Author: has written 142 posts for this blog.

Chally is a student by day, a freelance writer by night, a scary, scary feminist all the time, and a voracious reader whenever she has a spare moment. She also blogs at Zero at the Bone. Full bio here.
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43 Responses

  1. Rebecca
    Rebecca January 18, 2011 at 12:10 am |

    Chally you are truly awesome and this post is fantastic and so true.

  2. annie
    annie January 18, 2011 at 12:14 am |

    Thank you for writing this. I am really close with my best friend and it’s annoying to hear that we must be secret lesbians like it’s the worst possible thing ever. And (in my opinion) you don’t really see a lot of super close platonic relationships (of any gender combo) in the media. It’s like you have to save all of your secrets and deep thoughts for a romantic partner.

  3. Kite
    Kite January 18, 2011 at 12:14 am |

    The way I always think of it is: if those revolting Anne Geddes-style “romantic” boy-and-girl portraits (touching lips! holding hands! looking at each other and smiling! lying side by side in the cradle, pink’n’blue!) were replaced with same-gender children, all those people who coo over them would instead be OUTRAGED. Yeah….

  4. evil fizz
    evil fizz January 18, 2011 at 12:15 am |

    One additional point of complaint: MY TODDLER IS NOT FLIRTING!! The projection is exhausting.

  5. Shoshie
    Shoshie January 18, 2011 at 12:28 am |

    TRUTH.

    My best friend from, well, life is a man and I’m a woman, and I can’t tell you how many people have assumed that we’re dating, then accused us of lying when we said that we weren’t.

  6. Palaverer
    Palaverer January 18, 2011 at 12:35 am |

    And, as one gets older, there’s a whole lot of pressure to relate to friends of the opposite gender (I dislike that term so much: there aren’t just two genders, and the binary ones aren’t opposed)

    Yes! I just had a conversation about this yesterday. The opposite of man is not woman, but boy. And vice versa.

    I like the term “complementary genders” just for the mathematical image it induces, but I wouldn’t use that because it’s been staked out by fanatical religious types who define “complement” as “women exist only to provide support to The Menz.”

    You can’t say “the other gender” because there are so many permutations of gender: female, male, intersexed, genderqueer, trans, non-gendered, etc. So, to which other gender would you be referring?

    You could say “a different gender.” This recognizes that there are more than two options, but (apart from making assumptions that male or female is most likely) it, too, does not reveal which gender type is being discussed.

    Sadly, I have not come up with anything better. I really would love to see someone come up with a better way to describe the relationship of male and female genders. There needs to be something. If homosexuals are in a same-sex relationship, heterosexuals are in a ______-sex relationship.

  7. Politicalguineapig
    Politicalguineapig January 18, 2011 at 12:46 am |

    Yeah. This. This is why I stopped seeing my best friend from kindergarten and first grade- because he was a boy and I was a girl. Why I spent most of high school with friends who I only knew from the ‘net. (I wasn’t going to bother with making friends with other girls in high school- the less they know about you, the fewer weapons they have.)
    I like the women I know now, but when I met them in freshman year, I never would’ve thought we’d be friends. I still would find it really difficult to befriend a guy.

  8. Spilt Milk
    Spilt Milk January 18, 2011 at 1:16 am |

    Oh yes, this — this heteronormative gender essentialist friendship policing shits me to tears. I have an almost-three-year-old daughter whose favourite playmate is a boy. But if they kiss and cuddle (they’re affectionate kidlets) his mother or other bystanders inevitably make some quip about wedding plans or similar. And Maude forbid they snuggle together in bed — that results in icky commentary about how this ‘won’t be allowed in a few years hahaha’.

    The types of policing you mentioned on your post Chally always bothered me in my own life Chally; now I get to see the hideous reality that little has changed. I try to deflect the commentary on my daughter’s relationships present and future but it feels like a losing battle some days.

  9. Kelly
    Kelly January 18, 2011 at 1:49 am |

    Reading the comments I’m reminded how often people used to ask me when my kids would stop sharing a room. You know, one’s a boy and one’s a girl, so of course sharing a room after about age three is out of the question!

    Actually all four of us sleep in one room and usually one bed (sometimes cats are added too). Smoke on your pipe and put that in.

  10. Cerebral Magpie
    Cerebral Magpie January 18, 2011 at 1:57 am |

    FSM, I wish the internet and commentary like this was around when I was a kid. I grew up in a small reasonably conservative town, and I lost my best two friends from grade school to such gender and sexuality policing. One boy, one girl. It ended up being such a double bind that I believe my exploration of my sexuality was stunted from it, and it’s taken me almost 30 years to come to terms about my bi-ness.

    I’m so unhappy I internalized the concept that queer=bad and “can’t be friends with boys in that way”. My teenage years were pretty lonely because I couldn’t turn either way and I didn’t know why.

    Thanks Chally. This is a piece I wish I could show 9 year old me.

  11. scrumby
    scrumby January 18, 2011 at 2:29 am |

    This thinking is especially irritating/fun when the children in question are related. The dad across the street was horrified to find out that my brother’s “weekend harem” (as he used to call them because that’s not creepy at all) was made up of cousins.

  12. PharaohKatt
    PharaohKatt January 18, 2011 at 3:27 am |

    Yes, this! So much so this! I remember being mocked relentlessly in school because I mostly had friend with penises. In primary school I had friends with penises because we were all three rejects, and in high school it was because the people with vulvas I used to hang with rejected me when I started hanging with the penis-crowd. *massive sigh* The other group was nasty anyway, so no great loss.

    I see this sort of policing in my toddlers, as well. It’s never explicit— there’s a policy against that — but there are so many little things.
    Like telling off a PM for being rough with a PF, but not if he’s rough with another PM.
    Like putting all the PFs on one table, all the PMs on another table.
    Like telling a child “why don’t you play with [other child]?” who always “just happens” to have the same anatomy.

    It is so very frustrating! I’ve had parents say to their PM child “look at all the girlfriends you have!” when they are the only PM in the room. I have seen carers say “At least you aren’t the only girl!” to PF children, when there’s very few (2 or 3)

    And I don’t know how to stop it!

  13. The Amazing Kim
    The Amazing Kim January 18, 2011 at 4:08 am |

    Oh, and people who don’t have a binary gender? You’re on your own, apparently.

    Certainly are. Because if there’s more than one genderqueer person around, they’ll separate you. Otherwise you’d just encourage each other.

    And then came university and everyone lived happily ever after. Why they institutionalise this stuff in school though, I don’t know.

  14. Rachel @ Musings of an Inappropriate Woman

    Then there are those times when close platonic relationships between people of the same gender are styled as romantic or sexual as a way of policing them. Because really close friendships are supposed to be weird; intimacy must be saved for a romantic/sexual partner, right?

    Nice post. I’ve been thinking about this stuff a lot for work at the moment, and the above quote really resonated with me. A few of people I spoke to for the story said, “She treated me like a substitute boyfriend!” when describing friendships that had grown too intense for their liking.

    All very well – sometimes friendships do grow to intense for one party’s liking. But I thought the way in which people choose to express that was interesting, for the reasons you listed. Firstly, because it was used to very clearly mark the friend’s behaviour (calling all the time, expecting attention etc) as “not acceptable”, and secondly because of the underlying implication that if a friend behaved like this, that was a bit, you know, “gay”. And “gay” being bad and all.

  15. Spilt Milk
    Spilt Milk January 18, 2011 at 4:45 am |

    Oops, that comment wasn’t meant to use Chally’s name twice in one sentence!

  16. Bri
    Bri January 18, 2011 at 5:36 am |

    My 4 yr old daughter has a best friend who is a boy. Fine by me. She says she loves him and that she is going to marry him. I think she says that because she knows her father and I love each other and we are married. I remind her that you can love someone and not marry them as well. Her friend (the boy) also loves the whole princess and fairy thing and I think I have only seen him at daycare without a dress up dress on a handful of times. He is the most adorable kid and he just happens to be a boy that loves princesses, fairies, Cinderella, walking like he is wearing high heels and wearing dresses. My daughter is (somewhat unfortunately) into the same things so they get along like a house on fire. Her other good friend is the boy her age who lives next door. I hope she keeps males within her circle of friends because I know it was damn difficult to do that when I was a kid (due to teasing etc).

  17. chippy
    chippy January 18, 2011 at 8:11 am |

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I was a very anxious child (and am still an anxious person), so I found it very difficult to even interact with boys because I was afraid people would read romance into things like playing, or talking. That anxiety is something I still carry with me, and if there was one thing I could tell younger me is basically what you’ve said in this post. If I ever have children, I will do my damndest to make sure they don’t suffer the same misconceptions as I did.

    Also, Bri, your daughter and her friends sound adorable. Good for them! And good for you.

  18. Comrade Kevin
    Comrade Kevin January 18, 2011 at 8:41 am |

    I use gendered language depending upon my audience. Personally, I feel as though neither male, nor female describes my identity. And even in saying that, I bristle a bit, sure that there will be someone to invalidate me, or to say that I must be mistaken.

    Most of my friends are female, for reasons I know I’ve discussed here before. Because of that, people have been known to form a lot of conclusions about me that are incorrect. Contrary to what they might think, I’m not always on the make, searching for someone to take to bed. A handful of these friends are former partners, both relationship-wise and sexually, but those are a small minority. Most are platonic associates and confidants and will always stay that way. I’m grateful for them because I have always craved close ties of friendship in ways that many men are socialized to avoid.

    The policing I get comes from every corner. I dislike also that I may sometimes get a pass from other people on the subject of having few male friends because of my being abused at a young age. That’s their justification for why I’m different, rather than an acknowledgment that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having opposite-sex friends. It’s also my homophobic parents’ understanding of why I am bisexual. To them, my sexual orientation is as a result of being damaged.

    There is nothing intrinsically wrong with men, just that still unresolved psychological wounds make me leery of their company. I wish I had the ability to not feel so uncomfortable and constantly on guard. If I were completely healed, I would try to strike a balance between men and women as friends, but still being quite thankful for my female friends. The part of me which is more female in orientation will always crave particularly feminine means of interaction and be dissatisfied with stereotypically male pursuits.

  19. Florence
    Florence January 18, 2011 at 8:47 am |

    I work with one of my best friends, a man I’ve known since we were children. We hang out together all the time, babysit for one another, hang out with one another’s spouses, volunteer together. Basically having grown up together and stayed in the same town and socialized as adults, a lot of our social, professional, and volunteer interests overlap.

    A lot of the other folks at work are very piqued by our friendship. They see us go out to lunch together every now and again and we get a lot of raised eyebrows. I feel the need to explain it, to make sure everyone knows that his wife and I are also great friends, or whatever. I can only imagine what they say about us when we aren’t around, and it’s so shitty and stupid and gender normative.

    I mean, CLEARLY we must be boning.

  20. Lauren
    Lauren January 18, 2011 at 9:31 am |

    I couldn’t agree with you more. I have a daughter who is two, and I’ve been noticing how media portrays relationships between men and women. There are never friendships, not close ones, only romantic relationships, even with children. I am careful when talking to her about her friends, because I want her to know that she can friends of either sex. I read an article not long about about how (as a nation) we sexualize children, then pretend that it doesn’t happen, yet we only sexualize them to be “normal” and heterosexual. How can we change this?

  21. Patrick V
    Patrick V January 18, 2011 at 10:08 am |

    Great post. So true and so frustrating. Sorry I don’t have anything of value to add. Except the fact that it doesn’t help that there are practically no true platonic relationships in movies or television.

  22. annajcook
    annajcook January 18, 2011 at 10:48 am |

    one of my most vivid, embarrassing memories as a pre-adolescent child is of a babysitter teasing me about how I must have a “crush” on tennis player Andre Agassi because I thought he was cool. Maybe I did, maybe I didn’t. But as a nine-year-old, the idea that my adoration of a person might somehow be tangled up in sexual and romantic feelings was just scary and threatening feeling. I didn’t like being told that intensity of feelings indicated sexual or romantic love. It made me feel very self-conscious about expressing enthusiasm for anyone and to this day (I’m nearly thirty!) I respond really badly when people suggest to me that I might have some sort of sexualized feelings about a person whom I, personally, believe I admire in a platonic way. I find it very offensive that as a culture we presume to label other peoples’ feelings as sexual way before they themselves would do so (or in situations where they themselves deny it is the case). Why is it so hard to believe that intense feelings of affection can be separated from sex?

  23. Terra
    Terra January 18, 2011 at 11:06 am |

    I’ve been thinking about this too. I recently entered the moved to an entirely new place and in doing so began networking more vigorously than in the past, because I didn’t know many people. However, to some it seems that my networking is more like “flirting” because I work in a male-dominated profession. I grow more and more frustrated as the older women around me make comments about my the friendships and professional relationships.

    I guess I say all this to mention that the underlying idea is that men and women cannot simply be friends, but must obviously be romantically involved. Its archaic and really puts women at a disadvantage in a professional network like mine, where women are few and far between.

  24. Thank you, Feministe « Speaker's Corner
    Thank you, Feministe « Speaker's Corner January 18, 2011 at 11:29 am |

    […] leave a comment » As the mother of a son who happens to play with lots of little girls, one in particular (we are very good friends with her parents, I want to say thank you to Chally at Feministe for this awesome, awesome post about people’s needs to make c…: […]

  25. Scatx
    Scatx January 18, 2011 at 11:51 am |

    I love this so much that I was inspired to write about how much I love it. Thank you, Chally.

  26. Diz
    Diz January 18, 2011 at 12:44 pm |

    One of my husband’s friends does this bullshit with her son and our daughter. What’s gross is that she has convinced herself that our kids are GOING to be boyfriend and girlfriend when they’re older. I was so grossed out by her agenda that we don’t bring our girl by anymore.

  27. underbelly
    underbelly January 18, 2011 at 2:20 pm |

    I can totally understand where you’re coming from, especially when adults make comments about children wanting to date each other, etc. when they are simply playing together. That’s messed up.

    However, I just wanted to point out that there are situations in which the whole “oh, we’re just close friends and there’s nothing wrong with that” narrative becomes a way to justify unhealthy behavior. I’m specifically thinking of my own situation, in which my boyfriend’s younger sister used to be extremely emotionally dependent upon him and felt entitled to his complete, constant attention because “we’re just close friends and there’s nothing wrong with that.” For a long time, my boyfriend also used this narrative to deny that his enmeshed relationship with his sister that he enabled to a great extent caused (and is *still* causing) major problems in our relationship.

    My point is that while there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a close friendship with a person of any gender, there is still an extremely relevant place for boundaries between friendship and romantic behavior.

  28. twostatesystem
    twostatesystem January 18, 2011 at 2:43 pm |

    I, for one, would like to excise the language of “just” friends. I have a number of friends with whom I have long-standing, powerful, important relationships. They are not “just” anything. They are my friends, my family of choice. The love I have for them is in no way diminshed or lesser or “just” because I’m not sleeping with them/planning a long-term dyadic future with them.

    I consider myself lucky that my parents never (at least in my rememberance) judged my friendships by gender and encouraged me to have both male and female friends throughout childhood–and furthermore, modeled healthy friendships, both same-gender and different-gender, for me.

    I’m slowly but surely moving towards a way of life that puts multiple relationships at the center of my social life, some of which may be sexual, most of which will not be. It’s sometimes annoying, sometimes painful, in a society that places “coupledom” over “singlehood”, but it’s heartening to read pieces like this and feel like there are others out there that also honor non-sexual/romantic relationships.

    Oh, and underbelly:
    there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a close friendship with a person of any gender, there is still an extremely relevant place for boundaries. between friendship and romantic behavior.

    There, that’s better.

  29. underbelly
    underbelly January 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm |

    twostatesystem: Oh, and underbelly:
    there’s nothing inherently wrong with having a close friendship with a person of any gender, there is still an extremely relevant place for boundaries. between friendship and romantic behavior.

    There, that’s better.

    Oh, how nice. I guess I deserve to have my opinion edited in a snarky way just because it differs from yours. Way to be open-minded.

  30. matlun
    matlun January 18, 2011 at 3:25 pm |

    Palaverer: And, as one gets older, there’s a whole lot of pressure to relate to friends of the opposite gender (I dislike that term so much: there aren’t just two genders, and the binary ones aren’t opposed)

    Yes! I just had a conversation about this yesterday. The opposite of man is not woman, but boy. And vice versa.

    How do you mean? In what way is boy the opposite of man, and are “boy” and “man” even different genders?

    In a way I might even argue with the statement that there are more than two genders, since I believe that is just a question of terminology.

    It all depends on the gender classification system you are using. Whether you are using the archaic clumsy binary gender classification system or some more flexible classification system with for example seven categories, you are still using simplifying generalizations.

    These generalization can of course be very useful when studying statistical phenomena (such as gender power imbalances), but we should not forget that they are simplifications of reality. No matter which classification system you use, there will always be some individuals that will not find it a comfortable fit, and they should not pressured into trying to squeeze into some externally defined mold (Obvious when considering the old binary model, but it is more generally true).

    In the end we all deserve to be treated as individuals.

    Ok. Rant over…

  31. twostatesystem
    twostatesystem January 18, 2011 at 4:14 pm |

    I’m sorry for your situation and the pain that a lack of boundaries caused you. I hope that you and your partner have been able to set and maintain boundaries to the benefit of your relationship and his with his sister.

    Nevertheless, the direct answer to your question is yes. You generalized from a specific situation of boundary crossing to specify that romantic relationships and friendships should have clear separation. Consider in the light of yesterday’s post about asexuality and this post about honoring non-romantic friendships how that might reinforce the general societal conclusion that romantic relationships are more or better than friend relationships.

    I am asserting that ALL relationships should have boundaries: friend, family, or romantic partner, and there’s not a way to generally separate the behaviour of friends vs. romantic partners without excluding people, people which include me.

    Of course, that’s not to say that you, individually, (or any other person) can’t set boundaries between friendships and romantic relationships that work for you. But please don’t tell me that I should do the same.

  32. jennikins
    jennikins January 18, 2011 at 4:46 pm |

    I love this post. As a woman whose most intense and lasting friendships have primarily been with men, I got so many iterations of what a man/woman friendship must be; in elementary school, we were made fun of mercilessly for being “boyfriend and girlfriend” when we were really just playing tetherball.

    In college, my best friend was a (visibly) gay man, and so we were automatically “f** and h**.” Never mind that I’m queer, too, and that we were friends before either of us came out. Go ahead, reduce our friendship to an offensive, trite, term. We can’t stop you. But we will continue to point out that your use of hateful language to trivialize our friendship is offensive, not cute and trendy.

    Lately my closest friend is a different gay man (who is less “obviously” so than my college friend), and, as people in our mid-twenties, everyone assumes that we MUST be dating. It either of us hear the phrase, “When’s the wedding?” one more time, we’ll want to strangle someone–but we’ll hear it again. At the moment we’re looking for an apartment together to save money, and the looks on the faces of the building managers showing us rooms when we say that we need enough space for two beds is priceless. They don’t see two friends standing in front of them, they see a young couple looking to make the “next step” of moving in together.

    I definitely agree with your point about the homophobia involved in policing same-gender close friendships, and I think it’s involved here, too. When my friend and I are having a conversation with a gay coworker and people assume that my friend and I are dating rather than seeing the blatant flirtation going on between the two of them, they are using my friendship blind themselves to queerness happening. When someone is told that my friend is gay, using me to say that he can’t be, that he must be dating me, that he must still be a “regular guy,” that’s homophobia. When his mother hears about me, his friend, and over and over says she thinks he’s lying to her when he says I’m not his girlfriend and ignores the fact that he came out to her 10 years ago in high school? That’s also using our friendship to feed her own homophobia.

    So, yea, thanks for a great post. :)

  33. underbelly
    underbelly January 18, 2011 at 4:57 pm |

    twostatesystem: Consider in the light of yesterday’s post about asexuality and this post about honoring non-romantic friendships how that might reinforce the general societal conclusion that romantic relationships are more or better than friend relationships.

    I never said that romantic relationships are more or better. You assumed that.

    twostatesystem: Of course, that’s not to say that you, individually, (or any other person) can’t set boundaries between friendships and romantic relationships that work for you. But please don’t tell me that I should do the same. twostatesystem

    I didn’t tell you or anyone else to do the same. I think that if I had done that Chally would not have put up with it. I simply shared something from my personal life that offers a different perspective about conflict between friendships and romantic relationships, and I did so respectfully. So, while we’re on the topic of silencing others, next time it’d be nice if you didn’t make it your personal duty to leave snarky comments for people who dare to share their own experiences with friendships and romantic relationships.

  34. twostatesystem
    twostatesystem January 18, 2011 at 7:11 pm |

    You made a very direct statment, that while close non-romantic friendships are fine, there’s an “extremely relevant” place for boundaries between non-romantic and romantic relationships, following on a personal experience that seems to indicate you viewed your partner as too enmeshed with a different person. Maybe you didn’t mean relevant for me? Maybe you meant relevant only for you? In which case, I misunderstood.

    I don’t think I can apologize, if that’s what you want, because it wouldn’t be sincere. I am still feeling erased by your statement, and angry about it. I do however, think this subthread has reached a point of futility, and so I’m calling an end to it. If you want to discuss with me further, you can reach me at gmail, with this username.

  35. haley
    haley January 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm |

    Its my impression that the U.S and Australia are similar in regards to how their mainstream cultures respond to youth sexuality.

    On the one hand, as you were observing, you have parents and people seeking to “push” youngsters into binary heteronormative roles.

    On the other hand, we have the same parents and by extension society, which are terrorfied by the idea of youth sexuality. This fear has gotten to the point, at least in America, where schools for example, are banning any physical contact….including hugging. (The ban on hugging is also part of a larger wave of fear mongering concerning youth aggression.)

    So now, we are creating a social environment and conditioning youths from kindergarten on through high school, to be isolated and to deny themselves the very basic desire for human touch….I’m not referring to sex, I mean the word “touch” quite literally.

    How do we expect people to form meaningful relationships, none-the-less friendships in adulthood, when we punish them from the earliest ages of youth for expressions of affection and friendship?

    http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/17/kids-petition-agains.html

  36. Ouyang Dan
    Ouyang Dan January 18, 2011 at 11:30 pm |

    Thank you, Chally. So much.

    My Kid, who is currently identifying as a little girl, has a best friend who is a boy, and they couldn’t be happier to play together, swap and share Pokemon cards, create Lego scenes, chase each other with weapons, and have sleepovers at each others’ home, crashed out on the floor where they fall asleep to whatever movie has been chosen. The play, fight, have oddly deep conversations about whether or not she could be the Admiral of the Fleet of pirates invading his force of soldiers, and then decide it must be fine, and move on.

    Our families are close, as military families tend to build communities and learn to lean on one another, but we get odd looks and strange questions, and when we are all together and they are playing they do get the occasional comment of “Oh, aren’t they adorable! So, when’s the wedding?” and “Aren’t you worried about them spending the night togeither?”, to which we usually reply that they are 8 and 9, and would they please keep their sexualization off of our children. (If either of us has them both individually, we more of the “Oh, aren’t your twins adorable!”, but that is another kettle altogether…)

    Sure, it’s possible it could develop one day, if that is what they want, but it is also possible that Kid could continue to explore other areas of sexuality, because she is still full of questions, and she seems to have a long way to go before she seems ready to explore non-platonic relationships of any kind. It seems that even holding hands with anyone other than her friends infects her with cooties at this age…

    My point, which became lost in my blathering, is that this post expresses so much of what we feel in our parenting regarding our children right now who would rather be left to enjoying each others’ company rather than having strangers pick out their flower arrangements (and why is it always weddings?)

  37. Mädchenmannschaft » Blog Archive » Kurz notiert: Mädchenbildung in Afghanistan und Proteste in Tunesien

    […] “Can’t We Just Be Friends?”, dass Erwachsene spielende Kinder automatisch als Freund und Freundin sehen. Ein Junge und ein Mädchen mögen sich als Spielgefährt_innen und wollen einfach nur […]

  38. Lyndsay
    Lyndsay January 19, 2011 at 8:08 am |

    Wow Chally, you have been writing about the same things I’ve been thinking about lately.

    “intimacy must be saved for a romantic/sexual partner, right?”

    Recently I’ve been intimate and affectionate but NOT sexual with a couple men and a woman and it’s actually freeing. I’ve realized how different kinds of touch (affectionate, intimate, sensual, sexual) are all lumped together in our society. There’s an idea you can’t have the first three without becoming/being sexual. Or without being a couple. I’ve also realized how much we associate love with sex.
    I think these assumptions also contribute to asexuality not being understood. I am not asexual. However, I am finding if I have a lot of love and affectionate touch in my life, I have less desire to be sexual. Sometimes lengthy non-sexual touch can satisfy me as much as sexual touch.

  39. Miss S
    Miss S January 21, 2011 at 2:24 am |

    I’m a woman and I only have a few male friends. In my experience, men usually end up trying to turn the friendship sexual, even when I’ve never expressed an attraction. I think I have had only one male friend (in my whole life) who didn’t.

    Maybe because I’m girly, so I don’t have alot in common with them? I don’t know.

  40. Djinna
    Djinna January 25, 2011 at 7:56 pm |

    I dunno, Miss S., I think it’s probably pretty even-handed, based on my own experience and reports from friends.

    Chiming in that this is an awesome post, and I will be sure to keep it in mind. I will try to avoid ever joining in on “ABC and XYZ are too cute they’re so close” type of jokes for kids, but since all the conversations of the “aren’t they awfully close?” types I’ve had about adults have been of the {eyeroll-wagging-tongues-are-so-silly} type, I’m not going to give those up, in context that it’s dumb that people really believe that humans can’t be close friends with anyone that they’re not sleeping with.

    That being said, I did spend nearly twenty years denying that there was anything other than friendship going on between my (now)fiance and myself, and it was only true for a handful of those years. But, that’s anomaly, out of all the people I’ve ever had people question the nature of my relationship with, he’s the only one. Of dozens of people. And dammit, the person I want to marry had better be someone with whom I can be super-close friends.

  41. Lars
    Lars January 25, 2011 at 8:11 pm |

    Great post. As father to a girl who mostly find her friends among the boys / play with boys, I’m sensitive to this. We have a lot of boys in the house, but they are not boyfriends. Just friends. She prefers the boys most days because she don’t really relate to much of the stuff most of the girls like to do, and most of the girls don’t share her passion for Lego Star Wars, Halo Reach, or sliding down muddy hills in the rain. Some days she’ll go overboard in big dresses, little pet shop, and play with the girls. But not for long.

    She’s 9, and all is fine. So far there’s been no sexualizing or making an issue of it, but I dread the day it starts happening. I hope she can keep all the great friends she has, and not have all this nonsense interfere.

    Anyway – thanks for posting this.

  42. Nahida
    Nahida January 25, 2011 at 8:42 pm |

    Miss S: In my experience, men usually end up trying to turn the friendship sexual, even when I’ve never expressed an attraction.

    Djinna: I dunno, Miss S., I think it’s probably pretty even-handed, based on my own experience and reports from friends.

    In my experience it’s always been other people. In the 7th grade, one of the friends who was most available to me (so we hung out often) was a boy. My best friend at the age of 5 was a boy but no one had made a big deal out of it then so I was shocked when now everyone constantly tried to shove us together as a couple, and it ultimately caused me to momentarily destroy our friendship because I was so sick of it. I became really, really snappish and unbearable. He was so sweet, I don’t know how he put up with it. After I finally began to direct my frustration at the people who actually caused it and properly learned to not give a damn, I went out of my way to show him how sorry I was even though he’d forgiven me immediately (he was that great.) I don’t know who annoyed me more–the people exerting themselves on us or the fact that it irritated me. The clear thing is that it was certainly damaging.

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