> jumping into life.

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A few nights ago I had a conversation with my younger sister--she feels that most of her friends are male, and that most of them are friends because they were hitting on her but she's "taken" and they settled for friendship. She spoke of the tiring habit of constant flirtation, which she feels is obligatory, and equally-constant boundary-setting to keep the flirtation in line. She spoke of friendships with women that were based on competition and undercutting, of roommates taking advantage of her generosity, of roommates' partners doing the same.

I told her that I have found it more and more important to cultivate supportive, loving friendships with women; that while I have, over the course of my life, tended also to be surrounded with male friends whom I love, that some quality of resonance happens only with women for me. That part of being a feminist means building positive relationships between women. That part of being whole and happy means building positive relationships with women.

With men, too, of course. But friendships with men have always come easily to me--for reasons, I think, similar to the ones my sister cited--while those with women have not.

It was with this conversation in the back of my mind that I took a happy walk with Theriomorph and Gilly yesterday in the woods and to the lake. Later, we made a nice dinner of cheeses and tabbouleh and lamb, with fresh fruit and honey for dessert. (Gilly especially liked the lamb.) It seems a bit presumptuous at this point to say "friendship" based on a few months' blog-reading and one afternoon, but it was a nice start.

Yay! And yes indeed. I love the discovery of a new compadre. In my head you're Kat Lamb now, which pet-name signifies affection as much as hedonist pleasure in a delicious meal. : )

The friendships with women thing you write about is so important for me, too. I understand where your sister was coming from - it's how we're trained in this culture, and I've done my share of engaging that way - but it makes me sad. Sometimes angry.

For me, it's been primarily in relationships (with men or women) un-fraught with expectation, constant boundary watch, or that toxic, constant, and fundamentally dishonest and reducing sexual manipulation and ego-massaging that I've found who and how I want to be in the world. And it's where I get the stamina I need to be that.

I do not miss feeling like I had to participate in those kinds of interactions in order to be loved.

Becoming conscious of not cultivating friendships with men based in weird, subterranean sexual tensions - and flatly refusing to engage in sexual competition with other women, ever - has not meant a life without fun, playful flirtations that make everyone feel good.

It's meant a lot more honesty in my interactions, which is, even aside from feminist politics, a pure relief - that manipulation/performance for love thing is exhausting.

It's meant that when real desire does come along, it gets treated with honor, attention, honesty, and care.

It's all very complicated - culturally, politically - but there's just such relief in stepping out of the performed roles I'm handed as a young-ish woman and instead making active decisions about how I want to craft my relationships with people.

Since I'm just as likely to desire a woman as a man (if 'likely' is the right word, given how infrequently this happens as I get pickier and pricklier in my rapidly advancing years), I pay attention to these dynamics everywhere, and do my best to keep things on the table in a low-key but direct way so nothing culturally imposed is dictating the parameters of the relationship without my permission.

Anyway, there's a lot to say and think and craft about this subject, thanks for bringing it up - and for the marvelous company, delicious food, and kind welcome of my Gilgamesh.

It really is unusual for him to greet someone he's never met with such instantaneous trust and glee - cracked me up. His reaction seemed to be: "I know you! I LOVE you!"

I mean, he didn't even sniff you first. : )

Grin. Love at first sight for the both of us, I assure you.

And I'm sure I'm Kat-lamb in his mind too now, which should insure he'll love me next time, too.

It continues to amaze me how much of that cultural stuff creeps in - or, more accurately, how deeply it pervades all kinds of interactions, so that trying to yank it out by the roots can become a full-time affair. That honesty stuff is hard - sometimes it feels like everything I've ever been taught was teaching me how to avoid it. Even when I'm overtly looking to stay honest and authentic, half the time I find myself smiling when I don't mean it.

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