Friday, September 28, 2018

The problem with Sisterhood

I have no sisters by blood.  I have two half brothers who aren't really a part of my life, and who have never, not once, tried to learn anything about me.  I've always wanted sisters, and I've come to truly appreciate those women in my life who fill the role of sisters. 

About a year ago I joined a group that promised sisterhood. Today, I'm reminded that sisterhood is problematic in Western women, especially of the upper and middle classes.  We're supposed to celebrate together, be visible and appealing together, but we have no responsibility to each other.  It becomes a superficial club that caters to vanity. Sisterhoods, as formal groups, are often lacking in the biggest part of actual sisterhood- support.  Sisters should hold each other in times of crisis, in moments of pain, and help us to hold ourselves together when we're falling apart.  This group I joined is all love and light until such time as anyone has need of actual empathy, support or discussion, then the charge of "too political" gets levied and the censors jump in and sweep it away.  It pleases the shallow souls who want to feel good all the time, those who cannot look beyond themselves, and makes like tidier for them, but for others, it creates pain and distrust.

There are many women who embody true sisterhood, and they are shining examples to us all.  They are the women who sit with you silently when you express your pain or anger. They are the friends who bring you food while you're sick, and the ones who give thoughtful critique when you chase your dreams.  They are the women who glance at the news headlines and know that you might be triggered, and call to check on you. They are the people who sit on the floor with you and giggle at silliness after helping you drink an entire bottle of Moscato.  They are the ones who stay up talking all night with you because it's been so long since you had time to catch up with them.  They are the people who call you for advice or an ear to bend or shoulder to cry on because they trust you to be there for them.

Sisterhood is only powerful when it embraces both the celebrations and the responsibilities of the role.  Without that balance, sisterhood is a membership card that collects dust in your wallet. It's useless, symbolic of nothing, and ultimately, self-defeating.

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