This is a topic I have been thinking about for a while. Other bookish people have talked about this subject. Where are the female friendships in novels? I bet you can name a dozen friendships between two males for every one or two friendships between females. There is plenty of literature that shows male friendships but not much with female friends. Even less with healthy female friendships.
The book that got me thinking of this was Destined for Doon, the sequel to Doon by Carey Corp and Lorie Langdon. The two main characters are best friends and they have several other good female friends in the novel. This was a wonderful and refreshing thing to see in a YA novel. However, this novel had the ‘theme’ of a girl being jealous and hateful of another girl because of a boy. An anti-friendship, something that is all too common in literature. I have seen more female antagonistic relationships then healthy female friendships represented in literature yet I would hazard a bet that the number of male friendships represented in novels is similar to the number of antagonistic male relationships in literature.
Where are the female friendships?
Part of the reason for this is undoubtedly that books have a male character skew: more male characters exists in novels than female characters. This is particularly pervasive with main characters. Young adult literature does have more female writers who tend to write novels with female POV characters then other genera, but if you were to look at other main and important characters in the book odds are there will be more males than females. In addition, often times the background characters, whether named or not, are often skewed male.
I think this tumblr post adds to this discussion about books and could help explain some of the lack of female friendships seen in novels:
Film about a group of men getting into shenanigans= “comedy”
Film about a group of women getting into shenanigans= “chick flick”
Film about a friendship between two men= “buddy flick”
Film about a friendship between two women= “chick flick”
Emotional film about father/son relationships= “drama”
Emotional film about mother/daughter relationships= “chick flick”
Film about a young man finding identity= “coming of age”
Film about a young woman finding identity= “chick flick”
In other words, females interacting with other females is not seen as worthy of our interest as other types of interactions, be that male-male or male-female. This is simply not true. Writers should not be afraid to include more female characters and more female friendships into their work. One, these types of friendships exist in the real world and deserve to be represented. Two, young girls and even older women need to know that not all female-female relationships need to be antagonistic. They need to have examples of healthy female-female relationships.