband and wife’, makes me wonder why a close, female friendship is suddenly so ‘suspect’. It wasn’t always so. How many times have we made jokes about a close friend being “meh woman” or “meh man” (yes fellas do it too)? We all know that super-close friendships are ‘normal’. So what’s changed?

I am of the opinion that we, as a society, have marginalized the idea of close, female friendship. The strangest thing is that we women seem to be the ones leading the charge against our own gender. Men doh seem to care. In fact, the stereotypical male wants this ‘close’ friendship to continue right into the bedroom, if possible, where he could look on and lend a ‘hand’. Trust.

Seriously though, men don’t seem to need emotional support the same way that women do. We women like the analysis, and we don’t necessarily want a solution. We want validation. Some men fill that best friend role quite well, and are somehow able to understand the shorthand that women have with their closest friends, simply because we are the same gender. No translation is required.

The “Sex and The City” series did a lot to deepen the appreciation for close, female friendships, and those with our male friends – stereotypes of the male, gay friend aside. We saw women who genuinely loved each other and proved it in tangible ways.

For those of us in relationships, we can all attest that we need our close friends, just as much as we need our spouse or significant other. Yes the relationships are different, but they’re no less important. The Oprah and Gayle lesbian, conspiracy theory is obviously a media circus that’s great fodder for the tabloids and gossip blogs. For some people, however, there’s a natural distrust of these types of relationships.

Some women truly believe that they can’t trust each other. They believe that other women are focused on tiefin’ their man, or stabbing them in the back. You’ve heard it before. “I don’t have many girlfriends, if any at all, ‘cause dem heifers always jealous, after meh man or talking shit behind meh back”. Yes, some women are guilty of hurting their sistren, and, often, in these instances, the women involved attack each other, while the man gets off scot-free. It’s nothing new. However, it does damage the reputation of female friendships.

For those of us who just can’t seem to let the trust for another woman flow, I want to share with you why mine are so special and important to me. I am not taking about casual girlfriends – simple, fun friendships that have defined boundaries, where you ‘lime’, but don’t really connect or share your inner thoughts. I am talking about ‘best friends’. What’s a best friend you ask? Well, my best friends (note plural) know exactly how I would react in almost any life situation, and with only one look, we done talk. Nothing verbal necessary. They have saved my life, once literally, but mostly mentally, and it’s really only because of them that I haven’t ended up in St. Ann’s on a few occasions and vice versa.

My best friends have been with me since I was about 12 or younger, and they aren’t going anywhere. We have been through relocations, broken hearts, divorce, one-night-stands, childbirth, riches, death, drugs, success, infamy, and breakdowns. I don’t know what I would do without them, and I bless each day that we are a part of each other’s lives.

They know all of my weak spots. They can make me laugh, when offering advice and challenging me to acknowledge where I’ve gone wrong, and still not piss me off. My best friends don’t always know the ‘what’ of a situation, but they always know the ‘why’, and, sometimes, that’s the most important part. We nurture our relationship, keeping that understood code that says, “No matter where you are, what you doing, who you doing, what choices you make, or how long I ain’t hear from you, I trust you, I respect your opinion and I have your back”.

Is this type of friendship rare? Maybe, because these types of bonds are usually forged in the fires of youth, before self-awareness and cowardice sets in and we start to protect ourselves.  Sometimes, it’s only when we are young that we present our whole selves, without any masks. We are gifts to our friends, and vice versa. It’s just that we’re not overly concerned about the packaging or the presentation. I have also seen this relationship manifest out of pure affinity, with the two women having a soul connection that lasts forever. I know that not everyone has this type of friend, but when it does occur, it should be celebrated, and not examined for secret, lesbian motives.

I hope that, as women, we continue to seek friendship with each other, and nurture that giving aspect of our gender that soothes and mothers the soul. Without it, we end up wobbly and out of balance – with only the yang, and none of the yin.

Human nature is imperfect. Some friendships do the world of good, while others can be destructive. If you’re lucky enough to have positive, strong friendships, the trust, emotional intimacy and soul connections it brings can only help to strengthen you throughout your various life experiences. Love your friends without apology, and maybe we can remember to put aside suspicion and mistrust. More importantly, instead of hating on best friends like Oprah and Gayle, maybe the media should focus on just how great it is when females own their power and support each other. They say that “behind every ‘good’ man is a ‘good’ woman, let’s extend that to, behind a ‘good’ woman are her best friends – lesbian or not.

 

Nicole Anatol

Nicole Anatol is a Trini woman who is still mulling things over. What she has realized is that the older she gets, the more she wonders and that is the beauty of life.

9 Comments

  1. Gayle

    January 3, 2011 at 5:18 am

    Well written and soo true Nicole.

  2. Christine N

    January 3, 2011 at 8:26 am

    O gorm…now THIS is an article I can identify with because I don’t know where or who I would be without the friendship of my three closest girlfriends. They honestly mean the world to me (i doh mean to sound like a sap but iz true).

    I think a lot of females have been blessed with girlfriends who have stood the test of time. I think those who haven’t are the very ones who are propagating the idea that every close female friendship is a recipe for backstabbing or is really an undercover lesbian relationship. It is possible and it all boils down to respect and the same rules apply as with any friendship.
    I will be the first one to say though that in every friendship (not just among females), that the real ones are the ones that stand the test of time and those who are your friends are the ones who will support you and pull you up when needs be. They are the ones who are unafraid to tell you as it is…

  3. Christine N

    January 3, 2011 at 8:30 am

    #PILAR

  4. Aknok

    January 3, 2011 at 10:55 am

    best girl friends are hard to find but when you do they are as close or even closer than family.

    # pilar

  5. TS

    January 3, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    My best girl friends are like sisters… no matter how long it’s been since we last spoke, the minute the conversation starts it’s like if time and distance never separated us in the first place… and it’s true we do joke about being “meh woman”!!!
    #PILAR

  6. Rashidah Vitalis

    January 5, 2011 at 5:44 am

    I think the bond between women is such a valuable thing in life. After years of oppression classification as second- class citizens and misogynistic views, women have been able to break barriers that have been put before them. I am glad to see that even in some cases a woman isnt blacklisted because of her past transgressions and can still forge forward and be a successful individual.
    #PILAR

  7. Nakita

    January 6, 2011 at 2:08 am

    Well this definitely hits the nail on the head!!! I have had NUMEROUS phone calls and comments as my best friend and I started “showing” our relationship on FB. We were simply unemployed and ended up spending lots of time together…every day we did something….from Maracas to South on the Water Taxi. But SOMEHOW that transpired into a sexual thing for pple viewing! Up to now, I’m trying to piece together why!! Why is it hard to believe that we’re JUST friends, when I’ve seen this type of friendship in so many of the circles I interact in? I had put it to us being in our early 20’s and that kind of friendship is viewed amongst ‘older’ women…the ones who “need” it? Married, kids, professionals…who need some to rant to, otherwise they’ll shoot someone???

    But as you said…it starts somewhere….and I NEED my bf now as much as I’ll need her when my future husband starts “acting up” and the kids make me want to drop them off somewhere. As much as she saves me from St. Ann’s with school related stuff and the couple idiots in my life….I need to foster the friendship so she’ll save me from JAIL a couple years from now!!!…and vice versa…me – her!

  8. Elizabeth Turner

    January 6, 2011 at 7:08 am

    Society somehow can make the best and pure of things look dirty. I have had a bestfriend since I was 10yrs old we would do almost everything together, she has be living abroad for the past 9yrs and it is as if she never left. That’s what true friendship is about so dont let anyone fool you into thinking anything else. #PILAR

  9. Hadassah

    January 9, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    True female friends are so hard to find. Soceity has made it hard for women to trust and love each other. We should not allow a few misguided pervs prevent us from forming lasting bonds with each other.

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