In Bad Feminist, Roxane Gay wrote on female friendships, “Abandon the cultural myth that all female friendships must be bitchy, toxic, or competitive. This myth is like heels and purses — pretty but designed to SLOW women down.” Patriarchy teaches us to internalize misogyny, to view ourselves as in competition with our fellow woman. In mainstream media, this cultural attitude is weaponized most rampantly against women of colour. It’s a powerful moment when a girl begins unlearning the sexist conditioning she’s been raised with, because at the heart of all female friendships is a bond that can quite literally save lives.
Women’s lifespans in comparison to men’s are longer, something that has been credited to the strength and support they find in their friendships. Studies have shown that the deep bond women share with one another is directly correlated to their mental health and even their ability to recovery from major health conditions. A study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology found that women with early-stage breast cancer were more likely to survive if they were supported by a large group of friends. Those without a large group of friends were four times more likely to die from cancer.
Women lean on their friends for emotional support, to hold each other accountable, and to celebrate in each other’s wins. We mirror each other’s values and the strength of our own character can be largely attributed to the company we choose to keep, so we choose our girlfriends wisely. We are reminded of the abundance found in camaraderie, good company, and sisterhood in the Three of Cups.
From the Japanese Sukeban to India’s Gulabi Gang, the Three of Cups represents every rebellious girl gang that has existed at every stage of human civilization. On film, we see the essence of this card depicted in Charlie’s Angels to Mean Girls, to the underlying feminist thought of Coyote Ugly. The Three of Cups asks us to set aside time this week to celebrate our witches covens.
Men can also benefit from female friendships, or in adapting more feminine values in their friend groups. There is an epidemic of loneliness amongst men that has proven to be fatal. Women are more likely to survive a bad divorce because of the strength of support they find in their friends. Women’s friendships can last a lifetime, and throughout their marriages, they continue to invest in them. Men, however, can find themselves drifting from their friends in marriage, unable to recall when was the last time they saw those they consider to be their closest friends. I once read a devastating article that delved into the phenomena of men who were discovered deceased in their apartments months after they'd passed, their desk drawers filled with unsent letters written to all the old friends, acquaintances, and family members they so desperately wanted to reach out to, but never found the courage. It cost them their lives. The Three of Cups teaches men in particular that it’s absolutely vital to seek out and value female friendship, and to instigate that form of emotional intimacy in their male friendships.