There is very little I like to see more in books, films, or on tv than ladies being friends, but I'm also happy to see women being in complicated relationships that don't boil down to 'every lady apart from me, central character lady, is a hateful fuckwit'. I grew up with a lot of female friends and right now all my close friends, online and off, are women. As we're forming what I want to call a triumvirate of ladies here at Lady Business (but can't because did you know triumvirate comes from the Latin for 'of three men', *sulks* shall we call it an alliance instead?) this seems like the perfect place to spotlight some example of groups of three women who are close as they get on, fall out and continue being awesome. The Halliwell sisters
— Phoebe, Piper, Pru; Phoebe, Piper, Paige
: 'Charmed' had two groups made up of three ladies in its lifetime, as Pru died after three series. The Halliwell's are such a great example of three ladies having each other backs. They go through so much strife together and are torn apart by relationships, demons and relationships with demons, but their magic is strongest when they're together. Somehow they always find their way back to the support of their sisters when the world is falling in on them. Caroline, Elena, Bonnie
: Fine, fine, there are unbearably hot, evil vampires in 'The Vampire Diaries' but more importantly there are girls who are such tight friends, but also such realistic characters. The three girls have been friends forever, but there's still some tension between Caroline and Elena. Caroline is sometimes shown as competitive and insecure in this relationship, but that never means that she and Elena aren't still great friends. Women can be competitive, judgmental, freaking flawed human beings, in their relationships with other women, but men are exactly the same in their friendships, in fact men are praised for any competitive streak, but we never question whether they're still able to be friends with other men.
Why do some people think that being X 'negative' quality stops women from also being supportive, fun, enthusiastic friends? I mean I'm hugely judgmental, about a lot of things, but when I look back at my life I tend to think there have been times when I've been a decent friend, at the same time as being a general, judgemental person (and there have been times when I've been a terrible friend of course). Bully to Caroline for showing that sometimes out relationships with women friends are full of niggles, but that doesn't make those relationships any less real, or important. And there are female friendship moments in this series that broke my little heart. After Bonnie has been involved in some vampire business she goes away and doesn't respond to Elena's messages. When she comes back Caroline is all 'I know we spoke on the phone every day, but I missed you' and Elena is really hurt. Female friendship – as important as partners since 0BC. The Crawley sisters
— Mary, Sybil, Edith:
Ho, ho these ladies are not the best of friends and their relationships with each other aren't an example of good female friendship. Edith hates Mary because Mary is the pretty one (yes we are required to imagine Edith's lack of attractiveness, because the actress is very pretty) and was engaged to the man Edith hoped would notice her. Mary hates Edith because, well Edith is kind of spiteful and spreads a ruinous (but true) piece of gossip around about her sister. Sybil floats around separately, engaged in the suffragette movement while the others roll their eyes at her political views.
The sister's relationship while troubled and spiteful (I'm still not sure I can forgive Mary what she does in the last episode) is an example of how the world sets awesome ladies against each other, which has a lot of relevance today. Edith and Mary are against each other because society places more value on Mary's version of womanhood (pretty, huge dowry), than it does on Edith's and by virtue of being the less pretty, second sister Edith will live her life as an unwed virgin, left to take care of her parents, when she desperately wants a romance. Mary responds to her jealousy by repeatedly poking at this sore point, ensuring that they're in a perpetual fight. Mary and Edith both find Sybil's politics ridiculous and while there's a definite class aspect to how they respond to her politics, they also find her specifically stupid for being involved in female suffrage, because to them it seems like such a silly cause. The Mary and Edith judge their sisters by what society values in women (a pretty face, money, a lack of interest in politics) although they each have ambitions which would require them to break away from what society requires of a certain kind of woman.
Sybil is just a soft luv, with wonderful, idealistic ideas about politics. She's appalled by the back biting. Everyone loves Sibyl, because she's so uncomplicated in some ways, but Mary and Edith both deserve some love and understanding. Complicated women, with complicated relationships with other women tend to get decried as 'ladies doin' it wrong', because, as always it's easy to blame the individual lady instead of thoroughly investigating how culture messes with their relationships. This is why we're not all sitting round a campfire eating marshmallows and talking about the joy of sisterhood isn't it?! Culture owes me some marshmallows.
Back to Sibyl, because she's fun. Did I tell you she wears harem pants at one point? ARE YOU WATCHING DOWNTON ABBEY YET? The Weird Sisters (Macbeth)
: Sure these ladies are evil (maybe our alliance will be evil, who can tell yet, mwahahaha?) but they're also one of the most powerful female alliances in classic literature. They make plans to meet up and they're always in a group, that says friendship and alliance to me : ) Granny Weatherwax, Nanny Ogg, Magrat
: A funner version of the alliance between the witches in Macbeth, but just as powerful. This combination of witches (which like the Charmed alliance changes one member over The Discworld witches books by Terry Pratchett) starts in 'Wyrd Sisters' but I prefer 'Witches Abroad' as a starting point. What I like so much about this group of three is that you couldn't call it anything but a supportive group, but this support is so no-nonsense that it often doesn't look like traditional female support is supposed to. Granny Weatherwax has no patience for nonsense and while Nanny Ogg is more easy going, she's got a core of steel that comes out if Margrat ever complains too much. In the end though there is a great deal of rough, practical backing that any of the group can call on when they need it. Sisterhood accompanied by a good shake.
Ida Mae, Lilly, Patsy
: These are the three girls from 'Flygirl' by Sherri L Smith, who help each other through make it through flight training. I like their friendship, but I think it's a reminder that sometimes being woman doesn't mean we all share our secrets immediately. Ida can't share everything about herself with her new friends, but again I'm not sure that makes their friendship any less real (although obviously not being able to share key things with your friends has an impact on how close you can be). Sisterhood is a great concept, but it's not an image of perfect utopian relations. Purses lips at the death of one of these ladies. I know when you're writing a WWI narrative someone important almost has to die, but I would have liked them all to make it to the end of the war together. Nic, Battle, Katrina
: I love the girls from 'Empress of the World' by Sara Ryan but I have rattled on for ages now so I'll just say they have such a cute and crazy friendship!
Care to contribute your own favourite groups of three ladies so I can go and add even more things to my tbr list? I would really love to hear about anything where girls are friends in whatever numbers.