Females: You Just Can’t Trust ‘Em and Other Lies Women Believe

Distrust among women is at epidemic proportions, especially among women of color.  I am always amazed at the number of women I encounter who declare proudly, that they don’t hang with other FEMALES, preferring the company of males whom they are quick to assert are less prone to gossip, back-stabbing, and emotionalism. Side Note: Y’all know dudes gossip! Stop frontin! For many women, it’s a badge of honor to be “one of the guys.”

Ironically, I have never heard a man declare that he doesn’t “kick it with other dudes, because men are generally not to be trusted.” In fact, such a notion sounds absurd on its face, doesn’t it?

I’m not trying to be clever or dismissive. I get it.  Many of us have been hurt by other women. Deeply. I certainly have. I have had girlfriends to smile in my face and then talk behind my back, sometimes while I was still in earshot. Because I’m more of a nerdy, home-body, I continue to be the friend easily left on the back burner when more glamorous, exciting people come along. I have had knockdown drag out arguments with homegirls, nursed terrible break-ups of what I thought would be life long friendships, and cried more than a few tears over unreciprocated acts of platonic love.

As one friend told me in the midst of hurting me deeply, “I’m not used to expending this kind of energy on girls. I only expend this kind of energy on men.” She was insinuating that my love for her, my commitment to our friendship, must have signaled that I was lesbian. The statement was insulting, not because it questioned my sexuality, but because it reduced my love to the sexual and suggested that women who love one another deeply must be sleeping together, as if sex is ever a guarantee that the love is good.  Lesbian sisters will tell you that it ain’t easy for them either. But it is precisely our homophobia, our fear that loving other women actively exposes the falsity of the strict boundaries of straight and gay identity that keeps many of us from loving one another with our full selves.

Perhaps what is more troubling is that many straight women believe deep down that in matters of happiness women are as expendable as men are indispensable. Hence my friend’s conclusion that only men are worthy of her relational energy.  But a life without sister-friends is a miserable and unhappy life.

Why is it that when women hurt us, the entire lot of us ceases to be trustworthy? And yet, men daily commit humiliating, heart-wrenching, soul-gutting acts of insensitivity, inconsideration and violence toward us. And we get up again and again and commit to loving them. Something is wrong with this picture.

Our thinking must change.

Let’s revisit and revise the messages that we got from our personal experiences, men, and even the women in our families that told us not to trust other women. Adulthood demands that we deal with our daddy issues and issues with men in general; Grown womanhood demands that we unpack the bullshit that we have with other women, that we name it, process it, and begin to heal.

Every time we use the word “female” in a derogatory manner, we strip women of their humanity. Cats can be female. Dogs can be female. Women are people. And no woman, be she cis or transgendered, should be reduced to her biology or discredited because of it. And as female dogs go, surely we don’t need anyone else to refer to us as bitches. For those of you who think your use of the term is innocuous, consciously check to see if you are ever saying anything positive about women when you refer to them as “females.” (E.g. “I don’t associate with females.” Substituting women in this statement doesn’t really make sense; although substituting the term “bitches” makes the most sense of all. So what are you really saying when you call women “females”?)

And can we also just be honest? If you can’t trust “females” as a group, can we trust you? The notion that every woman including you is not implicated in her own sweeping denouncements of other women is just as faulty as the woman who tells herself that her favorite rap star, “ain’t talking about me,” when he refers to all women indiscriminately as bitches and hoes.  Trust is like respect. To get it, you gotta give it.

In the last few years, I have been blessed with many women friends, after many lonely years of wondering if I would ever have close girlfriends. These women have loved me fiercely, even in moments when I didn’t love myself. They have talked me through countless heartbreaks and romantic disappointments. They encourage me and challenge me to grow. I am a better me because of the women I (have) know(n,) love(d), and share(d) this walk with; without them, it would have been a spiritually truncated journey.

A friend’s blog post reminded me recently, “I’m not only my sister’s keeper; I am my sister.” That one is worth taking to the bank.

24 thoughts on “Females: You Just Can’t Trust ‘Em and Other Lies Women Believe

  1. Ase. I had a long talk with one of my students last week who told me that upon entering my Intro to Women’s Studies class she thought “a class full of women, I don’t really do females like that” and then she said that since that day she has been rethinking that position because of the types of things that we discuss in class.

    We have to move these feminist/women’s studies discussions past the classroom door cause there is a war on women at the cultural and individual level and women of color are on the frontlines precisely because we are in need of our sisters and don’t know how to ask for true friendship/connection.

    Thank you for this post. I don’t know what I would do (or would have done) without my sisters in struggle, sisters in feminism, sisters in life. But, I do know I would not be where I am now. Also, there are too many of us getting sick and dying (especially in the academy) from depression and suicide, cancer you name it. So I consider it part of my political activism to keep my sisters healthy and alive!

  2. thank you for airing it out! i love this part: “And can we also just be honest? If you can’t trust “females” as a group, can we trust you? The notion that every woman including you is not implicated in her own sweeping denouncements of other women is just as faulty as the woman who tells herself that her favorite rap star, “ain’t talking about me,” when he refers to all women indiscriminately as bitches and hoes. Trust is like respect. To get it, you gotta give it.”

    And probably just as importantly, if you can’t trust “females”, can you trust yourself? Are women saying “I don’t deal with females” because we’re somehow scared of our own womanhood and what it could mean if we embraced it? Thanks for making me think abou that.

    1. Wordlife, that is a great question: “can you trust yourself?” A lot of sisters probably think all they can trust is themselves, but if you relationally disengage, surely there’s a trust issue somewhere.

  3. Thank you so much for writing this. Having encountered that strain of trifling on far too many occasions, I keep my ladies even closer to me. The bond we have is strong, dynamic and we have each other’s backs. I love my partner deeply, but I cannot live with my ladies.

  4. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I have said both these things so many times I can’t count (i.e. 1. Why the double standard when it comes to trusting men/women, given how often men mistreat, hurt, abuse, violate and humiliate us? and 2. “Women” is the term for human beings with female reproductive organs). This “self-hating” that we so unconsciously and blithely pass on from one generation to the next, one woman to the next has got to STOP!

  5. “If you can’t trust “females” as a group, can we trust you?”
    Exactly. Right on point. I feel as though the same women who make statments such as “I don’t hang with females” appear to be the same ‘females’ they are trying to avoid. Maybe they should sit down and think about why they keep attracting trifling women into their lives or women who don’t care about them or have their back. You can’t blame women in general just because you have bad judgement when it comes to making friends.

  6. I never thought about the use of the term “female”.. wow..

    thanks for that.

    its funny because I often hear men say “you acting like a female” if one of us does something bad on the sly or gossip. that’s sexist as hell. cause like you said, men gossip and back stab as well.

    but saying that females can’t be trusted is a statement we have to combat on all levels. many of us say this despite the fact that we all have women in our lives who help us and make a difference.

  7. So amazingly true. I’m all for women being friends with other women.

    This post really brings to light another severe epidemic that is sweeping the nation. Click on blog for more.

  8. Cool post.
    It always seems as if I hear statements like “I don’t hang with other women” made by certain women in order to set themselves in better a light, especially in the eyes of men. The statement and its implications is rarely analyzed then, because of the positive feedback they get from making it to other men.

  9. Whenever a woman tells me she doesn’t have any close female friends that raises a red flag in my mind. More often than not these women don’t have anything in common with their male friends. Men relate to each through shared activities. Likewise, men maintain platonic relationships with women through shared activities and interests. When none of these shared interests are present, I know something’s not right.

    I understand that some people are loners, but I find it very strange that a woman has a group of male friends, and no female friends, because women relate to each other differently than they relate to men. Only women can express female agency just how only men can express male agency. Sometimes it’s important to have our friends affirm our thoughts to us in their own way, in the way that only a person of the same gender can.

    Even if I understand the concept of female agency, I don’t know how to express it, because I am not a woman. Likewise, even if a female understand the concept of male agency, she won’t know how to express it because she is not a man.

    There is a certain level of security and comfort in being able to have conversations with my male friends where they can relate to and understand me on a fundamentally male level. Without that level of comfort, I know that my stress level would be significantly higher.

    I imagine the same would be true for a woman without any close female friends. However, it’s not easy to find people that you can trust, regardless of your gender. I think the reason why some women make the degrading generalization towards “all females” is because they have been badly hurt, and they have given up on trusting people. There are men who have also been betrayed, but they don’t express their distrust the same way.

  10. I don’t actively try to make friends, but those I do make tend to be men because of this distrust you’ve illustrated in this article. The women I’ve befriended don’t care much for gossip or drama, and if a problem arises, we face it head on instead of smiling and stabbing when the other’s back is turned. We’ve been hurt so many more times and so much worse by other women than we have been by men, and I doubt my handful of *female friends and I are unique in this situation. We just don’t want to pretend we’re friends with other women if they’re just going to hurt us, and please believe me when I tell you that this happens in all racial demographics.

    *I use “female” as descriptive, while “woman” is a noun unto itself. Female doctor, male neighbor, etc. To me, “woman doctor” and “man neighbor” just sounds awkward. I will never refer to anyone as simply “male” or “female”. I agree that it’s rather degrading.

  11. Thank you! This is an excellent, incisive post. You’ve said it all.

    It absolutely unnerves me when men and women claim that men don’t gossip. I guess, talking about pussy is just that – talk. It’s not gossip. Oh no. Because men don’t gossip. They talk and discuss.

  12. I’ve heard other women say that same thing—that “females” are just too hard to get along with–and having lived in various homeless shelters over the past couple of years, I can say that is the God’s truth. I can also say that that isn’t true of ALL women in general. Me and my roommate were talking about that last week–about how a number of the women where we stay get attitudes over every little damn thing if they can’t have their way, or if everyone dosen’t kiss their behind, or they’re mad as hell at themselves and want to take it out on you even though you have enough s*** of your own to deal with on the regular. What I’ve noticed over the years is that a lot of women (primarily black women, since I’m around them 99% of the time) apparently have never been taught the difference between being assertive and being a flat-out drama queen b**** half the damn time. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t stand to be around other black women sometimes, because I’m past tired of dealing with that s***–people who feel like they have to start all this stupid s*** over every little petty thing, or make a mountain out of a damn molehill—what my mother did, which is why I don’t talk to her anymore, because I quit putting up with her bulls*** any longer. People like that I just stay the hell away from because life is too damn short for that petty, trifling BS—I got enough s*** to deal with on my own, I mean seriously,damn! Honestly,if most of these so-called sisters took all that anger they’re so damn quick to unleash on other unsuspecting women around them and channeled it into organizing/fighting the power/creating some political power bases, they’d blow the Tea Party the hell off the map,straight up.

    Anyway, I’ve vented enough, so let me say that I love this website, it’s the bomb—it’s been great reading a fresh,funny,realistic-about-most-issues black feminist website that calls sexist & racist s*** out for what it really is—y’all tell it straight, no chaser! Keep on keeping up with the damn fine work you’re doing—I’ve already told a number of poeple about this site–f*** the haters, and keep on keeping on, sistergirls!

  13. Excellent post!! I have heard several women say that and it bothers me. Just like you mentioned if a woman do not “do females” then how do she expect someone to do her. I have both male and female friends and each contribute to my life in a different way. Personally, I think if you are always claiming how messy females are you may need to take a deeper look at yourself. You probably have some issues you need to deal with and you are projecting them upon other women.

  14. Thank you for writing this. I never understood why it is so easy for women to be so quick to say “I dont trust females” as if men are a safe haven. I have encountered more men to be messy, triflin’, and gossip more than the women I have come in contact with. With of my sisters, what I call my women friends, I would be an emotional wreck. We support one another and we love and embrace one another daily. We have on many occasions been asked “are you all lesbians?” And our answer to that is if loving my sisters with all my heart, mind and soul means that I am a lesbian then I guess I am. I think the women that don’t trust “females” need to look in a mirror or anything that gives off a reflection because I think the problem is one that is with self.

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