This morning, I read this in Gayle Brandeis’ FruitFlesh:
As women, we share a deep blood sisterhood through our bodies.
Write about a specific time when you have felt a visceral connection with other women. Perhaps it was while you were giving birth. Maybe it was during an Afro-Carribbean dance class or in the locker room of the community pool or in the middle of a gab session over lemon cake. Maybe it was the first time you touched your girlfriend’s hair. How do you feel this sisterhood inside your body.
Womens’ relationships with each other can be deliciously layered. There can be tremendous power when women come together, a profound sense of community and support. Where do you go when you want to feel this connection? Have you ever been frustrated in your search?
This prompt tapped something inside me, and I wrote with frenzy for about a half hour, first in the form of a letter to my dear female friends – the woman I imagine living in a big Victorian with, our long gray hair flowing when we are ancient – and then in a weird piece about Biblical women, and finally in this form:
Iâ€™ve spent the last three days watching the women I know get furious at Sarah Palin, John McCainâ€™s choice for running mate. They are livid, mostly, because it seems many women are flipping parties and positions to the â€œwrong sideâ€ simply because Palin is a woman â€“ ovaries take the match. But they also seem to want to justify their anger and frustration by criticizing her choice to take the vice-presidential nomination even when she has a baby with Downâ€™s Syndrome and a pregnant teenager at home. â€œI can barely do THIS job and raise a baby; how can she do that one?â€ one friend said. For most of these conversations I have sat quietly and listened, something unsettled in my chest.
Then, yesterday, Jim Wallis of Sojourners pointed out that if a man was running and had the same home situation almost no one would question it. Yes, thatâ€™s it. Weâ€™re sitting with a double-standard here â€“ we, the women of the US, are unraveling at the edges the very equality that we have fought so hard to almost attain. We seem to think that still, somehow, a woman is more required to be at home than a man. Gasp.
Now, of course, anyone with this family situation â€“ male or female â€“ should think very carefully before taking this on. On so many levels, your family must come first, especially when children are involved. So, no, I do not think Palin should have accepted this nomination. But then if Joe Biden had two kids with cerebral palsy at home I wouldnâ€™t think he should take the job either.
And perhaps all women think this way. Perhaps we think we would say the same thing if a man was in Palinâ€™s situation. But we arenâ€™t saying that. We are simply attacking this woman for the choice she made, and that, my sisters, is doing as much harm as when these women â€œflipâ€ over to the Republican ticket simply because theyâ€™re mad over Hillary.
I’m not sure where that last bit came from, but I do hold by it – I think we’re setting a double-standard here, and I think it’s harmful to this “sisterhood” that Brandeis describes. So much of women’s lives is spent in tearing ourselves, and sometimes other women, down. I am as guilty of this as the next woman. But this sisterhood – especially the sisterhood of women who actively take their life from creative pursuits is fragile – and I hate to see us picking it apart, mostly because I need my “sisters” so much.
I wonder what would happen if a bunch of women – me, my college roommates, my colleagues, you if you’re interested, and Sarah Palin – ended up in a room together, a few bottles of wine to share between us. Would we find that we are so different, such mortal enemies that we couldn’t tuck our feet under one another’s legs and talk, share stories of what it is to be a woman here, now?
In fact, if we did this with any other group of people, would we find ourselves so absolutely unable to see them as friends? I wonder. . .
In terms of ideology, Sarah Palin and I stand on opposite sides of what is, unfortunately, a wide chasm. She and I will never look into one another’s eyes on most things, but still, I know that living a life as a woman (and I’m sure as a man) on this earth punctures and pierces us each day. I’d rather be the one to hold out the glass of wine than the one to break off the end of the glass and stab her with it. That’s just me.