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Can't Find Female Friends? Look Harder.

Ever since I read Tina Fey's Bossypants I have been reflecting on her assertion that the kyriarchy pits women against each other. That we are not the enemy, and that our time and effort is wasted by competing against other women.

There is a lot of uncomfortable truth in what Tina Fey says. (What else is new?) How often have you heard a woman say that she hangs out with guys because "I don't have a lot of female friends"? Because women are too girly, because I don't like talking about shoes and makeup, because women talk too much, because women aren't interested in the same stuff as I am?
This is all too common. I should know, because I used to say it, too.

I can't speak for every woman, of course. But in my case, in hindsight, what happened was that I had figured out that femininity was a kind of social ghetto. I knew that women were getting a raw deal, and I wanted no part of it. Lacking any useful tools to even mentally grapple with my thoughts and feelings (at the time I still thought of feminism as an artifact of the bra-burning 60s) I decided to throw in my hat with the winning team, instead.
It's a natural impulse. When you see unfairness in the world, you want to be with the victors, right? Sure, you would like to improve the lot of the underdogs. But what can you do? The world is what it is. You might as well be on the successful side.

Add to this that for straight women, it is natural to be attracted to men. And there you go: accidental misogyny.

In hindsight it's obvious that the only thing I accomplished was to drive the wedge between the sexes that much deeper. How embarrassing it is to admit that I attempted to cheerfully claw my way up the social ladder by stepping on the backs of all womankind.

I say "attempted" because what I found once I got there should have been obvious to any observer. In the case of the gender wars, you may be able to encamp with the other team, but you cannot become one of them. At best you may be able to carve out a niche for yourself: Den Mother. Camp Follower. Mascot. If you seek out the company of men because you "hate women," you will never fully belong with the men, either.

Worse, this kind of thing perpetuates sexism, full stop. Imagine if a man said that he kept exclusively male friends because girls are silly, they talk too much, they only care about make-up and fashion, etc. You would be horrified, and rightly so. It's no better for these words to come from a woman. In many ways, it's worse.

If I could go back in time, what I would tell myself is "Self, there are a lot of women in the world. Some of them are boring slaves to fashion. But a lot of others are cool, intellectual, and interested in the things that you are interested in. Don't dismiss the entire gender based on a few bad examples."