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
- 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.