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Sisterhood, what does it actually mean in practice?

(79 Posts)

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Bramshott Wed 19-Mar-14 10:21:42

I think one of the problems can be that it can be used to mean that women shouldn't criticise other women. IIRC when Harriet Harman came on here for a webchat she accused us of "not being sisterly" when we challenged her on stuff - as if she was expecting a much easier ride than a male politician, just because of being a woman.

Beachcomber Wed 19-Mar-14 11:20:37

I think sisterhood is resisting internalized misogyny and resisting being socialized into participating in patriarchal 'divide and conquer' crap.

It is about solidarity and honesty and understanding that other women's survival techniques may not be the same as yours but that we are all having to employ them against the same enemy to women's freedom.

I agree that it has the potential to be a major force to be reckoned with. Which of course is why feminism has to be portrayed as highly unappealing by patriarchal media.

Beachcomber Wed 19-Mar-14 11:27:05

Actually Harriet Harman is a good example - she should be leader of the Labour Party and most likely isn't because she is a woman. And a lot of women don't back her despite her having spent a great deal of her career sticking her neck out for us.

She isn't popular with men and I think a lot of women absorb negative stuff about her in the press and don't question why they are doing so and how it is women shooting ourselves in the foot when we parrot misogyny AKA act out of internalized sexism.

whereisshe Wed 19-Mar-14 13:16:51

It's an interesting interpretation problem, the "sisterhood". I don't feel I have more in common with someone just because they're female vs male (on an interpersonal level). So the connotations that some other 'hoods have don't apply I think; for me sisterhood doesn't imply belonging and tribalism. It's just not realistic to feel a close bond with half the human population,

But I do think that there is a bond of shared experience, particularly in the feminist sense of shared disadvantage. On a day to day basis I agree that it means not parroting received messages about the status of women vs men, and thinking critically about that. It can also extend I think to speaking out against that when it happens to other women.

But I would only apply that to situations that are discriminatory. Normal every day interaction doesn't need to be sisterly - there's a fine line I think between fighting against bias and creating unnecessary divisions between the sexes in areas that really aren't about male/female at all.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

UptoapointLordCopper Wed 19-Mar-14 15:05:49

What Beachcomber said at 11:20:37.

On a very small level: as I age (and become wiser, obviously wink) I feel more able to say, for example, that yes, I love baking (though I draw a line at cake decoration - who needs to decorate something that will be demolished in 3 seconds flat grin) without feeling that I'm losing credibility. That may have come because I am more confident and my standing, such as it is, is a bit more solid. But it also comes because now I understand how the "traditionally feminine" is routinely downgraded, and I say it not just out of honesty (I do love baking) but also out of defiance. And if I hear another man/woman talk about something "domestic" I would join in rather than run a mile so as not to get "tainted". grin And TBH I do rather like to talk about baking, among other things. smile

Does that even make sense? confused

TheMagicToyshop Wed 19-Mar-14 15:15:28

Looking at feminism historically sisterhood was criticised by women of colour who argued that they were positioned/oppressed differently to white women - and that they needed black male allies in the fight against racism. Sisterhood runs the risk of assuming some kind of natural bond amongst all women and can therefore erase inequalities and oppression between women.

However I do think the point about sisterhood meaning that women should be encouraged to question their potential instinct to judge/dislike women and see them as rivals or sources of comparison, which is absolutely encouraged by the media.

TheMagicToyshop Wed 19-Mar-14 15:19:38

I do think that's an important issue, I mean.

ThatBloodyWoman Wed 19-Mar-14 15:19:47

I think sisterhood is about solidarity whilst respecting autonomy.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

FloraFox Wed 19-Mar-14 17:24:58

The most radical thing you can do is love women

I agree that at first glance this seems very wooly but it is actually very radical. While I agree with Beach's interpretation, I think sisterhood can be tricky. It can sometimes be seen as a requirement to accept every action by every woman everywhere as equally valid and equally feminist. I know that's not your interpretation Beach and not the general consensus on FWR. I find sisterhood easier to apply when looking at women who aren't necessarily feminists trying to survive in patriarchy than I do when faced with some views purporting to be feminist viewpoints but which are diametrically opposed to my feminist beliefs. Sisterhood in that respect would be avoiding the kind of in-fighting that plagues left wing politics and social justice activism. The "no platforming" Sarah Ditum talks about in this week's column seems a particularly bad example of failing in sisterhood.

NiceTabard Wed 19-Mar-14 20:25:13

If I was pressed I would say for me it is expressed in the fact that I feel a huge amount of empathy with other women around the world when shitty things / less than desirable things, happen to them because they are women.

And that, speaking personally, it's not to do with individuals, at all. But for looking out for women as a class, seeing when things are going bad, and thinking WTF can be done about that. Maybe speaking out about something if in a position to do so.

On the whole it's not a concept I relate to, to be honest, it's not a term I would ever use. Even if talking about actual sisters, TBH!

Minnieisthedevilmouse Wed 19-Mar-14 20:36:39

Sisterhood - to me? It means you as a woman are in a position of power relative to me. It means you are either working with me and therefore others for us all to achieve our individual best, or you are working alone and either rarely helping, helping when it gets you something or actively working against me.

I'm still very underwhelmed by that article. I was by that thread expecting something more. It's honest for her view but I'm unsure why it's now got two threads going. Although this is better of the two. Did it not anyone else? (Lone voice in wind????)

CuntyBunty Wed 19-Mar-14 20:40:59

Flora, the first line of your post made me feel a bit tearful, because I often don't feel the love.
I was a bit risqué at work in that I decided to "out" myself, sexually with a group of females colleagues, one of whom mentioned the female prerogative "keep yourself nice". I asked nicely, that if all the women were "keeping themselves nice", who were all the men having sex with? I informed a group, that, I met DH on a one night stand, I was an easy lay for anyone I fancied and that DH married me because I was dirty. The silence was deafening, save for the laughter of a friend. It's all this shit (I was also given a "look" at work for asking why colleague XY, was an amazing lone, male parent when so many women did it without any help or praise) that makes me believe in the "crabs in a bucket" cliche rather than sisterhood. It doesn't feel like its there for me.

WhentheRed Wed 19-Mar-14 20:58:56

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

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CuntyBunty Wed 19-Mar-14 21:39:44

Well, I was laughing, while trying to make my point. I just felt that these women, who I get along with and who have known me for a good few years would know me as the nice person I had always been and that my liking for sex shouldn't change that. I felt that they should have been more of a sisterhood, no matter how different we all are. I just wanted them to laugh and shrug, because its shouldnt be a big deal.
I know my language is choice, but am a quite dramatic and emphatic when making my point. Easy lay/dirty? Well, what's so bad about that? I'll own it. I don't hurt anyone.

WhentheRed Wed 19-Mar-14 21:53:10

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CuntyBunty Wed 19-Mar-14 22:04:20

I do know what you mean, WhenInTheRed. You have me wondering how much more of an old gimmer you are. I'm 41.

WhentheRed Wed 19-Mar-14 22:13:53

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WhentheRed Wed 19-Mar-14 23:58:33

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StickEmUpSideWays Thu 20-Mar-14 07:19:12

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StickEmUpSideWays Thu 20-Mar-14 07:19:26

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