Friends, we need to talk about sisterhood.
Today, I stumbled across this uplifting post by one of my literary-lifestyle heroes, Liz Gilbert. In it, she poses for a silly selfie with Glennon Doyle Melton, another one of my author-lifestyle heroes. I do so loathe the solo-selfie craze, don’t you? Yet, I “get it” when it comes to posing with friends. I understand that we want to memorialize these moments in digital format. I appreciate the glimpse of two (or more) souls who have connected for a moment in time for the purpose of being in fellowship and sisterhood together. When I speak of sisterhood, I do mean women. There’s something special about women, but I also speak more broadly. I figure, if “brotherhood” could masquerade as a reference to “all people” but really mean all men, then sisterhood ought to have that same power.
This was the caption to my re-post of Liz’s photo on Facebook:
Can we talk about the incredible sisterhood being built, celebrated, and fostered by these beautiful souls and their contemporaries? Do we need to discuss how overwhelmingly comforting it is that there’s a group of strong, creative, loving women out there FOR each other instead of competing against each other? Can we all emulate this sisterhood in our daily lives, stretching it to include women of all races, ethnicities, faiths, and orientations? Can we just celebrate each other all the time? Because this is why I’m here. #bethebestyou #loveallthepeople #supportoneanother #sisterhood
This is why I’m here. Sisterhood. Community. Love. Compassion. Forgiveness. Why do we not do more of this? I’d like to think that Liz, Glennon, Amy Poehler, Tina Fey, etc. are working to change the stereotypical “chick” fight foolishness that is perpetuated throughout our society. The petty, childish, high-school, catty image that many (even many women) still believe exists between us grates on me. This is only a “thing” if we make it one. It only exists as long as we allow it to. It needn’t continue. We have the power to end it.
When we talk about peace, when we preach about love and compassion, when we admonish hate, I think we often forget that it begins with sisterhood. It starts with relationships between human beings who seek genuine community. This can happen in church. It can happen at school. It can happen in our neighborhoods. It can happen online. Too often it doesn’t. Too often online society perpetuates this female-cannibalization, pitting woman against woman because that’s what we have historically done. Not just women, but men, too. When our ends necessitate the destruction of our “competition”–whether in work, love, family matters, friendship, religion, international relations, leisure activities–it has a tendency to lead to our mutual destruction rather than to our own success.
If we are to behave like full participants in this human experiment, then we need to stick together. The leaders and armies who perpetuate the status quo will always be there to try to tear you down. Those people might be men, but they might also be women who are hell-bent on being the only woman in the room. You do not have to be a part of the status quo. You do not have to continue to languish in the way things have always been. You have a voice and you have the option to decide. Be bold in your love and compassion. Be brave with every step you take. Cheer for your contemporaries, the women who came before you, and those who follow. Root for one another and work together. Refuse to let anyone tell you that you cannot. You can. “You’d be surprised what can’ts you can when you must” and what help and support you can be to others who “can’t.” Be there. Love. We belong to each other.
A note on race: I know I’ve mentioned primarily white women here, but I do not mean to exclude the incredible sisterhood that has thrived between women of other races and ethnicities. I’m thinking especially of those I know somewhat well: Oprah Winfrey, Maya Angelou (God rest her soul), Malala, and Rayya Elias. There are more, of course, and that world is only beginning to open up to me. [Remember that when you read my words, they are those of a newly-progressive, former-conservative pale white girl born in the city, but raised Amish Country Pennsylvania, in an interracial marriage who is exploring, striving to understand, and speaking up. I am not fully evolved. I am not perfect.]