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  • Pat Mitchell: So I was thinking about female friendship a lot,

  • and by the way, these two women,

  • I'm very honored to say,

  • have been my friends for a very long time, too.

  • Jane Fonda: Yes we have.

  • PM: And one of the things that I read about female friendship

  • is something that Cervantes said.

  • He said, "You can tell a lot about someone,"

  • in this case a woman,

  • "by the company that she keeps."

  • So let's start with --

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: We're in big trouble.

  • Lily Tomlin: Hand me one of those waters,

  • I'm extremely dry.

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: You're taking up our time.

  • We have a very limited --

  • LT: Just being with her sucks the life out of me.

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: You ain't seen nothing yet.

  • Anyway -- sorry.

  • PM: So tell me, what do you look for in a friend?

  • LT: I look for someone who has a sense of fun,

  • who's audacious,

  • who's forthcoming, who has politics,

  • who has even a small scrap of passion for the planet,

  • someone who's decent, has a sense of justice

  • and who thinks I'm worthwhile.

  • (Laughter)

  • (Applause)

  • JF: You know, I was thinking this morning,

  • I don't even know what I would do without my women friends.

  • I mean it's, "I have my friends, therefore I am."

  • LT: (Laughter)

  • JF: No, it's true.

  • I exist because I have my women friends. They --

  • You're one of them.

  • I don't know about you. But anyway --

  • (Laughter)

  • You know, they make me stronger, they make me smarter,

  • they make me braver.

  • They tap me on the shoulder when I might be in need of course-correcting.

  • And most of them are a good deal younger than me, too.

  • You know? I mean, it's nice -- LT: Thank you.

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: No, I do, I include you in that, because listen, you know --

  • it's nice to have somebody still around to play with and learn from

  • when you're getting toward the end.

  • I'm approaching -- I'll be there sooner than you.

  • LT: No, I'm glad to have you parallel aging alongside me.

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: I'm showing you the way.

  • (Laughter)

  • LT: Well, you are and you have.

  • PM: Well, as we grow older,

  • and as we go through different kinds of life's journeys,

  • what do you do to keep your friendships vital and alive?

  • LT: Well you have to use a lot of --

  • JF: She doesn't invite me over much, I'll tell you that.

  • LT: I have to use a lot of social media --

  • You be quiet now. And so --

  • (Laughter)

  • LT: And I look through my emails, I look through my texts

  • to find my friends,

  • so I can answer them as quickly as possible,

  • because I know they need my counsel.

  • (Laughter)

  • They need my support,

  • because most of my friends are writers, or activists, or actors,

  • and you're all three ...

  • and a long string of other descriptive phrases,

  • and I want to get to you as soon as possible,

  • I want you to know that I'm there for you.

  • JF: Do you do emojis?

  • LT: Oh ... JF: No?

  • LT: That's embarrassing. JF: I'm really into emojis.

  • LT: No, I spell out my --

  • I spell out my words of happiness and congratulations,

  • and sadness.

  • JF: You spell it right out --

  • LT: I spell it, every letter.

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: Such a purist.

  • You know, as I've gotten older,

  • I've understood more the importance of friendships,

  • and so, I really make an effort

  • to reach out and make play dates -- not let too much time go by.

  • I read a lot

  • so, as Lily knows all too well,

  • my books that I like, I send to my friends.

  • LT: When we knew we would be here today

  • you sent me a lot of books about women, female friendships,

  • and I was so surprised to see how many books,

  • how much research has been done recently --

  • JF: And were you grateful? LT: I was grateful.

  • (Laughter)

  • PM: And --

  • LT: Wait, no, it's really important because this is another example

  • of how women are overlooked, put aside, marginalized.

  • There's been very little research done on us,

  • even though we volunteered lots of times.

  • JF: That's for sure.

  • (Laughter)

  • LT: This is really exciting, and you all will be interested in this.

  • The Harvard Medical School study has shown

  • that women who have close female friendships

  • are less likely to develop impairments --

  • physical impairments as they age,

  • and they are likely to be seen to be living much more vital, exciting --

  • JF: And longer --

  • LT: Joyful lives.

  • JF: We live five years longer than men.

  • LT: I think I'd trade the years for joy.

  • (Laughter)

  • LT: But the most important part is they found --

  • the results were so exciting and so conclusive --

  • the researchers found

  • that not having close female friends is detrimental to your health,

  • as much as smoking or being overweight.

  • JF: And there's something else, too --

  • LT: I've said my part, so ...

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: OK, well, listen to my part, because there's an additional thing.

  • Because they only -- for years, decades --

  • they only researched men when they were trying to understand stress,

  • only very recently have they researched what happens to women when we're stressed,

  • and it turns out that when we're stressed -- women,

  • our bodies get flooded by oxytocin.

  • Which is a feel-good, calming, stress-reducing hormone.

  • Which is also increased when we're with our women friends.

  • And I do think that's one reason why we live longer.

  • And I feel so bad for men because they don't have that.

  • Testosterone in men diminishes the effects of oxytocin.

  • LT: Well, when you and I and Dolly made "9 to 5" ...

  • JF: Oh --

  • LT: We laughed, we did, we laughed so much,

  • we found we had so much in common and we're so different.

  • Here she is, like Hollywood royalty,

  • I'm like a tough kid from Detroit,

  • [Dolly's] a Southern kid from a poor town in Tennessee,

  • and we found we were so in sync as women,

  • and we must have --

  • we laughed -- we must have added at least a decade onto our lifespans.

  • JF: I think -- we sure crossed our legs a lot.

  • (Laughter)

  • If you know what I mean.

  • LT: I think we all know what you mean.

  • (Laughter)

  • PM: You're adding decades to our lives right now.

  • So among the books that Jane sent us both to read on female friendship

  • was one by a woman we admire greatly, Sister Joan Chittister,

  • who said about female friendship

  • that women friends are not just a social act,

  • they're a spiritual act.

  • Do you think of your friends as spiritual?

  • Do they add something spiritual to your lives?

  • LT: Spiritual -- I absolutely think that.

  • Because -- especially people you've known a long time,

  • people you've spent time with --

  • I can see the spiritual essence inside them,

  • the tenderness, the vulnerability.

  • There's actually kind of a love, an element of love in the relationship.

  • I just see deeply into your soul.

  • PM: Do you think that, Jane --

  • LT: But I have special powers.

  • JF: Well, there's all kinds of friends.

  • There's business friends, and party friends,

  • I've got a lot of those.

  • (Laughter)

  • But the oxytocin-producing friendships have ...

  • They feel spiritual because it's a heart opening, right?

  • You know, we go deep. And --

  • I find that I shed tears a lot with my intimate friends.

  • Not because I'm sad but because I'm so touched and inspired by them.

  • LT: And you know one of you is going to go soon.

  • (Laughter)

  • PM: Well, two of us are sitting here, Lily, which one are you talking about?

  • (Laughter)

  • And I always think, when women talk about their friendships,

  • that men always look a little mystified.

  • What are the differences, in your opinion,

  • between men friendships and women friendships?

  • JF: There's a lot of difference,

  • and I think we have to have a lot of empathy for men --

  • (Laughter)

  • that they don't have what we have.

  • Which I think may be why they die sooner.

  • (Laughter)

  • I have a lot of compassion for men,

  • because women, no kidding, we --

  • women's relationships, our friendships are full disclosure, we go deep.

  • They're revelatory.

  • We risk vulnerability -- this is something men don't do.

  • I mean how many times have I asked you, "Am I doing OK?"

  • "Did I really screw up there?"

  • PM: You're doing great.

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: But I mean, we ask questions like that

  • of our women friends,

  • and men don't.

  • You know, people describe women's relationships as face-to-face,

  • whereas men's friendships are more side-by-side.

  • LT: I mean most of the time men don't want to reveal their emotions,

  • they want to bury deeper feelings.

  • I mean, that's the general, conventional thought.

  • They would rather go off in their man cave and watch a game or hit golf balls,

  • or talk about sports, or hunting, or cars or have sex.

  • I mean, it's just the kind of -- it's a more manly behavior.

  • JF: You meant -- LT: They talk about sex.

  • I meant they might have sex

  • if they could get somebody in their man cave to --

  • (Laughter)

  • JF: You know something, though, that I find very interesting --

  • and again, psychologists didn't know this until relatively recently --

  • is that men are born every bit as relational as women are.

  • If you look at films of newborn baby boys and girls,

  • you'll see the baby boys just like the girls,

  • gazing into their mother's eyes,

  • you know, needing that relational exchange of energy.

  • When the mother looks away, they could see the dismay on the child,

  • even the boy would cry.

  • They need relationship.

  • So the question is why, as they grow older, does that change?

  • And the answer is patriarchal culture,

  • which says to boys and young men

  • that to be needing of relationship, to be emotional with someone is girly.

  • That a real man doesn't ask directions or express a need,

  • they don't go to doctors if they feel bad.

  • They don't ask for help.

  • There's a quote that I really like,

  • "Men fear that becoming 'we' will erase his 'I'."

  • You know, his sense of self.

  • Whereas women's sense of self has always been kind of porous.

  • But our "we" is our saving grace,

  • it's what makes us strong.

  • It's not that we're better than men,

  • we just don't have our masculinity to prove.

  • LT: And, well --

  • JF: That's a Gloria Steinem quote.

  • So we can express our humanity -- LT: I know who Gloria Steinem is.

  • JF: I know you know who she is, but I think it's a --

  • (Laughter)

  • No, but it's a great quote, I think.

  • We're not better than men, we just don't have our masculinity to prove.

  • And that's really important.

  • LT: But men are so inculcated in the culture

  • to be comfortable in the patriarchy.

  • And we've got to make something different happen.

  • JF: Women's friendships are like a renewable source of power.

  • LT: Well, that's what's exciting about this subject.

  • It's because our friendships --

  • female friendships are just a hop to our sisterhood,

  • and sisterhood can be a very powerful force,

  • to give the world --

  • to make it what it should be --

  • the things that humans desperately need.

  • PM: It is why we're talking about it,