Few days ago, while browsing social media, I came across a feed from UN women. According to their intro, “United Nations Women is the UN entity for gender equality and women empowerment”. Their posts titles – “Respect Women” “End Harassment” “Eradicate stereotypes” reminded me of a poem by Nancy Ore, Rosemary Radford Ruether, in the book- “Womenguides”. From the poem below, you will note that not much has changed in centuries and that only our sisterhood, our friendships can be our saviour. Here in the poem “You” is referred to a “Women”.
It is not enough said her father, that you, get all A’s each quarter, play Mozart for your Kinfolk, win starred-firsts in contests. You must come home on your wedding night.
It is not enough said her mother, that you, smile at Auntie Lockwood, take cookies to the neighbours, keep quiet while I am napping. You must cure my asthma.
It is not enough said her husband, that you, write letters to my parents, fix pumpkin pie and pastry, forget your name was Bauer. You must always, you must never.
It is not enough said her children, that you, make us female brownies, tend our friends and puppies, buy us Nike tennies. You must let us kill you.
It is not enough said her pastor, that you, teach the second graders, change the cloths and candles, kneel prostrate at the altar. As long as there are starving children in the world, you must not eat without guilt.
It is not enough said her counselor, that you, struggle with the demons, integrate your childhood, leave when time is over. You must, stop crying, clarify your poetic symbols and not feel that you are not enough.
I give up she said, I am not enough and laid down into the deep blue pocket of night to wait for death.
And finally, her heart exploded, her breathing stopped. They came with stretchers, took her clothes off, covered her with linen and then went away, and left her locked in deep blue pocket tomb.
The voice said
YOU ARE ENOUGH
naked, crying, bleeding, nameless, starving, sinful
YOU ARE ENOUGH
And the third day, she sat up, asked for milk and crackers, took ritual bath with angels, dressed herself with wings and flew away.
How beautiful, how so profound “Rosemary Radford Ruether” an American feminist scholar has voiced the above. Her poem is still so true for our times. To add to her poem, I would say that the present-day women face many more challenges which this 21st century has brought with it.
Along with the roles of a daughter, wife, mother, a good citizen, the new modern woman also faces the following:
- gender inequality at workplace.
- being judged as a single parent or remaining single, by choice.
- the struggles if a woman chooses to love differently.
- the stigma of being a woman with special abilities.
- body shaming if one is not of a certain height, weight, and shape.
- trauma and other challenges, being a victim of sexual and malicious act.
With all the burdens we carry while hopping from one role to another, the best and most needed time has been the time spent with my friends. One can have that feminine bond with friends, cousins, sisters, mother, daughters etc. Here are the four ways how bonding among the sisters always elevated and helped me sort my emotions:
- Conversations – Well, friendship is all about conversations- the meaningful, healthy, non-judgemental dialogues. The words which are not chosen, are not politically correct, and devoid of any role playing. I am blessed to have friends, with whom I can be “Me”. This inner circle is my circle of assurance, my shoulder to lean on, a place where I can break my silence. No matter, how whacky, out of this world or crazy you may sound to the outer world, in your sister group your words matter, you can speak, cry, and share all your heart’s content. Conversations – the lifeline for friendships!
- Revelations – The other aspect of friendship is revelation. To reveal your self, to bare out your soul and be vulnerable in that trust. Sisters, who know your secrets and you know theirs. The stories which cannot be explained, your life’s journey, your dreams, fears, they know it all. There is a calm in these revelations, the power to bring you from fear to love, anxiety to serenity, from a feeling of nobody to somebody. By sharing not only you feel heard, but also receive sisterly wisdom and advice, either in your favour or against but always for your betterment. True sisterhood sustains itself on a very powerful ‘trust and reveal’ foundation. When you disclose your innermost thoughts to a friend, it is a gift, a therapeutic and liberating experience.
- Laughter – Joy, smiles and laughter! Laughs varying from sounding like a neigh to a Santa’s Ho- Ho, a giggly squeak, or a robust, boisterous one. Laughter where your stomach aches and tears roll, and you have to say “Stop”! The laughter which takes you back in time and makes you forget who you are. Ingenuous laughter, child-like and honest. For our necessary dosage of joy, me and my group not only tries to meet monthly for concerts, movies, dinners, or lunches, but we also plan our yearly all girls get away too (mostly for a weekend and not to far from our homes). This gives us a momentary break from our responsibilities and rejuvenates and freshens our hearts and minds. A must for all women!
- Friendships – This relationship like all our other relationships is not always a rosy one. The way every relationship is tested, this one is too. Like other relations of ours, friendships also go through a tug of war between expectations, yours, or mine. Healthy friendships are worth fighting for and giving your best. Sometimes you must become the family to the person instead of a friend. During terminal illnesses or loss of a loved one (God forbid!), friends are tested. Circumstances change and things may not remain the same as they were earlier. Know and respect that change. In true friendship, you will stay together no matter what anyone in the group is going through. Love conquers all, always.
We can talk about woman empowerment and gender equality all our life and yet achieve nothing, if the women to women bonding is not strengthened. The voice “You are enough” in the above poem is from our sisters. Women standing up for each other, fighting for similar causes, being non-judgmental to each other, building trust and paving the path for our future daughters. So next time you are in one of those vulnerable moments, go to your sister-friends, have milk and crackers, take your angelic bath, grow your wings, and fly away!
“The worst thing that we can do as a woman is not stand up for each other.” – Amal Clooney