“She’s weird, so it’s ok.” Was the response I got when I tried to defend the intern from the sisterhood of the stagnant work stations. From having worked in two mostly female offices now, and written for one all-female website full time, I came to the conclusion that most women do not know what sisterhood is. To start, I will tell you what it is not.
1. Sisterhood is not coming together for the petty cause.
It is not the backstabbing and shit talking about other women. The fact that Amber wore red lipstick or Krista said something strange should have no effect on the way you feel about yourself or their character. Also, just because it’s not being said to their face doesn’t mean it’s not breaking down someone’s character. Smearing campaigns often happen when the third party is not around.
How to recognize when a smear campaign is happening:
When someone asks you trivial questions about another female while submitting their negative views of the person such as, “so and so is so strange, right?” They are starting a smear campaign. When this happens, it is not only your response that matters, but remember to not let that comment disguised as a question affect your perception of said person in question. Your reaction also matters, because even a dismissive “yes” will not only make you an accomplice, but now the leader of the slow moving, unsettling rumor mill.
2. Sisterhood is not finding artificial things that we like and molding together to fend against anyone who values a different opinion.
The fact that Amber wore red lipstick is not a good enough reason to dislike her. However, the fact that Laura is coming up to you in a nice tone and a scrunched up face asking you how you feel about Amber’s lipstick is reason to stay away from Laura.
3. Sisterhood is not blaming one person’s drama on all women.
When girls say they aren’t friends with girls, because they don’t like drama, this is why they say this: It comes from a place of hurt. But rather than try to understand their reasoning, we attack them. We tell them they are self-hating woman. They do not hate women, they just dislike the girl world that we live in. I make it a point to reach out to women who say this, form our own bonds, and learn to heal together. We create a space where we can be ourselves away from the negative girl spaces we have little control over. We must learn to forge bonds with each other without the need to ostracize other females.
4. A group of mean girls is not sisterhood.
it’s sad that it has to be said in today’s public feminist world, but it has to be said.
5. Sisterhood is not excluding men from the conversation.
There are many theories as to why the girl world is the way that it is and the most common one is that men have pitted us against each other. I see how this is true in the grand scheme of things. But the places that have little-to-no men are the places where mean girls thrive the most in. For example, catholic schools and all-female corporate offices. So we need to ask ourselves why that is? What is it about the way we were brought up in this world that makes us so catty? I don’t have the answers, but this is just one of the questions that we need to start asking ourselves.
There is hope for the future.
I see that the environment is changing with the new generation. We are becoming more loving. Both in public and private to each other. This starts with getting out of the golden cages we have been put in.
Women are no longer afraid to be artistic. To get messy. To be comfortable. To stop shaving. The beginning of the end to this catty behavior is us truly acting as equals. And the first way to do that is by breaking the chains we have mentally kept within ourselves. When we point out how messy another woman is perhaps we are deflecting. Because deep down inside we wish we could be that way in public too. Because we are all humans and humans can be messy. Humans say strange things at times, humans try out different ways of being and looking even if it doesn’t work for them. Humans grow….constantly.
The norms that have been put on women by men are now being enforced by other women. Newsflash! Most men don’t care if your nails look messy from time to time or if you haven’t done your eyebrows. The fact is that some of us do this in order to not be left out by other women. And it is hard not to care when we are left out, because deep down we all want to be part of the sisterhood. But please know that what I just explained is no sisterhood.
What I explained above, is a pit where growth is stunted and the golden cage is enforced. Where you have to look into the sea of catty-ness and try to find others like you. The rebels, the true feminists. The humanitarians, the artists, the weirdos, and the tomboys.
The more women allow each other to be tomboys, the more we will just be and tomboy will no longer be a word we use to describe being comfortable and fun and as implied, like a boy. This way of being belongs to girls too.
In traditional environments, it is very much like The Handmaids Tale out here in the girl world. You never know who will be your friend and who will rat you out and have you fed to the dogs. So exclude yourself from the false sisterhood before you are offered a red cloak with a hat to match.