5 Historical Female Friendships That Put Taylor Swift's #Squadgoals To Shame
"I'm mostly friends with guys. I just don't seem to get along with girls." You've probably heard someone say this before, proudly, as though not getting along with women is something to brag about. You may have even said it yourself. No judgement!
I'm even guilty of having uttered it in the past. Like many, there was a time when I totally bought into the myth of the Cool Girl, the girl who preferred to hang out with the guys and laughed at the silly antics of the "crazy girls" with whom those male friends found themselves on dates. It wasn't until college that I began to realize how ridiculous I was to buy into the notion that having female friends was a character flaw. I started to find confident, brilliant, and witty women to befriend, and I realized how much I had been missing out on by not having a supportive female friend base. (I kept my many incredible male friends too, of course. You don't have to choose one over the other!)
Female friendships have a long, interesting, and complicated history. In their new book The Social Sex, authors Marilyn Yalom and Theresa Donovan Brown look at how these friendships have evolved over hundreds of years, from Biblical to modern times. From sexually charged nuns to platonic revolutionaries to Eleanor Roosevelt and her small army of female friends, the face of female friendship is constantly changing. But they all have one thing in common: these women were passionate, supportive companions to each other.
History provides way better #squadgoals then Hollywood does. And, thanks to Yalom and Brown, now some of the world's most famous female friends are in one book! Below are my personal favorite female partners in crime.
Hildegard Of Bingen And Her Fellow Nuns
If you're going to spend your life in a convent, you're probably going to pick up a female friend or two along the way. Born in 1098, Hildegard followed her friend Jutta into the convent, where she became known for her religious visions. After Jutta's death, Hildegard founded an establishment exclusively for nuns, and befriended a number of young women under her charge. Among them was Elisabeth, a younger nun who experienced religious visions and would turn to Hildegard for advice, and Richardis, who Hildegard came to regard as a daughter. When Richardis was elected to move to another monastery, Hildegard went so far as to write to the Pope to get her to stay. Apparently she was a bit of a needy, overdramatic friend.
Mercy Otis Warren And Abigail Adams
For any jerk out there who thinks women only discuss men and petty gossip, Warren and Adams are here to set you straight. The two women were highly political, fiery revolutionaries who often discussed politics and other things more considered to be "men" topics in their letters. In fact, when John Adams was flippant about Adams's plea that he and the others at the Continental Congress of 1776 remember the rights of women, she turned to Warren to vent her frustration. The two women were friends for 41 years, though they would spend years without speaking due to numerous disagreements or difference in politics.
George Sand And Her Female Companions
We tend to pay more attention to Sand's relationships with men like Chopin and Flaubert, but throughout her life Sand had a number of deep connections with women, both romantic and platonic. She had an especially close friend during her school days named Fannelly, and later said, "There is one thing I am as sure of as I am of my own existence, and that is that Fannelly still loves me warmly and tenderly, that no cloud has obscured the irresistible and total understanding we felt for each other thirty years ago, that she never thinks of me without knowing she loves me and that I love her in return." She also had a close, potentially romantic relationship with the actress Marie Dorval.
Susan B. Anthony And Elizabeth Cady Stanton
You knew they were going to make this list, didn't you? My ultimate dream is to see a movie about these two starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, but I digress. In 1869 the two founded the National Woman Suffrage Association together, and spent their lives fighting side by side for women's rights. Unlike Adams and Warren, Stanton claimed that the two never fought, and considered her life as entwined with Anthony's as a husband and wife's lives would be (despite the fact that Stanton was actually married). Anthony was thought of as a second mother to Stanton's children, and I like to imagine the two of them living like a little family in perfect feminist harmony.
Eleanor Roosevelt And... Like, Everyone
Long before Taylor Swift and her #squadgoals convinced every beautiful woman in Hollywood to be her friend, Eleanor Roosevelt was surrounding herself with a veritable army of smart, capable woman who would support her throughout her life. Along with a number of the female friends that she met through the League of Women Voters, Eleanor created Val-Kill Industries (run by her friend Nancy Cook) and served as a teacher at the Todhunter School for Girls in New York City (her friend Marion Dickerman was the principal). She had friends in Congress (Isabella Selmes, who was a bridesmaid at her wedding), had a close friend act as her secretary in the White House (Malvina Thompson), and had a controversially close relationship with an Associated Press reporter (Lorena Hickok). So yeah, Eleanor pretty much only surrounded herself with the best women she could find.
Images: Wikimedia Commons (5)