Monday, March 24, 2008

Girls' Night

I have a really good group of girl friends in Atlanta, that are just plain fun to hang out with. Since we all have such busy schedules, we've been planning girls' nights about once every 6 weeks or so for about a year now. Yet throughout this time, one thing has not changed: the male response to it.

I've seen it all: excitement, confusion, jealousy, and the inevitable "Can I come?". What is with guys and girls' night?

Most prevalent is perhaps the notion that there will be scantily clad pillow fights, regardless of the time or temperature. While this has happened on occasion (gotta love Duke trips to Myrtle), the majority of girls' night is girl bonding. Females have a different dynamic when there are no males around, we seem to let our guards down and be, well, girls. Heads up, I'm about to reveal a big secret: GIRLS TALK. We get our kicks from being involved in each others lives, from work to play and inevitably guys. While we may not be bragging about our latest sexual conquests, we get updates and advice on relationships and life in general.

This is apparently very different than what happens on guys' nights, so perhaps this is where all the fascination comes from. From what I gather, the opposite gender likes to avoid meaningful conversations when they gather in mass, and focus instead on poker, sports, and likely cars. Now that the stereotypical locker room talk about girls is no longer PC, it seems that guys don't easily discuss females in their lives. Well, at least not during guys' nights, and thus the confusion.

Lest my male readers get too concerned about getting talked about, fret not. Assuming you're not being an ass to your girl (which will hopefully be pointed out to her), most conversations about you will end in your favor. Your girl is likely not to reveal your secret doll collection to the group, unless she needs suggestions on what kind of doll to get you next. And who knows, she might have even come away with a new idea to try with you next time you two have some alone time ;).


Benjamin Pollack said...

I disagree with your implicit assumption that talk about poker, sports, and likely cars is pointless. I'm sure they seem that way, but they actually serve to bond men in exactly the same way that girl's nights bond women.

Though society encourages men--at least Western men--to be extremely independent, most men I know nevertheless like to be involved and up-to-date in one another's lives just as much as women do. The difference in how the genders spend their evening, I think, comes from what qualifies as a relaxing evening. Most men I know (including me), when confronted with problems, immediately begin trying to fix them, so "catching up" on a friend's personal life will almost certainly involve discussions back and forth about how to rectify life's wrongs. These discussions are healthy and productive, and they certainly tighten friendships, but they definitely are not relaxing. For this reason, keeping up-to-date is done piecemeal and often one-on-one to minimize the embarrassment (if that's even the right word) that may come from having to ask for help.

My impression of girl's night out, in contrast, is that while the topics may be more "serious," the general tone is one of shared emotions. You're much more likely to tell a collection of funny and heart-warming stories, or a sad story about someone else, than you are to suddenly throw out that you're having serious problems with your boyfriend. You yourself seem to be echoing that in your own description: you're getting caught up, but not trying to work things out. I'm not belittling the discussions; merely highlighting that they're not "productive" in the way that most men would feel they need to be, but do give you a sense of shared emotional bonding.

Poker, sports, and cars give men the same chance to share emotions without sharing their personal lives in ways that would inspire repair-oriented conversation. We can lament Duke's loss, enjoy discovering one another's ticks at the poker table. Cars, I don't think are actually that big a thing anymore; to the extent it used to be, it was because being in the Ford or the GM "family" gave you an additional sense of bonding, a way of having camaraderie right off the bat with someone new. I've not honetsly heard car talk on a night out unless it was about how someone got a new car, it looked good, and got them laid (in which case, the point of interest in the discussion is, I promise you, not the automobile). In other words, it's safe emotional bonding.

Amanda Z said...

Ben has some good points, and perhaps I should clarify a little. There's a difference between girls' nights out and girls' nights in. Girls' nights out are generally of the type he described, in that we talk much more in generics. Girls' nights in, on the other hand, do tend to be a bit more personal, but also depend on the makeup and size of the group as to what individuals are willing to discuss.

Since some of my readers respond directly to me instead of posting, I wanted to reflect on one additional point: guys who have many female friends have an additional reaction to girls nights', dislike due to their exclusion from spending time with their friends. I can definitely understand this, particularly those with busy female friends, as such nights can exclude them from time with their friends for the week. However, in such cases perhaps the key is to take advantage of such nights to spend time with your male friends. After all, it appears you guys need your nights as much as we need ours.

DZ said...

I'll still accept an invitation to girls night anytime :-p