"Writing is my passion. It is a way to experience the ecstatic. The root understanding of the word ecstasy—“to stand outside”—comes to me in those moments when I am immersed so deeply in the act of thinking and writing that everything else, even flesh, falls away."
-bell hooks

Thursday, March 17, 2011

What is Sisterhood to You?

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.

1 comment:

  1. Ashley,
    I agree with this post for many reasons. Feminist political activism strives on the formation of women who come together under one common issue in order to be able to fight together to end it, and while at first it may appear to be a wonderful solution, we forget that women are strong individuals, and in order to help one woman, you must work with her own needs on an individual level. In my opinion, and coming from a social work perspective, you are unable to generalize certain groups of women under one category, and then expect them to be able to reach one solid solution to ending their problem.
    If you look at the different agencies in Windsor that seek to assist women, whether it be because of domestic violence, sexual assault or unemployment, they all offer a way for each woman to realize her own personal goals and strengths as an active person within her society.
    And, while it is true that many women do share similar forms of oppression, I feel that each case cannot be homogenized because a common stereotypical assumption can assume one idea over one woman where it does not cover the issues faced by another woman.


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