“You know, I really love my girlfriends,” my friend said to me in the car. “I love the women in my life.” We were driving back after a night out with other moms, having gone through our weekly ritual of Trashy TV Tuesdays and wine, sacred to keeping us sane. “I know!” I quickly agreed. “I used to have the hardest time relating to them growing up, but I really love my sisters.” In our back-and-forth, we discovered a sort of phenomenon that isn’t unique to only us: growing up, girls just fell prey to the stereotype of being frilly and dramatic, creating not only a divide in kids, but a divide amongst girls themselves. I remember how uncool it was if I was a typical girl, and how you aren’t like other girls I’ve met was the most coveted thing a guy could say to us. Just typing that is making my eyes roll to the sky, but it’s true! Internalized misogyny is a very real thing that starts pretty young.
I loved that my girlfriend pointed out how crazy it is to pit women against each other, when the bond women share is one of the most powerful and precious on earth. I remember the complete opposite conversation happening with another friend that bummed me out, where I said women have to keep raising each other up, and she quipped, “It will never happen, because women are bitches.” With every fibre in my being, I have to vehemently disagree. Are we complex creatures that operate on high frequencies of empathy? Totally, but there is a strong difference between that and being a bitch. I have so much love in my life from women, and have seen women come together in love and support, that I have to keep pushing for that solidarity.
I grew out of that childhood phase, and my dating-era saw me eventually swing the other way and hate men, wondering if I would ever have a real man-friend that didn’t want my butt (I did). Not long after deciding that men were terrible and only wanted butts, I found my lifelong best friends, J and C. J and I have gone through years of living a street away from each other, two continents between us, then back to a continent away. That woman and I have been all over together and I genuinely believe our souls are bound for life. I learned so much from her, including, but not limited to: how to love my body, wear clothes that are loud and happy, and find independence in travel. She taught me humility and acceptance. C has known me longer than anyone and taught me that being a woman is not a disability, and that the best food comes from a street truck. She helped me discover the freedom in embracing my sexuality and femininity, and how to assert myself and find the self-respect I never fully had before. She taught me fearlessness. These two women were integral to my journey of self-discovery that, if I’m lucky, will never end.
As I approach thirty, I find myself surrounded by incredible women (Dude Disclaimer™: I no longer hate men.) My life wouldn’t be the same without the women in it. What started as two best friends has expanded to a large circle of sisters from all walks of life, with various opinions, beliefs, anecdotes, pieces of wisdom, and qualities unique only to them. Lately I have reflected on this circle and how enriched my life is because of it; that my closeness to each woman is so unique to that relationship and can’t be compared to anything else. The conversations I value with my husband’s mom over hot tea and garden books are incomparable to the conversations I value with my makeup-artist friend, stretched over 93 consecutive days on Snapchat. My hours spent scouring the earth for the right colour palette for my friend’s wedding can’t be compared to baking sugar cookies with my sister and drawing penises in the flour left on the counter. All of it is so different, and not having a mother growing up, I have had a strange pleasure in discovering my femininity and learning the secrets to womanhood that I was never taught as a young age.
As a mother to two daughters, I want to help them harness their spirit and find growth and comfort in their own sisterhood. I want them to know that God set a place at the table for them amongst leaders as their equals. It’s my responsibility to teach them all of the ways being a woman can benefit them, while fighting for their rights to be respected and valued as much as their male counterparts. Women are bitches? No, absolutely not. We’re fiery, passionate, empathetic, intelligent, wise, peacemakers, bold, curious, and honestly, indescribable. We have these frustrating wars between us that we didn’t put there, but continue to keep there the more we buy into this adversarial relationship. I love love love my women, even if we don’t get along, even if there are some I can’t find companionship with. I still love who we are.
I have read stories of the bonds between mother and daughter, the flow from generation to generation carrying strength and unity, and I get excited knowing that my two girls can be part of that. There is a sweetness to womanhood, and I savour each moment.