He’s fun, trust-worthy, and supportive, plus you don’t have to compete with him. He’s your gay best friend–and he’s in demand. Thus begins Teen Vogue’s horrifying discussion of a new trend sweeping pubescent females across the nation: the gay best friend (GBF). And according to the teenage fashion bible, GBFs are this season’s must-have accessory, because girls just can’t be friends with other girls.
While the mini-glossy certainly tries to toe the “We’re Not Stereotyping, Promise!” line — highlighting “experts” who caution against “tokenism” and “exploitation” — where they really fall down is in their undermining description of female relationships across the board, though, per their purview, they put some extra emphasis on high school.
To whit: good female friends who aren’t frenemies — or enemies in disguise — are almost impossible to find, because even psychology says that women are hard-wired to be competitive with each other “whether it’s over looks, weight, boyfriends, or clothes.” And yes, that’s a quote from Jennifer Gray, Ph.D.
I’m not denying that frenemies happen, or that I’ve never been bitchily envious of a friend’s looks, or life, or boyfriend, but presenting these occurrences as a fact of female friendship instead of what they are — specific feelings and interactions held by specific people at specific times — is, quite frankly, disingenuous and unfair to the female sex.
Women can be friends with other women. In fact, that’s probably the most common kind of female friendship there is. But the way Teen Vogue spins this article, one would think there wasn’t a true female friendship anywhere, ever. Even editor in chief Amy Astley adds a note at the bottom, which we’ve excerpted here, emphasis ours:
Ed note: Friendships with other girls–even the healthiest and most supportive of relationships–are always a teeny bit complicated. I hate to admit it, but I feel like a tiny troll next to one of my besties, who is as tall and stunning as a supermodel; another good pal is so outrageously successful that one can’t help but seem a bit of an underachiever in comparison. And that’s the problem: We girls compare ourselves to one another, and it can just get a bit . . . intense. Thank goodness for gay best friends. I treasure my GBFs–I live in New York City; I have many, many!–because they are noncompetitive and nonjudgmental, and we make each other feel accepted and cherished.
Did you get that? Even Amy Astley, who is super successful and super awesome, is jealous of her best friend and her good pal, while its a fact — a fact — that GBF’s “are noncompetitive and nonjudgmental” and they never make you feel like anything other than “accepted and cherished.”
And there’s the rub. Frenemies are frenemies because, well, that’s who they are. They are people who are not good friends and who don’t really care about you — they are not frenemies because they are female.
And I’ll be honest, I’m kind of shocked that Teen Vogue was unable to find (or didn’t even bother looking) for a “case” in which a female friend found her GBF was actually a frenemy. Because I’ve had one of those. And I know other people who’ve had one of those. And I’ve also had frenemies who were straight males. And I bet there are women out there who have lesbian frenemies. Or, hey, transsexual frenemies. What about them?
And so, while Teen Vogue tries so hard to avoid encouraging tokenism (“No one deserves to be treated like a passing fad or arm candy!”), by claiming certain personality traits are directly related to sexual orientation — gay males make better friends than females — they’re doing, well, exactly that.
is a gbf (gay best friend) the new must-have accessory for teen girls? [Teen Vogue]