A while back I overheard a woman my age lecturing a younger woman. I heard her because her voice got quite sharp as she said, “There is no such thing as friendship with men you’re not married to. Whether you admit it or not, there’s a sexual element.”
I took a fast peek. There was a group of women. A couple of them, also my age, made those little shrugs and nods of agreement, one murmuring something about how, if you don’t admit it, then you’ve just taken the first step on the road to trouble.
The two younger women squared off, stating that yes, they could too have friendships with men. Even if both parties are straight.
So then I was wondering if this was an age thing, or a cultural thing, or both? Inside the world of science fiction and fantasy fandom, which is where most of my social life is lived, I have rarely seen gender become an issue in the formation of friendships. I’ve had male friends for decades, and I don’t perceive myself as anything unusual. Is the gender barrier invisible to the younger generation? My daughter maintains it is, but then she runs with a crowd where all the old barriers are pretty much invisible–age, gender preference, types of partnerings, racial blends or couplings, etc. I don’t know if her experience is the norm or the exception for twenty-somethings.
In my reading, I’m finding that younger authors are offering fictional accounts of friendships across gender, and not just in YA. Another thing that attracts me to a story is a lack of automatic enmity between the two members of the same gender if a threesome meets up. In other words, a couple meets up with another woman, but she doesn’t become The Other Woman, acting like a black widow spider. And ditto, a couple meets up with a man, and the two men don’t get into mano a mano squabbles.
Come to think of it, I just enjoy explorations of friendship.