We’ve all rolled our eyes at the nibbi sobo chick who chugs a gym freak tall boy and bats her eyelids at the bunch of boys she’s with while coyly saying, “All of my pals are guys, girls are just soooo catty.” “All I want to do is chat about sports with someone.” We usually dismiss nibbi sobo ladies, seeing through her cheap attempt to be “low maintenance” and hence more dateable to the guys in her life. To me, it always felt unfair and uncool to dismiss the women in your life just so you can hang out with a bunch of jerks who couldn’t care less.
So imagine my surprise when my girlfriend recently pointed out to me that practically all of my pals are…well, girls. I shrugged and said, “It just kind of happened that way.” When you move away from your hometown to a large metropolis like Mumbai, it’s difficult to maintain friendships – you’ll certainly lose individuals along the road. However, the more I thought about it, the more I became concerned. Why did I only have two close friends at the moment, both of whom I had problematic ties with? Why didn’t I have a Sex and the City-style boy band with whom I could go to brunch every Sunday, attend music festivals with, accompany me to business functions, and confide in? Did friendships like that exist? I couldn’t help but think about it.
As a result, I began to examine my male friendships, both past and current. The ones with fellas from back home with whom I was still pals but only saw once a year. The ones with guys from previous jobs or chance encounters who just hadn’t clicked. The more I looked into it, the more I found that I didn’t appear to be as comfortable or at ease with boys as I was with girls, and that my female friends’ friendships were far more likely to continue. But why was it the case? I began to wonder whether I was simply unlucky with male connections.
Then it dawned on me. It wasn’t my fault, nor was it the fault of the nibbi sobo girl. It’s how we were brought up.
As men, we’re taught that our worth is determined by three factors: finding a lady, having children, and our appearance. I don’t recall anybody ever teaching me how to value my connections with other guys or how to highlight my own, much alone other men’s, talents. Male connections are never prioritised in our lives. Instead of building one other up, we’re taught to tear each other down. We males are terrible at expressing our emotions. We men, too, are terrible at crying! If I am best friend with my opposite gender it is okay from the societal pov, but if my bestfriend is a guy, boys you’re in trouble!
How many times, guys, have you had a discussion like this:
“I’m really bloated today, and it’s making me seem so huge in this shirt,” Guy 1 says. “I’m afraid I won’t be able to wear it.”
“Bro, stop—I’d look like a whale if I took that shirt off.” Guy 2: “You look fantastic in it, and you should certainly put it on.”
It’s currency for males to put each other down in order to make each other feel “better.” We commiserate about how overweight we are, how split our ends are, how chipped our nails are, and how terrible we look today. Guys’re told that we have to fight for female attention and that male friendships are never as essential as the wife you need to establish your worth as quickly as possible.
Male friendships have a competitive undertone that might be subtle or overt, but it’s always draining. In my personal friendships, I have a plethora of instances, and I’m sure any male reading this will as well. When a new female is around you and your friends, it might appear as though your single guy becomes too competitive—all of a sudden, you’re swarming all over each other to be the focus of her attention at the price of being courteous to each other. To make yourself feel better about the fact that she’s paying attention to him rather than you, you may get a boyfriend to tell you that you’re beautiful than the man of your crush’s affections. It’s infuriating, and it’s a dynamic I’m sick of.
When a careful and guarded wall is up, it’s difficult to connect as someone who lives on sincerity in all interactions. I don’t want a connection based exclusively on chatting about ladies or phoney comments on my hair or dress. I don’t want other guys to perceive me as a danger, and I don’t want them to perceive me in the same manner. When we only see ourselves through the eyes of women, we don’t have room to appreciate ourselves as guys, much alone our male friendships.
It is our responsibility to recognise and combat internalised sexism. I understand that it is my obligation to recognise when I am dragging this energy into new and existing connections with guys. To recognise when I’m becoming aloof, envious, or rude and replace it with honesty, compassion, and kindness. That is something we all deserve.
It’s time to get Bumble BFF and start tearing down the patriarchy one female friendship at a time.
Next blog will be out soon.Desai Thoughts MEdia.
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