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how to like other women

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Apr 2nd, 2015
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  1. How to Like Other Women
  3. a guide for queer or straight women who have historically had problems
  4. making friends with other women.
  6. Here are a few things I've learned about making friends, some of which generalize to any gender, but that I have found especially important to
  7. keep in mind with women because of how we are socially groomed to compete
  8. with each other and how many failure modes of supporting each other there
  9. are -- particularly in male-dominated fields/industries where we already
  10. feel unsupported and left out, and where we're often told we're "not like
  11. other women."
  13. I love the tweets I've seen that respond to that statement with "fuck you,
  14. what's wrong with other women? I like other women!" ...but I've
  15. historically had problems making that assertion really true in the sense of
  16. feeling that I *relate* to other women. Finding feminism for me was the act
  17. of putting aside the hurt from what I had felt as betrayals and recognizing
  18. that perpetuating those same distrustful behaviors was counterproductive,
  19. especially as I and the women my age are growing up and finding more and
  20. more that we have to lean on each other to have any chance of support or
  21. encouragement.
  23. So here is a list. Some of the things are things I've failed at personally
  24. and some are things I've suffered from others failing. None of this damage
  25. is necessary. We can and should take better care of each other.
  28. 1: Don't make disparaging comments about your own body or eating habits (or
  29. anyone else's). The ethics of food and exercise are a huge and varied
  30. topic, but unless you can do it without imposing moral judgments on
  31. people's bodies, just don't go there.
  33. 2: Make room for each other's thoughts in conversation. This doesn't mean
  34. you have to always shut up and listen, but make it clear that you're
  35. interested in really listening and participating in her thoughts.
  36. Especially when there are aggressive dudes around, one way to do this is to
  37. ally with one another: if a dude interrupts a gal, don't turn away from her
  38. -- make it clear you want her to finish her thought. Or later in the
  39. conversation, say "I wanted to hear the rest of what ___ was saying."
  41. 3: Make a point of keeping up with the parts of each others' lives that are
  42. meaningful to you. For a lot of women I know this means
  43. professional/academic endeavors, but it could also mean an athletic
  44. activity or family. It's easier if you have priorities in common, but even
  45. if not, make a clear effort to know what's important to the women in your
  46. life and ask them about it regularly. Have the context such that they can
  47. share successes and failures with you and that will actually be meaningful,
  48. and you can provide meaningful support.
  50. 4: Make it a goal for your day to pass the Bechdel test on a regular basis.
  52. 5: If you are attracted to other women: note this does not give you a free
  53. pass for objectification. It can seem like a useful way to achieve a sense
  54. of belonging in a male-dominated group is to bond with your shared
  55. attraction of women, but note that *bonding over shared attraction* is
  56. fundamentally about the people "bonding" and not about the object (object!)
  57. of attraction, and it's fucked up that this act of objectification should
  58. be part of your social fiber! It is most definitely not a way to establish
  59. trust with women.
  61. 6: If you are attracted to men, note that some of your friends who are
  62. women might not be, or might not be exclusively, and discussing "hot guys"
  63. might not be the most inclusive topic of conversation, either. Like, it
  64. might seem like a valid response to point 5 is to pointedly turn the
  65. conversation toward attraction to men, but unless you have the established
  66. shared context with other women at the table that this is something they'd
  67. gleefully participate in, well, it's not the best way to gain gleeful
  68. participation.
  70. 6: If you are attracted to men, you might be attracted to one that a woman
  71. in your social circle is dating. Maybe you know her *through* the
  72. man she's dating, as is commonly the case as women in male-dominated fields
  73. Basic advice: for fuck's sake don't be an asshole. Unless the couple is
  74. *explicitly* open/poly (which is another situation about which entire
  75. essays could be and have been written, and the same basic principles of
  76. "treat her like a human with feelings" still apply), you tag the dude as
  77. off limits and move on. Maybe you are never going to be total besties with
  78. this lady but you had better at least be kind to her.
  80. Also, probably don't date your good friend's ex unless you've talked to her
  81. about it and made REALLY SURE she's cool with it.
  83. 7: Don't say negative things about them behind their backs. If the negative
  84. thing you're tempted to say is somehow related to a violation of one of
  85. these points, maybe bring it up with her privately. Or at the very least
  86. frame it as "I feel hurt that she __" rather than "she's a bitch because
  87. __".
  89. 8: While we're at it, eradicate the misogynist slur "bitch" from your
  90. vocabulary. "Asshole" and "jerk" are gender neutral.
  92. 9: All this said, once you've developed a context for it, banter and fun-making
  93. and name-calling can totally be on the table and part of your repertoire.
  94. Your friends are not delicate flowers that can't take a joke. They just
  95. need to know they can trust you not to behave like an asshole.
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