Alliances are groupings that serve multiple functions.

Definition from Wikipedia: “An alliance is an agreement or friendship between two or more parties, made in order to advance common goals and to secure common interests.”

In the context of human relations between same-sex groups, there is a different dynamic that is at play.

Within groups of men, the alliance is congruent with the definition above. This seems to be because men tend to be concrete, and what you see is pretty much what you get. Men tend to also deal with other men at only a superficial level, so the alliance doesn’t permeate very far. For example, if men are allied by a formal military treaty, then the alliance relates only to the military aspect of their relations.  It has little or no bearing on how their families work or what kind of food is eaten.

Women, on the other hand, form alliances differently. Alliances are formed one member at a time by another member.  Once the alliance is formed, communication between individual members is at multiple levels. In this way, the breaking of alliances is a very complex process, because it involves severing of ties at different levels. Alliances, for women, serve multiple purposes. The bigger the alliance, the wider the sphere of influence of its members. Alliances are functional things, and the function of the female alliance is not to conquer other alliances, but to incorporate new unaligned members. Membership in the alliance is by personal selection. Existing members of the alliance invite other women to come in. Sometimes a women who is not a member of the alliance may seek entry into the alliance, however she can only gain entry into the alliance if “sponsored” by another alliance member.

Alliances of women also have male members, however, males are completely unaware that:
1) they belong to the alliance, or,
2) have any control over the workings of the alliance.
By and large, male participation seems to be honorary and utilitarian. However, as males are unaware that they belong (in a possessive sense) to an alliance, they may violate some of the communication and behaviour rules of the alliance. When they do this, women in the alliance may see this as a betrayal, because they too are unaware that the male is unaware of the violation (and indeed of his membership in the alliance itself).

Women see the boundaries of alliances everywhere. As such, they tread carefully because the repercussions of crossing an alliance can be severe. Men see nothing of this and behave as though they see nothing of this too.  Often, when a man is confronted by a woman for the “violation” of the alliance, he is just so confused.