This is a guest post by Dior Vargas.
Ever since I started school, my friendships with girls were challenging. Of course, elementary school consisted of girls stating that you were copying them (i.e. certain phrases, fads), making fun of you, and talking about you behind your back.
In high school it was pretty much the same, but perhaps more aggressive for some of the girls in my class. Fortunately, I didn’t experience too many difficulties with them, but it wasn’t without its trying times. It’s interesting that many of the conflicts that arose among these girls were based on their relationships with boys. By the end of high school, I got used to dealing with these types of conflicts but I hoped that things in college would be different. I hoped that the drama and pettiness would end.
In college I met a group of friends who were funny, intelligent, and sweet. They were also women of color. In a college that was predominantly White, I felt that I had found my place in this new world that I had to call home for the next four years. As a feminist, I believe that feminism is about the rights of women, social justice, and sisterhood. I thought that I had found that in this group of women in college.
Unfortunately, by my senior year, I came to realize that this was not the case. The connection that I thought was there was simply not. Yet this time, it was more painful. The reason for this was because we were all women of color. I had assumed there would be this innate and unquestionable solidarity among us. I had never expected this from them. I thought that going to an all women’s college would prevent this because we were in a space that encourages sisterhood. Maybe I was too trusting? I don’t know what I did wrong. I always wonder why this has been such a challenge for me. Perhaps I have a lot of expectations when it comes to friends, and ultimately it leads to disappointment.
This led me to think about women and their relationships as a whole. I have always believed that the personal is political. What I had gone through was a bigger issue than just me and that group of women. Why do some women backstab, gossip, and hurt other women? Are we socialized to behave this way? I believe that society is the culprit because culture has made women competitive with one another. Men are usually at the center of this competition. Most advertisements undermine our ability to feel good about ourselves because the next product will make us appear skinnier, look more beautiful, and sound more interesting to others.
As a result, I was disappointed and disillusioned with women.
But right after college, I started an internship at The Feminist Press. There, I met feminists like me (but who were not all women of color) and found a different type of solidarity. Not one based solely on race, but also on feminist (political, spiritual, etc) beliefs. I believe these elements were missing from my friendships in college. However, this is not to say that you have to be a feminist in order to be good friends.
In the end, I choose not to focus on the past but on the future. I want to focus on how feminism has reinforced my belief in women and their relationships. Developing a real sisterhood with my female peers has become one of my aims in life. I truly love the friends I have made after college; we are always there for each other.
I dedicate this post to them and our friendships.
Dior Vargas lives in NYC and is a proud alumna of Smith College. She will be graduating from Pace this May with a Master’s in Publishing. She is currently working at Random House in eBook production. You can connect with her at The Personal is Bloggable.