Tuesday, July 6, 2010
Was Harry Right?
Bluemilk got me started thinking about this. I first heard Harry's thesis advanced by the resident I worked with on my med school psych rotation. She assured me that while I might think I had platonic friendships with men, the men didn't see it that way. I was pretty sure they did see it that way. I wasn't naive - I was engaged to be married and had done my share of dating and flirting; I knew what it felt like when a man was interested in me sexually and I knew the difference. I still know the difference, and I still have men friends. For most of my life, my closest friends have been men.
I had a best girlfriend growing up, but we weren't together very much - she lived in a different neighborhood and had a lot of afterschool activities and we weren't usually in the same class at school. We didn't trade sleepovers and call each other to check our outfits and have long closed-door talks like Eve does with her friends. My day-to-day best friend, the person I hung out after school with and rode bikes with and watched TV with and waded in the creek with, was the boy across the street. We were inseparable until he moved away when we were ten.
During that same psych rotation, we had a lecture on child development in which I learned that "all children" had a same-sex best friend during latency. I asked the lecturer afterwards what would happen if a child had an opposite-sex best friend during that period, and she said "gender development would become abnormal". Perhaps that explains it.
I started to seek out and cultivate female friendships when I was in med school, but I find I still gravitate toward friendships with men. I am blessed, now, with wonderful women friends, and I'm deeply grateful for them, but I still think my psych resident - and Harry - were wrong.