By Valentine Lacour
Sisterhood and Feminism
If nature hasn’t gifted you with sisters at birth, I have one piece of advice: choose yourself some and stick with them! A sense of sisterhood can develop with a range of women in your life – your “symbolic” sisters – including your cousins, friends, relatives, or colleagues.
Although, in 2020 women and men are more equal than they have ever been, we still have a long way to go to find ourselves on the same step as our male counterparts.
Yet, there are many more “firsts” women are yet to achieve: we are still waiting for the first woman to land on the moon (currently planned for 2024!). These major accomplishments are the results of decades of feminism and the actions of a sisterhood of women.
What is Sisterhood?
The use of the word “sisterhood” with a feminist implication, started in the early 1970s with books such as Robin Morgan’s Sisterhood is Powerful. Morgan’s publication explains the power of women supporting women and its positive impact on the evolution of women’s rights and freedom. Some associate the term “sisterhood” with more ancient traditions. For instance, the middle ages’ covens of witches (usually women with medical knowledge or other skills seen as threatening to men) and “salons” of women during the 17th and 18th centuries (intellectual women would meet to talk about literature, politics, and other social matters) could be considered as sisterhood communities.
I personally like the modern definition of the Mexican anthropologist Marcela Lagarde who says that Sisterhood is:
“a friendship between women who become allies to work together, a commitment to reach goals whilst feeling free and strong together.” – (translated from the French).
In modern times, sisterhood is something that can be experienced every day and from a young age. In my case, it started at home with my actual sisters. Growing up, I was encouraged to create strong ties with my sisters. We would share secrets, cover up each other’s mess, or simply be a shoulder to cry on. Although I only have two sisters, I feel like quoting Daisy Buchanan’s words in The Sisterhood: A Love Letter to the Women Who Have Shaped Us:
“My five sisters are the only women I would ever kill for. And they are the only women I have ever wanted to kill.”
I’m grateful for having known what sisterhood means since day one and I have benefited from it over course of my life.
Women are your strongest allies.
Why aren’t we encouraged to cultivate sisterhood?
However, I know that not everyone grows up in an environment that encourages them to cultivate sisterhood. Once adult, it seems much harder to create new friendships and especially with other women because we are not taught to do so.
Let me explain.
The myth of the “Mean Girl”
In popular culture, girls are often portrayed as enemies. At school, the “outsider girl” is rejected. Then, in high school, the “popular girls”, also known as Mean Girls (thank you Regina George) are bullies. Girls seem to be in constant competition, for popularity, attention, or worse… for a boy.
This incessant reminder that girls can’t be trusted, that girls stab each other in the back is harmful.
Whilst this is only a caricature, the stereotype has been internalised by generations of young girls who end up growing resentment for other women. Not only does it not encourage women to support each other but it also influences them to bring each other down.
So how can we change this pattern, to make the world a better place for ALL women?
How to improve your sisterhood?
Because I know it’s hard to change long time habits, here are some tips to help you improve your sense of sisterhood (they all work for me!)
1. Be kind to yourself and other women
Above all – I can’t stress this more – being kind to yourself will help you to be kind to other women. Your kindness will always be well received. From my experience, it brings more positive energy and people to your life. What helps me is to remind myself that – as the great queen of R&B Rihanna once said – even if “all of my kindness, is taken for weakness”, my affection for my sisters makes me a better person.
2. Stop feeling threatened by other women
So, perhaps due to a lack of self-love or social pressure, many women feel threatened by other women. On the one hand, women have been told all their lives that girls are mean to each other and on the other hand, women tend to project their own insecurities onto other girls by comparing themselves. Playing this self-destructing game of comparison leads nowhere.
Start by loving yourself more and you will see all the potential in female friendships.
3. Become “sisters”, become allies
Once again, (I’m sorry to push at an open door here), but thinking about other women as “sisters” (even symbolically) can benefit you. Supporting one woman is advocating for all women. Indeed, no need to remind you that we live in a world full of inequalities and gender discrimination. A world where, in 2019 in the UK, women were still paid on average 17.3% less than men in equal positions of work, where possessing an equal level of education.
So support your sisters! And remember, when you support one woman you also invest in yourself.
Shop our “sisterhood” edit
Moreover, since the holiday season is coming, I have selected for you a collection of gifts to empower your badass sisters!
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