Since my New York Times bestselling book, Pussy: A Reclamation, came out last September, the world has been changing rapidly. The week after the book was published, Trump was caught on tape with Billy Bush of Access Hollywood, with his “grab her by the p—y” statement.
Instantly, Pussy went from obscurity, to the front pages of all the newspapers in the world. I was interviewed by one of the most conservative newspapers in the country, The Washington Post, with Pussy headlining – something that would have been unimaginable even six months prior.
Following those events, we have watched the Old White Patriarchy begin to crumble, like never before. Heads have rolled in Hollywood, in Politics, in News, Fashion, and the Art world.
Women have come forward, united in victimization, being willing to finally call out the men that have gamed the system for centuries. Finally, even some of the men who have perpetuated the lack of humanity inside of the patriarchal world culture, have started to come forward to take responsibility and stand for and beside women.
There is a huge outpouring of woman, encouraged and inspired by one another, to throw open the doors of silence and speak out publicly on experiences of abuse and sexual assault.
One woman’s story of abuse, outed, led to another woman’s story of abuse, outed, and men and the systems that support them have begun to topple.
And a result, a new kind of sisterhood has emerged. A sisterhood that draws its energy from sharing rather than isolation. Sisterhood that is about vulnerability and transparency, rather than concealed weapons. Sisterhood that declares us united in our victimization, rather than isolated and alone. Women reaching across former divisions to stand together, and stand for one another.
This new page, turned by Pussy, is so exciting.
Because, as I wrote about earlier this month, Sisterhood is an experience that is so fraught and fractured, inside our world right now. Women are so often told to beware of other women. That she will claw her way over you to get to the top. She will steal your man/woman. Betray you. Take what’s yours. Throw you under the bus.
In this patriarchal world version of sisterhood, there is not enough for everyone. Since women, everywhere, at every level, are starving, there is no need for table manners, better just grab what you can and run.
Mean girl behavior, which is worse than ever as a result of social media, has been based on jealousy, spite, gossip, rumor-spreading, taunting and ostracizing a vulnerable female target. I am sure we can all still feel the chilling pain of having been on the receiving end of this, at some point in our lives.
The deep dark core of mean girl behavior is hatred, the antithesis to love.
Hatred without that is continually fed and fueled by the perpetual self-hatred within.
And so many women have internalized the message of the patriarchal world culture to such a profound degree that, without even being conscious of it, we carry buckets and gallons of self-hatred around with us, continually dousing ourselves over and over and over again with reasons why we are not enough, why we are wrong, why we suck.
We cannot catch a break.
And if we can’t catch a break ourselves, we absolutely cannot afford to give other women a break.
That is why it is so monumental to witness this new era of sisterhood emerging. For example, Alicia Milano took up a twitter rally cry with #metoo, giving voice to the sexual abuse of thousands of women. It turns out that the Me Too movement was originated in 2007 by Tarana Burke, as a way to let women, particularly young women of color, know they were not alone. When Ms. Milano was informed of this, she went on “Good Morning America,” where she publicly credited Ms. Burke for her Me Too campaign.
We have a new dawn and a new day to begin to reframe not only our relationship to ourselves, but our relationship to our sisters. We have a chance to retool what sisterhood truly means.
As Audre Lorde so brilliantly said, “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house”. When a woman steps forward to reveal her abuse, she is not taking a step backwards into self-hatred. She is taking a step forward into an almost unimaginable self-love.
She is trusting herself above ‘the system’ that she was silently and wordlessly sworn to protect. She is risking everything, literally everything – her career, her reputation, her friendships, her social and economic standing, her family – to stand first, foremost and always for her truth. A truth she was taught since birth to ignore, in deference to serving a system that never had her interests in mind but, rather, her destruction. The Handmaid’s Tale is every woman’s tale.
There is a new opportunity afoot, an opportunity to recreate what sisterhood actually means. For women, the desire to stand for one another and nurture each other is not a weakness, but a strength, and a redemption. It is inside of extreme sisterhood that our real power is rediscovered, as if for the first time.
It is no wonder that this kind of connection is so feared by the patriarchal world culture. It is through interdependence that our voices are unleashed, our creativity is allowed to flourish. And this combustion of creativity and wild growth is only possible through the union and inclusion of differences.
There is an opportunity, an urgency, a necessity, now, for women to open our hearts and minds and align our actions to consciously include and stand for every woman.White women, women of color, immigrant women, gay women, straight women, bi women, trans women, poor women, rich women, older women, younger women, shrill women, hurt women, angry women, women who stand in any way outside of society’s definition of what is acceptable.
It’s time for us to learn how to take our differences and make them strengths.
Without community, there is no liberation. The patriarchal world culture is not a safe place for anyone – man, woman, or child. It is time for a new crucible, a new container forged for women, by women. Women who are turning away from exclusion, turning away from the patriarchal structures we have been taught to obey, and risk turning on to our shared truths, our shared voices, where extreme sisterhood is a necessity for individual growth and global change.
The new frontier is extreme sisterhood. Sisterhood where we celebrate and require all of our differences, celebrate and require our full emotional range, from darkness to light. Where we risk turning on to every aspect of who we are, rather than turning off. Interdependent sisterhood is the only path to individual freedom.
Join me, in my vision, in my dream.
I dream of a world where every woman, everywhere, stands as sister to one another.
Where women are turned on (rather than turned off) to their brilliance, their beauty, their power.
Where every time a woman walks down the street, anywhere in the world, she sees a sister when she looks into another woman’s eyes.
In the comments on today’s post, please share your experience of sisterhood:
• How did you learn about sisterhood?
• What are your experiences, both good and bad?
• How have all these recent revelations in the news impacted you, personally?
For those of you joining me live this weekend at The Experience, I cannot wait to live this Sisterhood out loud, together. And for everyone else in this community, I am so grateful you are here – let’s continue the conversation in the comments.
Regena Thomashauer, aka “Mama Gena”
The School of Womanly Arts