Something is happening right now which I am not sure is a sign that things are moving in the right direction or if it is just so much common sense that we should kick ourselves that it is not already a permanent fixture in popular culture. I’m talking about female friendships.
In movies, television, and books, there seems to be a growing movement in exploring the realm of female friendships at a level that rings true-to-life. They are not just scenes of girls doing their nails and having pillow fights and talking about boys. They are actual storylines with characters that pass the Bechdel Test. My favorite example at the moment is Bridesmaids. A lot of talk was thrown around how funny (or unfunny, to a vocal few) it is and how it broke barriers about women and comedy, but the movie spoke to me more so in the way it regarded friendship. The relationship between Annie and Lillian felt very real to me – they laughed, they fought, they had resentment, they did nice things for each other. Friendships are just as emotionally wrought as romantic relationships and it’s about time we acknowledge that. So much of my life was spent thinking that I wasn’t a good friend if I fought with someone, but that isn’t true.
Actually, maybe the novel thing is not that female friendships are being talked about, but rather that they are being taken seriously. Women’s friendships as a major part of the plot, and a complex one at that, are getting more attention. Take HBO’s Girls and author Sheila Heti’s How Should a Person Be?, two works that generated a lot of talk, particularly Girls. One of the major criticisms of Girls is that the characters are very trivial. They care about trivial things. In this New Yorker article by Anna Holmes, Holmes argues that a lot of women do think this way and it may seem trivial to some but it is very real to others. One of the reasons female friendships get little coverage is because it is dismissed in just this fashion. I’ll direct you to her article for more as I have unfortunately not watched the show nor read the book yet.
To be sure, receiving attention is not a measurement of success or validity. What I am trying to stress here is that the more we show the interior lives of female friendships and the more people take note, the more it will be accepted as a real aspect of life. Knowledge is power.
 Photo by Nina Leen/Time Life
 Photo by Suzanne Hanover/Universal Studios
 Cover from Henry Holt Publisher (Why is it so hard to find the name of the person who designed the book cover?)