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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Women who love women

Occasionally I pop over to Feminist Mormon Housewives to see what the forward-thinking members of the LDS community are up to. Recently there was a post about female friends which struck me. I don't think our society is very interested in female relationships, not when there's a possible male/female romantic relationship to be had. Lots of popular cultural memes revolve around the concept of "frenemies," women as backstabbing and untrustworthy friends, women as gossips, and so forth. A lot of young women end up with the feeling that it's easier to be friends with men, because there's "less drama." There is also the impetus of fitting into the boys' crowd and being "one of the guys"; I venture for some women, being the odd lady out and having male attention is somewhat of a powerful feeling. 

I can relate to this as a woman who was deeply unpopular in high school and was not used to having appreciative male attention, but I strive to not feel and act this way. A lot of my interests are traditionally dude-heavy: I like science fiction, action films, comic books, and heavy metal. I have a lot of male friends. I like hanging out with guys and I get along easily with guys. BUT: I also love women. I love being around women, talking with women, and having relationships with women. I do not subscribe to either the idea that men and women can never be friends without sexual tension fucking things up (literally) or the idea that women's relationships will always be drama-filled and emotionally dangerous. I also don't really find that boy friendships are for one thing (going to cons, headbanging, attending sports events) and girl friendships are for another (getting pedicures, venting about love lives, watching Moulin Rouge!). There doesn't need to be any kind of false demarcation in the lives of our relationships. People like what they like and hang out with who they hang out with. There are horrible people in every gender group and of every sex and sexual orientation. There are women who will demand to check your credentials when you tell them you like such-and-such kind of music; there are men who will gossip about you behind your back. 

Once upon a time I parroted the idea that "I just think it's easier to hang out with guys"--I know of what I speak. This attitude is rooted in sexist tropes about men AND women. This attitude reinforces the idea that most women are "girly" and useless, unintellectual, petty, out to steal your man--that smart women prefer the company of the compelling male personality. This attitude needs to be combated. Women's relationships are valuable and valid and deep, beautiful, strong, and ALL women are real women. Women are interested in sewing and interested in reconstructing medieval trebuchets; women like to read romance novels and books about entomology; women listen to Rascal Flatts and Slayer. Throw out the snap judgments--they are a way of not having to do the hard work of relationships. Incidentally, this discussion on fMh dovetails into yet another debate in the geekosphere about "fake geek girls." Do they exist? If so, why do they exist? What is their purpose? What are they trying to prove? These questions aren't the point; the point is the furthering of the "boys' club" mentality and the woman-on-woman crime present in these discussions, since a good amount of the shit being flung is coming from women. Women accusing women of not being real, because REAL women have curves and REAL women want to be mothers and REAL women don't start fights and REAL women this, that, the other. I reiterate: all women are real women. Women who are just discovering comic books because they loved Thor are real women, and real geeks. Women who are learning how to play videogames are real women, and real geeks. Women venturing into the hefty pages of George R.R. Martin because someone DVR'd Game of Thrones for them are real women, and real geeks. I hate seeing geeks lambast one another for perceived lack of cred and I especially hate seeing women nerds doing this to other women. I hate seeing the same old tired-ass falsehoods, that "fake" geek girls are trying to get attention or start drama.

As mentioned previously in this post, a lot of the things that I am into have a largely male fan community. I have faced and will continue to face questions about my credibility as a metal music fan, as a comic book fan, as a sci-fi fan. Because the bar is so low, I expect this from men. I don't expect it from women and I hate it when it happens, because it feels like a betrayal. Surely they know what it's like to be sneered at or disbelieved! Yet it still occurs, because internalized misogyny is insidious and difficult to root out. So I say, Be strong in your relationships. Be welcoming and try not to be judgmental, in geeky matters or on Ravelry or in any community you are part of. We already face so much bullshit from all sides, so let's not add to it.

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