/ I Love My Girlfriends

I Love My Girlfriends

Aug 06, 2013

The Friendship Phenomenon between Women

The power of bonding between women is anything but new. It’s as ancient as the Egyptian pyramids. It’s as old as Estelle Getty. It’s as notorious as Oprah Winfrey. We can see the evolution of this friendship phenomenon between women in television alone, dating back to the 1970s with the comedic likes of Laverne and Shirley, to the 1980s with Edna and her girls in The Facts of Life. Gilmore Girls, Girlfriends, and Lipstick Jungle. have all followed suit since then. However, the most visible and possibly the most popular display of the “ultimate girl entourage” has been the television hit show, Sex and the City (SATC), and most recently, the movie adaptation of the same show, released in May 2008. The buzz for this movie created pandemonium amongst long-time fans of the show (naturally, mainly women), anxious to see their four favourite gal pals set the screen ablaze with their frank sexual conversations, the fabulous fashion, and of course, to admire beautiful and hilariously honest kinship amongst the four best friends.

Women circled the day on their calendars—in red permanent marker.

They took the day off work.

They hired babysitters.

They bought a new pair of stilettos.

SATC loyalists brushed up on the past six seasons of the poignant and wild adventures of Carrie Bradshaw and her girlfriends Charlotte York, Samantha Jones and Miranda Hobbes, while anxiously waiting to see the final fate of their four fabulous friends. Pulses were racing, excitement was growing and the anticipation of the release of the film to come for women everywhere was just as exciting as a kid in an ice cream parlour; mouth watering, just anticipating the first lick of that double chocolate fudge ice cream cone.

“What for?” asks a 33-year old man who chooses to be unnamed. “What’s all this hype about? It’s just a movie.”

Just a movie? But is it? Is all the worldwide hype surrounding this film really just about this particular film…or is there more to it?

One of the main reasons why SATC was and still is so popular amongst its fans (even years after the show ended in 2004), is because the show’s foundation about four women who are best friends strongly resonates with women viewers. To celebrate the release of the much-anticipated movie, premiere SATC-themed parties were held globally, including “Sex and the City: Fabulous” in Toronto, hosted by Seazons Event Planning in June. Women in their 20s, 30s and 40s all attended this event to celebrate…the movie? No, it was quite clear to that the attendees were celebrating more than just this film; they were celebrating the love and strength of their own relationships.

“We are excited to provide an event that would focus on the networking of women of all ages, one that will allow single, married and women with children to have a forum to meet and enjoy a night out on the town—women enjoying the company of other women. Women not only love Sex and the City, but they appreciate the circumstances of all the characters, their relationship woes, their friendships and their support systems,” stated Mainika Gera, one of three founders of Seazons Event Planning.

It’s no secret that women globally have received a reputation of being, well, catty with one another (let’s not even attempt to deny this). In fact, Benjamin Franklin once said, “To find out a girl’s faults, praise her to her girlfriends.”

The good news is that the opposite is also very true. Women also make for great friends, companions, and listeners and perhaps above all, exceptional support systems that allow them to be candid with one another and share intimate details of their lives without judgement or callous behaviour.

John Gray, Ph.D. and author of 15 best-selling books, explores one perspective on some of the fundamental differences in men and women in his book, Men are from Mars Women are from Venus. In the past ten years, over 30 million books have been sold in over 40 languages throughout the world.

Something tells me, perhaps he knows what he’s talking about?

Gray explains the various habits and tendencies women exhibit in their lives and the reasons for which they do so. Referring to males as “Martians” and women as “Venusians,” Gray explains a Venusian’s sense of self is “defined by her feelings and the quality of her relationships.” A woman’s tendency is to be concerned with living together happily and in harmony in a world where all other factors take a back seat to relationships–quality relationships. When Venusians speak, they want to be heard. When women are angry, they want to talk. When women are emotional, they want to be comforted.

According to Gray, women live on a “planet” that in most ways is the opposite of planet Mars, home of the Y chromosome. Gray explains that men “go to their cave” as a means of handling stress, where “men become increasingly focused and withdrawn while women become increasingly overwhelmed and emotionally involved…he feels better by solving problems while she feels better by talking about problems.”

So if men retreat and women need to ”let it all out” then it would appear that women are left with an unmet need. And who better to fulfill this need then a fellow Venusian? Women need other women to talk about their problems and to fulfill this need. And once this happens, there you have it: girlfriend bonding is born.

However, women do need to be weary of the negative factors associated with this bonding, as clinical psychologist, Dr. Monica Vermani warns. “Giving and receiving support from your friends is fine as long as it is done in moderation. Emotional vomiting, where we are overwhelming our friends with our problems, is not bonding (between women). In fact, it’s a strain to your friendship.” Vermani continues to explain that females from a young age are socialized to be nurturers, to communicate, and to be in touch with their feelings, while men are socialized to be the providers. “This is why women tend to be healthier, talking about our issues normalizes our stresses; an outlet that some men either do not have or choose not to use,” states Vermani.

In fact, new studies on women and stress have shown that bonding and interaction is actually vital to a woman’s health and may even help to prolong one’s life. In June 2001, Harvard Medical School’s Nurses’ Health Study concluded that “women’s social networks play an important role in enhancing our health and quality of life.” In fact, the study boldly concluded that not having at least one very close friendship is as detrimental to a female’s health as is being overweight or a heavy smoker.

As Carrie aptly says, “The most important thing in life is your family. There are days you love them, and others you don't. But, in the end, they're the people you always come home to. Sometimes it's the family you're born into and sometimes it's the one you make for yourself.”



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