July 16, 2002 03:15 PM

The question I posed to the We Have Brains crew was really several questions. Basically, it was about sisterhood, and about obligation.

One aspect of feminism is a sort of internal censor: the part that reminds you when your thoughts are drifting towards misogyny. In my case, it tells me not to call anyone a "pussy", as there are enough deprecating terms for the fabulous cunt floating out there. [And now this entry is officially R-rated. It was that easy.] It's closely tied to my fat activist censor, which slaps me around when I mentally cast aspersions on anyone's cellulite, and to my cultural censor, which is constantly reminding me that I don't have to see everything from my white, middle class perspective.

When you start talking about censoring yourself, your opinions of other people, it's easy for others to assume you're living some sort of nightmare of political correctness. Not so. First off, it is not politically correct to say "cunt", particularly not as a term of anatomy or endearment, and cellulite/fat/fat people hatred are the last politically correct ways to hate. And second, censoring also tells me what I do say and do, too [oo oo oo oo oo]. My censor changes my relationship and obligation to people around me. I think positively. [My censor encourages conversations that start with "Have you gained weight? You look amazing!" and the thing is, I've honestly wanted to say that to people for years.]

It speaks of my obligations - to others, to me. It makes me watch out for other people. That was roundabout, but it's basically what I have to say on the topic of my feminist obligations.

As for sisterhood. I think of sisterhood as that sense of you are so important to me that comes with girlfriends. I do not inherently feel that all women, or even all feminists, are my sisters. Some women anger me. Some are uninteresting. Some I do not understand. [I could say the same about men. I do not think all men are my sisters, either. I'll add that one of my key complaints about the "women's movement" and the concept of "sisterhood" is that these things sound like only women are invited, and I don't agree with that. You've heard that from me before, so I don't think I need to go into it again.]

I have met so many amazing women through my feminism.

And this is why I think we feminists may confuse feminism with sisterhood: because we've experienced sisterhood as a result of being feminists. We've known amazing women, so we begin to think of all women as amazing. All women as potential friends. And why not? It's a lovely sentiment.

The problem, of course, is that we can then begin to assume that all women, and all feminists, are like the amazing women we know in other ways. That everyone else is just like us. Sisterhood can be as simple as the realization that we're all equally deserving of rights, but it can also take take a view of women as all like, as soft and squishy and friendly. And that's simply not true.

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your wicked thoughts

If your def of sisterhood is that ooey-gooey feeling we have with great girlfriends, then yes, feminism can be that. It also doesn't have to be. I've seen enough women who aren't friends be able to set those differences aside & work towards a common goal. No sisterhood in the inside...but sisterhood for the cause.

these are the thoughts of Roni on July 16, 2002 04:34 PM

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