Lately I’m finding it more difficult to say the word “sisterhood” without having it ooze with sarcasm. Especially since nowadays the majority of my interactions with women are within online communities. Everywhere I turn, there are packs of (or should I say gangs) of women who battle each other for the “Queen of Mean” title.
You know the ones: I like to think of them as the Bad Girls of Blogging, the Treacherous Ladies of Twitter, Foul Females of Facebook and the Crass Comment Chicks. And, don’t get me started on their minions, who cheer on all this trifling behavior (insert teeth sucking and eye rolling here.) It’s all just too much and I’m calling for a serious sisterhood cyber-intervention. (Where is Dr. Drew when you need him?)
In case you missed it, I’m very pro-woman. I’m always like “girl-power” this and “women’s empowerment” that, but I don’t think I understood just how badly women treat each other online until I became a victim myself.
A few weeks ago, I wrote what turned out to be a very controversial article about superficiality in dating. Since I called Black men onto the carpet, I had anticipated most of the backlash to come from them. Yes, I did catch crap from the fellas, but interestingly enough, a surprising number of them supported my perspective. It was the boatloads of women that took to bashing me that both shocked and horrified me. They didn’t just simply disagree with me; they called me names, insulted my intelligence and cyber-harassed me to no end. I received hundreds of comments, dozens of emails and quite a few tweets, all launching personal attacks against me. I finally resorted to shutting down all Internet activity for three days just to try and escape the torrential tirades aimed in my direction.
My recent experience left me wondering how naive I must have been to not know that so much sister-to-sister hate existed in the digital space. I have always cultivated a community of acceptance, so perhaps that shielded me from the cold reality that is the rash of un-sisterly behavior infecting the web.
When I finally came up for air, I reached out to a few other women that were also highly visible online and I found out that they all had similar experiences. I have come to a sobering realization that has made me numb: The body of sisterhood is suffering a painful demise. It’s a death by a thousand cuts. Every snide comment or snarky insult leaves gashes in the body, mind and spirit and our sisterhood and it’s bleeding to death.
I don’t care how many hours we spend tweeting quotes from the Oprah Winfrey Network or putting together women’s empowerment conferences, until we stop creating and allowing damaging behavior like this, we will be witnessing the death of a divine creation.
When I see sisters post vile messages to or about each other (things they would never have the audacity to repeat in person), I can’t help but wonder if we truly know and understand the meaning of the word “sisterhood.”
Sisterhood means taking care of each other and ourselves. It means disagreeing with grace and disengaging with dignity. It means supporting each other when we fall, and standing united for what is right.
Now, about that intervention: This is one of those things that is going to take a village to achieve. We must root out the mean girls and compel them to change their behavior, now. It means the ladies who would “rather not” get involved will have to find their courage and go beyond their comfort zones. It means each of us must be willing to be the “voice in a sister’s ear” that helps her find a path to healing rather than destruction.
Here are four steps I propose we take together to implement this intervention:
1. DO NOT participate in or support any behavior that damages another sister in any way
2. DO create and champion safe spaces that allow women to share, learn and grow
3. DO conduct yourself in a way that is respectful and considerate of your sisters
4. DO exhibit the sisterly behavior that you want to see in others
I am not delusional, but I am hopeful. I’m calling all my sisters to stand with me against the harmful behavior. We can do this, ladies.
Jai Stone is a socialpreneur, author, syndicated blogger and the founder of the Emotional Nudity Lifestyle Brand. Jai writes about love, life and the pursuit of authentic joy. Follow her on Twitter @JaiStone or visit her blog.