- Isabella Lenarduzzi

Sisterhood is the key to real freedom

I recently read an article that really struck a chord with me so much so that I wanted to share it with you. That article is “The Fire of Freedom” by Elizabeth Debold, which traces women’s uprisings and their impact on Western culture. There was one key message that leaped out at me as I leafed through the pages.

Patriarchy is based on women separation from each other and on women separated from men. When we look back in history Women often stepped out of their traditional roles to challenge the order of the day, speak out against slavery, campaign for the vote or demonstrate for equal pay. It’s thanks to the combined efforts of courageous women throughout the ages, who threw off the shackles that bound them to tradition, that many of us in the Western world today can create the lives we really want to live.

In these periods of historic cultural change women have stood together united in their cause for a better world – a sisterhood that propelled them to challenge and change the status quo.

But let’s fast forward to the present day. Of course, women continue to be supportive of one another. But more and more we read in the pages of magazines, in newspapers or on blogs that women are being criticized, but not by men. The critics are other women. And it’s made its way into the workplace, sometimes sabotaging budding careers.

So where is sisterhood now? Where is the solidarity among women? How come women are criticizing each other for making the very choices our foresisters struggled hard for us to have? Why do some women want to destroy the careers of other women?

Debold sheds some light on this: “Women’s relationship to children and to the men who have protected us, has always been the ground of our existence. For women within patriarchy, this has meant both intense competition with other women and the constant insecurity of depending on another.”

But wait a minute what relevance does this have to today’s post-modern woman who is more independent and has more choice than any other generation before her? The answer for Debold is quite simply because “women continue to practice survival arts designed to attract and keep men’s attention – despite the fact that we no longer need to be dependent.” These habits she says have been so “ingrained in our cells and psyches” over the last three thousand years that they are proving hard to break. But break them we must if we want parity with men.

Real freedom and accomplishment are possible for women if we come together beyond ego. By “standing together as women, holding the spirit of our courageous foresisters in our hearts, we can shift the core dynamics of dependence on men” and be on an equal footing with men in the workplace as in society.

So what’s holding you back? Join the workshop on “Success Sabotage” at the JUMP Forum on 5 May and find out more.