Recently I watched a television show where we, the audience, were introduced to the mother of one of the main characters as well as to the mother’s friend and roommate, another woman. I was somewhat annoyed at myself for knowing that “friend” and “roommate” were code words for a sexual relationship, but sure enough, as the episode progressed, I was proven correct.
As I later reflected on this admittedly small part of the episode, I realized why it bothered me so much. It wasn’t merely because I disagreed with the type of relationship portrayed; I run into that on television all the time and it rarely causes me to spend any time thinking about it later. I think most of us at Ricochet could agree that we’ve hashed out the topics of gay marriage and same-sex relationships more than enough times. At this point, we each know where we stand and minds are unlikely to change, so I want to take this discussion in a different direction.
Last month tabula rasa wrote about the decline of “Innocent Relationships Between Old Men and Children.” I think that those are not the only types of relationships that have suffered in our current culture. There seems to be, dare I say it, a “war on friendship,” where every relationship is looked at with suspicion and/or the assumption that it is something it’s not -- to the point where just saying someone is a friend apparently indicates a lot more, as evidenced in the scene I recounted above.
Increasingly, we live in a society that sexualizes every relationship. Society seems no longer to remember that there can be any kind of bond, closeness, even love, without a sexual component—without, at the very least, a sexual attraction. Too often today, relationships between men, between women, between men and women, between children and adults, are all looked on with suspicion or assumed to be more than friendship.
Ricochet has a lot of readers, so think about some of the great friendships portrayed in literature or even history. (Tabula Rasa, feel free to throw out some examples for us.) Of course, many of those relationships have been reinterpreted by the Women & Gender Studies department at your local state university. Leaving that aside though, could friendships like those be written of today? Could the minds of people in today’s culture conceive of a deep loving friendship that didn’t involve sex? Has the culture at large forgotten that there is such a thing as friends without benefits?
Has anyone else noticed this trend? Am I the only one who thinks a war on friendship is an overlooked side effect of the culture wars?