The importance of Gal Pals
I like to to think that I possess a variety of positive traits.
I can analyse novels really well, roll my tongue into a clover, speak in front of crowds…but I’ll be the first to admit that when it comes to coordination and athleticism, I’m severely lacking. Hence why a hike on the Bibbulmun track in our beautiful south west a few weeks ago lead to a fantastic stack and a badly rolled ankle on my part. After laughing, then panicking at my swelling foot, my best friend of twelve years piggybacked me up and down a kilometre’s worth of sand dunes until we reached a campsite. Our mothers watched on with a mix of concern, admiration, and some laughter – it was quite the sight.
A tennis ball sized ankle and a sleepless night ensued, leaving me plenty of time to feel sorry for myself. However, despite mosquito bitten legs, a throbbing ankle and a sad lack of bedding, my mental state was far from sorry. Instead, I was filled with overwhelming appreciation for the woman rustling around in the sleeping bag next to me; in the dark I thought of our twelve years of friendship, and it brought me to reflect on the power and importance of female friendships.
In todays fast paced, often narcissistic and patriarchal society, I believe it is impossible to underestimate the impact that women can have on other women.
Too often in media and popular culture, female friendships are defined as shallow, gossipy and orientated towards the male gaze. Internalised misogyny can lead us to unknowingly treat other women with hostility, as if they are our competition rather than our comrades. This hostility manifests in the sphere of social media, where young women in particular are urged to ‘compete’ for likes and attention, and where jealousy and judgement are all too easy to give in to.
Empowerment comes when we refuse to accept these problematic ways of thinking and feeling.
Really, we should be appreciating our fellow women and celebrating our similarities as well as our differences.
We should build each other up rather than tear each other down, and we should bask in the empowerment that female friendships can offer.
So this post is just a little shout to all the wonderful women in my life.
To my new college neighbour who made me ginger tea when I woke up sick on my 18th birthday, having just moved out of home.
To the old family friend who gives me clothes and tea wisdom.
To every woman who lends a hair lacky or a kind word.
And of course to my best mate who carries me up literal and metaphorical hills.
So next time you see female relationships represented as bitchy and meaningless in a movie, consider how problematic that representation is. Make an effort to support the women in your life, and to appreciate their support for you.
In a world where we can often feel bombarded by that pesky patriarchy, positive female friendships have an uncanny kind of power. That is certainly something to celebrate.