What a painful thing it is to realize that I live in a society that devalues friendship. Especially hetero-sexual friendship.
Friendship is a source of love and acceptance and communion. And yet, women are encouraged to see other women as mere competitors, and men as potential providers and mates. And men, they are encouraged to develop the same mindset. Their male friends are buddies with whom they jokingly compete, and women are objects to be desired.
So it seems that friendships between men and women, even in this post-sexual revolution era, are awkward and easily discouraged. This, despite the fact that friendships between men and women provide amazing benefits. Men can express to women the thoughts and feelings that they would never express to other men, the thoughts and feelings that society considers weak and unmanly, and have them validated. And women, knowing economic independence and reproductive choice, can go to men with their thoughts and ideas, not as beggars and dependents, not merely tolerated as objects of sexual gratification, but appreciated as intellectual equals.
Today, when a man and a woman meet in friendship, it is possible for us to meet as people, to touch the humanity in each other, to enjoy the exchange between different-yet-same that results in us receiving from each other something that could not have come from within us.
And yet, conventional wisdom states that men and women cannot be friends, that sex gets in the way. What a sad thing that is. In my experience, the sexual tension only gets in the way if it goes unacknowledged.
I am female, you are male, we are hetero. We could form a sexual union. Or not. But sex is not the root of our affinity. Or is it?
Ah, the power of a question that does not require an answer. It is enough simply for us to be aware, awake, open, perceptive, inquisitive. The answers, like the questions, come in their own time.
One day, I hope the answer to the question “why can’t men and women be friends?” will be moot.