Monday, 9 April 2012

A Truism

Hanging out with mostly girlfriends in Canada is much different from
hanging out with mostly male friends in Britain.

This is so true that I am not sure where to begin.

Many women, upon marriage, move or travel back-and-forth from one group of females, their friends and family members, to another group of females, their husbands' relatives. This can be a very difficult, but ultimately rewarding, transition.

I did not move into another group of females upon marriage, however. My one female in-law, a lovely, quiet woman, rarely leaves her town. My husband has no sisters, but he has many nice men friends. About two of the nice men friends are married. I think it is two. Perhaps it is three.

Moving into an extended crowd of mostly-male friends instead of an extended family of men and women is not a bad thing. It is merely a different thing. And it is full of zip and vim and gin and tonic!

It does make me wonder, though, how much Wendy enjoyed being the adoptive mother of Peter Pan and the Lost Boys, especially with Tinkerbell zipping resentfully about. And as much as she loved all the above, did she not, occasionally, long to say "Drat it all" to the mending and go out for cocktails with Tiger Lily?

Fortunately there are no Tinkerbells* in my life, and there are a number of Tiger Lilys with whom to have cocktails. (Wait. Did Tiger Lily ALSO plot against Wendy? If so, James Barrie didn't have much faith in female friendship. Many men seem to think that female friendship is inherently shallow and easily upset by sexual rivalry.)

(Update) In fairness, I should reference a story in which a woman is constantly surrounded by women. The first one that comes to mind is Hotel du Lac, which is about a lot of women who would rather be with a man. And I definitely appreciate, having lived my early life among Girl Guides and schoolgirls, how refreshing it is to have men friends as well. In fact, I can imagine how grateful many women in female-dominated professions must be for their husbands, if they have any, or male relations and friends.

Anyway, I couldn't think of anything else to write about today, so I am tossing out this delicate topic. By the way, the combox is open only to girls. I realize that painting the blog pink and posting pin-ups is not really enough to discourage all male readers, and I grieve for those long-term male readers who have contributed so much to my comboxes over the years. But don't make me feel sympathy for Mary Daly here.

Eventually I will stop this blog altogether, and when I am asked why, I will say that I got tired of men watching us wash our handwashables.

*Tinkerbell, in this context, is the kind of woman who goes bananas when another woman shows up, displacing her as The Only Woman Around. Some women really hate having to "share" male relations or colleagues with another woman, and they make other women miserable. When I meet a woman like that, I can feel her fighting for me for possession of male attention, and it stresses me right out. I hope I am never like that myself. Or rarely.


sciencegirl said...

Hanging out with male friends is different from hanging out with female friends. It is also different hanging out with a circle of dear old friends-of-a-husband into which you've been adopted than hanging out with a circle of your own dear old friends.

As to James Barrie, well... I don't take any of those fluffy, whimsical characters any more seriously than I do the characters in "Alice in Wonderland," and it rather surprises me how much store people set in them in modern pop psychology. Are kids really that scared of growing up? Are girls really excited about playing mother to a house full of unruly boys (one of whom has just shot her with an arrow)? Can a boy with a dagger really beat a man with longer arms and a sword, even if the boy can fly? Do crocodiles and pirates really have obsessive compulsive behavior? Who cares? The story is childhood and fantasy from a man's perspective and is, naturally enough, a validation of boy's fantasy and an inversion of girl's fantasy.

Little boy fantasies are that grown pirates can be tricked and beaten in combat by little boys. This happens on a daily basis in Never-neverland. Little girl fantasies would normally be that mermaids would give them ocean treasures and that fairies would be their friends. In Never-neverland, mermaids and fairies try to murder them multiple times. I suppose unicorn mare-ponies would have tried to skewer Wendy and talking chipmunks would have tried to give her rabies.

Frank L Baum was much better at writing fantasy that fits the dreams of little girls, and I remember that Ozma and Dorothy like each other quite well when they finally meet.

Seraphic said...

Yes, quite true. And Dorothy had no problem with the fact that Ozma, not she, was the princess.

sciencegirl said...

That's because Dorothy loved being a Kansas farm-girl! Happiness in who and what you are rather than what can never be is a big theme in the Oz books.

Charming Disarray said...

Would you consider Little Women-era Christian Bale as blog protector? He and the somewhat pompous tutor had this exchange:

“What do those girls do in that house all day?”

“Over the mysteries of female life there is drawn a veil, best left undisturbed.”

Seraphic said...

O, I like it. Maybe I should put up the pompous tutor.

Clare said...

I was just watching that movie! I love it until she doesn't marry Laurie.

To be fair, I have been madly in love with Bale since Newsies, but I still think Alcott was punishing Jo somehow, even if she married a Bhaer type in real life.

Eowyn said...

We do prefer Laurie; you are correct. And Jack Kelly.

aussie girl in australia said...

Oh yes I do love Christian Bale but I also loved his tutor. I didn't think he was pompous I think he was good and honorable. I love Meg too btw - not Jo so maybe that is why I also prefer the tutor.

Charming Disarray said...

Yay for Theodore "I promise to kiss you before you die" Lawrence!

Seraphic said...

Clare, I think you might be right. Alcott was great on self-punishment, and Jo was based on Alcott herself.

Alcott never married; she was a Seraphic Single until the end. However, she was entirely committed to caring for her father, who actually probably didn't need taking care of, but certainly thought he deserved it. (I am not a fan of Bronson Alcott, that is for certain.) When he died, she died.

Alcott didn't mean for Jo to marry at all--she wanted heroines who never did get married, quite an innovation--but her readers begged so much she came up with a "funny husband for Jo" in the second volumn of "Little Women." So instead she made a few of her female characters in "Little Men" and "Jo's Boys" lifelong Singles.

Laurie, incidentally, was based on a Polish boy Alcott and her sister (the "Amy" sister) met while travelling in Europe. His name was Ladislas Wisniewski. So there was a REAL LAURIE!!!

Sarah said...

Sometimes I do wish I had another girl to stand by the sidelines and roll her eyes when the "boys" (The quotations are there because they are between the ages of 21 and 33. The fact that the oldest is a priest hardly matters in this case) throw each other to the ground in impromptu wrestling matches.

However, the best part about being a Wendy among the Lost Boys is not that I never have to compete for their attention, but that I never had to compete for the warmest spot by the fire all winter. ;)

Bernadette said...

It's very funny for me to read this - about three months ago I took a job working in a medium size regional hospital, and although health care is 90% women, somehow I ended up being buddies with the guys in the hospital police department, almost all of them strapping young men of exceptional good looks. I think it helps that when I look at them I mostly see my younger brothers.

It is very different hanging out with them - when I am mopey they have little patience with my mopes and mostly tell me to get over it, whereas my women friends (most of my close friends outside of work are women) sympathize and let me talk about what is bothering me. But then, I can depend on them to aide and abet me when I'm in the mood for hijinks, when my women friends often think sensible thoughts and wimp out. And while I don't think I'll ever lean on them for emotional support, I know that my guys would (literally) stop a bullet for me. I could never give up my women friends - I need them in a way that I don't necessarily need my guys - but my life would be a lot more boring with out my guy buddies down the hall.