Feminism is a media-centric buzzword right now, and it's a movement to which people love ascribing parameters. You can do X, but not Y. You're good if you say this, you're bad if you think that. Wear this. Don't buy that. It's tedious, dudes, because ultimately, there's no one, single way to feminism (and yes, I just used feminism as a verb). And honestly, all this prescriptive behavior sometimes just makes me want to focus on the positives, like the things that feminists do in friendships. Because feminists are great at friendships, and because while discussing how the intersections of institutionalized racism, sexism, classism and homophobia have led to centuries of violent inequality is an important topic and should be discussed often and loudly, it's also draining. Like, really hard on your soul. And one of my favorite things since becoming increasingly involved in gender politics has been the friendships I've found, and the existing relationships that became immensely stronger.
The current wave of feminism is focused on the freedom of choice, and an individual's interpretation of the umbrella term "feminism." So I'm not going to go into super specifics with this list, because I don't think that's fair. (Again, there's no single way to feminism.) But the major elements that I think contribute to an empowering, positive relationship — honesty, acceptance, emotions — tend to have parallels with some of the major feminist tenets, so let's talk about those.
So what is it about the best friendships in your life that make them the best? Why do you stay in them? Why do you cherish them? These are the answers to those questions for me.
1. We Support One Another's Romantic Relationships — Or Lack Thereof
You want to date the same human for 10 years? Go for it. You want to date the same two humans for 10 years? Go for it. You hate relationships and love smooching as many people as possible, as long as all those smooch partners are on board with the smooching? Go for it. Do what makes you happy. We understand that you're not defined by the number of people you've slept with, and every person has a different level of sexual intimacy with which they're comfortable.
2. We Don't Compete With One Another
You know who really loves enforcing the myth that all women are hyper-competitive with one another? Institutional systems that benefit from a super divided base of women, and people in general. The support I've received from my feminist-minded friends in every area of my life — professional, romantic, emotional, creative — is truly invaluable. I'll never stop being grateful, and I'll never stop loving
3. We Celebrate Your Individuality
The right to self-representation is an incredible one. An empowering one. A life-changing one. You want to post 50 selfies on Instagram in a row? You better believe I'll be liking every one that comes through my newsfeed. Dress only in beige cardigans or never wear a bra ever again. You do you.
4. We Honor Your Pronouns
I don't understand why people get so uptight about pronouns. "Using 'they/them' isn't grammatically correct!" First of all, who the eff cares, and second of all, how is it hurting you to provide someone with an ounce of comfort about their identity? Like... it just makes no sense. You get to choose your own pronouns, so everybody else gets to choose their own pronouns, too. That's just the way it works.
5. We Are Big Fans Of Self-Care
Dismantling the patriarchy is hard work; loving yourself can be an even harder job.
6. We'll Never Shame You For Your Emotions
Since when did feeling emotions and being honest about what's going on inside your brain become seen as a negative, weak thing? Oh yeah, since it became associated with the term "feminine." Society has spent a long time trying to dictate what people are allowed to feel — women aren't allowed to express their feelings without being called irrational; men aren't allowed to express their feelings without being called sensitive; and everyone else just gets totally erased. But no more: Get angry. Be sad. Jump up and down with excitement. Cry. Experience the wide range of human emotions. There's power in owning them.
7. We Love To Debate
The best way to work through your beliefs? Debate with your friends. Sure, my friend group may be extra into doing a deep dive on, say, the gender politics behind the covers of Elena Ferrante's book series; yours might be into something else. Whatever it is, go ahead and put your debate team cap on.
8. We Empower You To Make Your Own Choices
What makes you happy to be alive? Do that. If you need to hold a hand along the way, you can always hold mine.