Last week, the Huffington Post asked readers to share stories of their BFF breakups. The stories that their readers submitted varied from feelings of loss to thankfulness. But they all had an underlying theme, female friendships are complex. So complex that ending a female friendship can be harder than ending a romantic relationship.
I think to my own female friendships and how they can be irritating, fulfilling, emotional, silly, satisfying, and challenging all at the same time. But what strikes me the most about my female friendships though is the intense intimacy that exists between us. It’s hard to say whether it developed out of having similar life experiences, sharing a bathroom, singing and dancing around the house together, sleepovers in each other’s beds, or drunk cuddling and endless secret telling. But I do know that my female friendships fill a part of my soul that no man ever could.
I love and appreciate women for everything that they are. I can and do acknowledge their beauty, intelligence, humor, and every other part of them that contributes to their essence. But I’m straight.
Despite that fact, according to Adrienne Rich I still fall on the lesbian continuum due to my female friendships. In her influential second wave feminist essay, “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence,” Rich calls for heterosexuality to be looked at as a political institution and argues that feminists must challenge the erasure of lesbian existence from scholarly feminist work. She explains that she uses the term lesbian continuum to include a range — through each woman’s life and throughout history — of woman-identified experience.*
Rich writes, “I perceive the lesbian experience as being, like motherhood, a profoundly female experience, with particular oppressions, meanings, and potentialities we cannot comprehend as long as we simply bracket it with other sexually stigmatized existences.” She goes on to argue that the term lesbian has been limited to its patriarchal definition and needs to be reexamined to include a lesbian continuum. Because a lesbian continuum encapsulates the multitude of connections (spiritual, emotional, physical, etc.) that happen between women regardless of their sexual orientation much better than the easily historically erasable term, lesbian.
History Lesson OVER!
What resonates most with me in her piece is the truth to her words about the deep connections that exist between women. Looking back on Rich’s work some 35 years later, I notice that her terms may no longer hold relevant, but the intense bonds she speaks of are still fundamental to most female friendships today.
Rather than use lesbian continuum to describe the connection between female friends, today millennials use words like sister, BFF, dupa, and bestie. The friendships may last a few years, a few weeks, or a lifetime but they all help teach us something about ourselves. Connections among women are deep, complex, interwoven, and may or may not be sexual.
And because I love female friendship so much, here’s a list of some of the best on TV and in movies. I should quickly note that those listed below may not pass the Bechdel Test but have at some point — in my opinion — demonstrated the real life complexities that exist among female friends.
However unrealistic their lives may be, Carrie, Samantha, Miranda, and Charlotte are there for each other through all the breakups, makeups, bad sex, glitterati parties, and Sunday brunches.
Twisted Sisters for life. Nothing bright and shiny about them ... Despite being broken in their own way they are each other's person. Period.
They were all over 50, loved cheesecake, caused trouble, were constantly bickering yet always remained friends. I hope my friends and I can be half as awesome as these four fictional (but still amazing) friends.
Learning how to navigate this thing called life with your besties is painful and sometimes too raw to share with your Twitter followers. Nah, Twitter is a millennial's diary.
Lifelong BFFs, Romy and Michele accept one another for who they really are, flaws and all. Plus it never hurts when your friends remind you that you're beautiful just as you are.
They prove onscreen and off that you don't need men to be entertained.
*I focus on only a small portion of "Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence." The entire essay is one I highly recommend if you haven't already read it.
Share your favorite TV female friendship with me on Twitter: @genia_castro