The Sisterhood… WHERE’S THE JUSTICE?

sisterhood, wheres the justice, jacquelinegumI wasn’t raised as a girl. Don’t get the wrong idea… It’s not like I was abandoned in the woods and adopted by a pack of wolves. I just bonded more powerfully with my father than my mother. Dad never called me princess and never mentioned that a prince on a white horse would bring me “happily ever after.” When I got dressed up, he didn’t tell me that I looked beautiful; he said “You look good, little one… look good.”

And best of all he thought it just dandy that I loved to watch and play football. I went to the barber shop with him and my older brother. I could show you a picture, but I’ll spare you that. The haircut gives new meaning to the style “pixie cut.” In a nutshell, I was the quintessential tom-boy.

With my high school guy friends, I even engaged in the coming of age ritual of lining up, dropping trou, and writing my name in the snow by…you guessed it (I hope). Of course I lost, but the broader point is that none of us thought it odd that a girl was in the middle of that line.

Throughout my life most of my best friends have been men and I’m finding that now, in my later years, this has put me at odds with some women. I’m confused by the commercial whose tag line is, “Don’t hate me because I’m beautiful.” My first reaction was “Huh?” I don’t understand the message…

Not long ago a woman, offering advice to the sisterhood, suggested that women needed to stop making punitive remarks about other women because it weakened the chain…the chain of women who needed to link arms and support one another so that we all could succeed. Again, I didn’t understand the message.

“Wow, did you see that tie? Sure is ugly, but it looks good on him,” Hahahaha
“Do ya’ think he found that suit at K-Mart… on the sale rack?” Hahahaha.
“Looks like he cut his own hair… with a bowl on his head.” Hahahaha

All comments I’ve heard men say about other men. Snarky isn’t — and never has been — owned by women. But the reactions are polar opposites. Women tend to be crushed, men shoot each other the middle finger and head out for a beer.

I tend to think it’s because men aren’t taught to be defined by their appearance, or frankly by what others think. That doesn’t mean they don’t care about it. I might have a bad haircut, the colorist may have made my hair a little orange this time but it didn’t change me. It’s hair! You hate my dress? Maybe you’re right… maybe I had too much wine that evening before I went shopping. OR maybe YOU have no sense of style. But here I am in an ugly dress with orange hair… still being me.

sisterhood, where's the justice, jacquelinegumThere are many good messages out there today from the sisterhood. I’d like to be a part of that missive. But I’d rather inspire women to be strong individuals first, so that the collective can thrive. I believe that Justice can be achieved in a cooperative with a one plus one plus one theorem.

I aspire to integrity, knowledge, wisdom, courage and humility. I work on these individual and personal objectives, sometimes when I’m getting my nails done or shopping for a tasteful dress. But always in the back of my mind, I hear my dad whispering, “What other people think of you is none of your business.”[subscribe2]

65 thoughts on “The Sisterhood… WHERE’S THE JUSTICE?

  1. I would go with you to get your dress and do all that girl stuff. I am not a catty person and will be friends with anyone. The one thing I do not do is drama. Save it for your mama. One has to weed out crazies in order to get to the life changing people. You are funny and I like your style of writing. 🙂

    • I’m very flattered and I thank you so much! I hope you visit again…because, i like hearing that kind of stuff!!! 🙂

  2. I love your father’s saying. The sisterhood of women can be very strong but as you point out so can the cattiness. Without the support of other woman I would not have been able to do many things that have been possible. Supportive friends and family make life sweet indeed.

  3. Great post. I think that it’s important to see things from both sides. But women truly take the snark, the hurt, and sheer viciousness to a whole ‘nother level. It is actually fairly heartbreaking to see, and experience. I think that if we as humans can be kind to one another, and avoid the judgements, we will all benefit.

  4. Nice touch. As a man, I could care less what anyone thinks about me. “What you see, is what you get.” Your dad’s method of upbringing, molded you into the strong woman you are today. I would like to add to your dad’s quote. “It’s not anybody’s business, as to how you live your life.” Blessings.

  5. I love your line, “I’d rather inspire women to be strong individuals first, so that the collective can thrive” I think you are absolutely correct!

  6. Hi from IU! Great post! I definitely got the “girls do X” message from my parents, but not the “girly-girl” stuff, thank goodness. I raised my own daughters with the message that they could do anything.

  7. Love this article, Jacqueline. I can definitely relate to much of it. Although, I was not a daddy’s girl, I am the youngest of three girls and was such a tom-boy as a child. To this day, some 40+ years after childhood, I am still quite the tom-boy. This trait comes in handy as a hobby farmer and an IT geek.
    I abhor how catty some women can be and distant myself from them if it is a major trait of theirs. Thanks for sharing this with us. 🙂

    • Catty women give all women a bad name, right? Distance is a good strategy as cat-scratch fever is very contagious I hear!

  8. The way we are brought up as children often shapes the way we behave in our later life. I was brought up in a completely conservative environment where girls had to behave like girls and boys did all the boy things like football, cricket etc. It didn’t do me any harm as most of my friends were in the same boat and we were happy. but it was a cultural shock when I came to UK and it took me a while to get used to so much freedom. Now as a parent myself – I feel so proud to let my children enjoy life with their who ever they want with no restrictions

  9. I was the oldest of three girls, and was somehow anointed to be my father’s child. I watched football with him and learned to play it with the neighborhood boys. (I even got in trouble for accidentally beaning a little kid in the schoolyard with a hard plastic football my father gave me. “What boy threw this football?” Oops.) Both my parents made sure we heard the message, “We don’t look at what other people have or do.” When we hit puberty, Dad hated for us to wear red (which as an artist he just claimed to hate as a color) and disapproved of us wearing clothes that were attractive. So, I ended up as a strong individual in certain areas (school, music), but with low self esteem and absolutely no idea how to shop for clothes. Dad’s gone now and I think he probably did the best he could.

  10. I love your story. I was right in the middle of 11 children – my oldest sister is ten years older, my youngest sister is 10 years younger – I had 5 brothers and 5 sisters and I really didn’t belong with any of them so I became – guess what? An individual and I love it.

  11. “What other people think of you is none of your business.” That is such a great quote. And so true. We don’t need to worry about other people’s opinions of us. Thanks for sharing your dad’s influence on you.

  12. You’re fortunate to have had your father reinforce a message that what other people think of you doesn’t matter. It’s a message that is often easier to accept in our heads than our hearts.

  13. I was more of a tomboy than a girly-girl that’s for sure, but I wasn’t exactly a daddy’s girl either. I did, and still do, have a very strong urge to follow the beat of my own drummer. My strange issue as a child was having a strong aversion to playing with dolls, and I just never meshed with many of the expectations placed on women. Male or female, I just gravitate toward people who aren’t full of it 😉

  14. I was a tom boy growing up too – climbing trees and such. As I got older though I did begin to care what people think. Probably a little too much. I still do. It’s hard for me to be a strong individual like you.

  15. I LOVE that line: But here I am in an ugly dress with orange hair… still being me.

    I grew up a tomboy too, and had a really long and thorough “awkward phase” so I related to this whole piece. It’s such a blessing to have a dad who teaches you what’s important, and who you are. Yours sounds like a great guy.

    • Well I humbly thank you. He did teach me what to value and I’ve managed to hang onto most of that. Sadly, he left us when I was still young. But I feel him with me so much of the time

  16. As always enjoy your blogs. I was a daddy’s girl. He would always say I was beautiful and then I would look at my sisters and wonder if he needed stronger glasses. He made me feel like I was special and his favorite. Of course I found out years later he told that to all my sisters. I have always related better with men than women because to protect myself I had a big wall around me so I would not get hurt. I would go to parties and men seem to flock to me and I do not do anything. Today things have changed and I relate well with women and have more female friends today than I had when I was younger. I attribute it to not be so worry what other people think of me and just be me.

    • Thanks Arleen…ditto. I probably learn more from your blogs, however and I thank you for that. I too have found that I can relate t more women later in my life. I’m grateful for that!

  17. My closest friends growing up were always boys. They appreciated my sense of humor, my brain, and my loyalty as a friend. I remember going out to dinner in my early 20’s with my sister and a whole bunch of couples. I was dateless at the time but found myself enjoying the men so much more than the catty women. Now that I am married, my handful of confidantes are women, but mature, self-confident ones who could give a rat’s ass about anyone else’s opinion. I rarely speak to my sister to this day. She didn’t get it and thought I was being a flirt and sleazy. Can you imagine? Let’s just say I can relate! I think it takes a strong woman to bond with men without romance involved, just friendship.

  18. I am almost speechless because it hit so close to home. Thanks for bringing this to the public forum and reminding women to be a little kinder to each other…

  19. Well said Jacqueline!! I was brought up in a very matriarchal family. What that has meant for me is that I don’t spend a lot of time thinking I can’t or can do something based on my sex. When I want something I go after it. When I don’t do that it’s because I’m being a goof and has nothing to do with being a woman. I was a black, woman political staffer and lobbyist in Ottawa when there were only..oh yeah, just me. You don’t do that by thinking about what you can’t do or worrying about what someone said about your dress. 🙂

  20. You are “inspiring women to be strong individuals first” by what you write and the real life experiences you’re sharing. It’s not easy to put yourself out there and share your experiences with the world, but you do it every week. Great job, Brandon.

  21. Hi Jacqueline.
    Your post makes me missed my dad. We are separated by South China Sea and I rarely meet him because of the distance.

    I got one girl as a best friends and he told me that women around her are little bit difficult to be trusted. She is a manager in one of her company branch. Her friends agreeing with her all the times but behind her back, they’re teasing and laughing at her decisions.

  22. Love this article, Jacqueline!

    Seems we both were daddy’s girls. He always told me I would marry very well but needed a good education so that I could always support myself.

    Was a tom boy but always had as many female as male friends. So I can relate to both sides. Agree with you completely that the main thing for a woman is to be strong. But the sad truth is that it’s much easier for an attractive woman to succeed than an ugly one. It’s wrong, but that’s the way it is. Always has been and always will be.

    • That is true for both genders, according to many studies. Attractive people seem to realize more success, whether they are male or female. It’s sad, but as you say, it is a reality!

  23. I smiled an thought how right you are. I LOVED this post. I too had a dad that thought I was wonderful regardless of my haircut, dress or what ever I happened to look like for that day. I wasn’t a pretty girl, I wore glasses and had a learning disability that set me apart from the popular kids. My dad still thought I was amazing and to this day I appreciate that he instilled in me the values that have made me who I am and the success that I became.

  24. The importance of being all she can be for a woman is being herself first, and not another’s conceptualization of her. I like to think it will take this current generation of women millennials less time to figure out the process. However, with the abuse statistics that put many women in the EMR as a result of battering, I’m not sure. For some, it is happening and the Sisterhood has helped.

    • I surely don’t disagree that in cases of abuse, it takes a village. But by and large, I think we’d be better off being gender blind and encourage individualism a bit more!

  25. I think women should support each other in general. It’s hard enough in this (man’s) world. But I don’t have time for women who wear their feelings on their sleeve. If I say something that offends, that was very likely not my intension. If I give you an honest answer to a question you asked me, I can’t wait around to make sure that you’re not going to pull your eyelashes out because it bothers you. Let’s just all take a deep breath and live our own life by what we know to be right for us.

    BTW, I LOVED playing football with the guys growing up–and basketball and baseball. (and I always gravitated to where men were having conversations–as I found it so much more interesting than the women’s).

    • Hilarious…don’t have time to wait around while you pull your eyelashes out!!!! I too had the same experience with male conversations vs female conversations. Though saying it out loud can be construed as some kind of betrayal to the gender!!

  26. This is a great blog, Jacqueline. I was always closer to my Dad than to my Mom. He never called me Princess either, but he knew quite well I am a girl. He and I were so similar in our thinking, humor, laughter… we shared interests, we both were stubborn and he thought me how to use a screw driver, check the oil on my car and change a wheel.
    He was the greatest Dad in the world – to him I never needed to prove anything. I knew he was proud of me – even though he told me sometimes he thinks I’m a little nuts. LOL
    Nobody knew me better than he did – except my sister – and nobody knew better how to encourage me or motivate me.
    Thank you for sharing your memories and give me some of mine back!!

  27. Your dad was absolutely accurate about what others think of you! I’ve spent a great deal of my life looking for approval. My father was an alcoholic and this is often the case for children growing up as I did. At this point in my life, I care a lot less and it’s refreshing! How wonderful it would have been to have a father that was positively engaged in my life. And I too had mostly male friends. Men were just more fun! When I was in my early twenties, I went to a psychic who taught Parapsychology at Stamford University. She told me that in my past three lives I was a man which is why I bond more closely and think more like a man! Hmmm, maybe. As I matured I discovered the value of having fun, positive, women in my life and now I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I am however, pretty selective about the women I invite into my inner circle . . . no catty whiners please!

  28. I loved this. For most of my life, men were my best friends too. I was raised with 3 brothers in a neighborhood filled with other boys. I learned to spit and cuss with the best of them and while I was very girly in the confines of my bedroom, it was love sports, play sports, or die outside. I chose to live.

    For most of my life women were just too emotional and catty for me to deal with. I had lady friends, but never told them my secrets for fear of being constantly judged or them spilling the beans – all out of love and concern for me. Then my mom died and I realized the true value of women friends. While men have always supported my mind, my girlfriends have lifted my soul. But like you, I need to surround myself with strong, heart-based ladies who seek not to judge, but to love unconditional. Women with an open mind and a life lead with integrity. Just like our friendship 🙂

    Great job, dear friend.
    xox Jackie

    • What a lovely way to articulate that…”heart-based” ladies! I’m humbled to be included and please know that I feel the same! 🙂

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