Something especially struck me today.
Why, is there still so little female friendship in Western fiction?
Despite the part where women are often culturally considered to be closer, more intimate and emotionally supportive friends with each other than men are, most of the time in fiction, they aren’t on the same side interacting with each other, let alone firm friends.
The female equivalent of the ‘bromance’ in fiction is shockingly rare, when you think about it, especially when it comes to the depiction of adult women. Female friendships are at once taken as a sort of unimportant ‘given’, and yet also so seldomly depicted. In Western genres that do involve female friendship, the friendship between women is usually sidelined in a narrative arc that has a heterosexual romance as its ultimate destination.
We’re still in a situation in fiction, where it’s actually weirdly uncommon for there to be two women in a story, who are on the same side, who are friends and stay friends, and who are both depicted with complexity, as characters in their own right, and not just props for some broader plot more centred on male characters. I would suppose this is partly a subset of the general problem that decent female characters who are treated as proper characters in their own right are not nearly common enough for them to often be two of them together on the same side.
It’s not easy swimming against this cultural tide and finding inspiration - I myself have disproportionately few female characters in my writing, and barely any friendships at all.
But really, this is something there absolutely needs to be more of, not least because it’s frankly unrealistic and weirdly denying of the reality of women’s lives to seldom represent the part where women can and do form good friendships and working relationships with each other. And the part where they can have amusing and entertaining and complex character conflicts and differences and similarities and in jokes and shared memories and all kinds of plot driving and interesting dynaimcs.