“Sisterhood”. Good word or not?
What does “Sisterhood” mean to you? Simple question that may or may not be simple to answer.
Recently I posed a series of questions to our Facebook group The Neighborhood in preparation for the AWI relaunch later this year. I opened the question series as follows: “Why are you a member of this group and what need does it fulfill?” There were a number of answers that I reduced to the following:
- A sense of community
- In a company of strong thoughtful women
- A sisterhood of believers
- Kindred spirits
- Encouragement, support, inspiration, acceptance, hope and a safe place;
- My tribe, i.e. a safe community of like-minded women encouraging and supporting each other
“Sisterhood” stood out to me because I felt it succinctly describes all the other responses in just one simple word! It’s says a community where like-minded believers who are kindred spirits hang out to encourage, support, inspire, accept each other and provide hope where hope might otherwise be lacking. It’s my tribe where it’s safe to hangout because we are in the company of strong thoughtful women caring for each other!
How can a simple word describing such a place for women be anything but a good word?
What’s Wrong with “Sisterhood?”
It seems that the word isn’t universally appreciated by all women. Women in business – Christian or otherwise! It seems that the word might describe an opportunity for women that ends up demeaning us in ways we don’t want. Ways that have been the treatment we’ve received over the years by others. Others equaling ‘males’. Males in the marketplace. Males who come with a bias against females as equals. Males who don’t support, encourage, inspire, accept or otherwise provide women in the marketplace with the warm fuzzy feelings we desire!
So because males in general don’t appreciate us girls for what we bring to business; we should not use the word “sisterhood” (perhaps even the word “tribe”) to describe a safe place where we can come to lick our wounds and get warm fuzzes from kindred spirits who have experienced the same lack of respect, etc.?
Are our egos that fragile? If so, should we even be in the marketplace at all? I mean if we can’t stand up to little boys in a man’s suit; then perhaps we should just hang up the navy blue suit and slink back to our homes and kitchens!
Now having boiled the blood of some women reading this; let me say straight up that I’ve had more mud slung on my navy blues by other women, than by men. In fact, the males I’ve worked with treated me with greater respect than most of the women in similar positions in corporate America.
The Rise of A Feminism That’s Not Particularly Attractive!
I was an ardent supporter of the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). My Mother and I had many heated conversations about the push to amend the Constitution. She was ardently opposed to the drive to do so. Her favorite retort to me was “I’m not a feminist”. To which I responded, “Oh but Mom, you’re one of the first feminists in this county!”
My Mother was the 1st female realtor in Fayette County, Indiana. And her ardent supporter and mentor was a male. It never occurred to her that moving into business; then into business ownership was an ‘act’ of ‘feminism’ that started well before the “women’s revolution”! She had my Dad’s support to do so (in fact, he later joined her in the business) and it never occurred to her that she was the 1st woman to do so. She just did it And I never heard her complain about those nasty males. But she did have a “sisterhood” of women with whom she shared regularly.
I’m not a feminist! At least not the feminism of today. I believe women should have equal pay for equal work; and while better than in the past, women still don’t have it in many areas of corporate America.
I can hold my own with men who look down their noses (or thumb them) at me. I don’t seek ‘sisterhood’ because my ego’s bruised; I seek it because it feels good to hang out with like-minded folks (in this case women) who don’t ask anything of me except to be me! And I don’t begrudge men who want to be part of a ‘brotherhood’ for the same or similar reasons.
In my opinion, the simple truth is that behavior labeled “feminism” today is not particularly attractive. Nor is it something I want to embrace!
Sisterhood, Tribe. . . Bring It On!
I love the sound of these two words – sisterhood and tribe! I love what they stand for; opportunities for women of like-mind to hang out together and learn from each other. Here’s a few of my ‘provocative thoughts about sisterhood and tribe:
- I love women supporting women.
- I believe the concept of ‘sisterhood‘ or ‘tribe‘ is a positive expression that describes a uniquely human need.
- It’s uniquely human to want to hang out with those who are like us. It’s not prejudicial, but human.
- I want to hear the thoughts of other Christian business women.
- I want to share what I know with them to help them grow and become.
- And I want to grow and become because of who they are and what they share
- I want to be feminine without the odor of modern-day feminism.
- And I want to love men who respect us women as much as I do women who respect each other.
If this describes sisterhood or tribe; then I say. . . Bring It On!
So ‘sisterhood’, what say you?
Linda S. Fitzgerald, M.S.Ed, CEO & Visionary Partner
A Women’s Place Network, Inc. dba
Affiliated Women International
Building a Community of Christian Business Women
The Neighborhood at Facebook
AWIBoutiques at Facebook
Affiliated Women International