Saturday, 10 September 2011

Sisterhood: the relationships between women

"She longed for porch friendship, for the sticky, hot sensation of familiar female legs thrown over hers in companionship. She pined for the girliness of it all, the unplanned, improvisational laziness. She wanted to soak the words 'time management' out of her lexicon. She wanted to hand over, to yield, to let herself float down the unchartered beautiful fertile musky swamp of life, where creativity and eroticism and deep intelligence dwell." 

This quote, from "The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood" by Rebecca Wells, resonates with many women, young and old. So many of us feel like Sidda, the protagonist, witnessing this mythical sisterhood between women, a complex, secretive relationship that feels just out of reach. Perhaps you will have experienced friendship like that between the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, where complete love, trust, understanding and acceptance unite; where a small group of irreparably entwined women learn to wholeheartedly accept a rare few others, in a way that they will never accept their family, or lovers, or even children.
Why is it so hard to articulate the beauty of these mysterious female friendships? Why do we all have such a deeply ingrained understanding and appreciation of them, and yet so many of us feel that we've never really, truly experienced anything like it? 
And, in the wider world, is this complex female co-understanding a force to be harnessed, a powerful emotion that could be central to the fight for global gender equality; could this be the driving force behind our desire to help women in third world countries, the reason that we feel so guilty and pained when hearing of the horrendous living conditions of women in countries like Niger and Somalia? Perhaps it's deeper than common humanity; perhaps we feel particularly for these women because, although we're incredibly privileged in comparison, although we can't possibly claim to understand their traumas, we empathise on a bizarrely female level.

Tell us your thoughts: what does female unity mean to you? Do you think there's even such a thing? Particularly, tell us your own experiences of female friendship and what it means to you.

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