The So-Called Rules of Female Friendship

The So-Called Rules of Female Friendship

There are things every woman should just know she’s not supposed
to do when it comes to her female friends, right? Right? Anyone? Is this thing on?

Over at Elle, a
letter to Ask E. Jean from an advice-seeker named “Totally Frustrated” queries:

I’ve been finding myself in some questionable
situations over the past couple of years that somehow or other always come down
to potential violations of the Girl Code. I may be out of it—I’m 28; you’d
think I’d have a clue—but what are the rules among girlfriends? What lines
shouldn’t be crossed?

The sassily pragmatic E. Jean responds with a basic list:

A crone of 28 should be too experienced to follow
anything called the “Girl Code.” Here’s the BLC—Basic Lady Code: Never hate a
woman you’ve never met, never date a friend’s ex, never reveal another female’s
secret, never leave an inebriated friend alone at a bar, never invite a
friend’s enemy to a party, never dine alone with a friend’s boyfriend (unless
it’s his last meal and he’s being shot at dawn).

I got no beef with E. Jean, but I do have a beef with
etiquette overload. On some level, etiquette is great, it gives us basic rules
about how to act that show we care about our guests and friends in a basic way.
Try to remember to cover your mouth when you cough, say please and thank you,
give people a chance to talk and really listen to them when they do. Be nice. Acting out of kindness is usually all you have to do.

Where it gets out of hand is when everything feels so
overprescribed for situations where it simply can’t work in all scenarios.
That’s why I think basic manners make sense in theory, but everything breaks
down in real life, and the only thing you can really count on is your ability
to conduct yourself with good intentions that, if not clear, you’re willing and
able to explain.

The fact that I disagree with about half of these so-called lady code rules just proves my point further.
Furthermore, in most cases, you can change the implied female “friend” in these rules with “person” and it’s
equally applicable.

Let’s take them one by one.

Never Hate a Woman
You’ve Never Met

I actually think this one rules. Although it could just be
never hate a person you’ve never met.
It doesn’t really work for public figures though, because they are so eminently
hate-able on sight and often for no good reason, which I think is a healthy way
for people to direct their vague, amorphous inner rage. Maybe this notion is better applied to
exes, to try not to hate the people you’ve never met but whom you have more
information about than one person can possibly know what to do with because
their ghost follows your relationship wherever you go. If that’s your damage,
please go
. Also, I mean, Up With People alert! I guess never hate anyone? If you
can? See? That’s broader. And probably better. And applies to everyone.

Never Date a Friend’s

The whole thing about friend pools is that these are the
people you spend the most time with. You get to know these people, male and
female, casually and organically. It makes more sense that you’d fall for
someone in this group than someone else? Even if it’s hot awkward? Yes, this
ups the drama factor, but it’s also life, especially in college and
post-college but also forever. When two people break up, ideally you would not pair off with a
friend’s ex if the relationship was volatile or, worse, the friend is still in
love with the ex. But again, this is case-by-case. If the friend genuinely
doesn’t care, why would you care? Not an automatic violation. And this has
nothing to do with gender. I’ve heard about bro code or whatever, but like, not
fucking someone else’s person should not be about gender code, it should be
about gender-free ethics and morality.

Never Reveal Another
Female’s Secret

Hmmm, OK, so, yeah, don’t do this to anyone who asked you to
keep a secret. The end. UNLESS it’s like, they told you a secret and that secret is they are about to die or something and you have to help them.

Never Leave An
Inebriated Friend Alone At a Bar

This has never come up in my entire life, and I’ve really put the
time in at the bars. If you’re out with your friend, and that friend, male or
female, is shit-faced, do they go “I’m just gonna stay here alone”
and you have to be all, no? I
seriously don’t even know how it works. I’ve never been out with friends where
we were all leaving a bar and one person was like, “I’ll just be over
here, in the dark, alone.” And if they were, I guess, yeah, I’d be like, Are you
sure? Cause that’s dumb

Invite a Friend’s Enemy to a Party

Duh. Totally. Male or female. But like everything, of course
there are exceptions. If you have to do this because it’s necessary — the enemy
happens to be your new boss! — you’d talk about it. Right? You just would? And
if you didn’t, that person is not your friend.

Never Dine
Alone With a Friend’s Boyfriend (Unless It’s His Last Meal and He’s Being Shot
at Dawn)

Um, WTF, what the everloving fuck, is this a fucking rule? Is this like
how Chavril don’t
drink when they’re apart
because that’s the only way to stay faithful to each
other? Because no.

Again, what is this keep the genders apart bullshit? What if the
friend’s boyfriend is also your friend? What if he was your friend first? What
if you introduced them? What if you all have kids and the respective others are
out of town and you’re fuckin’ bored and need to eat dinner? What if he’s your
brother? Ugh.

In conclusion, try to be a good person. Or don’t. But don’t base it on the
gender of your friend. Base it on how much of an asshole you are incapable of
not being. That takes care of everything.

Image by Jim Cooke.

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