The Stigmatization of Female Friendships: How Culture Affects the Perception of Female-Female Relationships

Ava Caudle ’25

Contributing Writer

I would be a millionaire if I had a dollar for every time I heard someone claim that “hanging out with girls is too much drama.” These exchanges happen in a similar way: we, as women, choose to degrade our own demographic as catty or fake, instead deeming men as far superior company because of how “chill” they are. Despite a rise in women’s empowerment over the years—inflated by the Internet—the attitude towards women as gossipy, dense, or disingenuous friends persists. This close-mindedness is dangerous, and I would know—I used to be one of these women.  

My sophomore year of high school was accompanied by a lot of tears, leading to my spiral into depression and loneliness. In the briefest terms, I had been irreversibly hurt by girls I thought of as my closest friends: an event that soured my approach to female friendships for years to come. I thought there was nobody I could count on when I needed it most; so instead of healing in a healthy way, I unintentionally took my damage and pain out on other women. This damage was dealt mostly to undeserving women, many of whom I did not even know well enough to make assumptions about when I did.  

My snap judgments about their characters came from a place of suspicion. If my best friends could treat me the way they did, what would make everyone else so different? It made sense, I thought, for all women to have no true intentions of kindness, that it all must be a facade. It took some self-analysis before college for me to realize the deep-rooted flaws in my mentality, deciding then to enter college with an open mind toward forming new female friendships.  

I share this because the emotional pain I experienced in high school led to misogyny, and I have no doubt that something similar happens to everyone on social media. Online, I see vapid generalizations of women, labeling them as “saboteurs” or drama fiends. These social media users exhibit the same anger and bitterness I did when I stuck by my guy friends while refusing to reach out to the women in my life who could have been genuine and compassionate.  

Many attend to misogynistic outlooks that consider female-female relationships as mere conduits of jealousy, but to assume these are sexist does no justice to the complex ways women internalize how to act or speak; Jealousy is a juvenile explanation of a deeper, more cerebral issue reflecting the confirmation bias that emerges when a woman happens to act in a negative (stereotypically feminine) manner. A critical yet often overlooked fact is that many women do not set out to think this way, but when women experience a specific display of the feminine archetype, this behavior confirms the stereotypical, jealous behavior of female relationships. 

It’s not right to make generalizations in the first place, especially when combined with society’s presumed notions of female behavior, our female-female interactions turn into a ticking pressure cooker. By better understanding what triggers misogyny in individual women, we can be better prepared to combat it as a unit.  

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