One of my best friends growing up was a boy who lived down the street. All of his friends would come over to my house and play football, wiffleball, skateboard, or climb trees. Regardless of what we were doing, we never stopped moving. I loved being one of the boys. I started playing softball as soon as I could swing a bat without its weight and momentum pulling me to the ground. I got an air soft gun when the neighborhood kids got into it. I’d try to get my girl friends to come try it, but it just wasn’t the same. I’m “that girl.” I’m that girl who “just got along better with guys.” Does this mean I’m a misogynist? Not at all. Does this mean I don’t love a good gab sesh with my girlfriends and a nice pedicure? Of course not! I still adore sisterhood events and being basic. But I think having male friends has shaped me into the woman that I am today.
Boys shamelessly love food. Going out to eat with girls is just a race to see who can eat the least:
“Oh you’re getting a salad? I think I’m gonna just get half a salad.”
“Yeah you’re right a full one is too big, I probably won’t even finish the half size.”
“I’m just going to nibble on a single piece of lettuce, I’m still full from yesterday.”
Ladies, let’s be real. When has a salad EVER filled you up for more than 20 minutes?
Then the taboo subject of dessert comes up, and our growling stomachs drop. Who is going to be the one to say it first? As soon as one brave soul rationalizes cake with their trip to the gym this morning, then everyone jumps at once. We giggle and scarf down the chocolate delicacy like it’s illegal. Sometimes it’s nice to eat that third slice of pizza and spoonful of cookie dough without feeling ostracized. My self-consciousness was postponed a few years. We were too busy trying to build treehouses for me to think about how my hair looked or whether or not my body was good enough. All I knew was my body was letting me do all the fun things I wanted to, and that was all that mattered. I grew up thinking I was strong. I grew up being able to outrun, out-climb, or out-throw some of my male counterparts. I wasn’t encouraged only to play with dolls. I was taught through friendly competition to the best I could be.
Guy friends become the protective older brothers you never had. Whether you are out at a bar or just telling them a story about something that happened two weeks ago, they are ready to defend your honor. Just point them in the general direction with a short physical description, and they will run after them faster than you can make yourself cry. They will make fun of you all day, but as soon as someone else tries to crack a joke about you, they shut them down REAL quick. It taught me that men were able to respect me as a woman. They don’t expect anything from me, which changed my view on today’s culture. I can give them big hugs, call them “babe” when I answer the phone, and there are no presumptions. I don’t get labeled a “tease” or shunned for “giving them blue balls.” They love me for my personality and genuinely enjoy spending time with me. It showed me that the “friend-zone” is a social construct that insinuates the only value of spending time with a girl is to have sex with her.
Spending my childhood doing decidedly boy things did not deter my ability to be a woman, but instead, it nurtured it. I’m a strong independent woman who don’t need no man, but I do enjoy having them as friends..