Female Friendship : The Time of the Tribes

Female Friendship : The Time of the Tribes Chloe Peacock

13th May 20162Comments
child free childfree by circumstance childfree by choice

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship and specifically female friendship. The League of Fabulous Women has four core values: FRIENDSHIP – HONESTY – TOUGHNESS – KINDNESS, so obviously the nature of friendship is an idea that’s on my mind most of the time. Also, and I can’t say too much yet but I’ll be talking indepth to a lovely friend of tlfw very soon on their amazing podcast series, about the role of female friendship and the importance of different types of connections in our lives which make a difference to our overall wellbeing. We might even get into a bit of Aristotle if you’re lucky! More of this imminently…

So what also happened was at the beginning of this week another firm friend and a former boss of mine sent me a link to a great article from ‘Squad’ if you don’t know is the slang word used typically by Gen Z to refer to their female friendship groups and sense of solidarity. The Elle article suggests that the ideology behind #squadgoals is out of date or culturally passé. Squad goals – as the Elle article claims is a bit ‘mean girls’ because by being included in a squad, you’re necessarily excluded from another and actively excluding women from your group. I agree, it doesn’t sound positive or kind when you put it like does it?

In real life squads hinge somewhat on aspiring to certain commoditised values, celebrity lifestyles and image, regrettably focusing perhaps too much on superficial achievements, and how we look and dress. The article on is a discussion around a piece of recent research I love, conducted by advertising agency JWT on #FemaleTribes examining the values of contemporary women.

Over all the campaign aims to understand and appreciate the value of female capital and ‘celebrate the achievements of women rather than define them according to their responsibilities’.

JWT have identified a coda or categories of twenty global contemporary groupings, of what they’re calling Female Tribes. If you want to feel moved and encouraged –I thoroughly recommend reading the high profile women’s stories on the JWT website. Be inspired by the likes of the first ever-female film director from Saudi Arabia, a campaigner against arranged teenage marriage, female philanthropists, or former Russian cosmonaut.

All this makes me think of the ongoing research and focus groups we’ve been doing with our members, plus a really interesting book I read and re-read numerous times when I was studying for my PhD. Maffesoli’s   The Time of the Tribes The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society had a big influence on my thinking when I,myself, was researching neotribes. In this book the controversial French sociologist examined the relationship between group’s identity, consumption, brands and lifestyle. Maffesoli writes, ‘Within the mass, one runs across, bumps into and brushes against others, interaction is established, crystallises, and groups form’ (Maffesoli 1996, p73). If you’re interested in this type of research I recommend the book.

Maffesoli, M. (1996) (translated by Don Smith), The Time of Tribes. The Decline of Individualism in Mass Society .Theory Culture and Society series. Sage

Some tlfw members. Childfree for whatever reason: our female tribe.

Back to the JWT research: here’s the important and interesting point for us

JWT wants to dispel the myths that women are defined by motherhood and marriage, and instead unlock the true economic value women have in business (once a typically ‘male’ environment)

Observably this includes our lovely mummy friends who don’t want to be 100% defined by their roles as mothers, and recognised for their achievements in business and other contributions to society. But yey! It includes us – we the childfree. I’m excited that at least some of the advertising and marketing industry seems to be finally getting their heads around acknowledging the one in five (soon to be one four) women of child-bearing age in this country for what ever reason – do not have children. We’ve talked before on this blog about marketing clichés and the omnipresence of mummy-marketing, that ignores us childfree powerful consumers. Remember Penny’s post on ‘Mummy Marketing’ ?

As Penny said in the post

Yes, it’s true that more adult women have children than not and that marketeers see them as a demographic to tap. Yet to market solely to mothers rather than women […] ignores a swathe of the female population, and one that may be richer than their childbearing sisters due to not having the expenses of parenthood.



The League of Fabulous Women was born of an idea to offer friendship and support to women without children  – for fun and socialising.

We’re committed to supporting each other, positive thinking, being the best we can be and having a good time. If you’re childfree and would like to join us – we’d love to have you. Find out how on our connecting page


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