Whatever Happened to the Sisterhood?

Whatever Happened to the Sisterhood?


Do you ever get sick of being sniffed at, sized up and stared down at from snotty snouts by our alleged allies and sisters – other women? Do you ever feel that dressing up to go out at night has degenerated into a nationwide contest with other women? Do songs like ‘Dontcha’ by the Pussycat Dolls make you want to puke?

I’ve been noticing this increased sense of competition and hostility between women recently, and it’s been pissing me off! Arguments as to why such rivalry exists are varied and complex, but you have to question WHY we insist on being so damn hard on each other when most people could agree that women’s lives are hard enough as it is. Anyone with an iota of cultural and historical knowledge is surely aware of the injustices, indignities and downright insults that women have been systematically subjected to throughout history and through to the present day. Even those women with a pathological fear of the ‘F’ word (yes, I’m talking feminism here) must still recognise that exploitation, marginalisation and suffering of women continues, unchallenged, to this day.

It’s an unfortunate reality that a large majority of women have fallen victim to the sexism and discrimination that still blights our patriarchal world. This is a world where misogynistic myths still exist to proclaim that scantily clad women are ‘asking for it’, that women’s work is somehow of less value. In this world fixation upon the appearance of the female body is ever increasing, and expectations of the feminine form are becoming more difficult to attain. So why aren’t we doing something? Why aren’t we joining hands and uniting against these perpetrators and haters of all things female?

But who are the perpetrators? Although I don’t believe in laying all the blame at the feet of men I DO feel that, indirectly or otherwise, men have continued to play a significant role in maintaining the status quo of women’s position in society and, thus, ensuring we remain subservient and submissive. There’s much to be gained and power to be held through making people feel bad about themselves – the entire fashion industry is based on this principle!

As a result, many women and girls seem to be increasingly plagued by issues of self-esteem and insecurity. This in turn has mutated women into the upholders of misogyny, as they constantly check themselves and each other to see whether they are performing their femininity properly. This is hardly surprising; those who are objectIFIED, objectIFY. Maybe women are simply internalising the existing labels and caricatures that are meant to represent ‘femininity’ within our society and reproducing them in a distorted and damaging way. This is far from ideal, but really – who can blame them?

Ideas such as female solidarity appear to have been relegated to the history books. I swear, I’ll keel over if I hear another women begin a sentence with, ‘I’m not a feminist but…’ Since when did feminism become so uncool?! Feminism is simply looking out for ourselves and other women, a sisterhood if you like. The sisterhood I speak of isn’t some crazy, esoteric concept adapted by hippies, hairies and homos. It’s about people like you and me and it’s relevant to us every day of our life. I’m SICK of feeling scared walking home alone at night and sick of turning the other cheek when some bloke grabs my arse in a pub (no pun intended). These are issues that affect ALL women – misogyny does not discriminate.

We need to be more aware and understanding of the problems and challenges each and every one of us experiences purely because we are women. There are so many angry and confused women out there, trying to make sense of the conflicting and contradictory messages we’re constantly inundated with. We are expected to strike this impossible balance of having a career, a family, a tidy home, wonderful kids, a slim figure, good looks. The ‘perfect’ modern woman seems to be a mixture of old fashioned feminine ideals (being a good cook, throwing fabulous dinner parties, having “a talent”,) with more independent, intellectual pursuits thrown in (staying abreast of national and international political issues, saving the planet). Striking the right feminine balance is important too; being emotionally intelligent without being overly sentimental, looking hot but not TOO hot. I know we’re supposed to be awesome at multi-tasking, but really?! WHERE DOES IT ALL END??!!

The answer? It doesn’t. So surely we should be helping each other out throughout this, trying to make sense of nonsense and gain some clarity through the mess?

There’s no denying that such solidarity is difficult to come by in the face of such earnest adversity. Patriarchal society does not encourage women to work together, choosing instead to pit them against each other, for maximum amusement and entertainment value. Examples of this can be seen in shows like Big Brother, where the tedium of watching people with absolutely nothing interesting to say is only ever spiced up with a good dose of busty blondes cat-fighting. Or you can look to the tabloids and witness Lily and Amy spending valuable energy attacking each other, when they could just settle their differences over a pint in the pub. This age-old method of ‘divide and rule’ has been used throughout history as an oppressive tool. Women are no exception. This ‘Bridget Jones’ culture we are living in divides women as they compete for the ‘prize’ of heterosexual coupledom, marriage and 2.4 children. Anything less amounts to FAILURE.

Women are AMAZING… let’s not forget this! Rather than trying to compete and outdo each other, how about recognising the hurdles that we face as individuals on a more collective level? We’re all in this shit together, goddamn, and it’s only going to get tougher unless we come together and realise that these crazy expectations placed upon us by society, the media, ourselves and – yes! – other women, are a bag of unrealistic shite.

So instead of glaring at the next girl who walks your way in the street or at the pub, why not try taking a step back… and reflecting. Hell, why not throw caution to the wind and – brace yourself – SMILE. Who knows? You could make yourself a new friend! I did. Maybe you can too…

By: Joanna Whitehead, 21.11.2007 | Comments (0)
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