Where is the sisterhood love?

A heart being used as a symbol of love. Photo ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been stirring on writing this post for a long while now. There it is, my fear of sisterhood backlash.  I’m not talking about sororities here, I’m talking about all woman kind and the way we treat each other.

I have always been a loner of sorts I suppose. Throwing my time and energy into projects for past jobs or a hobby rather than people outside of my immediate family.  Now that I am a stay at home mom, (gasp, I can’t believe I said it!) I made a vow that I would try and become more social for my daughter’s sake.  What I didn’t realize was how emotionally draining and depressing woman can really be.  I had no problem making people happy in my career. I was rather good at the work I used to do. People pleasing in the mom universe however is well….so incredibly mind numbing and confusing to me. I often feel a failure after a social meet up. I’ll say it, I am just so akward sometimes. In many ways, it’s just like going back to high school (which I really was not a fan of to say the least). I was pretty much a music and arts dweeb back then. Not much has changed. I have just added mom to my life resume.

Now, before I go any deeper, I know some of you reading this in your heads are saying “No way! I only surround myself with happy rainbow and unicorn moms”. If so you are only fooling yourself with that statement. Seriously, I am convinced that is an impossible feat.  There will ALWAYS be at least one person you won’t mesh well with or feel comfortable around in a large circle of women. Even if you are all fighting for the same cause.  Unfortunately the Negative Nelly WILL be at group playdates and events whether you like it or not.

Women have always been in a way oppressed. It wasn’t long ago we weren’t even allowed to vote. For much of life women have been objectified as posessions of men.  Those issues don’t just solve themselves overnight. So here we are now, against each other clawing and biting our way thru life. Not in every situation, but I see it all too often. I find it sort of sad in a way that this is a way of life now. We have forgotton our connection.

We are all sisters.

I was just reading thru an article about midwifery a few days ago and the term “horizontal violence” was used. It was defined as  hostile and aggressive behaviour by individual or group towards another member or groups of members of the larger group. This has been described as inter-group conflict. ( Duffy 1995). I find this applies very well to the way we often treat each other as women. Sad, but very true.

I found the following examples on the birth international website where you can, in more detail read about horizontal violence:

All acts of unkindness, discourtesy, sabotage, divisiveness, infighting, lack of cohesiveness, scapegoating and criticism

For example:

  • Belittling gestures e.g. deliberate rolling of eyes, folding arms, staring into space when communication being attempted – Body language designed to discomfort the other.
  • Verbal abuse including name calling, threatening, intimidating, dismissing, belittling, undermining, humorous ‘put downs’
  • Gossiping (destructive, negative, nasty talk), talking behind the back, backbiting
  • Sarcastic comments
  • Fault finding (nitpicking) – different to those situations where professional and clinical development is required.
  • Ignoring or minimising another’s concerns
  • Slurs and jokes based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender or sexual orientation
  • Sending to ‘Coventry’, ‘freezing out’ excluding from activities and conversation, work related and social.
  • Comments that devalue: people’s area of practice, women, or others that are different to the ‘norm’
  • Disinterest, discouragement and withholding support
  • Limiting right to free speech and right to have an opinion
  • Behaviours which seek to control or dominate (power ‘over’ rather than power ‘with’)
  • Elitist attitudes regarding work area, education, experience etc “better than” attitude

Okay, so I know personally I have often avoided events when I know a Debbie Downer will be there. However, it’s a whole new view now that I’m looking at the situation as a mother of a daughter. In one very obvious way it is not fair to my daughter to avoid playdates, but it’s also in a way teaching her to be fearful and avoid negative personalities and people all together.

My new found perspective is to make a large effort to live in harmony with everyone.  I want to instill confidence in my daughter and teach her to live with these types of people. Because in all honesty you CANNOT avoid them unless you plan on living off the grid alone (which somedays sounds alluring). At the same time I think it’s very important to explain to her that she doesn’t have to feed them all of her energy either. (I’m still working on that part myself.) Teaching her to instead offer kindness when needed Because let’s face it, angry people need it most.  Also, respect by avoiding negative gossip, no matter how bad you want to, and no matter how much they choose to spread negativity about you themselves). The truth is seen pretty clearly by genuinely nice folks you would want to assosiate with one on one anyways right?

So with that being said, sometimes I have to remind myself why we as mothers are here.

To love our babies unconditionally, find our true self, and help support each other in the process of it all.

As a sisterhood.



7 thoughts on “Where is the sisterhood love?

  1. I couldn’t agree more, Heather. Very well put. Unfortunatly, I am feeling some of the same feelings of ‘back to high school’ now that my daughter is in her first year of preschool. I am learning a lot about myself and have come to realize I don’t need to try to make new ‘mom’ friends, and put such pressures on myself. If it happens, it happens. I am not for everyone, and vice versa. Great writing!

  2. Heather,

    I can SO relate to this. I have always struggled with wanting to be liked. I never understood snobbiness, and cliques. In high school I was a hippie kid who hung out with pretty much all groups, and played hacky sack in the hall after lunch. My group was probably the neutral group of kids. I am referencing back to high school because it applies to Mom life today more than I ever thought it would. (unfortunately) When I joined the moms group everything was great because I had not really sunk myself into it. The only reason I was hanging around these people were because they were moms like me. I wasn’t taking the time to really get to know them as people, because you know we are way more than Moms. It was then that I realized that was what was most draining about these meet ups. I was assuming a role that I wasn’t really interested in being in. I wasn’t being myself who I think is someone that can almost ALWAYS get along with anyone. The sideways glances and the talking behind the back was overwhelming. I was naive and opening myself up to people I barely knew! I was talking about people I barely knew and deep down felt bad about it. I was being sucked in. What saved me was having friends outside of the moms group. People who I connected with about things other than being a mom. Our conversations weren’t about other moms or babies or kids. They were about our sincere interests in life. There are times when I have met people and over time realized they weren’t for me. Which is totally ok! Then there are some women that I have met from meet ups and connected with on a deeper level! There are less than 5 of them. So my huge response came out because as I was reading this I totally got it. In the last year or so I stopped taking things personal. Its helped me with understanding that I am an awesome person that doesn’t need approval from anyone. I realized that I will constantly grow and change as a person, as a mom. We have to know that about one another. We have to accept one another as an individual, not as a group. We are all so unique and gifted in our own way.

    So at the end of all of that, I wanted to say I am totally with ya sista!

    (I feel like my first page that wordpress deleted was written a lot better, so I apologize. Hopefully the grammar police don’t arrest me.)

    • Haha, no judgement here. It takes me like 50 reads before I brave the world to press publish every time I post and alas, still errors. They don’t police grammar here at lightgreenmothering:) Totally love what you wrote. I’m on my journey of acceptance every day my daughter mimics something I do. She is making me better because of it. I have only lived in FL a few years and I have met some amazing people. I have also met some not so amazing ones. In the end I know in my heart I will find a few that like me for me, no strings attached. The 90’s were epic…hacky sacks and riot grrrls!!! Those were the days:)

  3. Thank you for posting this! My ‘mom groups’ are more virtual than physical at the moment but it doesn’t stop the judgement. It almost feels like there’s even MORE judgement because I see it happening to other people as well. It’s so frustrating! Of course we aren’t all going to do things the same ways, why should we? All of our children are different aren’t they!? It’s my personal opinion that whether you are mothering in a natural, crunchy, traditional, modern or any other way you should be supported. We’re all working toward the same goal aren’t we? To raise happy healthy mini humans and to give them all the love and tools they need to become happy healthy adults? That’s my goal anyway and I don’t need judgement (in any form) while I bust my ass to achieve this. I do the best I can and at the end of the day that’s all any of us can do. I support women, my sisters, and mothering in any form it takes 🙂

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