Much has been written about famous Bromances: Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. On the most literal level, the term ‘Bromance’ derives from combining ‘Brother’ and ‘Romance’, but the real origin of the word comes from the almost obsessive need our culture has to delineate gay from straight. There was a time when it was perfectly normal for two men to express affection for each other without anyone assuming there to be a sexual component, but now-a-days all physical and verbal affection between male friends tends to be sublimated into rampant fist bumping and the occasional awkward one-armed demi-hug.
Women are, for the most part, very comfortable expressing affection for each other. Boys have their bromances, but what do we call a close friendship between two women? That’s right… friendship. There isn’t really female equivalent to ‘bromance’, because one isn’t really necessary. We love our friends and are not afraid expressing that love will call our sexuality into question.
Lately, though, I’ve been thinking that I could use a ‘bromancy’ type word to describe my feelings for a select few ladies. Though I absolutely adore my female friends, occasionally I develop feelings for another woman that can only be described as a crush.
If anyone cares, I feel like I should admit that I am disgustingly heterosexual. I’ve always been a little ashamed of how damned straight I am. I didn’t even have an experimental college phase. I never ‘practiced’ kissing any of my friends when I was young. I did once kiss Michele Williams (it was a spin-the-bottle-Dawson’s-Creek-subplot sort of thing) and while I think she is beautiful and talented, the softness of her lips just felt completely unsexy to me. So when I say I occasionally develop a crush on a woman, it isn’t that kind of crush.
I’m talking about an admiration that is a little more intense than is, perhaps, normal. Or mature. For example, when Tina Fey announced she is pregnant with her second child, I got excited. Really, dorkily excited. Which, as a grown woman who has almost zero interest in the lives of celebrities, is sort of ridiculous. Am I friends with Tina Fey? Nope. Have I ever met her? Negative. But do I heart her with a geeky intensity usually associated with tweenage girls and Justin Beiber? Yes, I totally do.
Some women fantasize about a torrid one-night stand with Matt Damon or Robert Pattinson, I daydream about having brunch with Tina Fey. I also really want to go to brunch with Sarah Vowell – and we’d be such great brunch friends because we’re both gluten intolerant! (Yes, I am aware that knowing we share a food allergy pretty much guarantees that I have the sort of fan-girl enthusiasm Sarah Vowell would have little interest enduring over mimosas).
My girl-crushes aren’t exclusive to celebrities either. One of my friends from childhood has a friend on whom I’ve developed a little girl-crush. She’s just awesome. She’s creative and bright and speaks about 5 languages and every time an evite from her shows up in my inbox, I get a little flutter of validation that she thinks I’m cool enough to invite to one of her parties.
If you are a straight woman, crushing on a boy is mostly about the desire to be found attractive by someone you find attractive. The more unattainable the object, the more validating the thought that he’d want you too. It seems to me that a crush on a boy is a fantasy about being chosen. Straight girl-crushes are totally different. Though all crushes are about desire of some kind, when a straight girl develops a crush on a guy, it is about who she desires to be with. When she crushes on a girl, it is about who she desires to be.
Basically the girl-crush is the positive yin to jealousy’s yang. I heart Tina Fey because I would love to be more like her. And I’m okay with that.