Female Mateship

Hi Guys - LOVE your site!

RE mates, mateship and colloquial use in relation to women: i have found that among my circle of female friends, we refer to ourselves as mates. ie, they're my mates when referred to collectively.  But you're right about the direct address thing - women don't call each other 'mate'.  And I've found that they only call blokes 'mate' when they don't know them, or when
they're telling them where to go ("back off mate" etc etc).

However, what I have also discovered among my girly mates, is that we generally use "matey" when addressing each other..ie, where blokes use mate, chicks use matey.  Perhaps it's just a feminisation of a male word, because it's used in almost identical context and lacks the association of years of male-dominated history (I mean, lets face it, a lot of the connotations of mateship hark back to the goldfields, and the diggers and all that which is celebrated - and there weren't any girls there, were there?).  Or perhaps my drunken mates and i came out with it under the influence, found it amusing and it's stuck?

Either way, thought you might like to know.


Cat, Brisvegas, 24 May 2000

I use the term “matey” with my girlfriends, particularly when greeting over the phone, when the drawn out “mateeeeee!” is considered appropriate. But I’ve also found that here in Sydney, it’s quite common to be addressed as mate by men, surprisingly by younger men. I’m undeniably female, so they’re not confusing me with a bloke! I like it – it’s friendly, informal, warm and genuine... very Australian. I do know some women who don’t like being called mate, ‘cause it seems to undermine their sense of femininity. I know who I am, and I’m comfortable with being an Aussie woman. Call me mate, anytime.

Kerri, Sydney, September 2004

Mate is not regarded as a gendered word in the north and is used to whomever could be regarded as a mate.  Also, a mate of either gender could be applauded with a 'Geez mate you're a good bloke.'

Robin Anscomb, Cape York (North Qld), 29 January 2000

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