I have a boyfriend. Hard to believe, I know, what with me writing a feminist blog and all, but I do. He hangs out with a group of guys that he calls his ‘bros’ and they get up to fun things like drinking beer and playing games and not being douchey fratboys as you might have inferred from the word ‘bro’. And because they are awesome people, I often hang out with them too. But I’m not allowed to call them my ‘bros’, because apparently you need to be a bro to have bros, and I don’t have balls (once again, hard to believe, feminist blogger, I know) and therefore do not qualify. So usually I call them ‘the guys’. No harm done: everyone still has fun and drinks lots of beer. (And then I call them ‘bros’ in secret because I’m cool and reject the necessity of balls. And because by that point I have had a lot of beer and am prone to talking to myself.)
I have more problems referring to my female friends. I want something that evokes the same alcohol-swilling, good-times-having, immature vibe of ‘bro’, but also indicates that we’re not, you know, dudes (feminism does not mean having to deny your femaleness if you don’t want to). So, what are the options for a bunch of women who have been known to, for example, glaze a ceramic bowl, but also destroy a dumpling house (we now book under a different name each time)?
I threw the ‘bro’ dilemma out to a mixed group at a bar, and this suggestion came back from a young guy. While I did appreciate the feminine twist on ‘bro’, I did worry that ‘I’m drinking wine with my bras’ made me sound like I was going to get drunk while doing some laundry, or that I was a douchey guy about to do Chap laps with my collar popped. Veto.
This is what I currently default to when I refer to my lady friends as a group. ‘Out with the girls’, I often text my bearded beloved when he asks what I am up to on a Saturday night. I hate it. To me, it sounds like we are 7, sitting around playing My Little Pony. Which was, let’s be honest, awesome, when I was 7 but in no way describes what we get up to now. We are rowdy! We tear it up! We dance up a storm, offend dumpling house staff and then follow that up the next day by sitting braless on the couch, hungover as all hell, moving only to get more greasy food! Girls?! Not when we are legally able to drive, drink, vote and buy battery operated ‘pleasure objects’ on our credit cards!
Sure, my friends are ‘liberated’ types, but in the words of the immortal Tina Fey, “you all have got to stop calling each other sluts and whores. It just makes it ok for guys to call you sluts and whores”. After all, these terms are derogatory ways of referring to women who are perceived to be acting outside the bounds of permissible female sexuality. While I mean it affectionately and without malice, others use terms like ‘slut’ and ‘ho’ with genuine contempt and with an intent to shame. I don’t want to reduce my closest friends to their sexual activity and I don’t want to make it ok for others to do so. Broken windows theory says no.
Thanks to the pioneering work of Meredith Brooks, ‘bitch’ has been somewhat reclaimed and does have that ‘hellraising’ connotation I am seeking. But as with ‘sluts/hos/sluzzas’ above, it’s derogatory and has been used as a tool to marginalise women (e.g. aggressive men in the workplace are ‘go-getters’ and ‘ambitious’ whereas women are ‘bitches’). Additionally, and obviously, it compares women to dogs, i.e. something less than human. That’s not appropriate for people I respect. And what happens when we’re not tearing it up? I can hardly invite my ‘bitches’ to a Crafternoon.
HAHAHAHAHAHA. Not even close! Refer above re: harassment of dumpling house staff.
Too reminiscent of the John Howard era. Additionally, the word almost exclusively connotes male friendship, so not only would it achieve the opposite of what I set out to do, I would get unnecessarily angry about 1996-2007 every time I see my friends. No thanks.
RESULT: I don’t have one! Please leave helpful tips in the comments, because right now I’m still using ‘girls’ and I hate it.
Up next: Battle of the mummy porn: 50 Shades of Grey vs Mills & Boon