Sisterhood is a notion of unity among all women, that is, that all women are sisters. But what makes us sisters? One idea of sisterhood is founded on shared experience and oppression. Women might bond over shared anxieties, sufferings, and trials. Perhaps women share a bond or seek to connect with other women because they relate over the difficulty of their experiences of being subordinated, the victims of violence, stereotyped, excluded or otherwise oppressed. Women talking with other women and sharing experiences plays a large role in bringing oppression to public consciousness.
Sisterhood implies moral and epistemological bonds between women regardless of whether individual women actually know one another. The idea is that all women are subject to sexist violence, marginalization, and exclusion and by virtue of this subjection women are united. Sisterhood should mean that sisters should aid their sisters in need. But of course women do not always or even often respond in compassionate ways to other women, sometimes, women even blame one another for the violence they suffer.
Sisterhood is also problematic in a number of ways. We want to share how not all women actually shares the same experience of oppression. If feminist organizing relies on a bond among women and the bond is grounded in a shred experience of the same oppression, and if there is no shared experience of oppression, then no bond will form and feminist organizing will be paralyzed. Moreover, any number of particular circumstances may affect how a woman experiences oppress. Sisterhood also tends to emphasize victimhood. Certain naming and identifying a problem shared by others is important many women find the initial experience of consciousness rising quite empowering. Nevertheless, focusing on the many ways that women are victimized can be all consuming and quite paralyzing. Is sisterhood stops at how women are victims together then they never get to the point of changing the social and political systems that cause victimization. Women have to move beyond being victims in order to identity that many strengths women have and act on those strengths for the good of all.