Welcome to Female Friendship Week on the New Statesman website. Throughout the week, we’ll be celebrating and examining relationships between people who identify as women: on screen, throughout history, and in our own lives.
Like so many expectations of social behaviour, our ideas of friendship are deeply gendered. Friendships between women are seen more emotional, empathetic, intense (and, often, fraught) than their male counterparts.
Anecdotally, these ideas can have some grounding in truth. My own platonic relationships with women are frequently more consuming, difficult and fulfilling than my friendships with men.
But, of course, no one idea of female friendship can be a reality for women across the board, and any set of stereotypes surrounding women and friendship limits us.
Do our assumptions about the convoluted nature of teenage girls’ relationships stand up to scrutiny? Does our association of female friendship with intimacy contribute to the erasure of lesbian relationships? Do BFFs on TV make us insecure about our own, imperfect companionship?
This week, a handful of individual women offer detailed portraits of their own friendships, and discuss these wider questions. We hope you enjoy their contributions.