SISTERHOOD! IN CRISIS?
This article started as a something about us bringing each other down. The more I researched I found that this seemed more of an issue among us women. Are we really that horrible to each other? I will say that is how I felt at the beginning. As women we do not like each other. Not really. We like certain relatives of ours, certain friends of ours but as a group I think not. Our words do not reflect of actions.
We talk about the sisterhood like this tight guild, but we do so many evil things to each other. We gossip about each other, spread lies about each other, we make each other feel bad just because the other does not dress like us or is not as pretty as us and worse we have affairs with our best friends husbands. What is it about us that is so horrible? Do we have a crisis on our hands? Is this issue blown out of proportion? Does the sisterhood actually exist? Many questions; any answers?
Is there a place for an organized movement in this day and age? Have we come so far that we can now battle it out on our own? One could argue that with a right to vote and earn a salary what more do women want? On the one hand women are fighting for respect and the right to be treated as equals on all facets of life. But then we also want to be treated like a lady, have our doors opened for us, our chairs pulled up and all sorts of chivalry. Are we asking for too much? The argument goes that we are contradicting ourselves. Is it fair to expect men to treat you like a lady but then demand equality accorded all men? Contradiction? Tough this is not the case with most women, there is a breed of women who want it both ways. They demand to be an equal at work and in the home but have no shame playing the damsel in distress card. Mixed signals alright!
The one thing that I feel is not reflected especially in the militant of feminists is that feminism is a fight for women to be treated with respect but that can be in so many ways. A woman has the right to be respected for being a CEO of a large conglomerate as well as the mother of a family of seven. What we fail sometimes to realize is the feminist movement comprised women of all standing but they came together to fight for the right to be, the right to choose. Some women were pro-life, others pro-choice; liberals as well as conservative. But they had a common goal! It is unfair for anyone especially women to look at another’s station and disregard it because it does not measure up to your opinion of a 21st female. Feminism made it possible for a woman to say, yes I have a degree, yes I had a high profile job but I choose to stay at home or conversely I choose to put my career first.
Work place mayhem
A female boss can be called a cow for the very same treatment a man will be respected for. No doubt there are some women in the workplace who bring out the worst in anybody. I remember one such woman and to this day she stands out for me. I have worked with and for many women. Is she the only woman I have not liked? Not at all, but she is the one woman I know who blatantly used her position to try and make other people feel small. And when I didn’t bend over backwards, she tried to make my life at work difficult; talking about me to the other male managers. Unfortunately for her, people knew she was a cow so it didn’t work out so well for her. Basically what it boils down to is that there are few crap female managers but given that there are few females in senior positions in comparison to male counterparts, a cow is far easier to notice. So if you are in a position of authority, are you being true to that position or are you one of the lady bosses that women love to hate?
Play date Battles
You would think that this sort of behavior is exempt in this environment. NOT! Even in motherhood there is rivalry; working mother versus stay at home mum! Whose baby reached which milestone first? There are so many arguments for and against each method of parenting you just cannot win. I watched on Oprah where a woman described this scenario and in her opinion this argument was an outward reflection of the internal struggles women endure about whether to return to work or stay at home. With parenting, there is no right or wrong. The idea is to make the decisions that best suit your family and that you can live with.
Man is Best Friend?
Growing up I was a bit of a tomboy. Being an only girl as well probably didn’t do me any favours. My best friend in grade one and two was a boy, and for a long time I had great friendships with boys. Most women who I spoke to felt that they got along better with men than women.
For a long time I too thought men made better friends. It is true that men are easier to talk too; idle chat that is. Men are easier to get along with for as long as you’re not in a relationship with them. Throw dating and marriage into the equation and you have a whole different ball game. You need to be a mind reader to know what goes on in their head. I know that I can deal with men because I have lived with many in my life. But don’t mistake familiarity for a personal relationship. A guy will never understand what it feels like to have a period, to give birth, to have a bad hair day, or a fat day. A guy will not go with you to watch a chick flick; he’s not the person you get drunk with and moan to about your ex or the friend who’s going to help you set up for or clean up after a party. Men make great colleagues because it hardly gets personal. Overstep your boundaries and chances are he won’t be returning your calls. Human beings are complex, men and women. Women open up, men not so much. So what am I saying? Men are alright if you don’t want anything complex. With women, we sometimes cannot just let things be.
This past weekend, some girls and I went to a party and I came across a lady I had met once through a friend. We accommodated her in our click and seemed to be getting on well until out of the blues she started talking about my daughter and how badly she will probably end up due to the way I parent her now. Hameno hako she said, numerous times. Now, I met this woman once 10 months ago when my daughter was 6 months old. What riled me was the fact that we weren’t even talking about children at the time, after all it was a girls’ night out and she’d only met my daughter and me once. So what was she on about? Good thing is we were on our way out but we were all left wondering what the hell had just happened. And no, she was not drunk! That’s some women for you.
Are you the Witch?
It hit me that we all complain about other women so who are these culprits, we can’t all be innocent? Who are these rude, negative, backstabbing, gossiping, jealous, vindictive women? Us.
One thing I have learnt in life is that as women we are different things to do different people. A bit hard to digest? Of course it is; it is so much easier to point the blame elsewhere. But we never do, do we? We each have a friend with a trait that really works on our nerves but will we rattle the cage and risk losing her? Some of even talk about having frenemies and I say, why keep around people with drama? We each have a friend or relation who irritates us with their constant whining and bringing us down with the negative energy they carry around. We have a friend we will never introduce to our boyfriend or husband. We have a friend who, when it comes down to the wire we know will never be there for us but when she calls we answer. And sadly, we are one of these things to another woman.
Is the sisterhood really in crisis? Probably not. We cannot and will not like every woman on the planet. We will always have an opinion about the next women. The problem is we respond to people based on these unfounded perceptions and then cannot understand why we don’t get along. As women, when we walk into a room we survey the people in it and based on the way a person is dressed and their body language we create mini profiles of who they are . That part of us isn’t really going to change because it is how we build relationships. The mistake we make is to then treat people on that basis without giving them an opportunity to prove us wrong. We are so trusting of our intuition that we cannot imagine that we can get things wrong once in a while.
We should define ourselves not by the things that set us apart but most importantly by the things that bring us together, the things that only we share that men do not and cannot. Women are diverse. We are European, African, Asian, Arabic, and American. We are of many shades of colour. We are liberal, conservative, socialist, religious, and atheist, Christian, Muslim and Hindu. All these things could set us apart if we allow them too. Rather than look at them as differences that make it difficult to connect why not see them as qualities that we could learn from?
As time has gone by, my female friends and family have become invaluable to me. And even though the circle has become smaller than it was in school and in my early 20s, the level of expertise and wealth of knowledge and wisdom they possess has grown. I love women, I may not always like them but I know my world wouldn’t be as vibrant without them. So as we go on with our daily grind, let’s try to recognize that we are more alike than dissimilar. And most importantly, let’s allow things to marinade a little in our mouth before we let them pass through our lips.