I was scrolling through my Facebook friends the other day, doing my regular six-monthly cull of people whom I barely recognise (do you have those? How do they end up in there??) and I noticed something interesting. About 90 per cent of my Facebook friends are women. 90 per cent! I was elated.
It’s not that I don’t like men. On the contrary, some of my favourite people are men. Colin Firth. Mark Ruffalo. David Sedaris. Stephen Fry. That blind monk that accidentally invented champagne. Oh, and my husband. Yeah, him too.
But I never used to be a woman’s woman and this made me realise that that is exactly what I have become. I was one of those who would claim she didn’t like being friends with women because women could be such bitches. I didn’t like the catty behaviour and the insecurities that went along with a simple discussion about the weather.
So which one of these happened?
- I changed.
- The women I associate with changed.
- Society changed.
- All of the above.
Hmmm, I’m going to go with a whole lot of 1 and 2, and maybe a sprinkling of 3.
One of the wonders of ageing (I can’t believe I’m old enough to start a sentence that way – I remember when I used to listen to Oprah saying that 20 years ago) is that we are all much more comfortable in our own skin.
I was an incredibly insecure young woman. And this wasn’t helped by spending my late teens and early twenties with a douche boyfriend who treated me appallingly. I thought of other women as either allies or competition – and allies could turn at any moment. It was a warzone out there. (To totally join the dots for you, my best friend slept with my boyfriend – and for some stupid reason, I kept him and chucked her. Bad choice, but I eventually rid myself of the entire Springer-esque mess.)
It is also true that the women I hung out with in those days – although I’m sure they are incredibly lovely women now – were all pretty much in the same mindset as me. We smiled to each other’s faces and then stabbed each other in the back the moment it was turned. Looking back, I’m ashamed for the tragic lot of us. But we were each trying to find our way in the world as best we could.
I wish I could go back and give all of us a stern lecture on recognising our own innate value and not seeking it externally. I’m sure we would have mocked Future Me and told me to go back to my nursing home. Bitches.
But it’s also a bit of society changing, don’t you think? Women are no longer valued purely as ornaments for men across the board (except on motor racing podiums, in music videos or in the National Party). We are more likely to have our own stuff going on. Sure, this has been coming on for a lot more than the past 20 years, but women now more than ever are more likely to have their own careers, to not be defined by their marital status or children. Surely that puts us in a better position to celebrate each other, to be proud of each other’s achievements and to network and give each other a leg up occasionally?
What do you think? Do you find women more supportive of each other now? Do you have a great network of friends and colleagues?