Maybe it’s becoming a mum? Maybe it’s being an active member of the Labour Party? Maybe it’s feeling more confident in my own skin or maybe it’s finally growing up? I can’t help but notice of late a real rise in the sense of sisterhood. From close friends, old friends, new friends and, in some cases, friends I’ve never physically met I’m starting to feel a support network of positive words, support and encouragement and you know what? It feels bloody fabulous.
I’ve been mulling over a subject to write about for a while now. I’ve been lucky enough to have two posts receive great feedback, but subsequently have that sense of needing to meet an expectation – it’s a double-edged sword! In addition, let’s face it, there is a lot of shitty stuff going on in the world right now. It certainly seems that people are angrier and feeling more negative than ever, myself included. I could write pages on my feelings on Trump, the backlash Clinton is receiving, bloody Brexit and the accompanying sense of hate that seems to be winning at the moment. But do you know what? It’s tiring and I don’t want to add to it. Despite my current despair at the world right now, there’s something that keeps lifting me up and making me smile daily, and that is the sisterhood I’m seeing. It deserves to be praised and it deserves to be shared so here goes…
I’ve got something to admit. I’m a closet bitch. Or at least I was. I was very particular about who I let into my inner circle and very quick to cut you out without a second thought. I’d never felt comfortable being with big groups of girls and I always found men easier to get along with. I would have been embarrassed to even identify as a feminist. What an absolute crying shame, to be honest! Had I discovered ‘sisterhood’ sooner I might have been in a better place a lot quicker. I don’t think this is a new phenomenon, regardless of how on-trend Taylor Swift’s squad are in the media, but the benefits of sisterhood are something my eyes have only recently been opened to.
Oh and here’s a quick disclaimer: this is not a man-bashing post. This post does not indicate I lack incredible male figures in my life who make me very happy and it does not mean I don’t think men help each other either. It’s a shame I have to even write this point but there seems to be so much hate and backlash at the moment towards women standing up for being bloody women that I feel I have to make myself clear. Obviously there are some people out there who appear that threatened by the idea of powerful women that they have to pull them down with negativity. Thank God I don’t have any arseholes like that in my life. Anyway, this isn’t a place for ‘whataboutary’, it’s about my new discovery of something that makes me feel really good about myself.
Out of the darkness that is 2016, I’ve found a network of light: of women helping each other out, of inspirational female role models, of women standing strong and fighting back. It motivates me. I no longer feel embarrassed for championing women’s causes for fear of what others may think. It’s now the very opposite, I want to stand up and play my part too.
Becoming a mum is a scary business. I’ve shared my issues in a previous post so I won’t repeat the struggles, but it’s tough. Out of the life-changing experience they call motherhood I’ve connected with so many people: old friends I had lost touch with, and new friends I’ve made from the soul connection of finding yourself responsible for a small person. It’s amazing. You suddenly have this whole group of ladies to share advice and common experience with. I’m not talking in a mumsy “this is the way it should be done” tone either. I’m talking a *delete as appropriate* “can you die from this little sleep?”/”should I be this miserable?”/”is it okay I miss my old life a bit?”/”I don’t think I know what I am doing!” frenzied rant. Finally we are learning that it’s okay not to be “perfect”. In fact, further to that, not only is it acceptable to discuss these “failures” publicly, but let’s applaud them. You only have to witness the surge in popularity of bloggers/pages such as the UnMumsy Mum, Constance Hall and Mum Probs and their phenomenal successful to see the sisterhood at work. We are not bitching about less-than-perfect parenting, we are making one another feel at ease with the knowledge that there is no such thing as perfect parenting.
Now onto relationships. My personal view is that when it comes to relationships, ladies, we can be our own worst enemy in a competitive and bitchy world. A world that I played a part in, once upon a time. You pull each other down on your own stride to perfection. It can be a competition. Almost striving to “look” like you have the perfect relationship rather than live it. Taking out the bitterness from a romantic relationship on fellow females rather than the root cause of the problem. To me however things are looking different. I’m starting to see girls stick together by calling out shitty behaviour and sharing endless empowering quotes. I’m proud that I can now be turned to in anothers hour of need to give advice and encouragement, particularly to those who are suffering from a break up. No longer am I bitter but I’m now an inspiration 💪🏻 . We can so often be the very worst at pulling each other down but we can also be the very best at building people back up again. Be it as little as that moment you’re redoing your lippie, six jägerbombs in at your local bar, whilst firmly telling the crying stranger she’s beautiful and clearly needs to be appreciated far more than that wanker who has read your Whatsapp, been seen online and then not replied for 7 hours. Been there? We all have. That’s the sisterhood at work.
I can’t help but notice, from my own social media, a rise in women running their own businesses that are then promoted & championed by their girlfriends. This could be anything from selling Avon, doing lashes or baking the most unbelievable Cakes. In fact, according to a HSBC report published in March this year, the majority (59%) of business owners aged under 35 are now female! The number of women starting their own businesses has grown by 42% since 2010, with almost a third of new businesses now founded by women. Women are taking their passions and making a living from it, using social media to create a network market from their friends and, in turn, their friends and so on.
Lastly to politics. By now you maybe think I’ve forgotten about politics! Since joining the Labour Party I’ve been bowled over by the number of incredible women I aspire to and get to talk with. Some of these women I’ve never even met in real life but they talk to me, motivate me and support me when I’m down. I’ve learnt from them. They’ve given me a whole new trail of thought to explore. They say nice things about my daughter ☺️. They’ve helped me build my confidence to believe I can follow a path into politics. I would be lost without each and every one of them. For a party which is far from perfect when it comes to female representation to be honest, there sure is no shortage of talented and driven women to look up to and feel inspired by. Here’s a shout-out to a few: to our incredible MPs, to my own hero, Jess Phillips, to the fantastic Angela Rayner, to the great work from the Labour women’s network, or the intelligent women I’ve met who were part of the Owen Smith Leadership Campaign, to Lisa Baines from Sheffield who took me under her wing and showed me the ropes for the Mosborough by-election as well as my first phone banking session, to Rosie Kirk from my local CLP who not only looked out for me at my first CLP meeting but has a blog that focuses on spreading a positive message for Labour women. To each and every comrade who is applying for a place on the Jo Cox Women in Leadership programme, where we don’t feel in competition with one another but stand in support alongside each other, I hope for us all to get a spot. Is there a greater figure to aspire to than the late Jo Cox herself. Her legacy will without doubt inspire future generations of strong, passionate women who are not afraid to stand up for every single cause they believe in.
Hilary Clinton may have lost the presidency but she has inspired a generation. Even in defeat she motivated us all to achieve:
“To all the little girls who are watching this, never doubt that you are valuable, powerful and deserving of every chance and opportunity in the world to pursue and achieve your own dreams” ~Hilary Clinton.
That’s what I will take from this year. I won’t feel down, I won’t feel sad and I won’t feel beaten. Whatever you want from life may we support you in it. Lift you up when you feel down and give you a pat on the back where it’s deserved. This is just the beginning and together we have got this.