A sisterhood is a social, ethical, and emotional pact among women. It’s based on an understanding that together we are stronger than we are as individuals. This kind of authentic empowerment is only possible if we come together and treat each other as “sisters,” not adversaries. It’s a relationship based on our value as a collective, determined to make true change in the world for all; women, men, and nonbinary people.
Growing up and being taught in a society that is still weighed down by the patriarchy has its price for all. But for women, the cost is too frequently seeing other women as suspicious, or as competitors. It’s not uncommon to see women judge, critique, and marginalize each other quite harshly in schools and workplaces.
In the past, as a general collective, even if the collective was fragmented by race, social class, or profession, women shared more with each other than we do now. We largely focused on helping each other and nourishing each other, both emotionally and physically. Older generations gave wise advice to younger women. The jobs of raising children, harvesting, and gathering were shared among families and communities.
How to Foster a True, Meaningful Sisterhood
The concept of sisterhood goes much further than friendship. We’re talking about an ethical, shared agreement.
The sisterhood is a revolution that happens inside. When we get aware of who we are, what we deserve and need as a collective, and what is not right in society, we become a force for good in that society. This is especially true where women of color, indigenous women, nonbinary folks, lesbian, Muslim women, women with disabilities, and other historically marginalized groups of women who exist within the sisterhood are concerned. It is not all about what the collective of women need and deserve in the context of the patriarchy, and most especially, it is not all about what white women in the sisterhood need and deserve, but how we listen, lift, and work in unison across the full tapestry of the sisterhood. Living out this ideal should be shared with every woman we come across in our day-to-day lives. Supporting, inspiring, and repairing our fragmented understanding of one another with our eyes looking toward mutual empowerment will spur a revolution.
Hold Yourself to a High Standard
Finally, it’s important to point out that the sisterhood demands constant self-reflection. Sometimes we do things that harm the idea of sisterhood and feminism. Maybe it’s by questioning other women, especially women of color, or failing to truly listen to understand and see each other’s pain points as well as our significance and strengths. Sisterhood is solidarity. It means creating a network of support and empathy among us to even get to the work of leveling the playing field for women in the context of the patriarchy.
Do Men Fit into the Work of the Sisterhood?
There are arguments, complexities, differences, and failures in feminism as a movement, as in any liberation project—or for that matter in any collective human effort. It is a good reminder to note that even the most notable males who support the sisterhood of women are neither new nor perfect to the movement. But many have made important contributions to the advancement of women. They’re real people, from whose successes we can aspire to emulate as women—and vice versa.