VOLUME THREE AVAILABLE NOW

When I Thought I Hated the Female Gender

Writing by Hannah Forsdike // Illustrations by Abigail Thipgen

“Oh, I don’t really have girlfriends, I get along much better with guys.” Did you just roll your eyes so hard you momentarily feared they might be permanently stuck in an upward position? Because I did. And I’m embarrassed to admit that at some point in my life I’ve been that girl. The girl the rest of us violently roll their eyes at.

I would like to preface this nugget of writing by saying that modern day Hannah has valuable friends of all shapes, sizes, and genitalia. I strongly believe we should always be working towards building each other up.

Although this story paints myself and a few other people in a fairly negative light I felt it was a tale worth telling. I feel like this is something that many girls struggle with, particularly but not exclusively girls in high school, and I think if I had read this when the bad things happened I would have handled it better.

I’d also like to give a quick disclaimer; the events of this story occurred in high school. A tumultuous time for any young person, and the personalities I describe have no bearing on who these women grew up to become. Any names mentioned have been changed. I’d also like to say that this experience may not be exclusively female. I know of men that similar things have happened to, however those aren’t my stories to tell.

My family moved just before I started high school. I started with no friends from my previous school. That’s when I met Arden. We were inseparable for the first few years of high school. Best friends. Arden was so funny and so cool and so totally different to me. This created an almost sister dynamic between us and the love I had for her (and still have) is so unique to our relationship. Although we are no longer “best friends”, we are good friends; I moved states after university but we still talk regularly and I always visit her when I’m home. She is probably one of the only friends I still have from high school which becomes something very special when you’re in your 20s.

People say that it’s during those first few years of high school that “the claws come out.” All the other girls in our classes were always fighting with their friends. They all seemed so nasty and I remember thinking that those girls were stupid and immature. Which is how I rationalized pubescent bitchiness when I was a pubescent bitch. But my circle of friends just didn’t seem to have the same problems.

Ella moved to our school when we were about 15. Her and Arden got along really well, which I thought was awesome and I was actually really keen to get to know her better. As Ella got to know us she seemed to become really jealous of my close relationship with Arden and the history we had together.

We had all these inside jokes and memories and I suppose Ella found it all very threatening. She began to drive a wedge between Arden and I, in order to break up our friendship and take my place as Arden’s BFF. It started off as subtly excluding me and snowballed into vicious rumors.

Ella convinced my friends, including Arden, that I’d said this or done that. And they believed her. They believed a girl they’d known for such a small amount of time over one they’d known for years. I tried to convince them the rumors weren’t true; I’d look them in the eyes and be totally honest and no one fucking believed me.

So Ella turned my friends against me. The next year was probably the one of the worst years of high school for me. Ella seemed to set off something in my friends that made them bandwagon hate me. They’d forgive me and then find a reason to hate me again weeks later. I once had the front lawn of my house littered with tampons dipped in red food coloring and a nasty note pinned to my door by a group of girls who were supposed to be my friends because they thought I’d been a bit moody that week and decided I must have been on my period. I was attacked online, over instant messenger and Facebook and whatever else the kids were using back then. I should tell you that Ella wasn’t the only offender, she just seemed to have set off a domino effect.

This is when I decided that I hated girls. I just hated them. I thought my friends were so stupid for believing rumors and lies and falling into that bitchy high school girl scene we used to laugh at.

Outside of my “close” circle of girlfriends I had plenty of other friends from classes. Many of which were guys. One of my very close friends throughout high school, Miles, would often invite me to sit with his friends at lunch when he could see things were bad with my friends. It sure beat hiding in the drama room costume closet. Over that year I got to know all of his friends pretty well. They were mostly guys and they just didn’t seems to have the same shitty problems as my girlfriends did. Looking back at it now, I only saw what I wanted to see through my bitter, teenaged, rose-coloured glasses: guys were nice and girls were mean.

This is when that ever poisonous thought crossed my mind. I hate girls. I blamed all of our problems on the fact that these friends of mine were girls. I hated my own gender. I hated half the population of my high school, which is the entirety of the world as far as you’re concerned at 15 years old. And whenever I saw mad and lashed out at my friends, I blamed my own nasty behavior on being a girl.

Looking back at all of this, I can laugh. High school is so intense. There is so much growth happening in our bodies and in our brains. The fact we are forced to sit in classrooms and see the same friends every day is insanity.

Emotions run so high in high school, which I couldn’t understand back then. I pride myself on my ability to make choices based in logic, but when I was young and in that stressful school environment I’d act so emotively and out of character.

Asides from this, I’ve also learnt that people being shitty is not exclusive to girls. People can be shit. Especially the people you love. The people you love are going to hurt you at some point. And no man has ever broken my heart as hard and as painfully as my girlfriends have.

Friendships, especially those special “best friend-ships” can be so intense and intimate. And the harder you love, the harder it’s going to hurt when your friend lets you down. They might not always mean it, but sometimes people do let you down. Although, I’ve found that in a healthy friendship the benefits far outweigh the let-downs.

My friends grew out of their “bitchy girl phase” before we finished high school. We all stayed really close for so long; although I’ve drifted apart from almost all of them now, I still love to hear from them from time to time. Arden and I are still friends. Even if we go a few months without talking, we always seem to drift back together. And we are always able to pick up right where we left off. Although I feel like high school did damage to our friendship that we will never be able to fully repair, she is one of those people I know I can rely on for anything.

Any friendship of value, male, female or otherwise, will be trying. Like any romantic relationship is. I think we are culturally trained to separate friendship and romance, but if I learned anything from binge watching Sex and the City it’s that soul mates come in all forms. Maybe yours is your best friend. And you may never find that soul mate if you restrain your friendship from an entire gender.

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Abigail Thigpen

Abbie is a college student and Sociology major living in the magical Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. She is a maker of art and a reader of stories with a dedication to social justice issues. She enjoys swimming in rivers and lakes and thinks that the two most important things are to take naps often and to always be kind. Follow her on Instagram at @auwbe.

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