Three things happened last week.
- Valentines day
- The film ‘Hidden Figures’ arrived in the UK.
- I met with my girlfriends in the park.
It was a culmination of these points that sparked this blog.
Let me set the scene. It was half term last week and Friday was a glorious day. With the kids in tow, I met up with three of my close friends (we have our own acronym so we must be close or mad!) As always, when we get together, we begin to chat, forget about the kids and generally have a lovely time. We discussed Valentines day which we all decided should just be called Tuesday (normal day, no romance) and the film ‘Hidden Figures’ which focuses on an amazing group of black American women who helped the US win the space race.
Whilst gossiping away, my daughter who was eavesdropping, pulled a face when I mentioned my ‘girlfriends’. When questioned, she said the word was like ‘lesbian’. Now there is nothing wrong with the word ‘lesbian’ apart from that it describes a friendship which generally involves sex. I love my friends very much but have never (to my knowledge) ever wanted or tried to initiate sex with them.
But they are my girlfriends. They are the friends I talk to, the friends I turn to, the friends who I need to get through life, who happen to be girls. My daughter said we could rename ourselves as ‘besties’ (too similar to beasties) or G’s. Apparently shortening the word ‘girlfriend’ to a single letter makes it all ok. Who knew!
It made me wonder what word best describes the relationship I have with my close friends.
Most of us have heard of the word ‘bromance’. The concept of the bromance really took flight with the success of the Hangover trilogy films. And it’s been around for quite a long time. David Carnie, the editor of skate mag Big Brother first coined it – a portmanteau of “bro” and “romance” – in the ‘90s to describe the close friendships between pro-skaters.
There are many stories fictional and real of great male friendships: Sherlock and Watson; Lennon and McCartney; Ant and Dec; Batman and Robin. The Blues Brothers shows a great male friendship, while Reservoir Dogs shows what happens when they go wrong.
The word ‘bromance’ is in the english dictionary.
‘A bromance is a close but not sexual relationship between two men.’
The word ‘romance’ is also in the english dictionary. There are a few definitions.
‘A close, usually short relationship of love between two people.’
‘A feeling of excitement associated with love.’
So there must be a word for a close female friendship. There is but I bet you’ve never heard of it.
Yep, never heard of it until yesterday and then all of a sudden, like buses all arriving at once, there it is screaming out from the Sunday Times. It’s been around for a while but never really taken off which is probably why it’s not in the english dictionary. Maybe women are luckier than men. We can show our feelings and be tactile with our girlfriends without everyone thinking we are actually ‘girlfriends’. I’m not sure men can do the same.
We have a cultural problem, I think, where we’re scared by male friendship. A truly great friend feels like a brother or sister, someone you have actively chosen to be joined to and love no matter what they do. If two men love each other like that, we get all uncomfortable. Hence, the need for a word like ‘bromance’. This helps all men to know that they can describe their ‘non-sexual male friendship’ without reverting to mumblings and red faces or god forbid, having to talk about their feelings.
This still doesn’t help me though. I need a word that doesn’t belong to the pre-pubescent community or make my daughter and her friends pull sickening faces. Not ‘womance’. Anything that starts with the sound ‘wo’ can’t be good. We use it to tell an animal or person ‘woah’ (stop) or my life is full of ‘woe’. Neither define how I feel about the special women in my life.
But the words ‘soul sister’ do. Sisters because they are my family. And ‘soul’ because of the things we talk about at a deeper level, emotionally and intellectually. A love of the whole person, including the hidden part you can’t see. That is the essence of a ‘soul sister’. And it’s also in the dictionary.
‘A woman whose thoughts, feelings, and attitudes closely match those of another; a kindred spirit.’
Our quote is so much nicer than the men’s. Don’t you think?
So to my soul sisters everywhere. Below is a list of films which celebrate close female friendships and are fab films too! Get some of your soul sisters round and celebrate the romance. And maybe do it on a Tuesday.
- Thelma and Louise
- Hidden Figures
- Steel magnolias
- The Help
- First wives club
- Calendar girls
- The Color purple