December 28, 2010
The “Girl Crush”
On the train coming home last night, I started reading Aryn Kyle’s new story collection, Boys and Girls Like You and Me. It is less than 24 hours later and I’m surprised I was able to close the book, walk down to this coffee shop and type these sentences. It’s so painful and delicious and beautiful, I can’t stop reading. In spite of what one might think, I’m actually a seriously picky reader. I have tons of books, but I need to find the right one that needs to be read at the right time. It’s kind of like having a homing pigeon in my brain that only works for literature.
In one of the stories, “A Lot like Fun,” is the line: “Everything true would become false, if only you waited long enough.” The sadness in the story is actually visceral for me, still, in the way that I keep going back and looking at it and feeling it, weirdly, but today I thought about that line in a much different way, in the sense of friendships that are something and then become something else.
Recently, I had dinner with Ms. S, a recent Barnard grad. She is a firecracker, and I’m glad it seems like our relationship will transcend the bubble of her college career and my job. We always have good talks that leave me with a busy brain. This installation featured a discussion on girls or women becoming enraptured with another girl or woman, or for lack of a better term, being in deep like.
S and I talked about ours, which mainly involved teachers and mentors, but also certain folk musicians and friends who we couldn’t believe thought we were cool enough to hang out with them. Sometimes it was about physical beauty, but mostly, we were just in awe of their brilliance, their sense of humor, the way they moved through the world. The question, S and I pondered, was, what did they say about our sexuality? Now, of course, we know and believe that sexuality exists on a spectrum, and we identify accordingly, but what about then?
The geniuses who brought and continue to bring us the Media depict female relationships in three ways: Catty and Competitive (women can’t be friends), Sexualized (one version of this is the Slumber Party, where we prance around in our underwear and hit each other with pillows before descending into an orgy), and About Men, which inevitably leads back to competition for men.
In short, there are few realistic, healthy, or nuanced depictions of women’s relationships, and therefore, unless you happen to be tremendously lucky in both your communication with your progressive and understanding parents and peers, having a crush on a girl probably send you into a spiral of shame and despair. You probably, like me and S, wondered if those feeling were normal, and what the hell normal even meant. You were especially afraid to talk about those feelings, because as we all know, queer shaming and homophobia starts early.
The point here is that whether or not your crush was/is about platonic adoration, revelatory sexual feelings, or both, but that we live in a culture where relationships between women are suspicious, commodified and suffice it to say,derided. It is a feminist act, a way of accessing and concentrating our power, to have positive, enduring female relationships, and feelings towards other women, to pursue them, to talk openly about them, and most importantly, not to be afraid of them.
originally posted at Diverge (www.idiverge.wordpress.com)