Just over a month ago, I marched on Washington with hundreds of thousands of women. I think it is fair to say that we were all moved. More than anything else, I was affected by the conversations I listened to in the days following. I marched with an old friend who lives in DC and in the time I spent at her house, listened to many of her friends, as well as their moms and daughters, reflect on their experiences.
Most striking to me was this - Toby, who is visibly pregnant, smiled as she shared the different things that happened over the course of that day. I could hear in her voice that when someone got up to offer her a seat on the VERY crowded metro, she was touched.
"It's the sisterhood," Rachel responded. The rest of the women in the room nodded and murmured expressions of agreement.
Of course, we all thought, the sisterhood. It was a special, one-day thing - on January 21, we were all in it together. Women from all over, of all ages, all walks of life shared a purpose. On that day, we understood that we shared something meaningful, because we are all women. And so, a pregnant woman got a seat on a train. She felt that others were looking out for her. And I can't help but ASK - why don't we feel that way EVERY DAY?!?!?!
Today, I look back and I wonder - did that feeling stay with us? Do we remember that sense of sisterhood? Do we remember our shared experience?
Imagine if when you walked down the street, you knew that the woman passing you had your back if you needed her to. Imagine how our girls would feel if they had that security amongst their circles of friends.
WHY DON'T WE? What can we do to cultivate this sentiment in our lives, every day? What happened to it? Did we lose the sisterhood when we gained equality?
The following are some responses I received to these questions:
As I move through life I have become part of various “tribes” that I feel have my back. As a pregnant woman, all the other pregnant women and breastfeeding women had my back. It’s like a honing device comes with a fertilized egg that beacons other pregnant women to be on the lookout for one another. At the playground as a new mom, I knew the other moms who were also nervously conducting lifeguard scans across the playground had my back and my child’s back. No perpetrator was going to cross that swing set, no kid was falling off of those uneven monkey bars. At my children’s school, I know I can walk in to the hallway with my eyes full of tears and leave with hugs and words of encouragement. The teachers, staff and fellow parents have my back. But why don’t we look out for everyone? Why do we have to belong to a group to have herd immunity? Why is my child encouraged to perform random acts of kindness instead of encouraging him to be purposefully kind to everyone all the time? We should all belong to a tribal sisterhood and our acts towards one another should not be random.
I think that we need to feed the sisterhood, to take care of it. It’s like a plant, if you don’t take care of it, if you don’t give it a little song, some sun, a bit of water - it won’t grow. In our world we are so stressed, so rushed, it becomes a luxury to give ourselves the gift of stopping for just a moment. It’s beautiful that things move very quickly, but it’s also beautiful and necessary to stop, to be, to share, to sing, to contemplate. I think the response is in part to cultivate deep moments with our selves, with our sisters, our women friends, the dear women in our souls. For this, we need to also create time to retreat, work, contemplate together with other women.
I just want to say that I remember the sisterhood :) I always walk up to women in powerful positions and say how happy I am to see them there. And I think, for a lot of them, that they are startled - who is this woman? why is she approaching me? - but then they smile, nod, and acknowledge the fact that it needs to be acknowledged.
As for me, I am really examining what I can do to cultivate this sense of sisterhood around me every day. I see that my relationships with other women, particularly those friends with whom I really feel I can share from my heart, are like food for my soul. I am deeply grateful for trust and empathy we share. I strive for a world in which girls see these kinds of relationships being modeled among the elders around them.