By Angelina Eimannsberger
The Women’s March on Washington was a success because women teamed up. We need an action plan to keep the momentum going, and a few recent fiction publications might give us a hint on where to go. If we can’t count to the hundreds of thousands every day then lets count to two instead.
Zadie Smith and Elena Ferrante are two of the hottest non-American female writers read in the US today. Smith’s latest novel Swing Time (Hamish Hamilton Nov 2016) and Ferrante’s quartet of Neapolitan Novels (Europa Editions)–from My Brilliant Friend (2012) to The Story of the Lost Child (2015)–are popular and critical successes. These novels tell great stories of female friendship: Ferrante’s Lenu and Lila in Naples, Smith’s nameless narrator and Tracey in London. They are long, beautifully written novels requiring some serious commitment of their reader. Why do they resonate so strongly with the American public?
Female icons are always popular. But these heroines come in packages of two. We are drawn to reading these novels, then, because we sense the promise in female friendship. One successful women is still something of an outlier, and as such more acceptable.That’s why Amy Poehler and Tina Fey co-hosting the Golden Globes was such a success. Two women mark the beginning of a different era. Two strong women together normalize women at the center of power and attention, they dominate the image and the atmosphere, and they have some serious lift-each-other-up power at their disposal.
To translate this into your day to day life, try to:
- look around your friends, colleagues, fellow students, and pick one at a time for coffee, tea, or bourbon and create a meaningful conversation. If you have trouble carrying on a conversation beyond small-talk, try telling her about your last experience getting catcalled. That will connect you, and it might be a stepping stone to real friendship if you’re lucky.
- look around again and choose a male friend, acquaintance, colleague.If you have trouble carrying on a conversation beyond small-talk, tell him the same catcalling story. That will educate both of you, him about empathy and you about sharing and articulating your position, and it might be a stepping stone to friendship if you’re lucky.
- pick your favorite celebrity friendship couple–Poehler and Fey, for example–and cheer them on as if they were a romantic celebrity couple getting married. We don’t have a lot of ceremonies to celebrate friendship, so lets borrow enthusiasm from the romantic ones we know.
Lenu and the nameless narrator from Swing Time are sad but wise creatures. If we read about them, maybe they can help us be happy and wiser creatures.Team up, girls.
PC: Glamorous grandmothers of female friendship: Miranda, Samantha, Charlotte, and Carrie from Sex and the City. http://media.vogue.com/r/pass/2016/06/03/00-holding-sex-and-the-city.jpg