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Friendships are considered by some to be all the same. But why is it okay for a girl to embrace another girl with a hug of lovers, like in the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, but a man cannot do that to another man within our society, which occurs in Superbad? Why is it that two girls just as friends can give each other a little kiss but a guy and a girl that are just "friends" can't do it, like in American Pie 2 between Kevin and, his ex, Vicky? There all just friends. There are differences, but also comparisons within these friendships. The complexity of female to female friendships is more than just placing them into two categories (Vicinus, 2007). While male to male interactions became an issue in the late 19th century and still exist (Lamm, 2010). In cross-sex friendships for the friendship to work both of the friends have to have the same perception of the other for the friendship to last (Morry, Reich, & Kito, 2010). In this essay there will be comparisons and differences shown between the different types of friendships that form between men and women. To examine these different types of friendships three movies were chosen with three different types of friendships based on the gender. The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, Superbad and American Pie 2 will be the movies that consist of the different friendships. The friendships will be female to female, male to male and male to female in that order corresponding to the movie order.
Male to Male Friendship
Almost everybody knows the story of Superbad, two high school guy friends trying to get with their high school sweethearts that go through hell just to make it to the same party as them. This is a same sex male friendship. Seth and Evan are as close as two friends can get without being in an intimate relationship but what defines them as an intimate couple or just good friends? The stereotype of men is that you have to be tough and not show emotion so when at school they try to act normal and talk about all the normal stuff that high school kids talk about, but when by themselves they talk about more personal information. A male to male friendship is generally perceived as two just really good friends that do everything together and just perceive each other as friends, but what says they can't be more than friends? A man's love for another man could remain strong throughout the entirety of his life; a male lover could take the place of a wife (Lamm, 2010). Although Seth and Evan, the stars of the male friendship in Superbad, only share a non intimate friendship that doesn't mean that they couldn't become intimate. An intimate relationship just needs trust, a certain perception of the other and an attraction towards the other. These, although they sound difficult to have occurred between men, are not that difficult to come by in a male to male friendship. Most close male friendships consists of all that is needed to occur in an intimate relationships between a man and a woman. For an intimate relationship to occur there needs to be trust, openness and some sort of an attraction towards the other person. This attraction can be either that of an attraction of the personality or that of a physical attraction. For instance in Superbad there was an instance when Seth's and Evan's friendship was strained because they had conflicting ideas and they both ended up going their separate ways, but in the end they got back together as friends because of the compassion for each other. Problems can occur though in male to male friendships and not be resolved. If one male friend becomes infatuated with his male friend and the other friend doesn't feel the same way the friendship will be terminated. Although same sex friendships can end up being very successful, for instance, if both friends understand their role in the relationship as either just good friends or both feel infatuated towards each other the friendship can be very successful. Also a male to male friendship can be very successful because males tend to understand another male better because they feel like they have gone through the same thing. Male to male friendships can be very successful and very disastrous, but can work.
Male to Female Friendship
American Pie 2 is a classic comedy of a group of friends living the dream, going out onto Lake Michigan, renting a huge house for the summer and throwing a huge party. There's a male to female friendship that occurs between one kid from the group of friends named Kevin and between his ex girlfriend, Vicky, that shows up to Lake Michigan for the party and wants to start up a friendship with her ex, Kevin. In these cross sex friendships the way the friends look at each other has to be almost identical. Their perceptions must be the same or there will be no success in the friendship. If the male sees the female as a beautiful looking girl but doesn't see himself being able to have a relationship with her then his perception is just as friends, but if he is infatuated by her and wants to be intimate with her then the female is going to have to feel the same way or the friendship won't work because everything would change perception wise about the two. This also means that the male thinks that the girl is better than him or he rates her higher than himself which can in turn be bad, but also good for the relationship (Morry, Reich, & Kito, 2010). For instance; in the beginning of the movie when Kevin first meets back up with Vicky and she wants to just be friends with him, but Kevin takes this as a sign that she wants to get back together. Kevin then tries to make a move on Vicky by kissing her, but she says this isn't what I want. They talk it out and eventually he says he's fine with just being friends, but he is always doing the stuff that he would do when they were in a relationship. At the end of the movie Vicky shows up with a guy friend that she has a thing with and Kevin becomes upset and leaves. He talks it out with his friends though and he goes back to the party, talks it out with Vicky, understand his role and his new perception of her because he doesn't want to lose her and they become good friends. This may just be a movie, but in all aspects the situation is very real and occurs almost on a daily basis. This was an example of a successful friendship between a male and a female. Although not all male to female friendships end up working out. Some will end up with the same type of situation occurring, either the male or female will not like the perception that is places toward them and will end with a termination of the friendship. Once a situation like this occurs it becomes very difficult for any healing of the friendship to occur because the perceptions have been set toward the other person and more than likely one of the friends will not want to take the effort to put the friendship back together. Male to female friendships can be very complex, but there are potential successes that can occur in cross sex friendships.
Female to Female Friendship
The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants is a dramatic comical movie that displays four girls that go different directions, but use a pair of pants that keep them all connected. Women can be very close to each other even intimate with each other, but it is fairly uncommon for women to love one another (Vicinus, 2007). So because of this women have been placed into two separate categories, lesbians or just friends. Female to female friendships are much more complex than just that though. Women tend to become very close to everything so they are very comfortable with being open and when they become open with a friend of the same sex. Since women are generally more open than men they will, as an effect of this, become closer to a woman than what a man would become with another man. In our society women can engage in an intimate hug or kiss with another woman and nobody seems to even bother with it because it has become almost a rule that if two women kiss it is merely as friends. So why would a female to female friendship be able to do this, but not a man to female friendship. Because it has become so common for a women to do these things that doing them will not change their perception towards one another, while if a man tried to do this to his girl that's just a friend she would take it as he wants to get it on with her. Although there are women that are attracted to other women because their view of perception changes over time while hanging out with a certain individual and therefore you would see them become more infatuated and more open with this person. In many ways male to male and female to female friendships are very similar in all aspects, but because of the society we live in it is alright for women to be closer to each other than men. In the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants there are 4 different women with similar friendships towards each other. These women are very close to one another, but show no intimate signs of wanting to be with one another, so they are an example of a normal friendship which is what Vicinus was trying to lead us to. Female to female relationships can be very successful if the perception is clear and the friendship is open.
Basically all of these friendships are based on the perception of one person to the other. If the perception is off or not the same the friendship won't last and it will be very difficult to rebuild it once it is broken. A friendship isn't just based on what the two friends think about you either. It's about how society looks at the relationship, and if society doesn't like what it sees then more than likely the friendship will crumble because the perception on them becomes too much for them to handle from society. All friendships are in general the same type of friendship, but they all have a certain type of perception placed upon them. They are all alike in many ways, but also different.
Morry, M., Reich, T., & Kito, M.. (2010). How Do I See You Relative to Myself? Relationship Quality as a Predictor of Self- and Partner-Enhancement Within Cross-Sex Friendships, Dating Relationships, and Marriages. The Journal of Social Psychology, 150(4), 369-92.
Lamm, Z. (2010). Many love: romantic friendship in american fiction. Nineteenth Century Literature,65(2), 272-276.
Vicinus, M. (2007). Normalizing female friendship.Indiana University Press Autumn, 50(1), 81-87