Aging is an Attitude: Our Sisterhood

I’ve been thinking about the recent 2020 Election polls (I know, many of us don’t trust them, with good reason). What’s been percolating in my mind is the fact that — according to pundits — female voters are indicating majority support for the top two white males over any of the female candidates. This is causing some confusion and consternation in our national and even global Sisterhood. (The same phenomenon occurred when the first female candidate for president — Hillary Clinton — was deemed “dissed” by any woman who voted for her rival.)

It’s a complicated relationship we have with our Sisters. I can recall, as a teenager in the 1960’s, the tensions between factions of women who were either ‘liberal’ or ‘conservative’ in their views pertaining to all things female. Does the name Phyllis Schlafly ring a bell for anyone? If not, take note: Schlafly was an active and even aggressive anti-feminist who opposed choice in women’s reproductive rights, and successfully campaigned against ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. She lived and worked at the same time other Sisters, Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan (among many others) were protesting on behalf of equality and choice for women. “Women’s Lib-bers” (they were called) argued with “Homemakers” on the news and in the streets. Even as a teenaged young woman this seemed crazy to me and I wondered: “Why can’t women just do what they want, the way men do? Marry or not; become mothers, or not; work or go to school; have a career or become a home-maker (that word feels as questionable to me now as it did then). Why is it different for women?

When I was in educational administration I had a male friend and colleague who posed an interesting question. First, it’s important to understand that the women (like myself) who worked in this male-dominated field had an inherent toughness that’s essential; not unlike women in construction, or engineering, or any other profession where men prevail. This friend of mine — quite an evolved guy — understood this and didn’t, like a lot of men, disparage strong women. What he couldn’t understand, though, was why — from his perspective — female leaders tended to sabotage, versus support, one another. Here’s how he introduced his question: “If I’m in a meeting with men, after a little jock-talk we get the job done. But if my team is a group of women, there seems to be an overlay of suspicion amongst the team; like there’s something going on between them that I’ve not going to be privy to. What is that?

In Organizational or Business Psychology, there are clear differences between how females interact with one another, versus how they interact with males. Without going crazy in-depth here, it’s worthwhile to consider how our complexities as women can unite, or divide us. Through the very traits that make us exceptional beings — primarily, our capacity to feel and act with profound depth in our connections to ourselves, others and our planet — we can just as easily appear to turn on one another.

In this election cycle, with so many quality female candidates, it’s my sincere hope that my Sisters and I can judge each one based on “policies, not pantsuits”. You probably know what I mean…

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