mad in pursuit journal

DISPATCHED FROM THE CROSSROADS, AT THE intersection OF cackles & cuddles

Societies of Women, Or Lunchtime at the Girls' School

Yesterday I found myself in a funny e-mail exchange over the fact that I watch "The L-Word" — a Showtime series about a group of Los Angeles lesbians (& the heteros who love them). It's sexy, stylish, and full of melodrama, but what I started thinking about was the time they put into just sitting around together.

We asked the same question about "Seinfeld" and about "Sex and the City": how do these people find the time? Don't they have a thousand things they should be doing? In "The L-Word" the phenomenon is exaggerated. LA is a giant city and there are about eight women from all walks of life who assemble at the same cafe on an ongoing basis.

Does the show reflect a fantasy of an all-women society: all your friends and a few fascinating enemies always on call to be supportive, talk you through problems, and satisfy all your needs? Hmm... like lunchtime at an all-girls school. Or a slow day at any woman-dominated workplace.

The lesbian part aside, I should qualify as an expert on this subject. All-girls high school, dormitory life at an all-women's college (in both places taught by women living in a religious community), and 20 years working in an organization of predominantly women.

I'll say this: no matter what your sexual orientation, the challenges and dynamics of a mixed male-female society is better.

My glimpses of all male or male-dominated cultures reveal too much jockeying for position, too much har-har humor as a way of avoiding real conversation. Visualize towels snapping at naked butts in a boys' locker room.

Being with women can be wonderful — till it turns horrible. Our risk is that we get overly entangled with one another's feelings, personal drama overtakes the work to be done, and either we get sulky or we process things to death. Lunch time at the girls' school.

That's what "The L-Word" is about. Females in a virtual pack, bound together because of a commonality (beauty, sexual adventurism), living out the girls' school melodrama. On the surface, everyone is supportive and willing to drop everything to overprocess a problem. But underneath are all the simmering tensions — secret liaisons, envy, disloyalty, and the endless competition over getting and keeping a "best friend."

Every once in a while it's good to have a man drop by to spoil the "fun."



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