Sisterhood is a big part of the love revolution that can save the world.
The quintessential teaching method is example. More than what we are told, we keep what we see others do. I know my parents told me countless times that they loved me and that I could do and be anything I wanted. What they failed to say was that it was not going to be easy, especially if that ‘anything’ was out of the book of standards for women. I had to learn that the hard way.
To begin with, we were assigned into these boxes of gendered behaviour. Any single sign of disruption was not going to be forgiven. Girls play with dolls. Girls play with girls. Girls love everything pink. Girls don’t run properly. Girls have to be spotless ALWAYS. Girls have to wear beautiful shoes. Girls fall in (romantic) love with boys. Now you can picture a four year old girl wearing super-heavy orthopaedic shoes, sporting short hair (three months after a full head shave) and who also happened to like playing with insects and bugs. Yes, you guessed right, that was me.
To be honest, at the time I wasn’t too keen in bonding with other females, but that was not based on gender or sex. I mean, I loved my mother, sister and aunties, but they weren’t with me at the playground. The girls in my pre-school class were too frail for my liking. I really didn’t think much about the subject ‘boys and girls/ male and female’. At the time for me it was just a matter of being with those I enjoyed sharing myself with.
It was until my teacher, a woman, punished me for not being ‘girly’ enough. She said I was strange. She suggested I should find other friends. I was happy with my current friends, so I ignored her. Later she furiously demanded me to befriend the girls or else I wouldn’t be allowed out of the classroom during breaks. She said it was unnatural for a girl to spend the whole time with boys. She gave me an ultimatum. At first I didn’t think she was serious until she effectively stopped me from leaving the classroom one day. Unbeknown to her, my loyal loving friends came back to find me and stayed with me inside the classroom. About a week later the teacher found out and punished my friends saying they weren’t allowed inside the classroom during the breaks. So I sat by the door inside while they brought all the insects from the school garden to the doorstep of the classroom and they stayed outside.
Of course the teacher wasn’t happy about this, but she realised this wasn’t the way forward. So we settled at the following agreement: she would leave me alone for the rest of the year as long as I tried at least once in a fortnight to spend the breaks with other girls. The queen bee formally invited me to a tea party with dolls. I did have a doll, but I wasn’t sure how that was going to work. I wanted them to like me, but they for sure had more beautiful dolls. I thought maybe a gift would set the mood for a good long-lasting friendship.
At the time, like I said I was fascinated by bugs and all the crawling little creatures. So it was actually a natural step for me to decide that the best present I could give was a beautifully wrapped box with a full collection of worms, spiders, slugs, cochineals, etc… You can imagine how shocking it was for everyone. I arrived hopeful about my new gang. The girls looked excited for the gift, also a bit curious about this strange creature bearing it. As they undid the bow my heart was racing. I could see a fleeting gleam in their eyes which was suddenly turned into horror, disgust, disappointment and anger. The box flew over our heads. My beloved and precious collection was all over the place. I tried to stop them from stepping on their tiny bodies. Also, it was a present. Why would they do that to these harmless living beings? They left the classroom enraged.
I was told off again. However this time, the teacher cared to listen. I explained my genuine interest in attending to her suggestion of making new friends. So she arranged for all of us to apologise, me for giving them the fright of their lives, although unintentionally; them for their rude attitude about my well intentioned gesture. Later that year, we did hang out for the longest 20 minutes of my life, as a kid anyway, every fortnight.
I said the longest not because they were boring. They did play. They did laugh. They did talk. But there was a very vague sense of shallowness, or fakeness or I don’t know what that made it rather uncomfortable. Perhaps the fact that it was an imposition made it feel like it was a chore. These girls were alright, but I always felt they were trying to be ‘the most beautiful’, ‘the most rosy-cheeked’, ‘the softest voice’, and so on. The mechanics had been set in motion. From there on it was a race to pit us against each other in every possible way.
After this experience for the very first time I said to myself ‘how darn difficult it is to be a woman’. As I have grown older, and hopefully a bit more critical, I realise all those women weren’t trying to hurt me. What they were doing was to follow a pattern that the system imposes on us. That tells us, behave, and stay in line. Subtly, other members of society will reinforce these ideas. They will demand that you follow the guidelines. They will fight tooth and nail to destroy other because that has been what they were programmed to do… This is how by being part of these encounters we learn how to be a ‘successful female’ in the eyes of society. Unless, we open our eyes, our hearts and realise that this is not who we are. When we stand up and love our sisters (blood related or not) we are defacing the established rules. I do regret having fallen before for the lie that other women hated me. But I’m here now, to tell them that I love them. I cherish their power. I recognise them as humans. And I will fight for them to be respected. I’m glad other women are taking this stance and I hope you’d be joining too and lead by example for a new and brighter future.