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The feminist importance of “girl-talk”

I know what you’re thinking: the term ‘girl talk’ reeks of uncomfortable, pre-adolescent years where your clothes didn’t fit you from one day to the other and you ruined one too many pairs of jeans when it was “that time of the month.”

However, girl talk has an undeserved bad-rep. Throughout history, conversation between women has been written off as trivial, and women silenced. This disregards the important emotional and social function of feminine conversation for those who take part. Today, feminine problems extend beyond the conservative, domestic housewife role impressed upon women in the past: childcare, housework and caring for a husband are no longer the only pressures we face. Women work in paid labour, study, and lead much more complicated lives than ever before, facing incredible pressures on their image and behaviour, especially in the internet age.

Being a woman no longer means what it used to: the growing acceptance of trans, gay and queer sexual and gender identities is expanding the definition of ‘womanhood,’ and the group of individuals who identify with the label of woman, or choose not to. These sociological change have reinforced the importance of girl talk, giving it a new lease of life as part of an incredibly necessary and incredibly feminist conversation that is ever-evolving.

For years, my best friend and I have relied on girl talk. When we were 14, we wondered what it said about us if we kissed two guys in one night. At 17, we tried to determine at what point in a relationship giving a blowjob was socially accepted. Today, we try and balance our sexual desires with their very real consequences. In a world where feminine roles in society are constantly being reevaluated, we are often unsure of how to behave.

When it comes to exploring a developing sexuality, girl talk is essential for validation, whether you’re a teenager or an adult. Women, or those who identify with femininity, have to consider multiple facets that raise multiple questions: how am I supposed to act? What is the feminist thing to do? What do other women expect from me? What do men? What do I want to do? More often than not, we need help from peers, friends, mothers, sisters and others to find the answers.

Reconciling social expectations with our personal beliefs and desires is no simple task. We need to help each other answer questions like: “should I lose myself to my sexual desires if, come Monday, I’ll feel crappy if they haven’t texted me?” There’s a lot to unpack in this example alone. For instance, do you feel crappy because you honestly liked them, or because you’re replicating antiquated notions about sex that on Friday you claimed to have forgotten? How should we deal with our sexuality and its emotional consequences?

It’s time girl talk got the respect it deserves for encompassing one of the most pertinent conversations of the 21st century. Girl-talk is a bridge between theory and practice where we can be transparent and honest about the struggles of our ‘womanhood.’

Being a strong, independent woman is not easy. We are constantly faced with questions about the origin and validity of our principles, and have to re-adapt our lifestyles to live by them. Let’s not forget we are also products of a patriarchal society, and while we’re fiercely fighting for change, many misogynistic values are already engraved in our brains.

Perhaps girl-talk is the key to figuring this out —together.

Image: Prettysleepy via Pixabay