While I’ve enjoyed plenty of evenings out with female friends, I’ve never especially appreciated any outing billed specifically as a “girls’ night out” (GNO). The whole concept — including its male counterpart, the “guys’ night out” — just seems strange to me. Perhaps it’s because self-segregation has always struck me as silly, or perhaps it’s because being an Iranian-American Muslim bipolar feminist rarely affords me the luxury of fully self-segregating anywhere. Whatever the reason, I’ve grown to hate these gatherings and avoid them whenever possible.
As someone who has female, male and trans friends, I find such forced exclusivity annoying, antiquated and childish. I understand the inclination, the longing for a sense of unity and solidarity, and all that. I get it. Truly I do.
But in my experience, GNOs frequently achieve the exact opposite. In fact, they often revolve around men: talking about them, impressing them, enduring their overtures, laughing at them, and yes, even picking them up. Furthermore, the incidence of GNOs — at least in my limited experience — tends to be directly proportional to the incidence of breakups in a given female friend cohort. While I’m happy to support a sister through a breakup or any other hardship, I don’t consider clubbing or bar hopping while intentionally excluding male friends to be the healthiest or most effective way of doing so. It just strikes me as counterproductive and passive-aggressive, not to mention dumb.
Recently, a friend of mine was organizing a bachelorette party — in many ways, the ultimate GNO — and an intense debate arose among the invitees over whether to include one of the bride’s closest friends on the guest list on account of his Y-chromosome. One woman vehemently opposed the idea, another protested until she found out he was gay, and the rest of us couldn’t have cared less, whatever his sexual orientation.
That tally and the shared indifference it implied gave me hope. Could it be that I am in the majority? Could it be that most women don’t especially enjoy GNOs? Could it be that we’ve persisted in attending these absurd and outdated outings simply as a result of some misplaced desire to preserve tradition or demonstrate courtesy?
I’ve never shared the opinions herein with any GNO-organizers, even though there have been times when I wished to invite a male friend to come along. Having never hosted a GNO, I assumed that my vote carried little weight, and what’s more, I didn’t want to seem rude or disrespectful. It isn’t the place of a perpetual guest to protest the invitation list. Or is it? If that list is inherently discriminatory, why not?
I recognize that there are some who consider their GNOs sacred, and to them I say, go ahead and keep organizing them. Just don’t invite me.