Why is boy gossip so paramount to female friendship?

By Jasmin Asifiwe.

Boy gossip, an age-old practice of unrestrained idle talk that may or may not be true, is the cornerstone of civilisation. When women and girls get together and share stories about their male counterparts, it’s an absolute miracle of human and societal observation: girl talk.    

I believe it’s when girls become most alive. Even spreading pure hatred about an unfaithful ex-boyfriend can turn into the most beautifully conceived and meticulously cited prose. And though not always justified, always perfectly verbalised. 

But are these exchanges enlightening of the fact that our lives are male-centred, or is it because it’s one thing we are all sure to have an opinion on?  

Maybe we’re fickle, stupid beings for engaging in gossip, an act that most religions view as a sin. Or maybe it reveals a bold willingness to be vulnerable… revealing your mindset, personality, and character in a way that is empowering. 

This manner of conversation is a pseudo-language forever regarded as vapid. It’s a form of social currency that must be delicately approached – too much gossip makes you sneaky and untrustworthy, but too little paints you as unapproachably difficult. Malice isn’t good, but it isn’t the same as gossip. The slander of boy gossip itself disparages this female cultural event.  

It’s not a lack of morals but an anthropological skill. So powerfully intertwined into female friendships, boy gossip can rekindle or make a new connection. 

Whether positive or negative, it also works to establish an in-group of those with like-minds. When one girl agrees with another on how they handled a boy, it builds and strengthens both their intimacy and understanding, effective for learning how to navigate the male-run world as a woman. 

The patriarchy simultaneously assigns gossip to stereotypical femininity and balks at the prospect of this actually taking place. It’s interesting that men also swap stories about us, often in the same vein of criticising looks and behaviour, often in even crueller ways. Then turn around and lecture women about minding our own business and protecting our peace. Regardless, I can have a little boy talk and still focus on myself at the end of the day. Expecting a razor-sharp, perfect performance of femininity is ridiculous. 

If I am seen as a bad person simply for connecting with the women I share space with, then I am comfortable with that. Even at the expense of the men in our lives. 

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Jasmin is in her third year of a double degree in Journalism and Law. This piece was submitted by Jasmin for Glass: Summer Edition.

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