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Jill has been blogging for Feministe since 2005.
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71 Responses

  1. Miguel
    Miguel April 6, 2013 at 4:39 pm |

    Yes, they should both dump those guys.

  2. hellkell
    hellkell April 6, 2013 at 8:47 pm |

    Being alone can suck hard sometimes, but it’s so worth it in the long run. I love my husband to bits, but if we ever divorced, I wouldn’t share my space with another man again for a LONG time, maybe not ever. There are days in any relationship where you’d sell your left boob for some alone time.

    Alone time is your friend. Embrace the fear of being an old lonely cat lady (and really? I don’t see the problem with this) and just do it. If you do meet someone, you’ll be a better partner after you’ve dated yourself long-term.

  3. Safiya Outlines
    Safiya Outlines April 6, 2013 at 9:31 pm |

    Yes. Before I married my husband, I told him clearly “I was happy before you and I’m sure I could be happy after you too” – so in other words, do not expect me to put up with any crap.

    Women will throw their lives away through fear of being alone and then add children and the “spectre” of lone parenting to that mix… *sigh*

    Anyway, surely someone will be along shortly to claim that both women would be unreasonable and somehow “-ist” to leave their boyfriends (jackpot prize will be someone saying any sort of snooping means you deserve to be ill treated).

    1. amblingalong
      amblingalong April 6, 2013 at 9:54 pm |

      Anyway, surely someone will be along shortly to claim that both women would be unreasonable and somehow “-ist” to leave their boyfriends (jackpot prize will be someone saying any sort of snooping means you deserve to be ill treated).

      My take is that

      a) nobody deserves to be ill-treated
      b) if you’re invading someone else’s privacy, you’re doing something wrong
      c) at that point, you really should just break up. If there’s no trust in the first place, on either end, the relationship can’t possibly be healthy; there’s no amount of spying that will convince you your partner is being forthright, because if you’re spying, you’re already convinced something is wrong.

      Incidentally, I disagreed with the columnist on one thing; I think it’s totally fine to want to both be in a relationship and also have some topics be private (yes, even watching porn). There just need to be clear lines so people can say “I really like being with you, but I just don’t feel comfortable opening up about every (for example) sexual fantasy I have right now.” I think this widespread idea that people in sexual/romantic relationships need to share absolutely everything about themselves is almost as disastrous an idea as “love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

      What the boyfriend in the article was doing wrong was being dishonest about the limits of what he was willing to share; it was not his unwillingness to share everything.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong April 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm |

        Oh, and this:

        You will rededicate yourself to your female friendships.

        My best friend in the world is someone of the opposite sex; we’ve been through everything imaginable together. The idea that same-sex friendships are somehow more real or pure (because donchaknow men and women always have sex) is bullshit. So is the idea that by dating someone, you must inevitably become more distant from your friends (rededicate? really?).

        The friendships you should dedicate yourself to are the ones that are supportive, loving, and make you happy.

        1. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 6, 2013 at 10:33 pm |

          Yeah, I’m sure you have to factor in the Nice Guy(tm) friends waiting to pounce, ohmygod wait, you DON’T so maybe, just maybe the woman knows what the fuck she’s talking about in talking to another woman about this shit.

        2. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 6, 2013 at 10:40 pm |

          Yeah, I’m sure you have to factor in the Nice Guy(tm) friends waiting to pounce, ohmygod wait, you DON’T so maybe, just maybe the woman knows what the fuck she’s talking about in talking to another woman about this shit.

          Good point; if a dude is friends with a woman it’s clearly about wanting to have sex. Totally forgot about that!

        3. tigtog
          tigtog April 6, 2013 at 11:17 pm | *

          You’re reading way more into that sentence than is necessarily meant. Maybe she means what you think, but maybe she doesn’t.

          I’ve known a lot of women who essentially dump their female friends when they have a boyfriend, pretty much only seeing them regularly when they are single. In my experience, that’s a really unhealthy dynamic for a woman to have – it places female friendships as place-markers and blatantly second-best to having a boyfriend, and it almost always comes from a place of internalised sexism that poisons one’s own self-esteem as well as trivialising those friendships.

          Using a singleton period to rededicate those friendships one has left untended is a really, really good idea for helping centre oneself away from yearning for that whole “lost love” thing.

        4. EG
          EG April 6, 2013 at 11:18 pm |

          Amblingalong, I think you’re overlooking a difference in socialization between genders. Girls and women are often socialized to prioritize the men in their lives, to build their emotional lives and sense of self-worth around their relationships with men. Part of what these letter-writers need to learn is that being valued by a man is not the be-all and end-all of either their emotional lives, that they can have full social lives and be emotionally validated and valued and fulfilled by women. And part of that is about realizing that they, themselves, as women are worthwhile and bring a lot of wonderful things to relationships, and thus are worth a lot more than the doofuses they’re with.

          I don’t think these things apply to men.

        5. EG
          EG April 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm |

          Or, y’know, what tigtog said.

        6. Willard
          Willard April 6, 2013 at 11:54 pm |

          EG, codependency is gender-blind. Men are perfectly capable of defining themselves, their masculinity and their idea of happiness by their relationship status. Society provides men other avenues to build that sense of self and self-worth, but a toxic relationship is more detrimental than all the esteem boosters in the world. I read your comment, re-gendered it in my mind and applied to to a couple of friends and a former roommate with little difficulty. They were all miserable, their girlfriends (and fiance in one case) were miserable, but no one would walk away. So yeah, I think what you say can apply to men.

          What Tigtog says is definitely right, though the women I’ve known who will dump their female friends don’t make any exceptions for their male friends either. They just vanish from the social circle one day, to maybe be seen in a couple months. Or not. Sometimes they get married >.<

        7. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 7, 2013 at 2:02 am |

          Well that’s not something you have to factor in now is it ambling? The Nice Guy isn’t a unicorn,much as you’d like to think. So try shutting the fuck up when a woman tells you what things women have to navigate that you don’t. The Nice Guy Syndrome isn’t about poor poor menz .

        8. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 7, 2013 at 2:10 am |

          He isn’t overlooking it EG. He simply has to interject his opinion into it because men might be getting the short end of the stick poor things, and God knows we need a male opinion when women give advice to other women. It’s not like he ever misses a chance.Her advice didn’t take into account his special man-ness and that won’t stand. He MUST give his take on it. And he’s an ally so it’s totes different when he does it.

        9. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia April 7, 2013 at 2:40 am |

          For reference: I am taking it The Nice Guy = the man who thinks he is owed sex for being a decent human, thus proving he is not, in fact, a decent human being?

          Either way, this is not unique to women in relationships to men regarding their female friends. I have seen the same thing happen with no regard as to the identity and orientation of the people in the relationship of friend group. And now I have a Pansy Division song in my head.

        10. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 7, 2013 at 2:48 am |

          He isn’t overlooking it EG. He simply has to interject his opinion into it because men might be getting the short end of the stick poor things, and God knows we need a male opinion when women give advice to other women. It’s not like he ever misses a chance.Her advice didn’t take into account his special man-ness and that won’t stand. He MUST give his take on it. And he’s an ally so it’s totes different when he does it.

          Your ability to read things I didn’t write continues to impress.

        11. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 7, 2013 at 3:14 am |

          To expand:

          EG, Tigtog, your points are well taken. This probably has as much to do with the format (someone giving advice to a person they’ve never met) as anything else; it just seems entirely possible that the letter-writer’s closest/most supportive friends are male, and so advising them to turn to female friendship after a bad breakup felt overly prescriptive. Hopefully that’s not a particularly mansplainy observation.

          In terms of socialization/gendered relationships, I basically agree with everything you wrote. I just don’t think it’s appropriate advice to give someone when you don’t know anything about their circumstances– certainly when my aforementioned friend and I have gone through breakups, we’ve been each other’s first call, and who knows whether that’s the situation here.

          Again, maybe it’s just my problem with the format itself, but I see a big difference between general statements of feminist principles (i.e. women are trained to devalue relationships with other women) and specific advice to individuals (you should look to your female friends at this specific moment).

        12. DouglasG
          DouglasG April 7, 2013 at 9:36 am |

          Mr Ambling – If you follow the link to the previous column, you will see the columnist dealing with an opposite-sex best friendship and its preservation during the LW’s First Love that appears to treat the friendship just as the columnist would treat an FF friendship.

          I admire the dedication of Ms Polly to her point. She manages not to be distracted by either the LW’s having long-term plans for her True Love after six weeks or by the LW’s unreciprocated love for the gay best friend over the previous three and a half years.

          To the LW’s credit, she displays no sign of having been the Nice Girl waiting patiently for her Beloved Gay to realize he can be an opposite-sexer after all and then turning homophobic when he doesn’t. The decline of this sort of situation might be considered a positive side effect of the rise of marriage equality.

        13. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah April 7, 2013 at 9:39 am |

          This is just one woman’s take, but I loved the advice given EXCEPT that same sentence about rededicating to female friendships. I feel like its opposite sex friendships that suffer during a hetero relationship, not same sex friendships. Also, its been my experience that women (and men, too, but in different ways) like to police other women’s ‘dedication’ to the friendship group ESPECIALLY while they are in a relationship. “See, now that she’s got a bf, she doesn’t even want to hang out with us anymore! Lets talk about her while she’s not here!” type statements are bandied about a lot. Except, sometimes the person in question is not around because she also has a job, family, and other hobbies and can’t always go out on the day in question. I felt a lot of pressure to always put my friendships with women first in college and in grad school and I always worried that my friends would be mad at me if I had already made plans and couldn’t go out. I cancelled on my bf (now my husband) like just shy of one thousand times. It just hasn’t been my experience that women really “forget” their friends when they get into a relationship, only that now their friends read their behavior as “forgetting” them, even when its just that they have other things to do. And I feel like this is like some kind of mythic behavior that I’ve never seen in real life (forgetting same sex friendships during a relationship). I mean, yes, the relationships change a bit in that you don’t spend AS MUCH time together, but you can’t spend 24/7 with anyone when you are an adult. Just in my own experience, I’ve only known men that have TOTALLY cut themselves off from friends when they are in relationships.

          I’ve also had friendships with women end when I broke up with a guy because I was “too sad” and “bringing everyone down” and couldn’t just “get over it.” So, yeah, I don’t think that rededicating yourself to friendships with women is always the answer. I think rededicating yourself to YOURSELF and making decisions that make you happy (like the rest of the advice basically said) is the best course of action and IF that includes hanging out more with same sex friends, cool.

          Now that I’m married I will say that I still hang out with my women friends, both new and old. I almost never even talk to my guy friends anymore, even though we were just as close, we certainly don’t hang out. I don’t even hang out with the ones that are married and have kids (so we are in the same place in our lives). It just doesn’t happen. And, from my (many) convos with other married women and men, that’s very common (hanging out with same sex buddies after marriage, but never opp sex buddies).

        14. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 7, 2013 at 10:00 am |

          I think rededicating yourself to YOURSELF and making decisions that make you happy (like the rest of the advice basically said) is the best course of action and IF that includes hanging out more with same sex friends, cool.

          THIS.

          And, from my (many) convos with other married women and men, that’s very common (hanging out with same sex buddies after marriage, but never opp sex buddies).

          This isn’t aimed at you at all, but I’ve noticed this trend too and find it terribly sad. I don’t know whether it’s about jealousy or what (I’ve never been married so some of it’s workings are mysterious for me) but I can’t imagine anyone I wouldn’t divorce before I stopped seeing my best friend a couple of times a week.

        15. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah April 7, 2013 at 11:06 am |

          @Amblingalong: I totally agree that its sad. I really miss those friendships. The only guy friends I really still see and keep in touch with are those that are also friends with my husband. And even those we see rarely. I think, for us, its a function of lack of time in the day and distance (we don’t live close to our friends from school). My husband wouldn’t care if I hung out with guy friends at all, so for us its not a matter of jealousy. I wouldn’t call up my guy friends that are married, because I would feel like I was intruding or something like that. Its hard to explain, because I don’t really understand how it happens myself! :/

        16. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 7, 2013 at 12:32 pm |

          Your ability to read things I didn’t write continues to impress.

          Your MP beams through clearly, and THAT is what I’m reading. I bring up Nice Guy Syndrome, you turn it into ” all men must want sex from friendship”. Male Privilege.

          The advice writer says rededicate yourself to your female friendships, you turn that into “stupid woman too stupid to know women can be friends with men and that’s unfair to menz because we’re not all Nice Guys after sex” Male Privilege.

          You took a womans advice to another woman and made it about your friendships as a dude. Male Privilege.

        17. Christina
          Christina April 7, 2013 at 1:17 pm |

          @(BFing)Sarah

          I don’t have much to add, but I just wanted to say that your comment completely resonated with me and put into words the general unease that I feel whenever people start talking about how undervalued female friendship is and how easily threatened by heterosexual relationships – in my experience, this isn’t true at all.

          I feel like this is perhaps an explanation people sometimes give each other for drifting apart for entirely different reasons – certainly, since I started dating my bf the only person that has accused me of putting him ahead of her is a friend on whom I had been trying for a long time to place healthier boundaries – one indeed that had a habit when we were both single of dragging me into/confirming my negative thought-patters re: my singledom. She believes that life should revolve around men and therefore interprets the distance I’m trying to take as a result of my relationship – when in fact it’s the result of the discomfort her views on relationships and sex give me.

        18. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 7, 2013 at 2:26 pm |

          you turn that into “stupid woman too stupid to know women can be friends with men and that’s unfair to menz because we’re not all Nice Guys after sex”

          The only way you get from what I wrote to this is with a willful effort at misunderstanding. I explicitly centered the well-being of the letter writer in my post, not her male acquaintances. There’s a world of difference between “you’re not being fair to teh menz” and “you’re making assumptions about the stranger to whom you’re giving advice, and those assumptions may or may not be useful/accurate.”

          I realize you have some sort of vendetta against me (presumably dating back to that time you told me I couldn’t identify as mixed-race because I didn’t have magical papers of indigenous American-ness) but this is just… weak.

        19. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 8, 2013 at 1:02 am |

          And more MP shining through. No need to consider that it’s valid criticism and recognition of MP. Nope, it’s just a vendetta. I’m just looking for offense. Typical. I don’t buy the villainy you sell. Sorry.

        20. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 8, 2013 at 1:04 am |

          Bullshit not villainy. Kindle auto correct.

        21. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 8, 2013 at 1:59 am |

          And more MP shining through. No need to consider that it’s valid criticism and recognition of MP. Nope, it’s just a vendetta. I’m just looking for offense. Typical. I don’t buy the villainy you sell. Sorry.

          Are you even reading the thread? EG and Tigtog posted critical responses to what I said, which I read, considered, and ultimately agreed with. The fact that I think you’re full of shit doesn’t mean I think the entire criticism is invalid, and if you’d bothered to do even a cursory scan of the relevant comments, you’d know that. Fundamentally, I think the issue is that I wasn’t clear where the nexus of my problem was, i.e., that the advice columnist couldn’t possibly know what the relationships of the stranger she was talking to were like.

          I made that clarification, and lo and behold, it seemed to resonate with a number of other (female) posters. Maybe they’re just brainwashed false-consciousness patriarchy slaves, and maybe the problem with what I wrote is still there, and you just can’t be bothered to actually address the substance of my argument. Maybe EG and Tigtog still think my clarified argument is totally bullshit, and if they say so, I’ll listen. But until you manage to actually talk about what I said, I’m going to keep asserting that you’re full of it.

          Bullshit not villainy. Kindle auto correct.

          I think villainy works in context, actually.

        22. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 8, 2013 at 2:21 am |

          Yes ambling. They pointed out things you overlooked. You overlooked these things because you have MP. They give you the benefit of the doubt and hand hold you through your privilege . I don’t. You’ve displayed it too often. I don’t think you overlooked what they pointed out, I think you dismiss it because MP allows you too. But I’m just a woman and therefore require other women sharing my opinion before it’s valid. Yanno, because MP. And agreeing with other women automatically makes you less full of MP, because straw feminazi bullshit. Sexist crap is still sexist crap even when YOU say it. Yes, even you. Women are socialized differently and have to navigate the Nice Guy Syndrome, so that advice came from a woman’s point of view. Not some universal in general, and there’s a fucking reason for that. And it wasn’t to ignore male female friendships because you assume she doesn’t know they can happen without sex. Had you taken some of that into account first, EG and tig wouldn’t have had to point it out to begin with. But I only think this because (insert bingo excuse here)

        23. amblingalong
          amblingalong April 8, 2013 at 11:31 am |

          Yes ambling. They pointed out things you overlooked. You overlooked these things because you have MP.

          You’re either not reading what I’m writing, or you think I’m lying about my OP not doing a good job communicating my actual position. Either way, I’m done with this little blog spat.

          But I’m just a woman and therefore require other women sharing my opinion before it’s valid.

          I didn’t agree with you because they backed you up, I agreed with what they wrote independent of your post.

        24. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 8, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

          Using a singleton period to rededicate those friendships one has left untended is a really, really good idea for helping centre oneself away from yearning for that whole “lost love” thing.

          I’m coming a bit late to this discussion, but I think this statement is full of truthiness.

          But I also chafed at the columnist’s statement that the LR should rededicate herself to “female friendships.” Because if Cuz Girl Power! is the underlying assumption of that statement, it still comes off as sexist. And if the underlying assumption is some sort of When Harry Met Sallyism that men and women can’t really be friends and thus any and all male-female platonic friendships are a buildup to sexing? I’m definitely calling sexist BS.

          I agree with BFSarah and Christina on much of this back and forth. But I will also say as someone who has consistently had true blue, platonic m/f friendships that got me through some super-ugly breakups in my time, that ultimately all that matters is the refocus off the romantic and back onto friendships period that is so often the key to regaining one’s footing post-breakup. Stating that the focus should be on female friendships is silly and sexist, and I’m going to call that out as BS even if the rest of the advice comes off sounding quite reasonable and sound.

        25. trees
          trees April 8, 2013 at 6:28 pm |

          @Lolagirl

          But I also chafed at the columnist’s statement that the LR should rededicate herself to “female friendships.” Because if Cuz Girl Power! is the underlying assumption of that statement, it still comes off as sexist.

          Do you consider it sexist for a woman to value her platonic relationships with other women over her platonic relationships with men?

        26. trees
          trees April 8, 2013 at 6:32 pm |

          @amblingalong

          I realize you have some sort of vendetta against me (presumably dating back to that time you told me I couldn’t identify as mixed-race because I didn’t have magical papers of indigenous American-ness) but this is just… weak.

          That is a gross misrepresentation of pheenobarbidoll’s position.

        27. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia April 8, 2013 at 9:57 pm |

          Do you consider it sexist for a woman to value her platonic relationships with other women over her platonic relationships with men?

          As a woman lacks the institutionalized power to be sexist with regards to men. No. It’s obviously not.

        28. trees
          trees April 8, 2013 at 10:09 pm |

          @Radiant Sophia

          As a woman lacks the institutionalized power to be sexist with regards to men. No. It’s obviously not.

          Okay. Could you help me understand what Lolagirl might have meant in reference to sexism?

        29. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia April 8, 2013 at 11:06 pm |

          @trees

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to answer for Lolagirl, but this (decrying refocusing on your relationships to people you are not sexually attracted to) just seems to be more “what about the menz”. Several people here have taken advice that I believe was given in good faith, and made it about a hypothetical “well what if her friendships were with men?”, or “what about Nice Guy Syndrome”? Neither of which I believe are actually important factors in the spirit of the advice as it was given.

        30. Willard
          Willard April 9, 2013 at 1:13 am |

          Lolagirl might have meant in reference to sexism?

          I’d hazard a guess that the gender stereotyping/essentialism some of us are seeing there is the sexism being referenced. So no, not sexist against men.

          It’s a quibble over one word, but it’s a word that takes some of us from this:

          Polly says, in a way that feels especially right to me at this particular moment in my life (which is how we always read advice columns, isn’t it?)

          to well, this comment thread. And that’s fucking sad.

        31. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 9, 2013 at 1:11 pm |

          Do you consider it sexist for a woman to value her platonic relationships with other women over her platonic relationships with men?

          Whut? Of course not. Do whatever you want and value whatever or whoever you value more or less as you choose. But, I do consider it sexist if you tell me and every other woman out there that I must value my friendships with women over those with men. It’s not taking the quote out of context to quibble over the language used, because the columnist herself used the term female friendships. I’m not putting words in her mouth, quite to the contrary, I’m taking her at her literal word.

          I’d hazard a guess that the gender stereotyping/essentialism some of us are seeing there is the sexism being referenced. So no, not sexist against men.

          Yes, that is a big part of why I take issue with the “female friendship” business. I already alluded to the gender essentialism inherent in the term used. Women friends will get me, cuz we’re all in each others heads so easily as fellow women! But men can’t be our real friends, because all they really want is any opportunity to get laid, amirite?! It’s stereotyping men and women and trying to push them into gendered little boxes, which is BS, plain and simple.

          And really, it’s such ridiculously hetero/cis centric advice to boot. What about my gay men friends, do they get a special dispensation since they would be disinclined towards utilizing our friendships as an opportunity to sexing with my broken-hearted self? How about my bi-guy friend or my lesbian woman friend? Are they also suspect as up to no good because of their supposed sexual inclinations? (Btw, I’m being utterly sarcastic here, before anyone gets up in arms about any of it.) Such awkward roads to navigate when all I wanted or needed was my friends to bring me ice cream and wine and sit with me through Buffy reruns until I was ready to pull myself together and move on.

        32. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 9, 2013 at 2:55 pm |

          Honestly, IMO I think women need to foster friendships with other women because there’s a hugely popular belief circulating that I see on Fb and other places-

          “I like to hang out with guys because girls cause too much drama”

          There’s an effort to prevent women from having close female friendships.

          This issue is higher up on my priority list. Just sayin.

        33. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm |

          “I like to hang out with guys because girls cause too much drama”

          Pheeno, I can respect that you’re coming about it from that pov. I haven’t really encountered too much of that mindset personally, but if it’s what you are pushing back against I agree with you entirely.

          There’s an effort to prevent women from having close female friendships.

          I honestly don’t get that take, but I understand why you might. It just seems like so many movies and tv shows make a whole big deal about the whole women as BFF trope, so, I dunno. And I still go back to my ppptttthhh to the whole When Harry Met Sally m/f friendship is a lie business. It’s a stupid movie and an insulting premise with ridiculously stereotypical presentations of m/f behavior. And yet so many people I know declare it to be their favorite movie of all time, ever.

          (Side tangent-did I just date myself terribly with these last two comments or what?)

        34. trees
          trees April 9, 2013 at 10:06 pm |

          @Lolagirl

          I read that line very differently, with none of the gender existentialism. Like pheeno, I have the experience of women’s friendships being denigrated ’cause women can’t be trusted, are “catty”, and the like. I agree that the author is making the assumption that the letter writer’s closest friendships are with other women, and while that is probably true for the overwhelming majority, it isn’t necessarily so for everyone.

          And I still go back to my ppptttthhh to the whole When Harry Met Sally m/f friendship is a lie business. It’s a stupid movie and an insulting premise with ridiculously stereotypical presentations of m/f behavior. And yet so many people I know declare it to be their favorite movie of all time, ever.

          My take is that the film is popular, because a supportive platonic friendship develops into true romantic love. And yes of course, the whole m/f can’t be friends ’cause sex is just some silliness.

        35. trees
          trees April 9, 2013 at 10:11 pm |

          @Radiant Sophia and Willard
          Thanks for breaking it down for me.

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to answer for Lolagirl, but this (decrying refocusing on your relationships to people you are not sexually attracted to) just seems to be more “what about the menz”. Several people here have taken advice that I believe was given in good faith, and made it about a hypothetical “well what if her friendships were with men?”, or “what about Nice Guy Syndrome”? Neither of which I believe are actually important factors in the spirit of the advice as it was given.

          Agreed

        36. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia April 10, 2013 at 6:00 am |

          Honestly, IMO I think women need to foster friendships with other women

          I may be daft, but I’m not sure what gender has to do with friendship.

          There’s an effort to prevent women from having close female friendships.

          It’s not a women’s close friendships with women that the patriarchy seeks to prevent. It’s a women’s friendship with anybody that isn’t her father or husband, i.e. her owner. Any support structure (including friends) is a threat to the husband or father. This is not a new phenomena.

      2. Lolagirl
        Lolagirl April 10, 2013 at 12:55 pm |

        this (decrying refocusing on your relationships to people you are not sexually attracted to) just seems to be more “what about the menz”.

        I wanted to come back to this point, because it’s so far off the mark from what I’ve stated in my comments here that I can not let it go unaddressed.

        I don’t give a damn about protecting or standing up for men and their freedom to friend whoever. But I sure as hell take issue with what gendered messages to women about who they should friend, or value as friends, or not value as friends. I object to any and all gendered messages to women about what they should (or shouldn’t) do, or think, or value, or with whom they should associate, etc. That is what objecting to, and I think I’ve been rather starkly clear about that in what I’ve written above.

        And nobody has addressed at all my criticisms that the advice to women to “rededicate themselves to female friendships” is ridiculously hetero and cis centric (to the point that I question that it is prejudicial towards those who are not hetero/cis women.) I’m going to object to that line of thinking all day long, no doubt about it, and no exceptions made.

        1. trees
          trees April 10, 2013 at 6:16 pm |

          And nobody has addressed at all my criticisms that the advice to women to “rededicate themselves to female friendships” is ridiculously hetero and cis centric (to the point that I question that it is prejudicial towards those who are not hetero/cis women.) I’m going to object to that line of thinking all day long, no doubt about it, and no exceptions made.

          @Lolagirl
          In my personal experience anyway, cis and trans (gay/straight/bi) women’s most valued friendships are likely to be with other women, but of course that’s not true for all women (I’m thinking of a couple of women in my life who have male BF). Maybe the author has a similar experience, but no, she shouldn’t assume that’s necessarily true for this particular woman getting out of a romantic relationship with a man.

          I’m really not trying to be obtuse; am I still missing your point?

        2. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 10, 2013 at 9:12 pm |

          I’m really not trying to be obtuse; am I still missing your point?

          Yeah, I think you are still missing my point.

          Which is specifically that the advice giver in the column at question is assuming that all men and women fall into a strict cis/hetero gender binary. That just isn’t true, and while it may reflect the columnist’s personal little circle of reality it doesn’t reflect the reality of the world at large. Even if the LR is a straight/cis woman, her circle of friends may very well not be, and telling her that she should circle the wagons with her lady friends is silly ignorant to that possibility, Not to mention, it utterly ignores the reality of the rest of the world inhabited by her readers.

          I also get a whiff of that “Women are from Mars, Men are from Venus” nonsense from the columnist’s advice. And while it’s a tremendously popular bit of self-help book fappery, it’s utter sexist nonsense. And insulting sexist nonsense to boot. Women and men are not that different from one another, even if they are cis/hetero, and if they do not fall into that binary they are even less likely to buy into and exhibit socialized gender norms.

        3. trees
          trees April 10, 2013 at 9:36 pm |

          Which is specifically that the advice giver in the column at question is assuming that all men and women fall into a strict cis/hetero gender binary.

          and

          I also get a whiff of that “Women are from Mars, Men are from Venus” nonsense from the columnist’s advice.

          But that just isn’t necessarily where she’s coming from. From the time I was a wee one, my world has never been “a strict cis/hetero gender binary”, and I have also had a male bf at one point in my life. I think I now better understand your perspective, but I don’t think that’s the only legitimate way to read that line.

          telling her that she should circle the wagons with her lady friends is silly ignorant to that possibility

          And I’m definitely not reading this statement as hostile to men.

        4. trees
          trees April 10, 2013 at 9:51 pm |

          I met I didn’t read the author’s statement as in any way hostile to men.

          Also, I really fucking that expression “to circle the wagons” ’cause manifest destiny.

        5. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 10, 2013 at 10:10 pm |

          And I’m definitely not reading this statement as hostile to men.

          Hostile? I never said it was hostile. I said it was silly ignorant, because it is. This isn’t about hostility towards men. Like I said already, I’m not coming at this from a what about the poor menz perspective. I could not possibly care less about the poor men and any hostility (real or imagined) that the columnist may have towards them.

          What I do care about is what may very well be a sort of benevolent hostility towards LGBTQ folks on the part of the columnist. Because the columnist is assuming that the letter writer and her friends are all hetero and cis women. And like I pointed out already, the implication there is that women should stay away from friendships with men. The only explanation I can come up with for that is that she either assumes an inherent supremacy to f/f friendship or a lack of sexual tension in f/f friendships that is inherent to m/f friendships. That’s crap, because it only holds water if a whole boatload of other hetero sexual norms are also in play (chief among them that those men friends will all be straight and can’t help but try and make a sexual play with their newly single woman friend.)

          And while I was being mostly sarcastic when I said this earlier, I’ll go ahead and quote myself to spell out the silliness factor a bit better as I see it:

          What about my gay men friends, do they get a special dispensation since they would be disinclined towards utilizing our friendships as an opportunity to sexing with my broken-hearted self? How about my bi-guy friend or my lesbian woman friend? Are they also suspect as up to no good because of their supposed sexual inclinations?

          Do you now see why I think it’s so silly ignorant?

        6. trees
          trees April 10, 2013 at 10:35 pm |

          Hostile? I never said it was hostile.

          I read it as hostile ’cause you invoked white supremacist violence with the racist ass expression: “to circle the wagons”.

          I’m not in disagreement with anything you have said regarding friendships, and I have never lived in a cis/hetro normative world, I just didn’t read any of what you’re seeing in the author’s statement.

        7. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia April 10, 2013 at 10:36 pm |

          What I do care about is what may very well be a sort of benevolent hostility towards LGBTQ folks on the part of the columnist. Because the columnist is assuming that the letter writer and her friends are all hetero and cis women. And like I pointed out already, the implication there is that women should stay away from friendships with men.

          I did not read the original article that way. If I had, it would have made me angry as well. Above I asked “What does gender have to do with who you are friends with?”. I kind of think we are on the same page, except I may have been blinkered into accepting “female friends” as “non-sexual friends” due to having privilege of not being trans or gay.

        8. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 11, 2013 at 8:40 am |

          I read it as hostile ’cause you invoked white supremacist violence with the racist ass expression: “to circle the wagons”.

          What the???

          I have never, ever, heard such an interpretation of the term circle the wagons. After googling around, I can see where you’re coming from, but seriously, if that’s what you zero in on in light of all the other stuff I’ve written both in this conversation and plenty of others here at Feministe I don’t even know what to say to you. That term gets thrown around a ton in polisci circles to discuss the phenomenon of how politicians pull their support sytem together when dealing with scandal or other unfortunate circumstances.

          Apparently we do live in very, very different worlds.

        9. Lolagirl
          Lolagirl April 11, 2013 at 8:45 am |

          I did not read the original article that way. If I had, it would have made me angry as well. Above I asked “What does gender have to do with who you are friends with?”. I kind of think we are on the same page, except I may have been blinkered into accepting “female friends” as “non-sexual friends” due to having privilege of not being trans or gay.

          Yeah, it’s interesting to see how various readers will interpret the same text differently, isn’t it? I think we are pretty much on the same page as well, Sophia.

          And ultimately, the whole sexual tension getting in the way of friendship argument annoys the crap out of me. Real friends are you’re friends first and foremost, they aren’t going to try and make a sexual play when you’re broken hearted, because they are you’re friend. All regardless of sex/gender/identity.

        10. trees
          trees April 11, 2013 at 9:08 am |

          What the???

          I have never, ever, heard such an interpretation of the term circle the wagons. After googling around, I can see where you’re coming from, but seriously, if that’s what you zero in on in light of all the other stuff I’ve written both in this conversation and plenty of others here at Feministe I don’t even know what to say to you. That term gets thrown around a ton in polisci circles to discuss the phenomenon of how politicians pull their support sytem together when dealing with scandal or other unfortunate circumstances.

          Apparently we do live in very, very different worlds.

          I respectfully hear what you’re saying, I don’t even disagree with your ideas on friendship. I get that you didn’t intend that allusion to manifest destiny, but I’m a multiracial WOC, an NDN, and that’s how I read that term and it is very off putting. I’m listening and considering your perspective, but your dismissive attitude towards me let’s me know that no you’re right, we’ve really not on the same planet, and I view my world from behind a colonialism/racial lens.

        11. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 11, 2013 at 12:01 pm |

          telling her that she should circle the wagons with her lady friends is silly ignorant to that possibility

          No no no no FUCK NO.

          Circle that wagons? Oh hell no. I did not just read that racist bullshit.

          White murdering colonists circled the wagons to protect themselves from “hostile” Indians. That term is offensive as fuck.

        12. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 11, 2013 at 12:17 pm |

          I may be daft, but I’m not sure what gender has to do with friendship.

          In a P, gender has everything to do with it. I think women should foster friendships with other women because we’re all members of an oppressed group based on our sex/gender( and yes, I include ALL women, trans women are women. Lesbians are women last I checked)

          When members of an oppressed group form tight bonds of friendship, activism takes root and flourishes more easily. It’s simply a support group for people who share a similar oppression.

          This doesn’t mean women should not be friends or form close friendships with men or anyone else they want, but I do think in light of this trend to find women too catty or drama causing to be friends with that an effort needs to be made to visibly contradict that.

          When girls are growing up in a society that makes it uncool to have female friends, because women are “inherently” bad, something needs to be done to reverse it.

          Does that make more sense? I think women fostering friendships with other women is a visible, concrete example that yes, women can be friends and no that doesn’t mean they get extra drama in their lives and no women are not harder to hang out with.

        13. trees
          trees April 11, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

          @pheenobarbidoll

          Yeah, that expression makes me feel stabby, and I don’t give a shit that it’s in popular usage in some circles. There’s a lot of fucked up shit that’s commonly said.

          When members of an oppressed group form tight bonds of friendship, activism takes root and flourishes more easily. It’s simply a support group for people who share a similar oppression.

          This is exactly what I was thinking. As a marginalized person, I feel stronger in relationship with those who have had a similar socialization and who face similar oppression. Fostering these relationships is just basic survival for me, and I imagine many (most?) other disfranchised people share this experience in some contexts.

        14. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 11, 2013 at 5:35 pm |

          Yeah, that expression makes me feel stabby, and I don’t give a shit that it’s in popular usage in some circles. There’s a lot of fucked up shit that’s commonly said.

          Yup. “go off reservation” or ” makes me stabby too, and it’s used all the damn time.

          This is exactly what I was thinking. As a marginalized person, I feel stronger in relationship with those who have had a similar socialization and who face similar oppression. Fostering these relationships is just basic survival for me, and I imagine many (most?) other disfranchised people share this experience in some contexts.

          It just makes sense for me as well. I mean, look at how the 60′s womens liberation movement came about. Women started comparing lives and BAM! connections were made and a movement started.

          It helps sometimes to know you share an experience with someone else. I feel less isolated just knowing you and a few (too few sadly) others are NDN as well. You get it. I don’t forever have to explain things, because you already know what I’m talking about.

        15. trees
          trees April 11, 2013 at 6:22 pm |

          @pheenobarbidoll

          I’m touched by your words; it feels like a warm hug. I’m honored to know that my presence brings you some comfort, as I feel safer knowing that you’re here.

        16. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 11, 2013 at 7:06 pm |

          Wado, trees. Me too.

        17. The Kittehs' Unpaid Help
          The Kittehs' Unpaid Help April 11, 2013 at 10:13 pm |

          And nobody has addressed at all my criticisms that the advice to women to “rededicate themselves to female friendships” is ridiculously hetero and cis centric (to the point that I question that it is prejudicial towards those who are not hetero/cis women.) I’m going to object to that line of thinking all day long, no doubt about it, and no exceptions made.

          I’m confused here – isn’t this advice addressed to one hetero cis woman, not the world in general? If so, why shouldn’t it speak to her situation?

        18. DouglasG
          DouglasG April 11, 2013 at 10:56 pm |

          [And nobody has addressed at all my criticisms that the advice to women to “rededicate themselves to female friendships” is ridiculously hetero and cis centric (to the point that I question that it is prejudicial towards those who are not hetero/cis women.) I’m going to object to that line of thinking all day long, no doubt about it, and no exceptions made.]

          I wrote a longish post basically agreeing with Ms Lola five hours ago, only for my connection to go phut just as I tried to post it. I thought the columnist’s “female friendships” made the common but lazy assumption that Last Relationship = Monosexual Identity, though I’ve seen so much of this in a homocentric capacity as well as heterocentric and ciscentric that my first reaction is that it’s more bi-erasing. (Others as well, but it is the logistical plight of monogamous bisexual people that no monogamous relationship simultaneously gives the appearance of same-sex and opposite-sex attraction.)

          It isn’t that hard, when someone presents only one relationship and doesn’t specify, to leave the option open that the same-sex or opposite-sex interest suggested by the relationship isn’t exclusive.

        19. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 12, 2013 at 12:08 am |

          By the way-The op didn’t say “value female friendships over male friendships” and I find it questionable that when a woman suggests rededicating oneself to female friendships the automatic assumption is that she’s taking something away from male friendships. WHY can a woman never value other women without it meaning something about MEN? And where did she say trans women or lesbians were not women? Also where did she say gay male friends suck and since we’re reading so much into one sentence what the fuck is the excuse to NOT read all those other friendships into her “make some new friends” sentence? She says make some new friends and does NOT say what gender or sexual orientation those friends must be. But a woman said something good about female friendships so by God we can’t let that stand! It MUST be devaluing men!! And it’s clear she hates gay men, lesbians and trans women too! Gimme a friggin break.

        20. pheenobarbidoll
          pheenobarbidoll April 12, 2013 at 12:32 am |

          Oh she also left out interracial friendships. That had to be on purpose and clearly she’s a racist who values white to white friendships over all others and doesn’t even view women of color as women!

        21. Donna L
          Donna L April 12, 2013 at 12:32 am |

          isn’t this advice addressed to one hetero cis woman,

          Kitteh’s Unpaid Help, I think you — like Polly — are making an assumption that the woman seeking advice is both cis and hetero. They’re reasonable assumptions, to be sure, but you don’t really know either to be true, do you? For one thing, I think DouglasG is entirely correct that there’s a rather lazy default assumption (not just by Polly but by most people), an assumption that results in bi erasure, that because this woman is writing about her present relationship with a man, all her relationships have been with men and she’s oriented exclusively towards men. Even though she never specifically describes her sexual orientation. And I do think people should try to stay away from always assuming that to be the case, and, if they happen to be an advice columnist, crafting their advice accordingly. (Admittedly, I used to make that assumption myself, but I’ve known enough people, particularly women, who gave every “appearance” on first acquaintance of being entirely straight and then turned out not to be, that I try not to do so anymore.)

          And, yes, I’m sure it would never, ever occur to 99.999% of you that a presumably young woman who moves in with a guy and thinks about marriage could possibly have a trans history, without mentioning it when she seeks advice and making some kind of “disclosure” issue the center of whatever relationship problems she’s having.

          So, yeah, you don’t know.

          That’s why they call it heterocentrism. And ciscentrism.

    2. Safiya Outlines
      Safiya Outlines April 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm |

      Not sure where this reply will show up, but I just want to chime my agreement with what Pheno and EG have said, particularly with regards to female friendships and yes, I would co-sign with Pheeno’s comments on male privilege here.

      Tbh, I feel like saying something entirely less polite then that, but can’t be arsed to unleash another wave of Dude Opinion.

      1. amblingalong
        amblingalong April 7, 2013 at 11:30 pm |

        Tbh, I feel like saying something entirely less polite then that, but can’t be arsed to unleash another wave of Dude Opinion.

        Go for it; I’ll promise not to reply if you ask that I don’t. The last thing I want to do is stifle a conversation.

        I genuinely do think there’s a huge difference between denying the patriarchy impacts female friendships in a unique way and suggesting that if you don’t know someone, you’re unlikely to be able to give them good advice as to which friendships of theirs are healthiest, but if I’m way off base I’m listening. Christina and BFingSarah made similar points, if mine was framed in an overly Dudely way.

      2. pheenobarbidoll
        pheenobarbidoll April 9, 2013 at 12:05 am |

        @radiant- Right? I can’t even read dudely opinion on how it’s not his MP it’s really my misunderstanding his words or twisting his words or holding a vendetta -with a straight face. That it can be written with a straight face is,well…MP.

  4. Marksman2000
    Marksman2000 April 6, 2013 at 10:07 pm |

    Direct and indirect peer pressure is a big factor in these situations. I’ve actually had people insult me because I’ve “never been married.” It wasn’t that I’m not currently married, it’s that I’ve “never been married.”

    So because I didn’t run out when I was 24 years old and get married, dazzled by the so-called American Dream of having a wife and kids and home, only to end up in divorce court (and back to being alone), then that makes me a loser. Okay. Sure thing.

    What really fascinates me is that 98% of the people who were leveling these insults already had one or two divorces under their belt. Wuh?

    People. They never cease to amaze.

    1. Colin
      Colin April 7, 2013 at 2:19 am |

      That’s perfectly logical if you consider marriage to be a temporary rite of passage, like going to college or serving in the military. Marriage means different things to different people, and clearly some people don’t even expect it to be a lifelong deal.

  5. williamx
    williamx April 7, 2013 at 4:24 am |

    I’m a single guy, and older(45), and I’m here to tell you I am subjected to much judgement because I am not married and don’t have a steady girlfriend. I can’t speak for all guys but when the ‘Old lonely feeling’ hits it hits hard, and I feel all full of fail. A couple of days later I get over it because I am loved by many and have a good life going. All that said I am sure the pressure to couple up is way stronger for a young woman.

    1. Marksman2000
      Marksman2000 April 7, 2013 at 12:54 pm |

      And I’m sure you’re correct about the pressures on young women. Plus, in the U.S., the region where you live plays a big factor. Perhaps in the Northeast or on the West Coast, people are much more open-minded about staying single. But I’ve not lived there, so I’m only speculating.

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