WOMEN AND FRIENDSHIP by Joel D. & Diane Greenberg Block


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As the authors point out, male friendships are celebrated in myth and literature--Castor and Pollux, Soldiers Three and The Three Musketeers for example--but female friendships, at least until the late 1960's, received scant attention. Yet, while writing Friendship and How to Give It, How to Get It, Block found that considerably more women than men had at least one close and trusted friend. Armed with this information, Block and Greenberg interviewed several hundred women, from kitchen to executive suite, on how friendships are formed, how they change over time and through circumstances, how they provide pleasure and (sometimes) pain. They found that women not only have close social relationships with other women, but that many have male friends. They also have friends at work and (occasionally) professional or business mentors. Some include their network of friendships. The authors' findings challenge a number of stereotypical assumptions and deserve to be widely read and discussed. They found, for instance, that women are closer to their friends and more open with them than men. An increasing number are forming close platonic relationships with men, which are sometimes spiced and ""energized"" by a mutual sexual attraction. Others, intentionally or unconsciously, choose gay men as friends. ""Best of all,"" said one woman who has many gay male friends, ""I can hug and be hugged without giving it a second thought."" The section on business relationships, however, reveals that many women have not yet learned how to deal with friendship and competition in the world of work: ""Women have not realized, as have men. . . that conflicts can be resolved, that co-workers can confront each other or take opposing sides on an issue, fight it out, and still remain friends."" For those interested in career advancement, the chapter on mentorprot‚g‚e relationships is a must. (Of 100 top businesswomen studied, 85 had mentors.) In most cases, older men are the mentors--reflecting the fact that only 6 percent of top management positions are held by women. Women who have mentors almost invariably attracted them by doing outstanding work and by appreciating their initial approaches. They advise others to seek a mentor several steps up the ladder from one's immediate boss and to never get sexually involved with him. Worthwhile, and well above the common tuck of female-oriented books.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1985
Publisher: Watts