Saturday, August 20, 2016

Female Friendship: Exemplars

I've written about Patriarchal sisterhood, the ways in which women are turned against each other, even in the closest familiar relationships.

Here’s the truth: friendships between women are often the deepest and most profound love stories, but they are often discussed as if they are ancillary, “bonus” relationships to the truly important ones. Women’s friendships outlast jobs, parents, husbands, boyfriends, lovers, and sometimes children. -- The Rumpus, Emily Rapp 

I also have begun to tackle ideas of a better sisterhood and friendship, the ways in which women can help and support each other.

I've read a lot about the women who founded Black Lives Matter, the ways in which black women supported each other in order to create a grass roots movement about improving community relationships. I'm certainly not at that level, but I think it's an exemplar of what women can do when we work together and build on each other's ideas.

In the early history of the Women's Liberation movement we can find the focus on decentralized friendship and consciousness raising through sharing experiences among a gaggle of united women. The movement didn't focus on a singular leader, allowing women to collaborate in an organic way, like the amoeba with natural exponential growth.

One narrative reading that affected me, especially as a young person beginning my career and activism was this story, of a woman who met a cohort of older and more experienced women. The way that Emily was able to learn from them, be guided and supported, while also giving her energy to a shared cause was something that resonated with me.

What I realized, sitting there, was that these women had been in these kinds of emotionally challenging situations for over 20 years. Together. They understood, together, as friends, and apart, as individuals in the world, the urgency of compassion, and that it often goes unnoticed but that this doesn’t make it any less important or vital or difficult to sustain and cultivate. And they also understood that you could try as hard as you possibly could, and disaster could still strike – mercilessly. Without warning, without fairness, and with fatal consequences.

I joined a few online groups that allow me to speak and think with women. Sisters send each other notes of love and support when we describe our challenges. Elder women advise younger ones on the strength inside of our hearts and minds, the resillience of the female to continue through struggles that our fore-mothers have survived; they share the tricks gained through experience. Young women share the silly Buzzfeed posts that give giggles and reality check the hurt of male negation.