Women lying on car / Pixabay.com
“In university, you find your tribe.”
Among other less welcome, more invasive pieces of advice that bombard recent school leavers, this phrase was often said to me before I started university this semester. I’ve been promised a group of people with similar interests and ambitions who will become my lifelong friends. At least, so say my adult-ier friends.
That sounds great. I remain hopeful.
My social life is slowly picking up after the isolation that many of us experienced during lockdown, and being in university accommodation has certainly been an effective antidote. But I have noticed some questionable attitudes towards meeting people and forming friendships floating around.
“I hang out with guys more because it’s just less drama.”
I’ve heard that gem nearly as much as “find your tribe,” though I don’t think anyone should be buying into this one. The many stereotypes about gal friends and guy friends are deep-set. Gal friends are catty gossips who are one breath away from turning on you, and guy friends care just enough about your life to be reliable yet aloof. Supportive yet fun.
Part of me wonders if these stereotypes are just holdovers from the petty social politics of high school, but I’ve seen enough of the world to know that the problem is not isolated to teenagers. Women are told to compete with each other. Women are told to strive for points of difference from other women. Representations of women in popular culture (from basically every 2000s-era dramedy, to whatever Love Island or Real Housewives of *insert locale here* remake is hot right now) suggest that friendships between them are harder to nurture and easier to lose.
We know that these stereotypes, and gendering personality traits in general, are rubbish. If not from sheer life experience, where people come in all shades of dramatic, vulnerable and sociable, then from statistics. An American study in personality found no gender bias in being dramatic — or specifically, in one’s ‘need for drama.’ Turns out holding grudges, having tiffs and gossipping are quite universal.
The traits we think of as masculine (being drama-free, stoic and rather unfeeling), and therefore as better, are the traits that many of us try to emulate in our friendships and relationships. If we could all be guy’s guys and guy’s gals and guy’s grandmas — that’d be the patriarchal dream.
But it’s just a dream, and an unhealthy one at that. Looking past the obvious stupidity in writing off half of the population, a drama-free friendship shouldn’t even be our goal because, as a New York Times article argues for romantic relationships, they’re completely unrealistic. I would hate if all my friendships were replicas of the easy-going friendships I have with some men.
My friend who has lengthy rants, sparked by things such as a sock shrunken in the dryer, is not drama-free, but she knows to evacuate me from a party with only a glance.
My friend who requires twenty near-identical photographs in one party outfit, that later surprises me with the perfect candid snapshot, is not drama-free.
My friend who starts a political debate at every dinner, and endlessly teaches me about different worldviews, is not drama-free.
My friends are exciting and passionate and dramatic (so am I, a lot of the time). And they’re some of the best friends I’ve ever had.
Soul tribe potential. Drama and all.Support Villainesse