A lot is made of the term ‘brotherhood’. Men stick together. There are codes to abide by. There are things that are acceptable and things that you just must never do. And we hear so much about loyal men are, how they are comrades, ‘in it together’, brothers for life, blood brothers.
To be honest – I admire that. This unspoken oath that men swear when they are with each other. I respect that – it’s definitely a form of strength.
For some unknown reason, this type of bond isn’t encouraged in women. All too often, women are pitted against each other in a negative way. It is encouraged – just take a look at some magazines aimed at women from time to time – that we should find fault with one another. Too flabby. Too jowly. Breasts are too big. Look how fake she looks. Look at that amount of make-up. Look at her – mutton dressed as lamb. She needs to lose weight. She’s way too skinny.
We need to stop. We need to stop picking each other, and ultimately ourselves, apart. I once read that how we view the world, is a reflection of how we view ourselves. Let me elaborate. A scientist (or psychologist- I forget now), conducted an experiment with two dogs. They both went into the same room one at a time. The first dog went in to the room, then came back out feeling really excited, wagging its tail; the second dog went into the room only moments later, and came back out distressed and angry. An onlooker who was not a part of the experiment went into the room to find out what was actually in there. The room was full of mirrors. The first dog went it, was smiling and happy – and saw many other smiling dogs looking back at him. The second dog was angry and distressed – and that’s what he saw – identical, distressed and angry dogs barking back at him.
It’s actually worth considering isn’t it? When we pick other women apart and find faults with others – what we’re telling everyone is – I have many faults, so that’s all I see in others. Don’t get me wrong – everyone has faults. No one is perfect, we know that. But actually, in everyone, there is more good than anything else. There are more qualities to admire than not. If we go looking for faults, we will find them; and the latter is true. So the question is, which frame of mind is going to make us happier?
I work in a female dominated field and have been fortunate over the years to have worked with some remarkable women. When I was first starting out, I was lucky enough to work with someone who nurtured me. She was honest enough to correct me when I was wrong, but encouraged me always, believing in my abilities and always making me believe that I could achieve anything that I wanted. Years later, I have never forgotten that. At the time, she explained to me that when she was new to the profession, an older, more experienced colleague had tried to destroy her confidence instead of nurturing her. Luckily, she had the strength and self-confidence to withstand that onslaught. Not everyone has that though. What it taught me was – talent in others must be nurtured. We have a responsibility to let other people blossom; that is how the world grows in a positive way.
That was a work example; but I look at the world for young women now, and I marvel at the challenges that we still have to contend with. We are bombarded with images of ‘perfect’ women. The emphasis more than ever is upon aspiring to be physically beautiful; the must work diets; fitness regimes; hair and make-up tutorials – it’s endless. Where are the images of the women who are successful within their professions? The business women; the scientists; the artists; the explorers; the CEO’s? The nurturers, the innovators, the risk takers? Our sole purpose on this planet is NOT to be desirable to men. We have so much more to achieve. So many boundaries to break. So many ceilings to smash.
Both my husband and I try hard on a daily basis to instil that honourable code of sisterhood into our daughters. They are so young, but our hearts soar when we hear them encouraging and congratulating each other for things that they have done well. My eldest was crying the other day, she was actually over-tired and was lying in my arms, but it was so strange to see her crying as she doesn’t normally do that. Whilst I was comforting her, my youngest nipped off, brought her sister her favourite cuddly toy and a blanket to cover her. The ethos is clear – we look after one another. We care for one another. You’re hurt, sad or upset? We’ll make you feel better! You’ve achieved something to be proud of? We will congratulate you and encourage you even more! You look lovely? We admire that too – and we will tell you that, because everyone should hear that they look good!
In life – the only person that you are competing against, is the person that you were yesterday. You are in competition with no one else. Life is hard enough with all the challenges that we face on a daily basis. We already have brotherhood. Let’s make a conscious effort to develop sisterhood. Women celebrating one another.
Actually we should have people celebrating each other. Man, woman, who cares? I don’t think it’s hard. I believe it would be a start towards making the world we live in, a much better place.
The final thought that I will leave you with is this: which are you? The happy dog that sees other smiling dogs in the world reflected back at you? Or the angry, frightened dog – and that’s all you see? Make that choice.