I’ve enjoyed reading Juliet Lapidos’s series of essays on platonic friendship. My best friends have usually been women, come to think of it, and knock on wood, I have yet to experience a cross-gender friendship being ruined by sexual frustration or unrequited love. It’s never seemed like a complicated balancing act in my mind, but as one of those friends once said to me:
Society at large, however, seems to feel that if you share a passion for anything — well then! Eyebrows are raised, sly glances shared.
It does seem like the default assumption is that guys are either fucking every slightly attractive woman they see, or at least plotting to do so. I blame that quack Freud. As does Joseph Epstein:
Eroticizing everything, as is their wont, Freudians find that much close male friendship is at its core homoerotic, while the notion of male-female friends outside sexual interest is generally inconceivable to Freudians, who not so secretly believe that all men wish to do with women is jump their bones.…If I believed in Freud, I could not have written a book on friendship, because friendship doesn’t quite exist for Freudians; sexual appetite, evident or obscured, washes it away. Fortunately, I do not believe in Freud. In fact, I have come to believe instead that Freudian psychoanalysts, like Germany after WWII, ought to be made to pay reparations to their poor patient-victims.…The notion that two healthy people of the opposite sex cannot meet regularly and talk about important things without eventually falling into bed with each other is part of the fading but still enduring Freudian heritage. All other Freudian ideas – from the Oedipus complex to feces being symbolic of money – have been laughed out of the court of reason and empirical science, but the notion that at bottom (also at middle and at top), we are sexual beings, ready at the least chance to have at it, has not. A good Freudian is likely to consider most friendships between a man and a woman as erotic, and for that matter close friendships between people of the same sex as homoeroticism, more or less disguised.
As if harboring, on some level, the unavoidable realization that “Hey, my female friend really is a slammin’ hottie,” contaminates and invalidates the pure, otherworldly essence of the friendship. It’s not that the mere idea of sex with my female friends is repulsive; it’s that it would possibly change the dynamic of the relationship in ways that aren’t worth the risk. Why is that not allowed to stand as a valid objection to sexualizing the relationship? Why are our basest urges always taken to be more real, honest and meaningful than our reflective ones? Why is it so blithely assumed that biological attraction will always overpower philosophical restraint?