‘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.
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?