Hello people !
For my first (real) post, I want to talk about something we’re starting to see quite often in YA novels, and that I’m not exactly being secretive about it since it’s all in the title : male-female friendship.
First thing first : YES, I BELIEVE IN IT.
I indeed think it is possible for a boy and girl to only be friends. I’ve been friends with boys all through my childhood, as have many of you I’m sure. Still to this day, working in a mostly feminine environment, the collegues my age I am friends with have a penis.
I also think that boy-girl friendship is rarely as complicated as books and movies make it out to be.
And today, intersex friendship in fictions is in fact what we’re talking about. I love it, this is something I enjoy seeing or reading. But it is often explored only superficially or, in this day of everything romance, is just an excuse to introduce a love triangle (which will probably be the object of another post) when its relevance is sometimes questionable.
And IT ANNOYS ME !!!
I am currently writing in my book series The Imagined Ones (here is the first chapter in english) an intersex friendship including the heroine. I didn’t spend hours working on the looks, personality and backstory (complex and of importance for the rest of the story) of her best friend just for him to be a wallflower. He is there to support the heroine, and she’s there to support him, because friendship goes both ways, and if it doesn’t, one of them is a jerk.
So I think that it would be good to straighten up some facts about how boy-girl friendships actually work, because no, they are not just there to help spin a love story :
- They rarely aknowledge their sex difference
In general, people in a intersex friendship don’t automatically think of tasks as gendered.
Right now the notion of gender has been and still is the object of a complete reconceptualization, and it would be stupid to believe that two friends boy and girl, a friendship still regarded as suspicious only a few years ago, could think the way we did last century. When a girl doesn’t want to play football with her friend, it’s not because a girl doesn’t like football, it’s not because boys are too rough or competitive. It’s because SHE doesn’t like football (she probably prefers basketball), because HE hits way too hard (and bruises on your legs, yeah, that gets old real fast).
We can of course have our characters talk about the difference between sexes, but it is generally set in a reflexive discussion, not in the fast thoughts that come through the protagonist’s mind or during the description of a scene. If this idea to differenciate boys and girls is not part of the fondamentals of your character, there’s no reason they automatically think about it, that it would cross their mind.
- Childhood friends rarely fall in love with each other
Let’s talk about the Westermarck effect. It’s the natural reflex of avoidment of incest, theorised by Edward Westermarck, that the child develops during the first 30 months, by rejecting any amorous feeling for the people he lives with.
We sometimes see this phenomenon extend to childhood friends, growing up together in a way similar to siblings. If your characters are childhood friends, they act as family members, and therefore rarely end up a couple.
When it happends, the two have often been separated during childhood to be reunited once they’re adults.
If we want our childhood friends characters to fall in love with each other (or one with the other), of course we can. But it might be wise to adapt their backstory in order to make it more realistic.
Let’s note with that that the big fat cliché of the childhood friend gone from ugly to super hot finally moving back totally works here.
- Conciliating friendship and fuck buddies is not that difficult
When two friends become fuck buddies, called a « colored friendship » in Brasil, feeling rarely become a problem. The two friends know exactly what they feel for each other, or in this case don’t feel.
It’s about flirting when you know nothing is going to come out of it, and jealousy comes rarely into play.
However, IF feelings are involved (and when that happends, they are seldom reciprocated), frienship is put in jeopardy, completely ruined even. The one in love sees again the other as a member of the opposite sex, and it’s this aknowledgment or lack of thereof that determines a intersex relationship as love or friendship.
But generally a fuck buddy won’t make a serious rival in your stories. Maybe from the love interest’s point of view, but there will be no confusion between the two friends.
- When one of them falls in love with the other
Because yes, okay, it happens, and in that case too there are rules.
There’s more often then not a triggering element. Some think it has to be an important event, like a death or a divorce, others think a simple tone of voice, a laugh, is enough. Doesn’t really matter as long as your character remembers perfectly this exact moment.
At the same time, it is just as easy for the feeling to die down. Like when the loved one says or does something reminding the one in love of their mom or dad. Talk about a cold shower 😀
So, that’s about it concerning what there is to know about male-female friendship and the things it’d be nice to take in account when we want to put an intersex friendship in our story.
I think the most important thing to remember to create a credible intersex friendship is that the way they interact with each other, whether they are tactile, talk a lot, or multiply the inside jokes… cannot depend on their gender.
Gender cannot be the prime factor that define their relationship, it has to be second, third, or even fourth. When I read a book where it happens, I always tend to find the friendship superficial and lacking. The prime factor has to be their personality.
I refocused to my kid and her conjointed twin.
« Okay kiddos, I said gravelly, I know it’s your day off, so to speak, but let’s talk business. Any news about that special unit, or not? »
« You mean the news concerning the actions taken by the government, the ones concerning the actions taken by us, or the news that you could easily have acces to if you just made the effort of going to the Legends and face la Abuela », asked Jude as if he was truly interested in the answer.
« Okay, you, first of all, go fuck yourself », I fired back.
I turned back toward the wild child who, to my great dismay, was the closest thing I’d ever have to a kid of my own.
« And you, is there one thing, just one thing, that you don’t tell him? »
« We skype on the can, Jack. Do you really believe I could just think of not telling him something? »
If they’re crazy, it looks a bit like this 😀
The decision is, of course, yours in the end, but I hope that I could help some of you, give pointers to others, or reassuring them in their choices.
‘Til next time, have a good day! 🙂