What Is The True Meaning of Sisterhood?
In order to build a Sisterhood women should not oppress one another. To have a Sisterhood is to go beyond the barriers and achieve political solidarity between women. As Bell Hooks mentions, the barriers that stop women from a true Sisterhood and political solidarity are; sexism, racism, and classism.
Barriers to Sisterhood and How the Dominant Individual Sees Women
What comes to mind when you hear the word Sisterhood, what does it mean? My understanding of the word is to be united and having a diverse group of women. It does not matter their culture, religion, class, race, ethnicity, and beliefs. It is a community of women who come together, communicate, and are able to understand each other’s differences without trying to tear each other apart.
Bell Hooks mentions that there are barriers in trying to create political solidarity between women. These socially and institutionally constructed barriers include: sexism, racism, and classism. Male supremacists have used these as a form of oppression. Women have always been in the shadow of men and do what men say. We have been taught that men know what is best therefore, what they say or decide is in the right. Hooks says, “we are taught that women are “natural” enemies that solidarity will never exist between us because we cannot, should not and do not bond with one another.” This shows that we have let males manipulate us in an attempt to weaken solidarity between women. We have been taught to believe that women cannot get along because of differences such as backgrounds. Hooks explains how sexism, racism and classism has affected poltical solidarity between women but she also mentions that in order to have true meaning and value of Sisterhood we need to learn to eliminate those barriers.
Sexism, Racism, and Classism: How to Eliminate them In Order To have a Strong Political Solidarity
Women believe that in order to bond they needed to conceive themselves as “victims” to feel that a feminist movement was relevant for their lives. This is seen as common oppression in which women share a same identity which was seeing each other as victims and equally oppressed. In reality, one has to reject seeing themselves as “victims” because that is how men want us to see ourselves. Secondly, each women is oppressed differently. It is true women are oppressed and oppress other women differently through sexism, racism, and classism.
Sexism has been constructed by men who have encourage women to believe that we are valueless and cannot create bonds with other women. The way men saw us as valueless and weak brought the idea that political solidarity could not be brought through Sisterhood. Women, especially white bourgeoisie women created a Sisterhood in which women had to see themselves as victims. The problem with bonding as a victim was that not all women considered themselves as victims and felt there was no place in a feminist movement for them. Sexism is expressed through male domination and it also leads women to feel threaten by one another. This makes women believe that there can only be a dominant and a submissive role. When women come together the idea of only having a dominant and a submissive role teaches, woman-hating even if it is consciously or uncounsiously. What this means is that women who believe are better than other women feel that they are dominant. This barrier has made women not have a strong politcal solidarity and Hooks described that in order to have a strong Sisterhood one needs to eliminate sexist socialization that male dominance has created and to help other women unlearn sexism. We need to come together and understand and accept that each women is oppressed differently, that we should not let the male dominace’s ideology of women tear us apart. When this barrier has been eliminated then women can start building strong relationships with one another and have political unity.
The second barrier that does not allow women to have a strong solidarity is racism. Hooks explains that Sisterhood cannot be acknowledge between multi-ethnic women and white women because it is impossible for both groups to share common interest and poltical concerns. Both groups have different views, multi-ethnic women have experience oppression by the white women and view the white women as the supremacist who have power over them. White women cannot relate to multi-ethnic women because they see them as the submissive group. Racism between the white women and multi-ethnic women has made there respect for each diminish. For example, “black women have found it impossible to respect white women.” Black women see white women as ignorant because white women have not experience the real facts about life because those women have been “protected” and felt “priviliged” in living an easy life just because they are white. This racist socialization has created a controversy in which bourgeois white women believe that they are the only ones who can lead a feminist movement but not be part of it. That is why many multi-ethnic women do not feel that they belong to a Sisterhood in which a white women is a leader. In order to eliminate racist socialization, one must not share racial identity, unlearn racist socialization, contact colored women and not hurt them, to listen to the multi-ethnic group about how racism has affected them and to also recognize that in every culture behaviors differ. Once this barrier has been eliminated and each women is willing to learn from one another and respecting each others differences then one gets closer to the true meaning of Sisterhood.
The last barrier that Hooks mentioned is classism. Hooks says, “class is a serious political division between women.” All women no matter if they are upper, middle, or lower class they should all feel that they belong in a Sisterhood and they can have strong political solidarity without being judged. Bell Hooks says that in order to have a political comittment one need to eliminate classism in order to not have class conflict in a feminist movement. I do agree with her because if women focus on class and do not allow women from middle and lower class to join then what is the point of a solidarity. If there is only Sisterhood with women from the upper class then they are not protesting or fighting for all women and women from the lower class see no point of a political solidarty an cannot relate to those white bourgeois women.
In conclusion, the true meaning of Sisterhood and its value is to eliminate sexism, racism, and classism. Once these three have been eliminated there can be political solidarity with all women. Therefore, they will be able to protest together and understand one another. In todays world, the “isms” still get in the way of the Black feminist and white feminist. There is still a struggle for Black feminist to join with white feminist and work together to fight on issues. It is sad that sexism, classism, and racism remain a barrier for women in joining together to have strong political solidarity and stand in the way of true Sisterhood. I hope that in the future the “isms” can be eliminated just as Bell Hooks mentions so that black feminist or any other multi-ethnic femimisnt do not feel excluded, ignored or feel as if what they say is not important.