‘Girl Squad’: Female Friendships in YA

Hey gang, it’s time to talk about lady friends in fiction.

I’ve been meaning to talk about this topic for a while now, but drowning in book memes and book tags, it got lost in the drafts folder for some time. But now, it rises like the beauty it is.

Growing up, my friendship group consisted of mainly boys. I had my boyfriend in secondary school, and along with him came his friends, who were all boys. I loved having male friends, it was fun hanging out with people who made me feel…kinda special, because of my gender. However, there was one thing I was lacking, and that was healthy female friendships.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t have female friends, but the amount of backstabbing and gossiping and down right bitchiness had tainted what was supposed to be so important in life for a teenage girl.

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Sidenote: We need more stories about girl gangs.

And books and films and TV shows didn’t help.

But let’s talk about books.

Girls in books are enemies. Girls in books are love rivals. Backstabbers. In many instances, girls in books do not like each other for the simple fact that it is another girl, in their story. To me, even the absence of multiple female characters is an attack on girls.

And in these portrayals come the stereotypes and the tropes. “I’m not like other girls.” is a stereotype that, even when analysed from the surface, can easily be outed as a misogynist statement. Why are you not like other girls? Because you read? Drink tea? Fancy that bland white boy in your class? What’s wrong with being like other girls?

This is why, especially in Young Adult fiction, female friendships are so important. Like me as a shitty little kid, I did not fully respect my female friends. Through internalized misogyny (and also a lack of people skills because hello puberty), I had learned that distancing myself from my own gender was a good thing, and along with it came the need for male attention and a weird phenomenon called the ‘special snowflake’.

Female friendships possess a sort of magical quality; they are pure and completely unselfish. Girls need other girls for support and love and empowerment. YA’s demographic are the very girls who were like me; insecure, dependent, and still learning so much. Girls are friends with each other, so why the Hell is not portrayed more in YA fiction?

In recent years, there has been a pattern of including female friendships in YA and I’m so for them; they’re so necessary. As a girl you should know that you are able to enjoy the company of another girl, to fall in love with a girl, platonically or romantically, and to know that girls are not the enemy.

I am so thankful for the female friendships I have now. They understand me and I understand them. We make each other laugh, cry, and smile. We support and defend each other until the end, and we share such a strong bond that cannot be ignored in the books that we love.

Here are a few examples of great female friendships in YA:

 

Which YA books that include female friendships do you love? Do you think there needs to be more female friendships in YA?

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12 thoughts on “‘Girl Squad’: Female Friendships in YA

  1. Ahh, I love this post! Female friendships are so important and the lack of positive representation for them (especially in YA) is so disheartening. I hate how girls are always usually enemies or the MC just doesn’t have any female friends at all or just a background one that only appears occasionally. I also hate the slut shaming that tends to happen too. It just helps normalise misogynistic behaviour and I can’t stand it.

    My favourite female friendships are in the Lumberjanes and Giant Days comics. They’re completely positive and it’s so refreshing. I actually can’t think of ANY recent fiction reads where positive female friendships existed. That’s so sad, wow. All the books you listed are on my TBR (except VA because I’ve read the first 3 books, but need to finish the series)! It’s really good to hear that they all have a good representation of female friendships!

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Yes to all of this! It’s just another way to make girls join in with misogyny and it’s awful 😦 Thanks for the recs! I’ve been meaning to check out Lumberjanes especially!

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  2. This is a great post! I have never had many male friends and I always lean on my girl group of friends for support. And I think that the portrayal of female relationship in YA is so important, I really love it when a book has a MC with a girl bestfriend or squad and that they have a great role in her life and not only some background characters. I also love it when the Female Friendships are so strong and that they help each other to develop themselves and not just there to talk about boys and relationships.

    That’s a thing that I hate in some contemporary books, when a girl bestfriend just pops out whenever the MC has boy problems, like that’s not the only thing girls talk about! That’s why I love Holly Bourne’s books Am I Normal Yet? and How Hard Can Love Be? because they’re so empowering and portray strong female friendships.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was one of those girls who grew up with very few female friends.
    As a teen I would find myself drifting between different groups of friends because once I was fully established within that group, one girl or another would turn out to be a raging psycho and turn me away, so I thought that I just didn’t like girls.
    It wasn’t until I got a little older I realised that it wasn’t girls, boys were capable of the same thing and I had met just as many amazing and genuine girls as I had boys.
    I have two best friends, and I’ve had them for many years now. One boy, one girl and I couldn’t imagine my life without them. A great friendship isn’t about gender, it’s about finding someone as like minded as you and thriving in their company.
    These kinds of female friendships in YA are so important because I believe a lot of young girls feel so different from “generic” girls that they simply can’t fit in with them, when these sorts of friendships show that we all sort of feel the same way and we’re not so different after all and just need to find a bit of common ground to start on.

    Incidentally I just finished reading Queen of Shadows and I adored the female friendship in this one and I can’t wait to read more of it in Empire of Storms.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a beautiful post! I’m blogging with my best friend and we met just after high school. I never had the luck to build good long lasting friendships with girls when I was still at school, but now I have several and I treasure them. I consider myself lucky every day. Thanks for the book suggestions, I will definitely check out the ones I haven’t read yet.

    Liked by 1 person

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