Why now? Female Friendship's Place in the Eighteenth Century

Men like these have been allowed friendships for years.In past years, only men have had access to this thing called "friendship." They claimed that as women, our inferior status prevented us from taking part in this institution that they loved so much. Even those great philosophers Plato and Aristotle never accepted the possibility that women could be friends too. [18] How silly! We know that women are just as capable and moral as men--will they never learn! But that is why we have our underground sources like this; we know exactly what is going on, but they're never the wiser.

But back to this thing called friendship. During our lives, places like boarding schools and salons became more and more popular. [19] And it was in these places that women finally began to really come into contact with each other and spend quality time together. We found out that talking to other women is a great deal more interesting than sitting in our homes listening to men. We could finally form alliances between other gentlewomen and have a little fun!

These two friends know how much fun it can be to spend time together as they sit outside on a lovely day in the countryside, taking turns on their new swing.


How did we start though? All the conduct manuals explain friendship as a connection between men. There seemed like no place to go until our great spokeswoman Katherine Philips exerted some of her power. If you want to see what a little pressure from a woman can do, pick up Jeremy Taylor's 1657 version of Measures and Offices of Friendship with Rules of Conducting It. Our dearest Katherine pushed so much for the inclusion of women that Taylor wrote that "'vertuous and brave' women can 'love as passionately, and converse as pleasantly, and retain a secret as faithfully, and be useful in her proper ministeries; and she can die for her friend as well as the bravest Roman Knight.'" [20] Well ladies of course we can, and now we can prove it--welcome to the modern age of the Eighteenth Century, where women can be friends!


Why is friendship between women so important?
Are there ever any challenges to female friendships?
Are there any good examples of female friendship?


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