What Kills Sisterhood
I know nothing of sisterhood. Not really. I have sisters through my father but I did not grow up with them, same as I did not grow up with my father. Nope, it was just me and my brother raised by a single mother. If I were to look to my mother to define sisterhood then what I saw were examples of jealousy, mistrust, and alienation. My mother and her sisters do not get along. They speak ill of one another, directly to each other and behind each other’s backs. Furthermore my mother and aunts have a strained relationship with my grandmother that consists of manipulation and verbal abuse. They do not trust each other and often exclude each other from family gatherings. This is the type of sisterhood I grew up witnessing.
During my second year of college I decided to pledge a sorority. The decision was a direct challenge to Self. I’m not a follower. I’m not one to run with the crowd. And I’m certainly not a sorority type woman. I was a known loner with a rebellious streak, the type to do what I wanted without apology. The type to not answer to anyone. I was also a tomboy that preferred to hang out with the boys because I felt that I related better with them. Boys were fun. They were easy. There was no jealousy or drama with boys. Boys looked out for you and had your back. But see what it really was was that I was too comfortable in my divine masculine, which wasn’t really all that developed or healthy at the time anyway. I wasn’t connected to my divine feminine and I was leaning too much in to my divine masculine and the imbalance was reflected in the way I related (and couldn’t relate) to others. I needed some major work and the first step was to immerse myself in a social experiment centered on sisterhood.
I AM my sisters keeper.
Sorority life was…interesting. It was a challenge on so many levels. Sacrificing individuality for the sake of the collective was a shock to my ego. Being accountable to others was an affront to my rebellious nature. Deference was hard to swallow and so was following instructions. Replacing my sneakers and sweat shirts with high heels and pearls was well beyond my comfort zone. But I grew. I learned the lessons. And I began to connect with my divine feminine in ways that I had never before. However, as I grew into a new level of sophistication it didn’t take me long to see that there was a clear distinction between sorors and sorority sisters. Sorority sisters were those who happened to share the same greek letter affiliation as you but weren’t necessarily connected with. There was a sense of obligation but no real bond. But Sorors, those were your SISTERS. The ones that you would have aligned and connected with even outside of membership. The ones you trusted and that supported you unconditionally. There was real love between you and your sorors. That love connection was Divinely orchestrated and not easily broken.
Even though I matured within my sorority, the organization did little to provide me with a solid grasp of what sisterhood is. To be honest, sisterhood within the sorority was dysfunctional. What I experienced was a lack of unity. shared vision, and integrity. I experienced judgment, lack of appreciation, dishonesty, disrespect, manipulation, lack of accountability, anger, gossip, sabotage, selfishness, exclusion, and betrayal. And I’m not throwing my sorority under the bus by admitting these things because these themes were the case in ALL sororities. It’s not that sororities have deep wounds but rather that sisterhood as a whole is wounded.
And these were the experiences of sisterhood that I took into the world with me once I graduated college.
These themes continued for years throughout my relationships (both intimate and platonic) with women. It still continues. Even right now, as I type this article, I am processing a recent breach of sisterhood that has left me deeply hurt. However I am not a victim. So how did I cocreate the toxic sisterhood that I experience? What is the lesson? What is the root? As I reflect on this one core question keeps coming up for me…
What kills sisterhood?
I ask this question because I clearly have a personal cycle to break. But I also ask this question as a healer. Because the lack of sisterhood is the reason why Mother Earth is suffering. It is the reason why society is completely imbalanced. It is the reason why our communities are divided and why we, as individuals, have such a difficult time healing. And the need to address this question is urgent because healing and community are important now more than ever. We are shifting into a new paradigm and we need the embrace of the divine feminine to nurture us through these chaotic changes. A divine feminine that is healthy, whole, and flourishing.
When I posed the question to my sisters I got an overwhelming response. The result was a long list of answers in the form of personal stories:
lack mentality (poverty mindset)
slut shaming and rape culture
disconnect from Mother Earth
lack of self worth/self love
lack of knowledge
lack of integrity
lack of accountability
lack of appreciation
need for validation
lack of compassion
inability to communicate
inability to be uncomfortable/triggered
inability to forgive
keeping score and lack of generosity
inability to hold space
lack of love
lack of respect
lack of boundaries
religious dogma (any dogma)
It hurt me to read this list. It hurt because it’s such an extensive list. It hurt because so many women have such pain and shared experiences around sisterhood. It hurt because I’ve participated in many of the behaviors listed. It hurt because what kills sisterhood are the same things that kill intimate relationships, community, and our society as a whole.
As I reflect I ask myself how have a contributed to these instances? In what ways have I participated in such behaviors? How have I attracted such sisters as mirrors? What experiences have I had that were meant to reveal to me what I still needed to heal? How have these experiences affected how I relate to others?
Yes, there will be a movement and that movement will define sisterhood in a whole new way. I will facilitate this movement but before I address the collective I must address it within myself. I have killed sisterhood and now I will birth it.