Monday, June 10, 2013

Female friendship in literature

The collection of short stories, Just Between Us, explores female friendship ‘break ups.’  To me it is revolutionary as it is something that is rarely spoken about and certainly never explored by the mass media or literature.  Maybe because it is a topic that is too difficult for women to be open about; the ending of a friendship makes us feel like a failure, like there is something wrong with us because culturally (and reflected through the media) women’s friendships are never ending BFFs and the ending of one is often characterised as bitches and jealousy and cattiness.  Friendships that fall apart are simplified in the most superficial way.  I have found the short stories in this anthology refreshing and has opened up great conversations with my (current) friends about our experiences, with relief at being able to talk about how it made us feel as much as discuss why it seems to be such a taboo topic.  But what it has really made me realise is that it is not just the friendship ‘break ups’ that are more often than not discussed in a stereotypical way.
Maybe the reason we don’t talk about our friendship ‘failures’ is because culturally female friendship is represented so narrowly that it doesn’t accurately reflect the reality of female friendship – the beauty and the beast of it.  It seems to be represented as either best friends forever and a sisterhood, or fuelled by bitchiness and jealousy, stabbing each other behind their back.  If we actually looked at all the friendships that fall in between the above generalisation, then dealing with the changing or ending of friendships would be easier.  Or maybe we’d be better at dealing with the friendship before it ends; our expectations would perhaps be more realistic.  Maybe we’d appreciate them even more than we already do.
The anthology has sparked an interest in how female friendships are represented in media, television, film and literature.  All are influential mediums that one can argue, set the cultural representations or reflect cultural representations.  Television and film seem to have regularly explored female friendships.  In fact, for many the focus is on the friendship (usually a group of 4 women or teenagers).  However the question remains as to whether we are seeing an accurate variety of female friendships or just a fantastical representation that is neatly resolved at the end of each episode or the film (as most conflicts are resolved easily). 
It is in literature that I have realised lacks the exploration of the female friendship.  Apart from some young adult literature or ‘chick lit’ it is not easy to identify more than a handful of novels that deeply explore this topic.  Is it not an interesting idea, viewed as only suitable for a narrow audience of female readers?   Is it too hard to write about (as the editors of Just Between Us found many writers reluctant to do so) and therefore an avoided topic by writers?
My goal is to analyse the representation of female friendships in novels I have read, or are reading.  I am interested in your thoughts on this topic, and your analysis of female friendships in different media. 

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for sharing in this article
    I can learn a lot and could also be a reference
    I hope to read the next your article updates

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