Tuesday, April 16, 2013

The Secret Society That We Call Sisterhood

Almost six years ago, I made the big move from Clemson to Columbia. The home of the Gamecocks did not exactly welcome this Tiger fan with open arms. I found it pretty difficult to meet people in the area. I often times felt like I didn’t fit in and just hadn’t found my niche. I eventually met another young woman in graduate school named Jenny, who felt just as out of place as I did.

Jenny was from Charleston and we instantly bonded over Gap sweater vests and our love for boxed wine. Jenny has been a friend through thick and thin, through grad school exams and nasty break-ups, through bad experiences with a bottle of hair dye and completely inappropriate wardrobe decisions. Jenny was beside me when I got married and helped me heal after losing my grandfather. And this year, she will be there to support me when I finish the doctoral program (finally) and I will stand beside her when she marries her soul mate in September (finally).

Young women often take for granted the friendship and sisterhood they can have with another woman. I believe that adolescent females have a hard time developing relationships with other females because they, too often, do not see what a real friendship looks like between women. If you watch any amount of TV, you mostly see women who back-stab each other and “bad mouth” about each other once their “friend’s” back is turned. Even worse, women will sometimes resolve their issues with physical violence. With these types of “role models”, it isn’t a surprise that adolescent girls don’t know how to really connect with other girls.

I grew up in a house completely overcome with estrogen and girl power. I was raised by an amazing woman who is not only my mother, but I also consider her one of my dearest friends. I know what a healthy friendship looks like because my mother showed me through her relationships with other women. And when I became a young adult, my mother and I developed our own friendship, grounded in love, respect, and trust.

In order for young women to have kind, trusting relationships with other young women, they must see these relationships being modeled in real life. So take some time today to figure out what you are modeling for the young women in your life, are you showing them what a trusting, respectful, and loving friendship looks like? Or are you showing them that friendships are shallow, disrespectful, and fake?

As women, we have a sisterhood that we must honor. We know what it means when Aunt Flo comes to visit, we know about the “flashes”, and we know what it means when we shave our legs on a weekday. We must honor our young sisters and empower them to build strong friendships with each other, to maintain this secret society that we call sisterhood.

I strongly believe that there are only a few things in life that cannot be solved by long talks and giggles on the phone with a girlfriend.

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