In The Four Loves, Lewis theorizes that the origins of male friendship lie in the common purposes of tribal life, particularly hunting.
Long before history began we men have got together apart from the women and done things. We had to…We not only had to do the things, we had to talk about them. We had to plan the hunt and the battle. When they were over we had to hold a post mortem and draw conclusions for future use. We liked this even better. We ridiculed or punished the cowards and bunglers, we praised the star-perfomers. We revelled in technicalitites.
Lewis’s speculations got me thinking about women’s friendship and a potential unwritten history. Perhaps women’s friendship (at it’s best) is more warm, more encouraging, less competitive, less jovially critical because our “tribal” relationship is based on collectively enduring great pain. What is more irreducibly feminine than suffering greatly in the inevitable pain of reproduction? We don’t need and cannot bear critique of technicalities in childbirth. No woman would suffer a critic in the room as she labors. Even afterwards analysis must be limited. We tell our stories – much like war stories – to be heard and to bear witness and not to ridicule or punish. Failure is already unbearable – we will not endure “ribbing.”